Sherwood SE-777 earphone in review – biting the bullet
Let’s get one thing straight here: mid-priced inner earphones are really starting to put out like their more sexy/pricey colleagues. They’ve bass, mids, and treble now rather than just bass and some, like the Sherwood SE-777, are just great all-round bargains. For 80$ the SE-777 isn’t cheap, but it sounds great, looks great, and has a pleasant surprise for DIY enthusiasts! Feel free to discuss this review of the Sherwood SE-777 in our forums.
Type: Balanced armature
Noise Isolation: 26dB
Input sensitivity: 105dB SPL/mW @1kHz
Input Connector: 3.5mm gold
Frequency Response: 20-20,000khz
Package and Fit
Oh for the love of petty gods everywhere, let’s get this out of the way. Sherwood have designed a very unique earphone. For fans of steampunk, its modular, bullet-shaped design is beautiful. Unfortunately, it is large, unwieldy, and can even be uncomfortable for some ears. You see, the SE-777 is edged by an angular u-shaped cap which holds the earphone together. Then, the large-mouthed aluminium sound tube forces a lot of pressure into the ear canal. Let’s just say its fit is a HIT/MISS affair. Keep this in mind if you are on the prowl for a new earphone.
The SE-777 also comes scantily clad: you’ll find nothing more than a carrying pouch and 4 sets of eartips (S/M/L/ dual flange). But Sherwood did the box right: it slides open without cutting any fingers and slides shut just as easily. The carrying pouch will have both fans and antagonists. It is a well-ventilated semi-hard zipper disk with in-built cable organiser. The last part, a large plastic cup, is the problem. The case is bulky and using the cable organiser is annoying. It is much easier to just wind the cable around your fingers and stuff the earphones in, but because of the plastic bowl, even that freedom can’t be enjoyed. On the other hand, using the cable organiser will decrease the chances that your cables develop kinks, but it is more a liability than a blessing.
Build and Cable
Let’s hit this with no regard for sterile reviewing: the SE-777 is pretty damn well made for an 80$ earphone apart from cable termination. The straight angle plug can exert unwanted pressure on the headphone output of you source and that isn’t cool, but apart from that, there is little to complain about. As stated above, these things are bullets, or at least they seem solid enough to kill. The housing shouldn’t ever break and even if it does, can be modularly repaired; in short, it rocks.
And the cable, while mildly microphonic isn’t bad. It is soft, comfortable, and its 1,2 metre length is quite good. It also juts from the earphone housing at a comfortable angle thanks to a perpendicular cable sheath. The sheath isn’t moulded to the cable, but it appears to do its job well enough, though it isn’t securely fastened to the earphone’s body. Unfortunately, the cable is susceptible to hardening and crystallisation after prolonged contact with body sweat and oils.
The SE-777 has a hidden talent: it can be disassembled and reassembled at will. Here’s the catch though: it will void your guarantee, so before you force your nice new Sherwood to the surgery table, have a good long think about what you are doing. Using a small hex key, the body can be taken apart in a few steps to reveal the armature driver and two cleanly-soldered terminals. Changing to a better cable, or (God forbid) balancing the SE-777 for use with hi-end sources, isn’t too hard. The armature driver is glued into the body, so your solder work has to be done in very tight confines. Among universal earphones, however, this is one of the easiest to gut and upgrade.
I feel like a drone now: The SE-777 like the Sleek Audio SA1 and the MEElectronics M11 before it, is an excellent all-around earphone. If you like hip-hop, you should enjoy the deep bass and strong midrange, and if you like pop, smooth transients will keep your feet tapping. In a word, the SE-777 is good.
Down low, the Sherwood SE-777 is well-extended and warm. It meets the fun of hip-hop and the throbbing beats of trance well enough without knocking your eardrums into the depths of hell. Sherwood took the basic neutral frequency response and added a smooth low plateau to help counter the ear’s attenuation of low frequencies. Surprisingly, the SE-777 isn’t boomy or claustrophobic like many similarly priced earphones. There is sufficient detail and touch, and no end of well-textured low notes. As long as you don’t expect Monster Turbine bass, you should enjoy this earphone.
The midrange also fairs pretty well. Both male and female vocals are clear, smooth and powerful, but not heavy or forced. There is also plenty of detail to retrieve from instruments and great dynamic space. Because of this, it is hard to recommend one musical genre or instrument over another; the SE-777 does an excellent job with anything.
The only area where it could really improve is highs. Sherwood’s earphone extends well, certainly passing many other earphones with audible tones way up in the rafters above 17 KHz. And, there is space and good decay. But where 80$ starts to feel strained is in texture. The SE-777 isn’t fatiguing, but it isn’t all together smooth and inviting either. It sacrifices hospitality for presence and picks up audible grain in the process. The graininess is nothing as severe as the EXS X10, but it is there and slowing down movement.
Still, the SE-777 is an 80$ earphone, and as such lithely hurdles many gaps which similarly priced earphones have tripped over. It isn’t an earphone for bassheads, but for every other person out there, it may well be one of the best sounding earphones for under 100$. Aside from fine grain, it simply doesn’t make any glaring audible mistakes.
Out and About
I’ve already hinted that the case is awkward. AT 5-6x as thick as an iPod touch, it is. So if you want to keep people’s eyes away from the bulge in your trousers, bring a pack to store the earphones/case in. Apart from that, however, the SE-777 is quite good. Its 1,2 metre cable is excellent for pocket and purse use, but may be too short for comfortable to comfortably be dropped in a handbag. And surprise, surprise, it makes very little noise. Sure, some noise travels up the cable and into the ears, but nothing like a few of its nylon-encased competitors. Where the SE-777 fails, however, is wearing comfort. The long body can be worn with equal ease pointed up or down, but there is no neck cinch, so managing its cable isn’t all that fun. And of course, don’t forget that its angular joints and seems can be painful. Not all ears will ‘feel the pain’, but if yours are like mine, my wife’s and a mate’s, then consider yourself unlucky.
Why oh why couldn’t the SE-777 be perfect? It has almost everything going for it: great, balanced sound; good steampunk looks; a DIY bent; and a great price. Touch noises aren’t too bothersome, the box is drop-dead sexy, and the excitement of a new brand on the market never gets old. Unfortunately, this earphone can really be a pain for some, and the fact that its straight angle plug puts unneeded stress on both itself and the source is a killer product. If Sherwood fixed those problems, their first-to-market earphone would be a perfect kiss. Till that though, they will have to make do with a proviso-stricken earphone.
|Reviewed Ver:||Silver||Driver Type:||Single Balanced Armature|
|Price:||$79.99||Cable:||1,2 metre rubber|
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