Product Review: Motorola S11-Flex HD Wireless Headset

Considering that I’ve now bought this exact model twice, it seemed appropriate that I review it. Before you go getting the wrong idea in your heads: no, it didn’t break, fail, or otherwise suffer from performance issues. My dogs got out, I chased them down, and in the process, I dropped my first pair somewhere between 71st and 62nd street on the northwest side of Indianapolis.

motorola-s11Sob stories aside, the Motorola S11’s are a solid set of multi-use headphones. They’re pretty clearly geared towards active use and, for the most part, they excel there. They’re in-ear, which is historically hit-or-miss with me (don’t get me started on ear buds), because most of them don’t want to stay in my ears when I’m actually active. The S11’s avoid that problem by having 5 (4 + the already attached) sizes of silicone plugs for you to swap in and out until you find the right fit.

Their behind-the-head ‘flex fit’ design is more comfortable than I thought it would be – it’s secure without being too tight and it’s light enough to avoid ear strain. The wireless nature of the setup (Bluetooth and a piece of cake to pair with Android devices) also means the semi-regular occurrence of yanking them out of my ears with wired Doing Things headphones isn’t a problem.

Barring any fading in charge retention, battery life has yet to be an issue – I usually have them up pretty loud and have had them on for in excess of 3 hours without running the battery down, but then again, I’m pretty good about charging devices on a daily basis. The on-box description says they’re good for 8 hours, so unless you’re doing an Iron Man triathlon or habitually don’t charge your devices, I can’t think of too many instances where you’d run the battery out.

Probably stemming from the “why not” school of engineering, they have a microphone for use as a hands-free device. I’ve only used it once, and it was fine, although I had to speak a little louder than normal to be heard; that’s not a serious gripe, but I didn’t buy them intending to use them as a hands-free device, either.

Sound-wise, thanks to their in-ear design, they’re solid performers. I’m not a full-on audiophile, but for the miniscule size of the speakers, they’re fairly impressive performers. They don’t match up to my over-ear Polks or Sennheisers, but that’s the nature of the beast. They get plenty loud and reproduce high- and mid-range sounds very well without being tinny. As far as the bass reproduction goes, the worst thing I can say is it’s unobjectionable – there’s no distortion, but I don’t think you’re going to be in danger of instituting vertigo, either.

The only real downside to the S11’s is the fact that, for a headset designed for active use, they have a tendency to slip in and out of my ear canal when I get sweaty while running. On a bike, doing yard work, or otherwise being active, they’re fine, but the mild “pop” I’ve gotten while on a treadmill as the in-ear part releases and then reseals in my ear is a little annoying.

Coming in on the high end, pricewise (~$100, I got the second pair on sale on Amazon for $65), for an active-use headset, I’m pretty pleased with them, although we’ll have to see if playing around with different the different size ear pieces solves the seal/release/reseal issue while running, which is an irritant in an otherwise excellent product.

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