At the Consumer Electronics Show TCL introduced their new audio line, including the wired SOCL100 earphones with microphone. I tried them in my hotel room one night because my Bluetooth headphones needed charged. When I put them in I was impressed by the comfort and ease of achieving a good fit. Then I started the music. Whoa! These things sound really good! Clarity and detail were excellent, with solid, well controlled bass and an appropriate amount of tonal richness. I was not expecting such great earphones from a manufacturer known primarily for their affordable TVs.
I immediately looked up the price. When I saw it was $9.99 I about fell over. Impulse purchase territory! Even if you have premium earphones or prefer Bluetooth, there are lots of reasons you might what a set of SOCL100 earphones too. Airplane entertainment systems usually require a wired connection, and sometimes it is nice to just plug in and listen without worrying if your earphones are charged or not. I like to have a set of headphones or earphones in every computer or carry-on bag I have, just so I have a backup in case I forget my primary pair. They are great for the gym, too.
The only real downside to the SOCL100 is they get shrill if you play them too loudly. On my iPhone 6, this worked out to a volume setting of about 70-75% of maximum. You should not be listening that loud anyway, given the potential damage to your hearing. Keep them in the volume sweet spot and you will be very happy. They are now available in four colors on Amazon for $9.99.
As TCL has grown in market prominence I have paid more attention to them and something that impresses me is they seem to “get it.” They are getting the essentials right, meaning for a TV, excellent picture quality and ease of use, and for earphones, good sound. This is not as simple as common sense would lead you to believe. There are many products I review, some quite expensive, that do not warrant mention in the newspaper column given the limited amount of space I have every week. Either the price/performance value equation is completely out of whack, or they are outright bad. For example, I have seen many expensive TVs that have garish colors, odd motion rendition that makes humans look like poorly rendered CGI characters, and detail that is so smudged that newscasters’ hair looks like it was put on with a brush. With the TCL 5 Series TV I reviewed recently, I achieved an excellent, accurate picture without fuss, and it was incredibly gratifying, especially given the low price of the TV. With the SOCL100 earphones, I felt the same gratification. The people who developed them obviously were paying attention to getting the sound right, even if the earphones were going to sell for under $10. Well done!