And so I continue my journey through the jungle that is low-cost Bluetooth earphones with the MPOW Flame.
The MPOW Flame is $20. That’s the cheapest pair of earbuds I’ve tried in a long while, so I don’t have much of a point of reference going in. So I guess I’ll say that I’ve heard worse-sounding earbuds than this, but not many. The standard Apple earbuds are probably better. The $7 Sony MH755’s are surely a lot better. But these are wireless.
In the Box
- carrying case
- USB-A to microUSB charging cable
- 3x replacement eartips (including a pair of foam eartips!)
- user guide
Comfort, Build, Appearance, Functionality
Upon opening up the Flame’s box, I was pleased to see a little circular carrying case. Of course this case isn’t particularly premium (or premium-looking), and it’s probably there more as a consolation prize since these don’t have a charging case. But, for $20, it’s a nice little zip-up case.
Unfortunately, my delight didn’t continue when I saw the actual earphone. Granted, I didn’t know at the time that it only cost $20, and when I found that out, it all started to make sense. At this price, the build leaves little to be desired. Still, I’m not a big fan of the long, flat cable (I never have liked these cables), nor of the overall bland design, which employs mostly plastic and rubber. What I do like is the assortment of colors in which the Flame is available, my favorite being blue-grey.
When it comes to comfort, yes, the Flames did fit into my ears, and they were secure enough thanks to their earhooks. Unfortunately, I found that they felt a bit loose overall, but hey, at $20, who cares? I’ve experienced the same sensation with earphones costing multiple thousands of dollars, so can I really complain? (Probably not…)
The Flame functioned with minimal interruptions in the signal, but there were a couple. It’s also IPX-7 waterproof, so you’ll be able to wear it during your workout without worrying about damage from sweat.
You might be familiar with the headphone reviewer term “warm,” which means that you get a little bit more of the lower-mids and midbass, and a little bit less of the treble. Maybe that’s why MPOW called this the “Flame,” because it starts off in the direction of having a slightly warmer sound, and then just keeps running in that direction until all the musical information besides the midbass and lower mids might as well not even exist. In addition, it sounds to me like there are some pretty severe issues with ringing. The result is that even the mids / midbass are fatiguing.
Subbass is pretty much gone – there’s severe roll-off, so even if the boosted midbass tricks you into thinking you’re getting good bass, rest assured that you’re not. The treble, meanwhile, is there, sort of, but it’s so recessed behind the lower mids that it’s barely worth considering.
Pros and Cons
Pros: They cost $20! 🙂
Cons: They don’t sound very good… :/
Call me pretentious, and you’d probably be at least partially right. But before you do, consider this: you can pay $10 more for considerably better-sounding sports-oriented Bluetooth earbuds (just see my recent review of the Axloie Goin for an example), and that’s what I’m suggesting you do. So speaketh I, Shirley Madoff, because that’s definitely my real name and not at all a pseudonym.
Regardless, you can find a pair of the MPOW Flames on Amazon.
UPDATE: I’m obliged to inform the readership that the zipper on the case broke right after I published this review. Oh, well!