Satechi is known for offering good products for a good price. Recent examples: an awesome $30 portable Bluetooth speaker, a high-quality headrest mount for tablets, and a whopping 10,000mAh portable charger for just $50. So when the company announced some new lightweight Bluetooth headphones (creatively named "BT Lite Headphones"), it caught my attention.
With the promise of light weight, good features, and quality sound at $45, I cracked open the package with high expectations. At first, the sound produced by the BT Lites is impressive. But run through a range of songs and you start to notice a fatal flaw - one severe enough to prevent a buy recommendation entirely.
Satechi BT Lite Headphones
- What? Light weight on-ear Bluetooth headphones.
- How much? $45 (Amazon/Satechi)
- Why? They're made by a company with a good track record, and offer a more minimalist design that might be better for use while moving around - and could be more comfortable during extended use.
- What's in the box? the headphones, a small (one folded page) manual, and - no joke - an Apple-looking USB to microUSB cable.
- Bluetooth 3.0
- 2.6 oz
- 6 hours of playback time
- MiniUSB charger
- 5.1 x 5.5 x 0.7 inches
- Sound quality (mostly): As with other Satechi products, the sound produced is very clean when compared to other Bluetooth products. The output range is good - certainly at the upper end of the spectrum for $45, though not as good as you'll find on a pair of more expensive headphones. In an era where massively overstated bass is considered a must-have, it's refreshing to find a pair of headphones that properly represents it. Plus, the padded ear pads block out a surprising amount of sound for on-ear headphones.
- Build quality: the glossy piano-black BT Lites may be mostly plastic, but they still feel well-built. The keys are clicky and firm, there's no rattle to speak of, and the pleather ear pads are delightful. Satechi knows how to make the most of plastic, especially for budget plastic.
- Comfort: thanks to the light weight and the well-padded pleather ear pads, they're extremely comfortable. Slap them on and you'll quickly forget they're there. You can leave them on for an hour or two and not experience any fatigue or discomfort - something I don't find myself saying often.
- Controls: they're clicky, they work well, and they're intuitive. Plus, there's actually an on-off switch - something lacking on most budget BT headphones.
The (Very) Bad
- Sound quality: though most aspects of the sound are great for a $45 pair of BT headphones, there's one major flaw that's a little tough to explain. Most full-fledged speakers (such as bookshelf speakers) actually pack three or more speakers (as can be seen here, for example), each dedicated to a certain range of the sound spectrum. However, headphones don't have enough space to accommodate three or more speakers, so the job usually falls to one speaker to reproduce all the sound. Most of the time, the result is perfectly acceptable given the limitations, with no adverse effects to speak of. Such is not the case with the BT Lites, which have a very, very strange problem producing the high-medium notes. During quiet spots when the emphasis is on one note with no other instruments, you can hear it simultaneously hum a lower bass-y sound at the same time. For example, in Papa Skunk's remix of Sex And Candy, each piano note sounds like it's actually two; one high-mid, and one very low. It's also noticeable during the Diva's scene in The Fifth Element during the opera portion of her song. It's an extremely annoying flaw with the sound reproduction once you hear it, even though it's only noticeable in a small percentage of music.
When it comes to budget headphones, it's rare that there's only one complaint (even if we are talking about a company who traditionally does "budget" quite well). Unfortunately, the one complaint here is an appalling corner cut. That corner alone prevents me from being able to recommend the BT Lites; in fact, the only thing I would suggest is that buyers avoid them entirely.