Pioneer SE-CL331 Water Resistant Headphones Review

Summer is here in the Midwest, and it's been an especially hot week so far. Outdoor sporting activities like biking, hiking and jogging during such weather conditions produce copious quantities of sweat. And on those rare occasions when getting caught in a sudden downpour is a thankful cooling off experience (as long as your electronics are not affected as a result). These are just some of the conditions that Pioneer's SE-CL331 headset was designed to handle.

Like many of you with an active lifestyle, I am constantly on the lookout for a headset that sounds great but can put up with my torture tests. I have some headsets that sound great but fall right out of my ears the moment I move my head. Others hold up to a certain degree, but when sweat starts to flow, the earphones starts to slide. I have also lost a headphone set while riding in the rain. I had my iPod protected in a sealed plastic bag, but the headphones took the brunt of the downpour. So when Pioneer announced their SE-CL331 earbud headphones, I couldn't wait to give them a road test.  To cut to the chase, they passed with flying colors.

SE-CL331-Y Package

The first thing that struck me (besides the bright yellow 'activestyle' wire and earbud color - white, pink and blue colors are also available) was how light these headphones felt seated on my ears. The earbuds are shaped in a teardrop fashion that perfectly balances them within the ridge of the outer ear and keeps them in place even during the most vigorous head bobs and swivels.  In fact, if it weren't for the fact that the lightweight wires occasionally touched my face during my high intensity exercise, I would have forgotten that the earbuds were even in my ears. I don't know of any other headset I've worn yet that has the lightweight comfort that the SE-CL331 provides.

Next up is the sound... in a word - superb.  I initially had low expectations for the sound quality, thinking that the water resistant protection would somehow dampen the audio reproduction. I was wrong. Pioneer has proven that they not only can play nice but sound fantastic during workouts as well as relaxing in an easy chair.

I even tried a splash test by dousing myself with a bottle of water while wearing the headphones and they unsurprisingly worked as advertised. They held firm while I shook the water from my head and kept the music flowing throughout the experiment. Now it must be said that while they survived this test, these headphones are water resistant, not waterproof. I don't plan on going swimming wearing these headphones anytime soon. I also wouldn't leave them in a pocket going through the wash. But I do plan on making them the first set of headphones I reach for when going out for a run.

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SE-CL331 Headset

In addition to the headphones, the package contains a cloth case, three pairs of ear tip sizes and a cord clip to keep the base wire attached to your shirt and away from moving arms.

There is one minor omission that I missed on the SE-CL331, that being a volume control. I have become quite fond of inline headphone controls to raise/lower and pause audio playback, and not having that option on these headphones had me inconveniently reaching for my encased iPod or iPhone to control music playback. And without a inline mic, I had to fall back to the old practice of unplugging the headphones to make a call. Still, I admit that having such a control pad and inline mic attached to wire adds weight and bulk to headsets, so I'm learning to live without the convenience on this headset.

Overall, I am thoroughly impressed with the Pioneer SE-CL331 earbud headphones. They are high quality, operate when wet, sound awesome and feel light as a feather in the ears. If you're an active person like me who is tired of dealing with earbuds constantly slipping out of your ears when body temperature rises and things get hot and sweaty, give the SE-CL331 headphones a try. They certainly made me smile and rock out while fending off this week's Midwestern heatwave!

Product: SE-CL331 Water-Resistant Earbud Headphones
Manufacturer: Pioneer Electronics
Price: $59.99
Rating: 5/5 stars

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Mike Riley is a frequent contributor to several technical publications and specializes in emerging technologies and new development trends. Mike was previously employed by RR Donnelley as the company’s Chief Scientist, responsible for determining innovative technical approaches to improve the company’s internal and external content services. Mike also co-hosted Computer Connection, a technology enthusiast show broadcast on Tribune Media's CLTV.