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If you think of headphone brands, the last company that’ll come to mind is probably Happy Plugs. To be fair, I hadn’t heard of Happy Plugs before this, but the Swedish firm has been crafting fashionable yet functional buds for quite a while.
Only recently setting foot in South Africa, we got hold of a pair of Happy Plug’s in-ear monitors in a Beyonce-like shimmering gold finish. Was it my favourite colour? Not quite, but these little buds are more than just skin deep, it seems.
It’s always great to be proven wrong as a reviewer too, and boy, were my preconceptions of these plugs shattered when I eventually shoved them in my ears.
But before we get to that, let’s look at the Swedish style that’s very apparent throughout the Happy Plugs’ design.
The in-ears are wound about in a tiny clear plastic box padded by impact-resistant plastic, but charismatically arranged in a way to resemble a musical note. It’s adorable. Of course, the rest of the metre-odd cable is looped around behind the foam.
The braided cable is a generous length too, and should be more than enough for the average user. About a quarter of the way down, where the two independent ear cables meet, there’s a handy little microphone hole and play/pause button. I didn’t find that I used these all that often, but they were definitely nice to have.
Other than the colour (which will be to some peoples’ tastes) they’re an attractive piece of kit. The Happy Plugs in-ear feature soft silicone tips and three additional sizes. I found the default tips to fit perfectly but didn’t quite form a good air seal every time, probably thanks to the shape of my ear canals rather than the buds themselves. Nevertheless, it meant that there was usually one unbalanced ear or an ear not getting as much bass or treble as the other. This was easily remedied though by pulling the offending bud out a little.
Beyond that? Well, there’s pretty little wrong with these little buds.
Traditionally, light earphones produce some terrible sound, but this isn’t the case at all with the Happy Plugs. And they’re more than happy to live with any genre thrown at them too.
When listening to hip-hop, you’ll get deep, throbbing bass while classical music will feature balanced, well composed highs and mids. Perhaps the only criticism is with rock music, where the buds did sound a little overwhelmed when there were more than a few concurrent sounds.
Easily, the Happy Plugs in-ears should be in your traveller’s pack. They’re wholesome, complete and thick in terms of sound, which is more than what I can say from most Beats By Dre.
Thanks to the braided cable, these buds almost never tangle while worn either, or tangle in a pocket for that matter. And thanks to the wide range of colours (thankfully, they’re not just available in gold), they’re more fashionable than most earbuds available.
Verdict: The Happy Plugs in-ears are up there with the best earbuds I’ve ever used, and for just R499, they’re extremely difficult to overlook. I find them difficult to fault, although these won’t fit every ear like a glove, which is a general issue with in-ear buds. Nevertheless, if they do, sit back and enjoy the amazing sound quality of these little gems.
Our Happy Plug in-ear review unit was kindly provided by Gammatek.