Creative HS-930i headphones review

3.5 out of 5
£89.99

For

Sound good when you get the position right, in-line mic and remote button control

Against

No volume control, silicone ear tips are too flimsy, plastic finish lacks the high-end appeal some rivals offer

The Creative HS-930i headphones are designed with the iPhone in mind - they even picture the iPhone on the box and the inclusion of an in-line mic and a control button make them appear to have everything the discerning iPhone owner would need. But do they deliver once out of the box?

The first thing that surprises us is that the HS-930i is yet another design from Creative, yet carry the same price as the EP-3NC and Aurvana In-Ear2, which leaves us sort of wondering why there couldn't be some sort of crossover - after all, the admirable performance of the Aurvana In-Ear2 is equally valid on this type of headphone. 

That aside, they offer up metal bodies with a swivelling bottom plastic section which means you can change the way the cable points out at the bottom. The main aim here is to allow you to wear the HS-930i's either conventionally, or routing the cables over the ears, as to your preference.

The plastic ends to the ear buds and the plastic surround on the 3.5mm jack give the impression that the HS-930i aren't of the same quality as previous headphones we've seen from Creative. The cable divider is rubber whereas the Aurvana is metal. Little details, but notable none the less.

This sense of lesser-quality also extends to the silicone ear tips. You get the choice of three sizes so you can fit them to your ear canals to get the best possible noise isolation and thereby improve the performance of your headphones. However they seem surprisingly soft and we'd have preferred for them to be slightly thicker to create a better seal in the ear.

As a result of the softer ear tips, we found that getting the correct position in the ear was more difficult than on some rivals. With some fiddling we found the perfect spot where isolation was good and the bass came thumping through without wiping out those important details. We've been impressed with Creative's attention to audio performance in the past and the HS-930i are very capable, a full leap and bound ahead of your bundled iPhone headphones.

Creative have also included an in-line mic with a single button control. This isn't the licensed Apple version that we saw on the likes of the B&W P5 headphones, but works in a similar way. There is one exception in that it doesn't give you volume control buttons, which is a shame as changing the volume will see you having to fish your iPhone out of your pocket.

The button does let you answer calls and hang-up as well as offering multi-press commands and voice controls, so you can tell your iPhone to serve up a platter of Phil Collins goodness and it will obey.

The mic, of course, means you can also make and receive calls without having to remove the headphones. Callers reported that they could hear a lot of background noise coming through the mic when out in public as it doesn't offer the sort of signal processing that some dedicated headsets will. However, we could still be heard which is the most important thing. 

Included in the box you get a soft case for your headphones as well as an adapter which will give you a double 3.5mm jack arrangement for connecting to a notebook with separate headphone and mic sockets so you can use the HS-930i for VoIP calling and so on, which is a useful addition for those on the move.

Verdict

Priced at £89.99, the HS-930i headphones are in a competitive space with the likes of Sennheiser, Etymotics, Bose and Klipsch all having rival offerings around this price and offering smiliar in-line mics and Apple controls. We're disappointed not to find a volume control which seems to be ominously missing.

Combined with the softer ear tips, we can't help feeling that the Creative HS-930i headphones are perhaps not as good as they could be.