Samsung is trying to add some additional cachet to its brand with a self-produced line of high-end audio accessories, dubbed “Level” by the Korean electronics giant. The Level series includes three different types of headphones, including an in-ear model, an on-ear version and an over-ear variety. The Level In, Level On and Level Over each offer a different experience, but they all serve the same purpose (and achieve the same goal): Give Samsung Galaxy device owners a line of accessories to call their very own.
Samsung Level In
The Level In is a “premium” in-ear headset, complete with an inline mic and remote that offers volume control on modern Galaxy devices as well as play/pause and track control. It comes in either white or black, with metallic accents, and ships with various earbuds for varying fit and a carrying case.
Samsung’s design is a bit overdramatic for my liking with the Level In, as they appear large and bulky – they seem designed to attract attention, in other words, and perhaps to signal to viewers that the wearer is rocking Samsung buds. The size doesn’t make them overly heavy to wear, but it might contribute to the general discomfort I experienced when wearing these.
Somehow, despite presenting a plethora of tip options for various fits of the earbuds, none of those included actually work with my ears, which isn’t a problem I typically have with in-ear type headphones. The squishy memory foam variety come closest, but these still don’t alleviate the slight pain I get in my ears from wearing these for extended periods.
Sound quality, when a seal is achieved, is decent, and on par with ear buds in the $100 range. You can still get better sound from buds that are cheaper, however, including the Klipsch S5 series, and those are more comfortable to wear in my experience. The remote controls, especially volume on an Android phone, are nice, but again only real benefits if you have a Samsung Galaxy device.
Samsung Level On
On-ear headphones have to strike a delicate balance in terms of blending comfort with a lightweight design that doesn’t box ears in, and Samsung has managed to create a headset that does that with the Level On. The soft leather accents on the top band and earcups are extremely comfortable, and look good on the white/tan model I tried out.
The Level On also folds up for easy storage, and comes with its own hard shell carrying case. It’s light on the head and in the hand, and it comes with a cable with a built-in remote/mic combo that works with Galaxy devices, and provides basic functionality for other Android devices and iPhones.
Overall, Samsung has done well with the design on the Level On, but the metal-look accents and slightly pearlescent paint don’t mask the fact that at base, these are still constructed mostly of plastic, and don’t necessarily have the premium feel of other headphones priced in this range. Audio quality is good, with a somewhat strong bass performance, but get muddy at the top end. They’re generally unimpressive performers, however, and if audio quality is your top priority, other options in this range will serve you better.
Samsung Level Over
The Level Over is Samsung’s top-of-the-line set, and provide big leather-lined cups that completely enclose a listener’s ears. They look much the same as the Level On, borrowing the same design cues and color styles (though the ones I reviewed came in a piano black) and they also wear quite comfortably. Over-ear headphones are generally more bulky, and these are definitely that, and in fact they add a decent amount of weight, too. They do cover my large-ish ears nicely as a result, however.
The problem with the Level Over, which have active noise cancellation, is that this key feature isn’t executed all that well; the internal, rechargeable battery works well, but when on the noise cancellation produces a lot of auditory feedback when connected to a source, and still isn’t quite as powerful at blocking out ambient noise as industry leaders like the Bose QC15.
Samsung’s audio quality likewise leaves something to be desired with the Level Over (sound comes through somewhat tinny and lacking the rich quality you’ll get with headphones from companies with more audio chops), but the trade-offs in terms of their complete compatibility with the Galaxy range and in-line controls might make that an exchange worth making.