The headphone market is in a constant state of flux. The old-school ‘big guns’ (Beyerdynamic, Sennheiser, Sony) have been challenged, first by Beats, and more recently by smaller start-ups with maybe just one or two products targeted at a very specific market. So it is with Base Audio and its Reflex G7 headphones, one of just two designs (the other being a set of extremely affordable G8 earphones) in the comparatively new brand’s line-up.
Reflex G7 was designed from the outset to be an affordable, well-made, semi-open-backed headphone design, using a lot of polished aluminium in the ear cup and head-band arms, and spring steel in the head-band itself. The grille opening the headphones to the outside world is a well-made convex mesh, akin to the cover on a Shure SM57 stage microphone, and is extremely resilient to knocks and scuffing. I’m sure using the grille as some kind of hammer will damage it, but in day-to-day use it will stand up to workaday mistreatment well. It does make the Reflex G7 quite permeable to the outside world (although classed as a semi-open design, you can hear what’s going on around you when listening to music, and the rest of the world can listen in on your taste in music), but it is small, light, and sensitive enough to be a commuter headphone, just not the first choice for overcrowded and very noisy London Underground trains.
Base Audio’s transducer of choice is a single 40mm dynamic driver; there is no secret sauce to this unit, but Base Audio are not making public the materials and construction of that driver and there is no way of getting access to it without ‘deconstructing’ the headphone in a dramatic way. It’s designed as a 32 ohm impedance design with a rated power input of 40mW and a maximum of 100mW, so Base Audio is very much intending this design to fall into the category of being used with smartphones and low-power DAPs, rather than demanding use with desktop devices.
The supplied headphone cable (a high quality, stiff braided, no-tangle affair) is a 3.5mm TRS Y-cable, meaning it takes a stereo signal and passes it to both left and right ear-cups. The headphone itself determines which is left and right channels, and this is described in the headphone band itself. This is one area that could be improved, as the marking denoting ‘left’ channel is very hard to see (it’s a raised plastic ‘L’ on the underside of the left headband terminator below a hex bolt, written both in roman capital script, and – as is too often overlooked – the raised three vertical dots denoting the letter ‘l’ in Braille). There is no direct instruction on how to find this snippet of information on the instruction manual, so you might spend time scrabbling around to try and find this every time you grab the headphones. A little splash of colour or a more obvious identifier might be useful here (a tiny blob of red Sugru on the inside of the right hand headband terminator would be enough). However, the overall look is elegant, rather like a designer Grado. The headband is made of soft and tough black plastic that is not quite grained enough to be ‘pleather’, but is comfortable and never feels heavy or sweaty. The headphones pivot well on the aluminium arms, allowing flat-pack carry, although they do not fold into the earphones for carrying in a half-moon carry case. From a Euler-angle point of view, the headphone allows adjustment in the Z-axis, but limited X and Y axis adjustment, but the aluminium arms extend well allowing the headphone to be easily accommodated on all bar the most hideous of head-shapes. Those soft foam black donut pads (which are said to be washable in warm water, and are easily replaceable) help here, too. In use, I found them extremely comfortable, even after hours of listening, and the balance of weight vs. solidity of build is just about perfect: they won’t break, and they won’t break your neck in the process!