It’s hard out there for a new pair of wired earphones. It’s harder still if they’re on Kickstarter instead of a Best Buy retail shelf, and it’s hardest of all if they’re produced from a complete neophyte of a company. That’s the challenge ahead for the StarBrick Be4 in-ear headphones that I’ve been listening to for the past few days, but I’m encouraged to say they have what it takes to overcome their humble beginnings.
The Be4 are built around one of the priciest materials around, beryllium, whose lightness and rigidity prove incredibly useful in the creation of dynamic audio drivers that can recreate music faithfully and without improper resonances or distortion. Beryllium is the core ingredient in the best dynamic-driver headphones I’ve heard so far, the $3,999 Focal Utopias, and seeing it make an appearance in such tiny and affordable headphones as the Be4 is what intrigued me to give these new buds a listen.
The good news is that the StarBrick Be4 keep my happy track record with beryllium intact. They have a very sweet, mellow sound that can be enjoyed for many hours at a time. I like their reproduction of vocals, which is especially good on Bjork’s Homogenic, and their wide soundstage and sense of detail. They don’t have great dynamic range, as I feel like they lack the deepest bass and highest treble, but that’s part of what makes them such a comfortable listen. For my tastes, they lack the bite and aggression that I favor (a good example of which might be Shure’s SE535s, which have an extra sliver of bass and Shure’s characteristically efferverscent treble), however I can see them being an excellent pick for people with more laid-back preferences.
The usual Kickstarter caveat must apply here: you’re dealing with an unknown company that has no prior successful products to its name (I checked and this is the very first StarBrick product of any kind), and you’re taking on a greater risk than moseying down to the nearest electronics store and picking up a pair of generic buds. That being said, I like these Be4 earbuds: they fit well, they’re handsomely designed, and they’re nicely tuned. The first 75 backers can grab a pair for $99, followed by $109 for the next 75, and $119 for anyone else still keen, with deliveries promised for August.