Research has shown that music can help us perform better while working out, so a suitable pair of headphones is essential. Most ‘sport’ headphones are earbud-style, but if you’re looking for an alternative then there is the Philips Action Fit SH15200. These on-the-ear headphones are ergonomic, lightweight and have decent sound quality.
If you’re expecting sound quality like the Bose SoundSport or the Sennheiser CX685, then you’ll be sorely disappointed. The ActionFit’s audio performance is decent, but nothing mind-blowing. But then again, there are hardly any on-the-ear headphones made for sports, so there aren’t many models to compare them to.
Equipped with a large pair of 40mm dynamic drivers, the headphones produce deep and powerful bass – perfect for energy tracks and genres such as electronic dance, pop and rock music.With a frequency response of 18Hz to 21,000Hz, the headphones are able to handle both low and high frequencies well. They are not very accurate, as the response is warm and lively rather than flat, but unless you’re an audiophile, there shouldn’t be much complaint.
Bass performs best, but not at the cost of overwhelming other ranges. The sound is deep, punchy and surprisingly smooth – not muddied like many ‘unbalanced’ bass-heavy headphones like the Beats. Mids are solid and the trebles are clear and detailed, although they fall short of being bright and sparkly.The quality improves significantly after the headphones have been broken into, although this requires patience which not everyone can afford to spare. They have a wide and spacious sound stage, allowing users to discern what is happening around them while still enjoying their music.
The ActionFit offers plenty of volume, but you probably don’t want to blast them on high, since the midrange suffers and vocals tend to sound crackly and distorted. They play best at moderate levels of noise. The headphones are made for use with portable music devices such as smartphones, iPods and Mp3 players, with a low impedance rating of 32ohms and high sensitivity of 101dB.
Design and Build
Supra aural headphones tend to leak sound, and this is quite apparent with the ActionFit headphones. They also have an open-back design – which is fine for jogging outdoors, but less ideal for a bus ride, as your neighbour on the commute will be able to hear every beat on your playlist. And crying babies? Forget about reducing any kind of environmental noise. The upside is that the headphones are great for users who want to listen to music, but still be aware of their surroundings.
True to their ‘sports’ label, the headphones are compact, lightweight and portable. At just over 3.5 ounces, it’s easy to forget that you have them on your ears. Unlike in-ear designs which tend to build up heat, the Action Fit’s unique ear cushions are covered in a moisture-wicking fabric that repels water and sweat. Their water-resistant feature means that users can even use them while jogging in the rain. Comfy and soft, they keep the ears dry and cool for long hours of wear. The cushions can be taken out and washed after workouts.
The headphones have a relatively tight clamp, and the headband features a rubbery, silicone grip that helps to prevent slippage. Although they are likely to move a little when subjected to vigorous movements like jumping jacks, the headphones should stay securely in place with activities like weight lifting, jogging or running.
Unfortunately, they do not fold down for easy storage, although the frame is thin and should be able to fit into bags with ease. The frame is mainly plastic and feels rather flimsy so care should be taken when handling the headphones. Style wise, they’re not cutting edge, with an orange and black color that is pretty basic.
Although not expensive, the Action Fit definitely costs more than some in-ear headphones with better sound quality – so it’s disappointing that they have no additional features. A mic would have been good for starters, since many users answer and make calls on their smartphones while working out. There are also no inline controls to adjust volume, or pause, play or skip tracks. Instead, the Action Fit comes with a non-detachable cord which divides into two segments. The shorter cable is roughly arm’s length, so users can plug the headphones into an iPod on their armband, whereas the longer length goes down into your shorts pocket. The cord is single-sided and made from Kevlar-reinforced material to prevent tangling and snagging, and ends in a standard 3.5mm audio plug that is compatible with most devices.
Pros and Cons
- Lightweight and portable
- Reasonable audio performance
- Punchy bass
- Sweat resistant with moisture wicking fabric, padding can be removed for washing
- Good grip for regular exercise such as jogging, running or lifting weights
- Single-sided cable is Kevlar reinforced to avoid tangling
- Cable separates into two parts
- Looks and feels cheap
- Slips with vigorous movement
- No mic or inline controls
- Poor noise isolation, a lot of noise leaks
There are definitely some hits and misses with the Action Fit headphones. Sound quality is not the best, but it should be good enough for everyday use. Bass is pumped up, and mids are trebles are well-balanced, although they distort at high volumes. Noise isolation is poor so if you’re looking for a private listening experience, these are not the headphones for you. However, considering that many sports headphones are ‘earbud’ types, the Action Fit is still a good choice for those who prefer the comforts of on-the-ear headphones.