By: Aaron Lai
September 11, 2015
"I have too much chips for my dip. But if I open a new dip, I'll have too much dip for my chips." Have you ever faced a problem like this? Maybe you have poured out a bowl of cereal before remembering there is no milk left, or you are too cold because your air conditioning had been on for too long. All of these situations are what can only be described as rich people problems, or first world problems. In fact, we complain about these so much, YouTuber Ryan Higa, also known as nigahiga, decided to make a video called "First World Problems" to showcase the so-called problems people like us face while living in wealthier nations. Of course, this video is meant to display the triviality of the issues we face, and contrast them with actual problems such as meeting basic needs for survival. We laugh at things like this partly because they are quite silly, or even because we have complained about these things in the past. When it comes to reviewing products however, I can safely say many of the problems we bring up are also first world problems. For example, in Editor-in-Chief Jonathan Kwan's face-off of three competitive 4TB NAS drives last year, he had to make the "difficult decision" of choosing one of the three competitive hard drives. One of the problems I run into often appears when I review headphones. When I test and compare between multiple over-the-ear headphones, I need somewhere to place my other headset. I could rest it down on the table, but I would rather not, since it clutters up my desk and just looks messy. Enter today's product, the SilverStone Ensemble EBA01, which solves an audiophile's and a reviewer's problem, more so than a first world problem. Is it just a glorified paperweight, or is there something more to the EBA01? Let us read on to find out!
Much like an ensemble, the SilverStone Ensemble EBA01 did not travel alone. More specifically, shipping with the EBA01 is the Tundra TD02-LITE and the Tundra TD03-LITE, both of which will be reviewed by Brian Cheung in the weeks to come. As usual, United Parcel Service was used to deliver our large brown corrugated cardboard box from the southwestern state of California, USA, to our APH Networks Calgary location. Thankfully, there were only one or two bumps and bruises on the box, so I can safely assume the products inside are also in good condition. Inside the box, we are immediately greeted with a load of packing peanuts to the brim. This is not something we always see, but it is always fun to observe these small foam pieces popping out upon opening.
The retail container of the SilverStone Ensemble EBA01 is what I describe as classy and clean. The box has a black background, with a few other things on the front to highlight. First, SilverStone's logo is found on the top left corner, with the product name and description printed in the middle of the box. To the right of the text is a picture of a silver Ensemble EBA01. Just to note, today we have the black version, but the EBA01 comes in silver as well. Finally at the bottom of the box there are a few features listed. More information is found the back of the packaging in other languages.
Before we open this box up, let us grab the specifications, as obtained from the manufacturer's website.
- Color: Silver, Black
- Material: Aluminum
- Dimension: 150mm (W) x 280mm (H) x 220mm (D)
- Net Weight: 1.48kg
When I held the retail box of the Ensemble EBA01, I was actually surprised at the weight despite a slim box. However, the contents of the box reveals the reason for the weight. In between large cutouts of foam are three large metal pieces, each in their own plastic bags. These metal pieces make up the stand when put together. In addition, there are two small sealable bags; one for a metal mounting plate, and one for some screws and an attachable rubber pad. A small pamphlet is included here, and it lists the package contents, and gives instructions on assembling the entire stand. Before we actually construct the stand, I will do a quick inspection of each of the parts.
First are two longer pieces of metal. The wider piece on the left side of the photo is used to directly support the headphones. The top side where the headphone sits is curved, while the other side is flat. This flat side has an indented rectangular area, which attaches to the provided metal plate. Otherwise, there is a mysterious screw hole on the opposite end of the rectangular indent. Neither the included pamphlet nor SilverStone's website explains this hole, so your guess is as good as mine. Despite its sharp looking sides, this metal piece is rounded off, so there should be no worry of it cutting into the headband. The thinner metal piece on the right side of the photo is the neck of the stand, and it connects the headphone holder to the base of the stand. This piece is understandably lighter, but it feels just as sturdy. One end of the neck has two screw holes and a protruding peg, and the other end has two more screw holes. The neck is curved, but this is done so more for style points than anything else.
In the photo above we have the base, with one of the rubber feet unattached. The bottom of the neck attaches here and mounts in place. Afterwards, users can place the included rubber pad in place for even distribution of weight. Those exhibiting obsessive-compulsiveness signs should also be relieved as it creates an balanced looking base too. I understand why SilverStone has integrated the rubber feet to hide the mounting holes, as this makes the base clean and without any extraneous marks. However, if you ever want to take apart the Ensemble EBA01, you will have to remove the sticky foot, which will reduce the stickiness.
With some quick turns of a screwdriver, I was able to put the Ensemble EBA01 quickly together. I have to say it is quite an attractive finished result. All of the metal pieces are neither smooth nor gritty, but are capable of holding the headset in place. The finish is good at not showing most fingerprints, but heavier stains are visible on this surface. I tried to lightly scratch the surface with my fingernail, but I ended up filing my nail instead of scratching the metal. Another positive aesthetic point of the Ensemble EBA01 is the silver reflective ring that circles around the top of the base. It stands out from the matte black finish and provides some shine. The curved neck connecting the holder and the base is also attractive, and the entire piece is pleasing to the eye. In fact, the only thing I would change with this stand is the SilverStone's logo, since it seems kind of tacky and out of place. I would prefer to see the name and logo engraved into the stand, whether on either the neck or on the base, for a more subtle effect. However, this is really nit picking, and I do not have much to complain about in terms of build quality or design. Others have commented in saying the Ensemble EBA01 would work well as a desk lamp, and I think this speaks to the eye-pleasing design of the headset stand. I think adding lighting effects with drastically increase the cool factor of this product.
Placed on the SilverStone Ensemble EBA01 are two headsets I have previously reviewed, the Kingston HyperX Cloud II in all its pink glory, and the ever colorful SteelSeries Siberia V3 Prism. SilverStone has mentioned the Ensemble EBA01 can easily accommodate two headphones at a time, but there is another reason why I chose these two particular models. On display are two common implementations of headbands; with a padded band on the Cloud II and a suspended band on the Siberia V3 Prism. I have noticed the headphone holder of the EBA01 actually contours with a very similar curve as the padded headband, thus removing any possibility of stress points. This is similar to other headsets, but of course, not all of them are exactly the same curvature as the headset holder. On the other hand, resting headsets with suspended bands will vary depending on the weight of the headset. Heavier headsets will increase the normal force applied on the headband by the holder portion of the stand. However, the wide and gradual curve should evenly distribute the forces, so this should not be too much of a concern. Quickly accessing either headset after it is placed on the stand is not a problem either, but it will vary depending on the size of the two headphones on the unit. At a hefty weight of 1.48kg, the EBA01 is more than capable of holding a couple of headphones and not toppling. Dimensions of 150 x 280 x 220mm (WxHxD) means the stand will require some room on your desk, but not too much either. To sum it up then, the Ensemble EBA01 is more than capable in holding a couple of headsets, regardless of the kind of headband.
I was talking to my friend about how I could succinctly wrap up the review of the SilverStone Ensemble EBA01, to which she aptly responded, "It works." Joking aside, this is a concise and correct way of summing up the EBA01, because it definitely works. Furthermore, it looks great too. Starting with the aesthetics, this is one of SilverStone's best looking products we have reviewed, and it makes sense. With the EBA01, SilverStone has ensured the stand does not detract any physical appearances from the headphones. The matte black and silver circular accent is impressive and eye-catching. The build quality is solid, with enough heft and durability to rest all kinds of headsets on it. In addition, the ease of actually assembling the stand together is much appreciated. The stand itself easily holds multiple headsets by evenly distributing the weight of the headset on the headband. There are only two downsides I can eke out with the SilverStone Ensemble EBA01. First is the requirement of removing the sticky rubber grip if you ever want to take apart the stand. I would much rather expose the screw holes just to ensure I would never have to remove the rubber pad again. Second is SilverStone's logo placement. I would appreciate if it was displayed more subtly. Both of these points are minor, and SilverStone has otherwise produced a flawless headphone stand. It would be pretty cool to see the Ensemble EBA01 light up for some funkiness, but it is classy looking nonetheless. Looking at online retailers, the SilverStone Ensemble EBA01 is not necessarily cheap, with a retail price as low as $60 USD, but I would say this is for a niche market. Considering the target audience, the price is not too bad, especially if it means placing a pair of several hundred dollar V-MODAs or an even more expensive pair of headphones without any worry of damaging the headset. The SilverStone Ensemble EBA01 may not be for everyone, but those who buy it will be impressed.
SilverStone provided this product to APH Networks for the purpose of evaluation.
APH Review Focus Summary:
8/10 means Definitely a very good product with drawbacks that are not likely going to matter to the end user.
7/10 means Great product with many advantages and certain insignificant drawbacks; but should be considered before purchasing.
-- Final APH Numeric Rating is 7.9/10
Please note that the APH Numeric Rating system is based off our proprietary guidelines in the Review Focus, and should not be compared to other sites.
The SilverStone Ensemble EBA01 simply works, and it looks stunning in the process.
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