Quite some time back I reviewed Maximo's iMetal Earbud headset and thought they were a quality product. True to it's name, I liked the metal earbud housings vs. plastic, the sound was good, and the performance for phone calls was more than acceptable. I've had a chance to try out another Maximo product, the iMetal Isolation Headset, available here in the iMore Store for $69.95. So how do they measure up? How do they compare to the earbud headset that I also like from Maximo? Read on for the full review!
Like other Maximo headset products, you get more for your money than just a wired headset. Inside the package are the high-fidelity isolation headphones, three pairs of rubber ear tips (Small, Medium, and Large), a two-foot extension cable, and a small silver carrying pouch for your earphones.
The first thing you will notice when removing the headphones is that the earphones have a little weight to them. They are, indeed, metal -- no cheap plastic to be found here -- and they are heavier than a more cheaply-made plastic earphone housing. The materials used and build quality of the earphones inspire confidence and, in my case, I was expecting a superior sound to the headphones I've used in the past.
The Maximo iMetal Isolation headset has a lightweight aluminum alloy body for the headphone housings. As previously mentioned, the earphones themselves are high-fidelity isolation earphones with 9mm neodymium drivers and a maximum SPL output of <120dB -- quite a bit of sound even for the most robust listenenr. The headset cable is four feet in length and includes an additional 2 feet of extension cable, if needed. The connection is via a 3.5mm connector with stereo audio and mono high-definition condenser mic.
What all that means is that these headphones can crank out the sound and the whole idea behind "isolation" is the rubber ear tips are supposed to fit snugly in each ear, both eliminating outside noise while giving you, the listener, the best sound experience possible for your music, podcasts, or movies. In addition to a rich audio experience, these headphones are equipped with the aforementioned condenser mic for phone calls. Where each earphone cable meets, there is a soft-touch button for call answer/end and song pause/skip. The soft-touch button also supports the triple-tap for moving to the previous song on your list. Very handy indeed.
The carrying bag is a nice extra. When you are done listening and want to stow away your headphones, just coil them up and put them in the pouch, pull the drawstring to close, and worry less about the cable getting tangled up. With the extra 2-foot extension cord, you can wear your iPhone or iPod just about anywhere on your person and still have enough headphone cord length for comfort.
A few years ago, I switched to isolation-type headphones when I bought a pair of Sony headphones with the rubber ear tips. Once making that upgrade, I'll never go back to standard earbud earphones. The quality of sound and the isolation of outside noise is simply too good to pass up. Given that my previous experience has been my Sony product, that is what I have to compare with these iMetal Isolation headphones.
Before you can enjoy these headphones fully, you need to spend a little time to find the ear tips that work best for you. With small, medium, and large tips to choose from, you want to find the ear tip that fits snuggly and comfortably. You might even find that one ear canal is bigger than the other and you could end up with a medium tip on one ear and a large tip on the other -- that's just fine. It's nice to have the option.
Once you have the right fit, start to enjoy some very rich sound. The basses are punchy, the mid-range is solid and the highs are clear. For the price, I was quite impressed with the quality of sound I got to experience with the Maximo iMetal Isolation headset. The volume is impressive - I never got close to turning things all the way up because it gets plenty loud. Even when I turned it up, the headset remained clear and the audio did not distort in any noticeable way.
Taking phone calls is a cinch with this headset. When a phone call is coming through, the music will pause automatically and you can choose to accept the call. The call audio will come through your headphones in stereo, then just talk freely and the tiny condenser mic on the headset cord will pick up your voice just fine. I had no complaints from people I spoke to on the phone while wearing this headset.
My only concern with the headset is the fit of the rubber ear tips. In order to provide the most comfort possible and to ensure a snug fit so you can be reasonably active while wearing this headset, the rubber used in the tips is very soft and flexible. You need to insert them in your ear with care so as to not form TOO tight a fit - when fitting them too tightly, I found that the ear tips can create an uncomfortable "suction" in the ear. This can be remedied by removing the ear tips and replacing them more carefully in your ears, and also verifying that you are using the correct size for your ear. If they are too small, the suction effect is more likely.
The Maximo iMetal Isolation headset is a good quality headset that provides rich sound for the money. I like the aluminum alloy material for the headphones, the selection of three different sizes of ear tips, the soft-touch call button, and the extension cable and carrying pouch. This headset offers a lot of nice features and a great isolation-experience sound for a reasonable price. They are just a little more expensive than the Sony headphones I bought a few years ago, but in my opinion, offer a superior sound experience. I do feel it is necessary to deduct some points for the too-soft rubber used in the ear tips that can sometimes create an uncomfortable suction in the ear. Otherwise, this headset is a quality product that you should be satisfied with.