REVIEW: Maximo iMetal iP-HS2 Isolation Headset for iPhone

The Apple iPhone, if Steve Jobs is to be believed, was designed to replace your existing cell phone and your iPod. In this way, one of the most crucial functions of your iPhone is its ability to play music.

While a standard set of headphones is perfectly capable of sending tunes to your ears, real audiophiles will want a better aural experience. For those folks, Maximo has the iMetal Isolation Headset for iPhone.

Features and Specifications

Contrary to popular belief, the headphones that are included with most MP3 players — including the iPod and iPhone — are far from the best in the industry. You need to look at some high quality aftermarket headphones to really unleash the potential of your portable media player. The iPhone is no exception, so let’s have a look at what the iMetal iP-HS2 Isolation Headset has to offer. Among the features and specs are:

- Lightweight aluminum alloy body
- High fidelity isolation earphones
- Soft-touch button for call answer/end and song pause/skip
- 3 sizes of ear tips
- iPhone-compatible stereo headset plug
- 2 foot extension cable
- Carrying pouch
- 9mm neodynmium earphone drivers
- Frequency response: 18Hz – 22 KHz
- Maximum SPL output: over 120 dB
- Microphone sensitivity: 44dB +/- 3dB @ 1KHz
- Headset cable length: 4 feet
- Lifetime warranty

Although it is marketed for the iPhone, the iP-HS2 is perfectly compatible with just about anything that uses a 3.5mm headset jack. This includes other multimedia phones as well as standard (non-phone) MP3 players. If you want to use it with an iPod or a Sansa, you can. The high-definition condensor mic becomes useless at that point, of course, and the inline control no longer works either.

Initial Impressions

The packaging is certainly attractive on this Maximo headset. The box has this beautiful matte black finish and it’s a great look for the chic iPhone crowd. Inside, you’ll find a plastic tray that contains the headset, an instruction sheet, the extension cable, a set of replacement ear tips, and a silver carrying pouch. Maximo has certainly done a good job with presentation.

You can tell right away that the iMetal iP-HS2 is a premium headset. The build quality looks to be quite good and I appreciate the chrome accents on the ear pieces. The cord itself feels a little cheaper and could stand to have a little more insulation though. The soft in-line button looks pretty good and is in line with the aesthetics of the rest of the headset. I did find the mic, which is a like a small marble in the cord, to be a little off-putting.

These headphones are comfortable. I’m a big fan of in-ear style headphones, so I knew that I would like the iMetal Isolation Headset from Maximo on this front. Included in the package are three sizes of ear tips, so you can choose the one that best fits your ear canal. The medium pair worked the best for me. The rubber tips are soft and I could wear them for hours.

Sound Quality

If you want to get lost in your music (or conversation as the case may be), Maximo has you covered. The in-ear style headphones do a great job of blocking out the world so that you can be alone with your tunes.

When I first used the iP-HS2 with my iPod, I found that the sound quality was a little too harsh. The instructions said that because these are dynamic drivers, it was necessary for the headphones to undergo a burn-in period for several hours. This made a world of difference. After letting the earphones burn in for about 6 hours, the sound quality was much improved.

The iMetal Isolation Headset offers very deep and rich bass notes, but the higher end of the scale isn’t quite as well represented. This isn’t too big of a deal for fans of hip hop, but if you’re more into pop and rock music, this headset might not work out quite as well for you. They’re still a vast improvement over the headphones that are included with most MP3 players though.

Standard Earbuds Instead?

If you don’t like isolation-style in-ear headphones, Maximo has a nearly identical unit called the iMetal Stereo Headset for iPhone. Also known as the iP-HS1, this headset comes with a set of standard earbuds instead of the in-ear style headphones of the iP-HS2. The other critical difference is that the cord is white instead of black. I personally prefer the black cord and the in-ear style of the Isolation Headset over this other pair.

Conclusion

Both the iP-HS2 iMetal Isolation Headset and the iP-HS1 Stereo Headset have an MSRP of $69.99. This makes them quite a bit pricier than the budget models on the market, but these headsets from Maximo are still a lot more affordable that the ultra-premium headsets out there. The sound quality was decent, but the emphasis on the bass makes for a bit of a hollow experience. On the comfort front, I can’t complain. The different sized rubber ear tips block outside noise with the best of them without making your ear canals feel like they’re being stretched open.

In the end, Maximo has done a decent job with the two iMetal headsets for the iPhone, but they could stand to improve the overall sound quality to satisfy all musical preferences.


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