As a kid, I was perfectly satisfied with whatever headphones came with my Sony Walkman. All I wanted was the ability to take my favorite mixtapes with me on the go, bobbing my head as I rode the bus to the mall on the weekend. These days, my tastes have changed considerably and my journey to find a nice set of (budget-friendly) earphones has led me through many twists and turns. Today, we take a look at the iM-590 iMetal Isolation Earphones from the good people at Maximo Products.
It seems very easy to recommend the most expensive set of headphones that you can find, but that’s not really the point, especially in today’s economic climate. I want the most bang (and thump) for my buck. The official journey, for me, began with a set of V-Moda Vibe Modaphones. Up until that point, I had not owned a single pair of earphones that cost more than about thirty bucks. Now that I’ve had a taste of premium (the Modaphones retail for about $100), it’s hard to go back to cheap earphones.
Will the less expensive Maximo iM-590 Isolation Earphones stand up to the test?
The Objective Facts and Figures
As its namesake implies, the iMetal iM-590 Isolation Earphones are constructed with a couple of lightweight alloy metal earphones, as well as a gold-plated 3.5mm audio connector. Available in your choice of platinum white (as pictured) or graphic black, the iM-590 is said to offer “performance with style and comfort.” The proprietary eartip design “provides optimal noise isolation and extended comfort.”
Going through the specs and features, you’ll find a pair of 9mm neodymium earphone drivers. They have a frequency response rate of 12Hz to 22KHz, sensitivity of >100dB, and maximum SPL output of over 120dB.
So Many Accessories, So Little Time
The last time that I reviewed a set of Maximo iMetal earphones, the package contained little more than the earphones and a carrying pouch. Such is not the case today.
Listed at $59.99, the iMetal iM-590 comes loaded with way more accessories than you could possibly expect. In addition to the earphones themselves, you get four sizes of silicon eartips, a 2.5mm stereo plug adapter (great for my Nokia E71), airline dual-plug adapter, two-foot extension cable, shirt clip, carrying case, and user guide.
That’s quite a bit of additional gear, making the iM-590 quite a good value. With so many similar products, you’d have to buy the airline and 2.5mm adapters separately. The extension cable is also a nice inclusion, especially if you’re going to toss your iPod (or other music player) in a backpack or something.
Initial Reactions and Sound Quality
What good are a stylish design and a box full of accessories going to do you if the earphones themselves fail to impress? As instructed on the earphone cord, I let the iM-590 go through its usual “burn-in” process before giving it a real listen.
My initial response was one of being impressed. Considering that these earphones are about half the price of so many other “premium” earphones, I didn’t expect the world. They easily outperform the cheaper $30 earbuds from Griffin and they’re comparable to some sets of $100 or more.
I tried a variety of music, ranging from the bass-filled beats of Kanye West to the mellow ballads of Coldplay. I also tossed some Offspring, Howling Bells, and Paramore into the mix.
In going through my playlist, I found that the iMetal iM-590 didn’t offer the same heart-thumping bass response as the appropriately named Radius Atomic Bass Earphones. The bass was still quite good, but not nearly as overbearing or ear-splitting. With songs that hit the upper end of the register, particularly with high cymbals on drums, the sound got pretty harsh.
If your music tends to hit the higher end of the treble side quite often, the iM-590 might not be the best earphone solution for you. For just about everything else, I was quite pleased, especially at this price point. That said, I’m still not a fan of the “knit cables” used here, since the cloth-like texture lends itself to the transmission of sounds when the cord brushes up against clothing.
Even though these earphones don’t cost over $100 like some of its competitors, the iM-590 iMetal Isolation Earphones provide a comfortable and powerful aural experience. The eartips create a good seal, the audio range is good, the bass response is perfectly respectable, and the range of included accessories is a definite bonus.
Overall Rating: 8.0/10