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Great cans, but ear pads let me down
Posted by Purple Helmet from Maryland on 2011-03-20
Isolation, superior sound, deep bass, sound stage & clarity
Ear pads are uncomfortable, don't rotate
I have several backpacks and camera cases for every occasion. In the same way, I have headphones for different occasions and uses. I needed a good closed back set of headphones with good noise isolation properties and good quality audio sound stage. Although I don't consider myself to be an audiophile, I enjoy listening to music and what better way to listen than through a good set of headphones. So, based on the number of outstanding reviews, I decided to purchase the SRH 440 headphones.
Well, when I got them the first thing I noticed was that these are pretty big. I used to own a set of Sony MDR V4 headphones and also considered buying a set of MDR V6 headphones which are considerably smaller. The SRH 440s are larger with circumaural ear cups that fit around your ears vice on them. The packaging case is made of very good quality cardboard and it comes with a soft carrying case and 1/4 inch adapter. The headphones have a nice heft to them, but could be exhausting over long periods of time. Unfortunately, when I first put them on, the ear cups and headband were the first things I noticed as being quite uncomfortable, especially for the price. But overall, my first impression was that these cans were of very good quality.
I can't say enough about the sound from these headphones. They are simply fantastic. I was most impressed with the full presence of bass and the mid range, encompassing a nice, 3 dimensional sound stage. I mainly use my Sennheiser PX100s on my laptop and previously considered them to be outstanding primarily for their value for money, so when I compared these SRH440s, I was quite surprised at the great quality sound. There is no comparison between a full-sized, quality closed-back set of headphones and a portable open back set. The SRH 440s are simply outstanding, producing a rich and ever-present soundstage.
I found that these headphones were let down in the area of comfort primarily for the ear pads. If they would have come with the SRH 840 earpads, I think that I would have kept them. My first impression when I put them on was that they should be softer around the ear as well as having a more plush headband. They dug into my head and I had to make several adjustments to them before they felt a little better. I was expecting a more plush feel to them and I unexpectedly got a much more firm fit and actually found them a little uncomfortable at first. Even after listening to them for several hours, I found that the pads around the ears never got more comfortable over use.
Look and Feel: 4
These headphones are built with quality in mind and it shows in their look and feel. They fit quite nicely and notwithstanding the comments I made about the comfort, they feel quite good on my head. I suppose I could have sprung another $20 for the SRH 840 earpads, but then the price of these headphones would be encroaching the realm of the Audio Technical ATH M-50s, which are considered the top contender in closed back headphones. The SRH440s look a little big on the head and have a decent clamping force, thereby holding them firm to your ears. They look great and feel OK, but if they were to have come with the SRH 840 earpads, I think that I would have kept them. I called Sure and asked them if they would replace the pads or exchange them for the SRH 840 earpads, but they were not very accommodating and seemed to imply that I should have bought the SRH 840s in the first place.
They are built very well and could probably stand the rigors of heavy studio and home use. The coiled cord is nice and thick and being removable is a very nice touch. The plastics used for these headphones are made of quality materials and I feel that they are quite durable indeed.
Overall, I was let down in the area of comfort. Especially in the ear pads and somewhat in the headband, which I felt a little pressure on the top of my head. For the price you're paying, you should expect comfortable headphones. For a little more money, I returned them and bought the ATH M50s instead and now couldn't be happier.
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12 out of 13 people found this review helpful. Did you?
Unique waterproof headphones
Posted by Purple Helmet from Maryland on 2011-02-10
H2O Audio Flex Earbuds
Durable, waterproof, bold styling, tangle-free cord
Wire noise, average sound
For the person on the go who wants some in-ear headphones for use anywhere, to include in wet conditions such as watersports, then these are the ones to get. I took up swimming last year and really wanted to have some music to get motivated in the pool. I have a waterproof housing for my iPod but never could find a decent pair of headphones I could use for swimming until I found these H2O Audio Flex sports buds.
I usually start with the case, since that is where I form my first impression of a product. Let me tell you, the packaging on these guys was about as minimalist as you can get. For what you pay for, you get the headphones in a clear plastic toilet-paper roll-sized tube and a little bit of paper labeling, some product info, a few ear tips, and that's it. When I first started to take them out of the box, I was hesitant about the quality. But after I took them out, the first thing that I was impressed about was the cord. Although they were thin, they had a nice grippy-rubbery surface which make them be as durable as they claim. I also liked the different choices of bold colors and small sized, simple in-ear design.
Sound Quality: 2
When you design a set of waterproof headphones, you are going to have to make some compromises in order to retain waterproofness. The sound was relatively average to below average, creating a somewhat overall hollow and flat response. This is not to say that I would expect audiophile quality headphones in these sub-$30 waterproof headphones, but I would rank them on par with Skullcandy Ink'd or your cheap pair of ear buds. There was very little bass and the sound was predominantly in the mids, with a touch of high range. Again, I would not expect anything outstanding from a waterproof set of headphones. But in order to have this capability for use in all conditions, I'd say it was a worthwhile compromise. After all, I can take these earphones and listen to music in a studio, but there is no way I would be able to take a pair of studio headphones and expect them to work in the pool.
These are pretty comfortable, though nothing spectacular. The thin rubber ear cups supplied came in three different sizes and they did a pretty good job at sealing out unwanted noise. They don't stick out too far from the ear and if you left them on inadvertently while lying in bed, you wouldn't notice any sharp pain in your ear in the middle of the night. The biggest criticism I'll have to say about these earphones are the fact that they have a pretty noticeable and sometimes annoying line noise or line slap. Take a pair of headphones and thump the wire and see if you hear any noise. That's line noise. I also bike, use the elliptical machine and run with them and I can hear the wires make a slight thud in the ear piece as the wire slaps around, which can be quite bothersome.
Look & Feel: 3
The style of these headphones remind me of the bold styling often associated with Skullcandy. These H2O Audio earphones use bold and bright colors to set them apart from the rest. The only criticism I have for the look is the plug. It is a little longer than most plugs and bends at about a 45 degree angle from the line. This design, different from either a 90 degree or straight plug, really makes it less functional. It sticks out pretty far and if you're not careful, you could bend or break it in your iPod. The plug itself is a robust design and seems pretty sturdy, but it's odd bend and length are a disadvantage to a pretty good design overall. I haven't figured out the functionality of the plug's bend. Maybe its to plug it into a specific housing.
The unique thing about these headphones is the grippy rubber wires, which I think helps them be so durable as the company claims. Though the wires are relatively thin, they seem quite robust and have a really neat relatively no-tangle property to them. Prior to using these headphones, I often would just wind up my headphones in a clump after I've completed my workout and when I take them out again to use them, I'm left with a bird's nest. Well, the cord to these H2O sports buds can be wound up and without doing nothing more than letting them dangle while holding an end, they are able to untangle themselves. Pretty cool. These Flex sports buds seem pretty durable and I think that they would be able to survive the rigors of rough use.
I think that for the money and for its unique functionality of being waterproof, these H2O Audio Flex sports buds are a great addition to the audio listener who has an active lifestyle. You'll sacrifice a little audio quality and a some line noise, but the tradeoff is that you are able to use the headphones in all kinds of weather conditions, to include in the water. Just make sure that the housing to your iPod or music player is also waterproof.
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31 out of 32 people found this review helpful. Did you?
Great upgrade earphones for a reasonable price
Posted by Purple Helmet from Maryland on 2011-02-09
Klipsch Image S2m
Good sound quality, oval eartip design, sleek looking
Cord is thin, eartips stick out a little, cord noise
I bought these Klipsch Image S2m earphones primarily to move up from the standard iPod headphones to something better, with good sound quality and good noise isolation, not to mention to have the functionality of having a mic and remote for iPhone/iPod use.
The box these headphones came in was of good quality waxed cardboard with a design that is tamper resistant, meaning that if someone previously opened the box and put it back together, you could tell it was previously opened. I liked the shiny and sleek design of the earphones. The remote and mic were quite small and they were positioned on the right side with a clip to attach to a shirt or coat. The cord felt a little thin especially the wires to each ear and I doubt that they would survive rough use over time.
Sound Quality: 4
Certainly, Klipsch knows their headphones and by stepping up from cheap headphones to these reasonably priced earphones, you'll find that the sound is a great upgrade. They have a unique oval shaped tip that, according to the manufacturer, allows for a better fit and seal than circular earphone designs. Though these are noise isolating by virtue of their design as being earphones, the rubber tips were not nearly as well-isolating as those earphones that use expanding foam tips, such as a pair of Westone UM-1 canal earphones. The sound of the S2m was pretty good and what I describe as well rounded. My first impression was that the sound had good depth and good soundstage. The bass and mids were evenly balanced. The highs were bright but not overly so. I enjoyed listening to a wide variety of music with these headphones and I would say they are comparable to more expensive ear canal phones such as the Shure SE 115, which cost nearly three times as much.
The Klipsch S2m earphones were quite comfortable with the simple design of placing them on your ear like ear buds with the cords hanging straight down the front. The rubber tips help create a good seal against noise. Some other designs require you to wear the earphones over and around the ear, which is sometimes cumbersome to do when you're in a rush to put on or take off your headphones. The eartips were slightly long and stuck out a little more than standard earbuds. You probably wouldn't want to sleep with them on, which is something I can do with my diminutive Westone UM-1 earphones. The area of criticism I have for the comfort is the presence of something I'll describe as line noise or line slap. This is the noticeable sound of a slight thump when you tap the wires on the earphone. This is especially pronounced when you're doing active sports or walking with these earphones. I commute every day and when I wore these while walking to and from my metro stop to work, I heard the noticeable slap of the wires on my clothing. Whenever I wear a knit cap, I can "hear" the same sound of the hat rubbing against the eartips. Kind of annoying.
Look and feel: 4
These are certainly good looking headphones. They feel quite nice and my first thought when I took them out of the box and put them on was that of quality. I thought that the only downside to these headphones was the thinness of the wires, which I think will eventually become frayed or shorted after a few months of normal wear and tear. I rate them as above average.
I've mentioned that what did not impress me a great deal with these headphones was the lack of thickness to the headphone wires. Unlike earphones like Shure or Monster Beats Tour where the wires are much thicker or have a tangle-free design, these Klipsch earphones were tangle-prone. I feel that they are not as durable as other headphones out there.
I think that these headphones are a very good value for the money. If I were looking to upgrade for under $50, I'd put these at the top of my list. They combine good functionality by having a built-in mic and remote, decent noise isolation, great sound, and best of all, a great price.
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8 out of 8 people found this review helpful. Did you?
Nice style, but sound quality only average
Posted by Purple Helmet from Maryland on 2011-02-08
Skullcandy Icon Soft
Nylon cord felt rugged, somewhat tangle free,
Cheap plastic headband material, lacking in overall quality, ear pads fixed/don't swivel
Skullcandy headphones are often associated with bold and youthful styling at an affordable price. Unfortunately, they are also known for having cheap products. My son has gone through about 4 pairs of Ink'd earphones in only a few years. Though Skullcandy has a lifetime warranty with two categories of aggressive listening or defective product replacement, they only replaced my son's broken earbuds once and gave me store credit another one.
I purchased these Skullcandy Icon headphones for the purpose of having a decent and functional inexpensive headphone with a mic and in-line controller for use with an iPhone/iPod. I haven't read many reviews in these so I decided to try them out for myself. The style alone were enough for me to give it a go. The only problem was the colorful versions of the headphone were not available from Headroom, so I had to settle for straight black.
Well, I was not completely impressed with the case they came in--the standard clear plastic hard-to-open, where-are-my-scissors case. Nothing special. After I pulled the heaphones out, one thing that stuck out for me was the cool nylon cord. They felt pretty rugged, almost like a thin nylon rope. They certainly felt much heftier than the standard Apple iPod headphones or Skullcandy's thin Ink'd earphone cord. The ear cups on the Icon were not adjustable and were designed with a slight curve so the pads fit flat on the ear. You are not able to adjust it to your ear for comfort because of the fixed design. Overall, I felt that with the exception of the cord, the headphones were nothing special. Especially the black color version, which completely defeats the purpose of buying Skullcandy headphones--for the style! Well, on to the review...
Sound Quality: 1
I listen to a wide variety of music and in my test of the Icon headphones, I noticed a definite lack of bass and mids. There was not a lot range for these headphones, which is evident in the headroom graphs. Overall, I felt that the sound was flat and lacking in the low end. The style of these headphones is an ear pad style and although they are considered closed back headphones, they do very little isolation and you'll hear all the sounds around you. So if you want to concentrate on some audiobook or song or just want to shut out the outside world, these are not the headphones for you.
I mentioned that the ear cups were fixed, so this prevented any fine adjustments to your ear. It is a take it or leave it design, with the only adjustment you can make is the length. The top headband is made of a nice fuzzy cloth faux leather look that is relatively comfortable as it rests on the top of your head. One thing unique to the Icon headphone is the neoprene earpiece. It was pretty comfortable on the ear and did not cause any hot spots or discomfort. I compared these with my Sennheiser PX-100 headphones and found the PX-100 much more comfortable.
Look and Feel: 3
Style is what is synonymous with Skullcandy. They offer a wide variety of colors and designs to match your personal tastes and colors. I would have opted for the green ones, but they were not available. I think that the boldness and style along with the simple design are what attracted me to these headphones in the first place.
The plastic used in the ear cups and the headband didn't feel very durable and would probably break on the first occurrence of accidentally sitting on them or dropping them. I mentioned earlier that the cord is the one unique feature on these headphones. Other than that, I don't think these Icon headphones would last very long, especially for an active teen.
The Skullcandy Icon headphone's style and simplicity along with the relatively cheap price are what attracted me to these headphones. They have a mic and remote along with a good quality, relatively tangle free cord. But the cheap feel of the plastic, lack of adjustments to the ear cups and the lack of bass, a flat music response, and overall flat sound make these headphones a below average performer. You can find other products at this price point that are a better value for your money. For a few more bucks with the same style of headphones, the PX-100 headphones are hard to beat!
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8 out of 8 people found this review helpful. Did you?