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Maximo iP-HS2 iMetal Isolation Headset

May 7th, 2008
Listen to music or talk on your iPhone at a reasonable price.

Mobile music listeners often assume that decent sound quality can only be achieved through high priced audiophile level headphones. In reality, there are affordable options that still offer excellent sound quality. The iPhone compatible Maximo iP-HS2 iMetal Isolation Headset falls into this category. These earbuds may not be the best on the market, but they certainly sound better than anything youíll find for under $70.

Fashionable Headset

The iP-HS2 iMetal earbuds are as much a fashion statement as they are electronics, and may attract attention when youíre walking down a busy street. The earbuds are almost entirely chrome, as is the in-line microphone and Y-divider. Despite Maximoís choice of materials, the iP-HS2 iMetal earbuds arenít gaudy and manage to pull off the shiny metal look with flair. One of the reasons they look so svelte is the thin cord, whose lightweight feels great on the ears. However, the cord also facilitates tangling and worried me when I them out of a jeans pocket. After a few weeks of use, my intuitions were confirmed; the left earbud started crackling when the cord was moved. The iP-HS2 iMetal headsetís poor tension-relief system is most likely to blame for this, and I hope Maximo will correct this in future iterations. On the other hand, I should start using the included case.

Good Design

The iP-HS2 iMetal Isolation Headset functions are simple and well implemented. A small metal disc halfway down the right earbudís cord functions as a microphone and control button; press once to pause music, twice to skip tracks. If youíre listening to music and you receive a call, you press the button to pick up or drop the call.

iP-HS2 iMetal Isolation Headset

Maximo includes useful accessories in the box: A carrying case and a set of S, M, and L ear tips. The dome-shaped silicone pieces are a great compromise between an open-ear design and the unattractive foam earplug-style tips found on more expensive earphones. Iíve had good experiences with silicone ear tips in the past, so I wasnít surprised to find the iP-HS2 iMetals comfortable to wear for extended periods of time. On the other hand, some people are squeamish about having things in their ears. If you feel uncomfortable wearing earplugs, stay away from these earbuds.

Good Sound with Caveats

Sound quality and isolation was better than we expected for a pair of $70 earbuds, but they have shortcomings. Your satisfaction with the iMetals will depend largely on the type of music you listen to regularly. Bass was incredibly powerful, and highs were clear and detailed. That said, we found mid-range was overly sharp, creating an electronic, synthesized sound. Overall, the iP-HS2 iMetal audio quality suffers from an often-overwhelming bass that muffles out a fair bit of higher-end detail. Some genres of music, such as jazz and vocal, donít suffer from this effect because they lack a heavy bass line, but other genres, such as rock and hip-hop, are noticeably affected.

Recommended for Some

If your music library consist of songs with a light bass, or if you enjoy a powerful low-end in your tunes, the iP-HS2 iMetal headset is a great choice. Although they have a few shortcomings, theyíre the best microphone-enabled earbuds Iíve used to date. If by some odd chance of fate you have a similar problem as I did, where the cable loosens and you experience crackling noise, Maximo will gladly replace your headset free, because they have a lifetime warranty.

Technical Specs:

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Edited by Ilene Hoffman, Reviews Editor
Stylish design. Great noise isolation. Decent audio quality. Easy to switch from music to calls. Lifetime warranty Cons
Thin cord subject to failure. Overwhelming bass.