Maximo gives iPhone and BlackBerry users an all-round capable headset. (October 4th, 2009)
Touted as an ‘enhanced definition’ headset, the iMetal HS5 is Maximo's flagship headset offering. The earphones are ostensibly designed for use with iPhone and BlackBerry devices where headphone output quality is equally as important as microphone quality; our challenge is to find out whether they're truly well balanced or simply trying to please too many at once.
Product Manufacturer: Maximo
- Quality construction.
- Crisp high-end and good mid-range audio.
- Clear-sounding microphone.
- Numerous accessories.
- Middling bass response.
- Hiss at high volume.
what's in the box and comfort
The HS5s come in a large black retail container with a host of accessories. A carrying pouch, extension cable, shirt clip, airline adapter, and 4 different size earplugs are all included. This long list of included accessories is appreciated, and their quality is excellent.
The headset itself is constructed out of some particularly high-quality materials given the $80 price. The 1/8 inch audio plugs are gold plated -- some would question the necessity of this -- and the audio cord itself is wrapped in a braided nylon covering. The nylon knit shield renders the wire much more durable and was a smart design move on Maximo's part.
Earpieces here are made from a metal alloy. and the included silicone eartips are comfortable. The eartips stay on the headphones well and take some effort to remove and attach. Maximo calls the HS5 an 'isolation' headset, and we would tend to agree: as far as noise isolation goes the HS5s are impressive. They may not be as insulating as the $300 Bose QuietComfort Acoustic headphones, but they're certainly acceptable given the price tag and product class.
output and microphone quality
The overall audio quality of the headphones is very good. Before testing the HS5s as a cellphone headset, we burned them in for several hours to take heed of Maximo's own advice. Following that break-in period, audio on the HS5 is crisp and little gain is needed. Background noise could be a minor issue, though this depends on the source: when plugged into a Dell notebook with no audio playing but high volume, there's a notable hiss. This may be a virtue of the sheer volume of the headset. To listen to music at high volumes was potentially deafening; we could actually hear the music from across the room even with the volume at average levels. Bass reproduction was strictly average for earbuds, but the mids and highs were clear and crisp.
Beyond simply using the headset as a pair of earbuds, we also tested the HS5s with an iPhone to put the phone controls and microphone to the test. The audio quality from the tiny microphone was surprisingly clear and sounded very natural. The small connect/disconnect button on the cord is placed conveniently and allows users to answer and hang up phone calls.
It's hard to dispute that iMetal HS5s are a great buy, if just in terms of sheer value. The combination of quality audio, excellent product construction and the long list of included accessories makes it a very practical decision. There are earbuds that might offer the HS5s stiff competition: Apple's In-Ear Headphones can produce deeper bass in exchange for a loss of durability, for example. We'd also like it if they were quieter at higher volumes, although to get the hiss we've seen would require near-extreme levels of volume. All the same, the sheer balance of Maximo's design deserves significant credit.