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iPhone Accessory Reviews: headphones

iMetal iP-HS2 In-Ear Headset for iPhone

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Reviewed August, 2008 by Jacob Spindel, Chief iPod Correspondent

Hot on the heels of their own iP-HS1 headset for iPhone, Maximo Products has submitted a second entry into their iMetal line of iPhone headsets. This time around, they have released an in-ear, isolating headset that goes deeper into your ear than the iP-HS1, giving it the potential to produce higher quality sound while blocking out more ambient noise. The iP-HS2 is, in fact, a substantial improvement over its predecessor, even though they both actually carry the same list price. As a matter of fact, even the microphone seems to have been improved, making iMetal iP-HS2 one of the most impressive wired headsets available for iPhone.

Maximo HS2 headset for iPhone

Silver Metal

Like the iP-HS1, the earbuds of the HS1 are made from aluminum alloy, and also like the iP-HS1, a soft-touch button is present at the meeting of the two sides so you can begin and end phone calls, or pause and resume music. The condenser mic on the left side is also unchanged, but unlike its predecessor, the iP-HS2 comes with three different sizes of earbud covers to choose from, which is fortunate because finding earbud covers that fit comfortably is even more critical when using in-ear buds than with external ones. The buds have 9 mm neodymium drivers producing a frequency response range of 18 Hz – 22 kHz. Maximo has also changed color of the cabling to black this time around, with a two-foot extension cable once again included along with a carrying pouch. As with the iP-HS1, the iP-HS2 is intended to be connected directly to the headset jack of an iPhone or iPhone 3G, although it is also compatible with standard headphone jacks.

In-ear buds can sometimes feel a bit more invasive than external buds, but I actually found the iP-HS2 to be more comfortable to wear than the iP-HS1, rather than less. The earbuds are smaller in diameter than those of the iP-HS1 or of Apple’s own iPhone headset, and their compactness, combined with a choice among multiple sizes of covers, makes the iP-HS2 easy and comfortable to wear.

Maximo HS2 headset for iPhone

The iP-HS2 does not use any active noise-canceling technology (fitting this sort of circuitry into a tiny set of earbuds is not an easy task), but it does “isolate” noise, which pretty much just means it comes close enough to fully plugging your ears that background noise is substantially drowned out relative to the audio you are listening to. This is really a pretty low-tech solution, and although it was generally effective in our tests, in most cases, we find active noise cancelling to be preferable to passive noise isolation.

Maximo HS2 headset for iPhone

 

 

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All Your Bass Are Belongs To Maximo!

As an in-ear headset, the iP-HS2 carries some pretty high expectations for great sound quality. For the most part, it did not disappoint, achieving the level of audio quality we are used to hearing from other in-ear buds. However, it was not always as big an improvement over the iP-HS1 as we thought it might be. Specifically:

Bass: In-ear earphones have the potential to produce very high-quality audio, especially in the bass category, so I must admit I was a little surprised to find that the bass output of the iP-HS2 is virtually identical to that of the iP-HS1. The iP-HS1 certainly does have a fairly strong bass that is a major improvement over Apple’s own headset, but the iP-HS2 doesn’t really improve that bass any further. 4.0/5.0

Treble: The iP-HS2 performed well in the treble test. Higher-pitched tones were recreated with a powerful level of emphasis that made vocals sound great. 5.0/5.0

Volume: Since it is an in-ear headset, the iP-HS2 has the potential to be a headset that can produce audio at a volume level that just might cause your whole brain to shatter. The headset makes good on this potential, and in fact when wearing the in-ear buds and listening to them, I was only able to get the volume slider on my iPhone to about 50% before it was already starting to become uncomfortably loud. You can, of course, turn them down as well, though, so you won’t have any problem getting sound that’s as loud, or as quiet, as you need. 5.0/5.0

Clarity: The clarity level of the iP-HS2 is outstanding. The headset produces the kind of high-resolution audio often associated with high-end, in-ear earbuds, reaching a level of detail that will jump out and strike you as impressive immediately, without you having to make an effort to notice it. This provides virtually optimal conditions for listening to those high-fidelity tracks you have stored on your iPhone, or for listening to a friend you are having an important conversation with. (No comment about your friend’s fidelity.) 5.0/5.0

Microphone: The iP-HS1’s condenser mic was a bit of a weak point, generating muffled sound that our call recipients sometimes had trouble understanding. Since the appearance and description of the iP-HS2’s microphone make it appear that it is essentially unchanged from its predecessor, I was concerned that the iP-HS2 would have similar problems. However, the headset surprised me in our tests, resulting in much clearer audio that was easy to understand. 4.5/5.0

iSolation Chamber

The Maximo iP-HS2 is superior to Apple’s own iPhone headset in virtually every category, and in most ways, it surpasses the iP-HS1 as well. Pretty much anyone who owns an iPhone would like to get the best music fidelity possible from it, and the iP-HS2 will get you very close to that point, with the possible exception of its bass output. Thankfully, the iP-HS2 is a viable option for phone calls as well (these were a bit of a challenge with its predecessor, thanks to its microphone), so unless your biggest concern is to get the largest bass boost you can find, the iP-HS2 would make a great addition to your iPhone.

iSolation Chamber

The Maximo iP-HS2 is superior to Apple’s own iPhone headset in virtually every category, and in most ways, it surpasses the iP-HS1 as well. Pretty much anyone who owns an iPhone would like to get the best music fidelity possible from it, and the iP-HS2 will get you very close to that point, with the possible exception of its bass output. Thankfully, the iP-HS2 is a viable option for phone calls as well (these were a bit of a challenge with its predecessor, thanks to its microphone), so unless your biggest concern is to get the largest bass boost you can find, the iP-HS2 would make a great addition to your iPhone.

Pros: Comfortable; high-resolution, clear sound; microphone worked better than its predecessor in our tests; includes three sizes of bud covers.

Cons: Bass could be a little stronger.

List Price: $69.99

Company: Maximo Products

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Specs:

• Earphone drivers: 9mm neodymium
• Frequency response: 18Hz-22KHz
• Sensitivity (1KHz, 0.1V): >100dB
• Maximum SPL output :>120dB
• Microphone sensitivity: 44dB +/-3 dB@1KHz
• Microphone Frequency response: 20Hz-16KHz
• Microphone impedance: 2.2K Ohm
• Signal-to-noise ratio: > 58dB
• Headset cable length: 4 feet
• Extension cable length: 2 feet
• Connection: 3.5mm with stereo audio & mono mic

 

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