Headphone Review: Maximo iMetal iP-HS5

The Maximo iMetal iP-HS5.Maximo, who you may recall from my recent review of their iM-590 earbuds, has just released a new earbud product targeted at the smartphone users among you: the iP-HS5. The headphones are of similar make to the iM-590 but Maximo has added an in-line microphone and control button that works with most smartphones on the market today. As with the iM-590, the iP-HS5 produce quality sound and ship with enough accessories to make the headphones a positive experience.

Appearance/Build Quality
I’m going to say “as with the iM-590” a lot in this post, so just get used to it. The products are very similar, and for a lot of good reasons. The packaging is smart as ever, with everything well organized for the consumer to see. Open it up and you’re greeted with all the accessories you’ll need to use the iP-HS5 with the smartphone of your choice.

The headphones ship with a 3.5mm jack installed, but include two 2.5mm adapters for various smartphone wiring configurations. This ensures the product will work with whatever phone you happen to have. For iPhone users, no adapter is required. You also get a 4-foot extension cable, four sets of earbuds, a shirt clip, a carrying case, and a detachable lanyard.

Maximo has again employed their knit cabling, which I’m still not sure I’m a fan of. While it has its benefits, the sound produced if anything rubs along the surface is pretty tough on my ears. Attaching the shirt clip, at the recommendation of a Maximo rep, did improve things significantly.

The included lanyard is also a bit of a puzzler for me. While I understand you might not always want noise reducing earbuds in your ears, wearing them around your neck seems similarly out of the question. The included carrying case can be worn on your belt if you really need a place to store the headphones. For someone like me, the extra use I get from the lanyard isn’t worth the frustration that comes with having so much extra cord.

Sound/Voice Quality and FeaturesMaximo iP-HS5 with control button.
Once again I’m going to espouse Maximo’s “burn-in” recommendation. Without it the earbuds are tinny to the point of torture. Post burn-in they’re much better, though I still wouldn’t put them anywhere near maximum volume. Also as before, you should make sure you have a proper seal around your inner ear. Without a solid seal you’ll obviously miss out on much of the noise canceling and you’ll get nearly no bass.

For listening to music, the iP-HS5 produce decent sound. The lows aren’t quite as good as the iM-590, something I miss sorely when listening to my Public Enemy station on Pandora. The highs are crystal clear, but can be shrill if you turn up the volume too much. I wouldn’t use these as my primary pair of headphones, but if you need a hands-free set, they’ll work just fine.

Voice quality was decent as well. I could hear the person on the other end of the line just fine. The microphone picks up voice well enough, though it sounds distant as with most in-line microphones. The position of your shirt clip will have a huge effect on how well or poorly the receiving end can hear you.

I do like that Maximo integrated the button control so well. The commands work without delay and I was pleased to see it even worked with voice recognition on my iPhone. On 20 attempts the phone didn’t miss once, which seems to suggest the microphone translated sound through to the phone just fine. Remember, you’ll have to play with the adapters to get the wiring correct if you have a 2.5mm jack on your phone. For me, it’s one click to play/pause, two clicks to skip, and a hold to access voice controls.

The Verdict
The iP-HS5 are a solid product for someone looking for a hands-free wired headset. The $79.99 price tag is higher than I’d like to pay, particularly since I wouldn’t use the iP-HS5 as my primary set of headphones, but they do ship with enough accessories that many people would be willing to spend.

You can find a full product specification list at Maximo’s iP-HS5 site.


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