Overview and Features
As much as I appreciate a nice pair of noise-canceling headphones, I often find traveling with them to be a bit cumbersome as I'm always running out of batteries or trying to find somewhere to clip the little magic box that blocks out all the noise. I'm also not enough of an audio snob to care about most of the hoopla that goes into high-end headphones. If they're comfortable, sound good, and take up minimal space in my bag, then I'm happy.
Now that being said, I hate-hate-hate cheap, uncomfortable earbud headphones. And they're everywhere, unfortunately, bundled with any and all small consumer electronics devices that feature headphone jacks. So consider me a guy who'd say something like, “I need a nice pair of headphones but I don't care enough to spend a ton of money on them.” The thought of spending more than $100 on a pair of headphones is downright mortifying to me but I think that $50 is a fair price to pay for a pair of decent-sounding ones - just so you know where I'm coming from.
So these $60 Maximo iM-590 headphones, right? About $10 out of my price range, but we'll give them a shot anyway. They come with a bunch of extras, similar to what you'd find with a lower-end set of noise canceling headphones, but they don't require any batteries and you can leave pretty much everything that comes in the box at home if you like.
You get the headphones, a zip-up case with built-in cord wrapper, three sizes of earbuds, airplane adapter, 2.5mm adapter for use with cell phones, two-foot extension cable, and a shirt clip. That's all well and good, and the cell phone adapter is an especially nice add-on, but you'll really only need to take the headphones with you if you want to keep things simple.
As for the actual headphones, they're made of a lightweight metal alloy. Here's a photo showing the set with one ear tip on and one ear tip off.
They're very lightweight and the cord isn't the cheap rubbery material that you're used to; it's almost more like a tougher nylon-type material. All in all, the headphones have a very high-quality feel to them. Curiously, the headphone cord came with this sticker wrapped around it.
Which leads us to…
Being the busy, world-famous, high-profile blogger that I am, I don't have time to wait for headphones to burn in so I just jammed them in my ears and started listening to music - and they sounded great. Then I actually pumped music through them overnight and tried out a larger set of the ear tips and they sounded even better. Color me impressed; I've never heard of headphone burn-in before but it actually seemed to make a difference - not a huge difference, but enough that it was noticeable. Everything just sounded a bit milkier and airier.
Maximo bills these as “sound isolation” headphones, which is just a fancy way of saying they block outside noises out. And boy do they block out noise. I missed my phone ringing right next to me and my dog barking right behind me. Actually, I didn't “miss” either one of those noises as it was nice to be able to concentrate. At any rate, stick your index fingers in both ears and that's exactly what you'll (not) hear when you wear these headphones.
As for tonal quality, there's a nice balance of bass and treble without either one overpowering the other. Everything sounds very crisp and very warm at the same time. Oddly enough, the headphones seem really loud for some reason. Like, if you listen to the same MP3 player with these headphones and another set of headphones, everything sounds about 25% louder through these ones at the same volume level on the MP3 player. I'm assuming that probably has something to do with all the outside sound being blocked out.
Overall, though, I found sound quality to be well above average. Better, even, than the $100 pair of noise-cancelling earbuds I own (and, subsequently, will probably never use again) and lightyears better than all the cheap earbuds I've used.
The ear tips are okay, but they're pretty similar to just about every other set of standard multi-size silicone inserts. I can stand most in-ear headphones for a couple hours before my ears start to get sore and this was the case with these earphones as well. Your mileage may vary, of course. These are relatively comfortable headphones but they don't feel like they've been dipped in butter or anything. Still, they're far more comfortable than cheap foam-covered plastic earbuds. I can only stand those for about an hour before they start hurting, so think about how long you're able to keep cheap freebie earbuds in your ears and then double that number.
If you've decided that it's time to treat yourself to some above-average headphones, these are the ones. The high sound quality at the relatively low price point make the iM-590′s a great go-to set of in-ear headphones for anything from traveling to desk work to helping you fall asleep. They're stylish and well-built, too, so they ought to last for quite a while.
Maximo iM-590 iMetal Sound Isolation Earphones [MaximoProducts.com]