Saturday, November 12, 2016

Maxell HP-550F Headband Headphones - Black/Gold

Note:  This review was originally posted to my Epinions account.

For a while, I had been using earbuds. Anyone that's used those knows how uncomfortable they can be at first and how poor the sound quality is. I wanted some earphones that would cover my ears. I had owned pairs like that and they not only produce better sound quality, but are also better at blocking outside sounds. I came across the Maxell HP-550 headphones at Best Buy. They were $20, which made them the cheapest of the kind that I was looking for. (I paid $15 for them using a $5 coupon.) I guess I got what I paid for.

They worked well at first, but I started to notice that the sound varied. I sometimes couldn't hear anything in the left ear, but I was getting sound in the right ear. This is especially confusing since the one wire from the portable CD player to the actual earphones goes into the left ear. I found out that the problem has to do with the volume control that the headphones have. I find these to be a total waste, but I wasn't willing to spend more on one that didn't have one. If the volume on the control is set to the maximum, there usually isn't a problem. However, if I turn it down even a little, the audio from the left ear starts to phase in and out. This is something I've noticed as happening regardless of which device I'm using the headphones on.

The built-in volume control also a switch for stereo and mono. I keep it on stereo since that produces better quality. Fortunately, this is the position it was in when the switch broke. It doesn't look like it will accidentally switch on me, but it doesn't look that difficult to switch back if I ever have to.

Assuming that I have everything working right, the sound quality is what I expected. I can't hear much sound from the outside and people that I'm around can't hear what I'm listening to. I've noticed that I get better sound quality than earbuds and I've even been able to pick up detail that I hadn't noticed before. Occasionally, it sounds like the headphones are muting the sound just a little. Normally, putting the headphones on max volume and putting my portable CD player on max volume produces a volume just above what I would consider normal. Occasionally, though, the volume is just below what I would consider normal.

The fact that it folds in is nice, but not a major consideration. Rarely do I ever have to carry the headphones in something like a backpack and when I do, there's usually enough room. It's almost more of an annoyance to have to unfold them occasionally. Sometimes, they even look funny when one side is collapsed and the other isn't. You end up with the earphones tilting at an odd angle.

I've had these for a few months now and I don't expect that I'll have to replace them any time soon. They're worthy of four out of five stars. They're not perfect, but they'll do for now.

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