1, 2, 3… STRETCH! [O'Neil & Philips Headphones First Look]

by James Whatley on 8th September 2010

Post image for 1, 2, 3… STRETCH! [O'Neil & Philips Headphones First Look]

I have sweaty ears. New earphones see, they do that. And the ones I’m sporting above are no exception. A co-branded effort from Philips and O’Neill, these bad boys were sent to us just over a week ago and here’s what I make of them after a week of usage.

I’ll put it out there right away; when it comes to ear/headphones, I’m not an expert. Truth. Therefore, ideally, I should give them to the music fan amongst us but, she’s not here. So you’re stuck with Whatley and Smith view.

The Whatley View

First impressions? I like these headphones. They shut out a fair bit of noise (but not so much that you get knocked down) and are awesomely durable; as regular readers will know, we like to break test our gadgets here at Really Mobile and these headphones are no exception. They have had… the Whatley test… AND THEY STILL WORK!

The connectors have a ‘breaker’ at ear level so your bonce doesn’t get yanked if you catch them on anything when you’re traversing the city streets or, in my real world case study, getting them caught on a woman’s shopping basket in Sainsbury’s (that wire is quite long y’know).

What about eponymous STRETCH bit, made from Scuba gear don’t you know?  Well, it’s stretchy. In a good way.

Overall, they make the music for my mobile sound OK. They’re better than the out of the box ear-buds you get with most handsets and, if they were to come bundled as part of some kind of music pack then I’d probably take a look. But I doubt I’d buy them as is (HMV are selling them at list price of £100), however – given the target market is more the urban warrior who likes to spend his weekends boarding, I don’t think they’re going to be that worried about losing my dollar.

Overall though, I actually quite like these headphones and have been using them almost daily since they arrived.

Downsides? They make my ears sweat. And that’s not nice for anyone.

The Smith View

I guess I’m lucky I got my own pair to review given Whatley’s sweaty ears problem… it wasn’t a problem I encountered.

These headphones are pretty comfortable and they stay on like glue – I gave myself a headache trying to shake them off. They also seem to live up to their tough claims, which is a shame because if I’d bought them I’d be hoping they broke so I could buy something else…

They’re awful. I can only assume Whatley has sawdust for ears.

The problem is, as well built as they are (and I like the tangle-free cord wrapped in cloth stuff James didn’t mention) they sound rotten. Closed-backed headphones are always a bit of a trade-off – they leak far less sound than open ones but struggle to reproduce the sound as well – but these sound especially horribly muddy, indistinct and lacking at the top and bottom of their range.

Imagine listening to music down a phone line. Actually, don’t… it’s too upsetting.

Spoken word, rock and dance all sound rubbish… so bad I actually checked to make sure there was no packing material left covering the earpieces.

Oh… and lets be honest… I don’t go ‘boarding’ at weekends and neither do you. It’s handy to have tough headphones, but a bit of water resistance for rainy days would have been more use if you pop out for a run

I wouldn’t buy these if they were £30, let-alone the £100 they’re going for right now. For that price there are plenty of better options, even of this over-the-ear type.

If you want to wear an O’Neil logo get yourself some sunglasses.

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