Maximo’s iP-HS1 iMetal Stereo Headset for iPhone is similar to the iP-HS2, also reviewed here, but uses an earbud design. The brushed-aluminum earpiece bodies are attached to long, polished-aluminum stems; I found these stems to be a bit uncomfortable, as they sometimes pressed against the sides of my face, and the earpieces themselves are slightly larger than those on Apple’s earbuds. The earpieces are surrounded by a hard-rubber ring to improve comfort, and Maximo also includes a pair of foam covers. Given that the iP-HS1’s earpieces don’t seal in your ears, you get no noise isolation, and the white-rubber cable exhibits no cable noise; there’s also none of the occlusion effect you get with in-ear-canal variants. The iP-HS1 uses the same microphone/controller/cable design as the iP-HS2, and you get the same carrying pouch and extension cable.
Unfortunately, the iP-HS1 doesn’t offer a noticeable upgrade in sound quality or comfort over the iPhone’s stock earbuds, which are actually pretty good as earbuds go. You get slightly more bass and lower midrange with the iP-HS1 than with Apple’s earbuds, but less treble detail.
On the other hand, given that the iP-HS1 is among the least-expensive iPhone headsets we’ve tested, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of its microphone, which, along with that of the Ultimate Ears 4vi, was the second best of the group. It provided very clear audio and good volume; those on the other end of my conversations could hear me clearly and really liked the audio quality.–Dan Frakes