Inexpensive upgrade from base earbuds.

Mar 13, 2008 (Updated Mar 14, 2008)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Inexpensive, tangle-free, good performer for price range, and audio has depth with clarity.

Cons:Foam pads and comfort.

The Bottom Line: For its value, the 'mallows outperforms in the low-end $10-$20 range and is a fine daily "beater". Comfort is so-so and not for everyone.


I have used the HA-FX33 "Marshmallows" for over three months now and I'm pleased with the earbuds so far. These replaced a stock pair of headphones that was supplied with my Creative Zen Vision, which its supplied earbuds were passable in speech quality sound, it wasn't good enough for varying types of music such as classical or classic rock.


Sound Quality:

There is finally depth with these isolation-type earbuds, especially listening to low-frequency synthesizer bass from this and last decade's hip-hop music. Even at those low frequencies, there was little to no distortion. Highs sound crisp when listening to vocalists, and the midrange is not too uneven. Of course, it's better to audition these in person with good test tracks. Comparing the 'mallows to the stock DAP-supplied headphones, the stock headphones had some bass, some treble, but a much more pronounced midrange. Outside noise is reduced enough to reduce (but not eliminate) the sounds of crying babies in the library I frequent.


Comfort:

So so. You'll feel them, but in my case, they haven't fallen out nor have they lost grip from the driver. Squish foam, insert into ear canal, and hold it until it expands. The warmer the temperature of the pads, the easier it is to compress the pads.


Maintenance and Convenience:

I do have the white version of the 'mallows, so they tend to get dirty though were easy to clean with soap and water (or rubbing alcohol, if you're inclined). The foam pads however, show significant cracking in two months because of the repeated compression. The foam pads pick up dirt and need to be removed from the driver and cleaned with a dry cotton swab. There are a pair of replacements in the package and instructions on ordering another pack of foam pads. The 'mallow's cables do not tangle, which is a welcome feature for folks that cram these earbuds in their pockets. Also, the 3.9 feet cable provides some free-range, especially when connected to a notebook computer with its jacks placed in an awkward location, such as the rear.


Verdict:

Foam-isolation earbuds like the 'mallows need some getting used to, especially when it comes to the listener's comfort. But in comparison to stock earbuds, these earbuds are sonically a huge step up and only cost a fraction of earbuds that cost significantly more. Unfortunately, the 'mallow's foam pads show wear and won't let you forget you have headphones in your ear canals.


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