The Bottom Line: The Maxell AMPlified headphones are a good, inexpensive choice for people who need a stereo headphone, but don't want to spend long.
Considering most of us use our smartphones as a digital audio player, the most important features a stereo monitor headphone can have are:
#1 an inline volume control #2 an inline microphone #3 noise cancelling technology to reduce wind noise. #4 comfortable headband #5 powerful sound #6 a sturdy cord that is snag resistant, tangle resistant and most importantly: replaceable
Not too long ago, I gave a lukewarm review to the BEATS Audio SOLO HD headphones because I felt that they were far too overpriced for their build quality. I enjoyed their powerful sound, but their dynamic range was lacking. The only reason I could see to consider them is that they did offer a good stereo monitor headphone with competent volume control, mic and noise suppression.
So what happens when you want a powerful monitor headphone, but don’t want to spend upwards of $50? Well, let’s take a look at the Maxell AMPlified…
The Maxell AMPlified headphones are made almost entirely out of plastic, come with very sensitive 40mm stereo drivers and offer frequency response in the 10 -23khZ range. The best headphones offer frequency responses “as low as possible” to responses “as high as possible”. A decent pair of headphones usually ranges from 10-28khZ while “professional grade” headphones can range between 3 and 50kHz. This usually involves having separate subwoofers (for low frequencies) and separate tweeters (for highs).
The headphones are very comfortable and the overall size is relatively small for monitors. They could be stored in small bags, but because the hinges are plastic on both the cans and the band, I wouldn’t recommend doing so. I purchased these from Kmart and they offered a $3 warranty. If they break within 30 days I can get a new pair from Kmart. If they break in a year, I can get a new pair from Maxell. A 2 year warranty would have been $5.
To test these headphones, I listened to a wide range of music and music delivery types. I listened to my iPhone4S’ Sirius XM radio app, the Youtube app (watching music videos), the iPod app and the Pandora radio app. I also listened to these headphones plugged into my laptop and a CD player. I listened to a few tracks from Hans Zimmer on my iPhone from the Inception soundtrack and a few newer songs such as: Titanium by David Guetta and Sia; Too Close by Alex Care and C.L.U. from the Tron Legacy soundtrack. I also used Youtube to listen to Big Tymer’s Still Fly and Metallica’s Disposable Heros. To test out bass response I used Youtube for some Dub Step music: Noisia’s Machine Gun and Wartech’s Flying Fox.
The AMPlified cans are very sensitive and designed to maximize sound pressure levels from devices that aren’t very powerful. iPhone4S for example has a relatively low power output, yet listening to the iPhone’s music player on these headphones produces a level of loudness that is extremely loud bordering on painful. I normally turn my iPhone’s volume to maximum when listening to the BEATS model headphones. With these Maxells, I am forced to drop the volume slider to about 75% less my eardrums begin to hurt.
At 100%, the sound does not distort, but the drivers vibrate aggressively enough to *bump* your ears.
These cans are consistently powerful and sound far better than just about any earbud headphone I’ve used. Sound quality is just as good – if not better than the Solo HD’s. While the $200 Solos have real leather ear cushions, the Maxell has cheaper leatherette that does almost as good a job of noise isolation from the outside world. Simply put, sound quality is so good, you’d almost expect this model to cost more than its $20 price tag.
I do have one major problem with these headphones. The cord is too thin and feels like the cord you’d get for earbuds. Stereo monitor headphones should have thick cords. The 3.5mm jack isn’t anything special either. A good yank or snag will easily destroy the cable. To a lesser extent, I’m disappointed these headphones couldn’t have an in-line mic, but given the fact they aren’t made specifically for smartphones, that’s understandable.
OVERALL the Maxell AMPlified headphones look good and sound good. They fit the price point and make a decent gift for someone who needs an inexpensive headphone. Considering most headphones in this range have lesser sound, flimsy cords and plastic construction the Maxell’s are a good deal.