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There seems to be an almost universal assumption by iPod owners that the earphones bundled with their MP3 player of choice must be the best ones to use with the device. If I had a penny for every time I've seen someone waltzing down a road, on a bus or tube with a pair of white buds sitting in their ears, I would be a rich fellow indeed. It's a sad state of affairs, because as any of the team here can, and repeatedly do, tell you: Apple's bundled earphones are rubbish.
The same is true of the iPhone. Okay, so the in-line remote is a great addition allowing you not only to answer (and hang up on) callers, but also serving as a control for your music, but the part that really matters for an MP3 player, the sound quality, is as poor as ever.
Basically then, you're left with two solutions. One: you purchase, or already own, a decent set of earphones and a Shure Mobile Phone Adapter. Two: you purchase a third-party replacement for the bundled Apple earphone-adapter combo. The Maximo iMetal Isolation Headset for iPhone is one such offering in the latter category and co-incidentally happen to be nestled into my ear canal just this minute.
Realistically a pair of headphones costing around £35-odd will never compete in terms of sound quality with a decent dedicated set, such as the Shure SE420s that I normally use or the E500PTHs that are Riyad's weapon of choice. However, consider for a moment that Shure's MPA costs about £40 by itself and you'll start to view the iMetal Isolation Headset in a much better light.
For that money you're looking at something closer in quality to the Sennheiser CX400 canalphones, although of course there you'll be omitting the microphone and in-line remote. Speaking of which, the placement of these two items on the iMetals is far better, to my mind, than Apple's own headset.
The earbuds themselves are of a surprisingly good build quality for the money too, with a solid-feeling metal construction. Maybe it's just me, but nothing says "quality product" like the colder than cold feel of aluminium. The iMetal Isolations have a decent fit in the ear with the pre-fitted silicon buds, with a larger and smaller pair also bundled. Even compared to a pair of Shure foam tips the noise isolation was impressive.
Also in the box are a carrying case and a two foot long extension cable. The addition of the latter is slightly odd as the headset's cable is long enough anyway, although as it fits into the iPhone's recessed socket without modification it does make a nice replacement for my rather butchered Shure equivalent.