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Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, Sam and Dean Winchester, Charlie Cruise and Dani Reese; life is made of great partnerships - and if The Stretch headphones are anything to go by, we should add Philips and O'Neill to that list. We won't question the reasoning behind the unusual pairing of a consumer electronics manufacturer and a surfing brand, but we're definitely open to enjoying the fruits of their labour.
The O'Neill influence shows through in the design; two colour options are available but while the white The Stretch earphones look nice enough, it's the black and red paint job that has us won over. The combination of matt black earcups and a smoky-black, semi-clear headband is definitely an aesthetically successful one.
The plastic used in the design of The Stretch headphones is of particular note. It's (memorably) called TR55LX and according to Philips it has around six times the surface hardness of polycarbonate and will keep its cool, so to speak, at temperatures as low as -25 degrees Celsius. The upshot is that you can treat The Stretch headphones with less respect that you might a delicate pair of Grado or Audio Technica cans and they'll survive the punishment unscathed.
Also good is the 'tangle-free' fabric-covered cable, which works exactly as advertised. As well as stopping the wiring from becoming knotted up, this also offers it some projection. But even if it does snap, it's not the end of the world, as the main length of the cable is separate from the headphones, connecting to a short stretch on the left earcup.
The faux-leather padded earcups nestle around your ears, rather than sitting on them. As a result The Stretch headphones can be worn for long periods of time without becoming the least bit uncomfortable. And unlike some headphones, your ears won't begin to boil after a couple of hours. The stetchy headband - whence the headphones derive their name - does a good job of securing a good fit, no matter what size your head - it's a delightfully elegant solution.
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