As always with a pair of headphones there are certain criteria that need stringently testing, so when presented with a pair of Philips & O’Neill ‘The Stretch’ Headphones, it would be an understatement to say I was intrigued by how fruitful such a combination could really be when designing and creating a pair of on-ear headphones.
These represent a joint venture between electronics manufacturer, Phllips, and popular sports and surf-wear designer, O’Neill, but anyway, with a careful and open-minded approach I unboxed the headphones and was initially pleasantly surprised, to say the least.
Aesthetic Appeal & Build Quality
You would imagine that the whole point of O’Neill being involved in the design of the headphones was to create a good looking product. You would be right. ‘The Stretch’ come in two colours, although the unit I tested is plastered with a great contrast of matte black and a deep red, which in my opinion can only lead to great things. The outside of the ear cups are painted a matte black with several faded stripes running diagonally parallel, which is a neat touch.
There are actually two headbands on the device, but the outside one, which is the primary one used for stability and well, just keeping them on your head, is made from high quality TR55LX plastic, which I am led to believe is six times stronger than the standard polycarbonate stuff usually put into these products.
This also means that you can twist and bend the headphones (within reason, obviously) much further than the majority of headphones. Only God knows why though, you would have to be clinically insane to bend a £75 pair of headphones to the point of snapping, wouldn’t you? Anyway, the point is that they are stronger than the average headphones, which can only be a good thing, right?
Moving on, as I mentioned there is an inner headband, which is the reason, I imagine, they decided to name the product ‘The Stretch’, as it is stretchy! On the outside of the inner band you will find the same matte black with grey stripes you found on the outside of each ear cup, however whilst that is crafted from a hardened material unknown to me, the inner band is sewn from some kind of fabric, which aids it in being comfortable and of course, stretchy.
The inside of the inner band is the shade of red I mentioned before and to be honest, it’s nothing short of a beautiful marriage of contrast and colour, and before I drive myself into a career in interior design with Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, let’s move on the more fundamental aspects of the headphones.
The first point worth mentioning, before you all get too excited, is that the sound quality coming from these headphones is not the best you will ever hear, although having said that it is probably some of the best ‘sounding’ sound you will hear from a pair this cheap.
The value is actually pretty impressive considering the looks and build quality I praised hugely just a few moments ago, as well as some pretty deep bass and good sound clarity.
For starters, the headphones do a great job in keeping out those unwanted sounds from the dreaded outside, because once the headphones are on, you don’t want to hear anything else let’s face it. Plus, the actual quality of the audio coming out of the things is pretty decent too, and even at the highest volumes, a standard MP3 track on my iPod Touch comes out loud and clear.
One of the ways I do tend to test headphones, though, is to compare the quality of the lossless tracks in my iTunes library to the standard quality on an Apple iPod and I have to say, that with these you really can tell the difference so therefore ‘The Stretch’ are a ‘good’ sounding pair of headphones and we’ll leave it at that.
So, overall in the Philips & O’Neill ‘The Stretch’ Headphones I hold on my head a pair of fantastic headphones. Comfortable, quality, relatively cheap and good looking on-ear headphones. What more do you need to know?
I think we all had our doubts when we heard Philips had partnered with O’Neill, whether that be as you started reading this, or prior to that, but in the end it was a near perfect marriage of substance and style.