Philips O'Neill The Stretch headphones review
Philips has teamed up with surfing brand O'Neill to produce these slick-looking headphones. The collaboration hints at the target market for the headphones - young hipsters who want quality audio along with durability. The Stretch headphones also have a few other surprises in the form of a robust cable that's been designed to prevent tangles, along with dynamic 40mm drivers. Here at Pocket-lint, we first set eyes on these beauties at the IFA tech show in Berlin, and we've been keen to get them in for review ever since.
The Stretch headphones are also available in white, but our review sample was of the black and red variety. The colour combo teamed with the smoky plastic finish of the headband and the matte cans certainly point towards a premium product, while the red nylon cable adds a touch of quirky coolness.
The main headband is constructed from a high-grade nylon catchily called TR55, which promises to make them extremely tough and flexible. If the illustrations on our press release are to be believed, then this headband can be put through all sorts of contortions without even coming close to snapping. This is certainly a handy property to have if the headphones are destined to spend a lot of their time being chucked about in a rucksack. The materials used weigh relatively little, so the headphones are lightweight and could easily be carried around all day without adding too much extra weight to your bag.
The striking red and black nylon cable has been designed to stay tangle-free and also to survive unscathed, no matter how roughly you treat it. We tried carelessly bundling the cable into a bag, and it did indeed emerge free of knots. The cable's sturdy build quality is further enhanced with reinforced connectors, often the first point of damage for any pair of headphones. The main lead can be detached from the short length of cable on the left earphone so that if the cable gets caught it will instantly disconnect, saving any permanent damage from being done. Measuring 1.2m, the cable is also nice and long, giving you plenty of leeway for movement.
The stretchy elastic band that's attached just beneath the main headband is a great piece of simple, but effective, design that means that the headphones immediately stretch to fit your head (hence the name) so in theory, they should fit anyone. The earcups themselves are also very comfortable, with the padded, leather-like cushions sitting around your ears, rather than on them. This means they're well-suited to wearing for extended periods of time, as your ears won't get overheated as they do with many rival products.
As closed-back headphones go, these offer a commendable audio performance. The bass isn't the best we've heard, but it certainly packs enough punch to be able to cope with even the most bass-heavy tracks. The mid-range is also surprisingly good, with vocals and melodies delivered with pleasing clarity and warmth. The headphones tend to run into a spot of bother when it comes to the high-end, which can lack precision on more detailed tracks, but it's perfectly acceptable on most songs that you can throw at it.
Overall, the headphones offer a solid audio performance, and a few perfectly-crafted design features, such as the stretchable headband. The detachable, non-tangle cable is also a highlight. Priced at around £75.91, the headphones are a tad more expensive than some of their higher-quality rivals, but we think the durable design and slick aesthetics justify the price difference.