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Reviewed: Everglide s500 Headphones
Author: Michael Ahlf       Date: October 5th, 2006
Page: 2
Let it first be said: these things are massive. If you're looking for something you can wear while on the bus, or in a waiting room, or somewhere that you'll need to be able to hear outside noise, these aren't your thing, but neither are more expensive options.

On the visual end, the s500's are hard to miss. They come in a standard "white" or "black" coloration, though the "black" isn't entirely black plastic - just the circular cap on the headphones themselves. A thick, padded head section connects the two, and instead of the more standard circular pad and foam insert, Everglide put extra foam padding on the side behind the ear and made theirs deeper, to avoid pressing in on the ear cartilage. All sections that contact skin (or hair) are covered in soft, thin leather.

Overall, the s500's are highly comfortable. The only possible complaint is that the extra padding results in too good of a seal between head and headphones, which could irritate persons who are sensitive to air pressure changes. Since the same can be said of most large-scale headphones and has been mentioned quite frequently in reviews of canalphones, it's safe to say that anyone with this problem should probably avoid headphones altogether.

The competition in the headphone world, despite lack of major advertising campaigns, is surprisingly fierce. In addition to the standard Radio Shack-style headphones, the s500's face competition from standard earbuds (packed with PSP's, iPods, and related products), canalphones (such as the Sony Fontopia models), standard full-size and "portable" headphones, and even expensive units featuring intelligent noise canceling. There are even a precious few battery powered models that feature "enhanced" bass control in the form of secondary vibration units attached to the headphones themselves.

For purposes of this test, I put the s-500s against some of their possible competitors. The package consisted of standard PSP earbuds, Sony MDR-EX51 Fontopia canalphones, AOpen's HP-590 vibration headphones, a normal pair of Koss full-size headphones, and the "ultimate" competition, the $350 Bose Quietcomfort 3.

First test? Normal household noises. Two cats, one dog, and assorted cars on the street added to the noise of a gaming computer rig. With exception of the QuietComfort set, only the s500's had much impact at all; the "full-size" Koss model still didn't seal on the ear that well, and the HP-590s weren't designed for noise cancellation.

Second test? A busy server room, 20+ servers on a rack plus their UPS device all howling away. The Bose unit were the only unit to really cut the noise, but the s500's still took the edge off.

In comfort, I'd have to give the edge to the s500's over the Bose unit. True, Bose puts a lot of money into their engineering, but the smaller padding size means less room for the headphones to rest on the head and less space for the weight of the unit to be distributed. The Bose QuietComforts also have no padding on the headband, which means more chance of rubbing and soreness.

Pricewise, the s500's are the high end of their field. Standard, decent-quality "full size" headphones run around $30, as will the HP-590s if you can find them. Canalphones start at $20, and if you're lucky the standard earbuds come free with something you already own. The Bose models of noise cancelling headphones start at $300 for the Quietcomfort 2 line and $350 for the Quietcomfort 3 line; Koss offers a "competing" line of much lower quality units that top out at $200. Still, for $110 ($100 plus shipping at Everglide's online store) the Everglide s500's are cheaper and don't eat batteries like "active" canceling headphones will (Bose quotes 30 hours of life per set, but I clocked an average of 22 on my tests).

The final question, of course, is how well sound is reproduced by the various headphones? Thankfully, there are a wealth of choices to try. Hooking into a computer, a PSP, an iPod, a Nintendo DS, and a standard CD player are all good options, and all things that a gamer might use headphones for. When on the go, the best choice is likely the canalphones, which hold on to the ear canal to deliver better bass response without completely cutting out possibly necessary noises from the outside world. When sitting and expecting total silence, the best responses came from the s500 (with its larger drivers) and the Bose Quietcomforts.

Overall? If you're absolutely pressed for budget, you can get away with a set of earbuds or normal full-size headphones, but for real audio quality, the Bose Quietcomforts are about the same audio quality as the s500's, and much more expensive. Go for the s500's and save your money for more games.

Added:  Monday, October 23, 2006
Reviewer:  Michael Ahlf
Page: 2/3

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