To test the headphones I used a Samsung Galaxy Note II and made numerous calls over the course of several days under different circumstances. For music playback I used a 320kbps recording of Parkway Drive’s album Atlas.
Connecting the headphones is easily done by holding down the NC button for 6 to 8 seconds, at which point the device will appear in the list of available devices on your phone. Once paired your phone will automatically connect every time you turn the headphones on.
Answering calls is done by pressing the MFB while calls can be rejected by holding the same button down … both functions worked as expected. The only problem I ran into was when I held down the Forward button and my phone got stuck skipping songs until I disconnected the headphones and closed the app.
Sound quality on calls was excellent, even in a busy city centre shopping area with buses passing by and buskers playing their instruments. Those on the other end commented that there was little background noise during the calls, so the noise reduction technology worked well.
Listening to music was an enjoyable experience. The headphones provide a high level of bass without masking high frequencies. The maximum volume is loud enough to drown out all sound around you, but never loud to the point where it will hurt your ears or bring on a headache. I did notice that the sound quality drastically improves when using an equalizer, though this is not something that the headphones can be faulted for.
Microphonics are the sounds you hear when the wires are rubbing against clothing or when an object (in most cases, your finger) taps the wire. These are often transmitted as hollow thuds and can be quite disturbing. Because the buds create a seal in the ear canal the sounds are transferred directly to your ears. The level of microphonics is determined by the material used to insulate the wires and type of headphones e.g. over-the-ear cable designs and traditional designs.
Sadly the ISO headphones do suffer from a significant amount of microphonics which are not drowned out until the volume is turned up more than halfway. For example, I found the headphones to be quite uncomfortable while driving, as I did not use my phone to listen to music under such circumstances.
Another critical aspect of headphones is the occlusion effect. This is the effect that can be replicated by sticking your fingers in your ears and chewing on food, swallowing or coughing. Under normal circumstances a small amount of vibrations escape through the open ear canal. However, because buds create a seal the effect is intensified as the ear canals can no longer function as a biological equalizer.
For the ISO headphones this means that one of the good points, a tight seal, is also a negative. While not listening to music or being on a call even breathing lightly is greatly amplified and things such as swallowing or clearing your throat quickly become a nuisance. I would not recommend having any drinks or chewing while not actively using the headphones.
At the end of the day Antec has produced terrific headphones. Sound and call quality are impeccable and the controls are both intuitive and easy to find without looking at the headset. Available for £78.58 inc vat. we have no trouble recommending the A.M.P. ISO headphones for excellent overall quality.
- Strong clip.
- Button lay-out.
- Excellent call quality
- Excellent sound quality overall.
- Somewhat disappointing microphonics performance and strong occlusion effect when not actively using the headphones.