Many of us will fondly remember Maxell from all those years ago when we used to tape the top 40 onto cassette tapes.
As a brand, Maxell have never gone away, but they’ve been a bit quiet in the UK over the past few year. Recently though they’ve been seeing a bit of a resurgence following the launch of a new range of headphones and other home electronics.
We’ve been lucky enough to sample one of their top new earphones, the MXH-DBA700. I’m no expert at earphone reviewing, preferring instead to be surrounded in sound from speakers instead, but I do still recognise good audio when I hear it so was keen to put the Maxell’s through their paces – here’s what I thought.
Ignore the packaging – it’s only a box after all!
The initial impressions are a tad disappointing. For a £100 pair of headphones the packaging is pretty ordinary and they aren’t going to jump out at you on the shop shelves.
They come in a gold embossed cardboard box with the headphones themselves safely secured in a plastic insert. Our review box and instructions were all in Japanese but I assume this will be updated when they come on to the UK market. There is no case or pouch included which was also a little bit disappointing at this price point.
Getting past the packaging though and onto the headphones is a much better experience. The headphones sit at the end of a flat 1.2m black rubberised cable and are impressive looking with very good quality materials and workmanship hinting at the performance to be expected.
The headphone is funnel shaped with a nice engraved aluminium end piece which really gives the headphones an upmarket feel – much less ‘blingy’ than the BassBuds we tested a while ago.
The fit is also very good – you get 3 different sizes of buds so you can get the perfect fit for your ears and they are not too heavy that they fall out. The overall weight and balance was comfortable and better that many I’ve tried.
Well balanced and composed sound
In use, the Maxell MXH-DBA700 were very accomplished.
The balance across the audio spectrum was excellent on pretty much everything I listened to. A tight and reasonably deep bass and bright trebles really brought the music alive and the sound just ‘felt right’. Like most earphones of this type, the bass response was effected by how well they fit your ear. It took a while and a lot of listening before I felt like I discovered any shortcomings.
The only time they seemed to struggle was when listening to The Foo Fighters and The Editors. The guitar often felt quite harsh and overly bright and although fiddling with the levels helped, they are perhaps not ideal if you have a preference for guitar based rock.
On everything else, from the Ministry of Sound ‘One’ album, to Michael Buble, they were composed and a pleasure to listen with.
Despite the first impressions, the Maxell MXH-DBA700 are a great pair of earphones with a very well balanced fit, and sound.
Are they worth £99.99 a pair? That’s difficult to answer. I think a bit of extra love on the packaging and extras would certainly help me feel more comfortable with the purchase – for the price, they feel just a bit too ‘bare bones’.
That said, I wouldn’t be too disappointed if I did spend that much either. They were enjoyable to listen to and easy to get on with – but if they were a few quid less, had a little bit more in the box, or had that little something extra in the sound, I’d be a lot happier.