Portable headphones come in two main styles: in-ear and on-ear. The former comprises the ultratiny earbuds and canalbuds that you place at least somewhat inside your ears, while the latter often features a headband and circular earpads that rest over the ears. iPod accessories maker iFrogz offers several models in both varieties, but the on-ear Ear Pollution Toxix headphones are the subject of this review. Thankfully, the $20 set doesn't totally live up to its name, but neither does it sound particularly good. The earphones offer a hint of style and a lightweight design, so they could work in a pinch for those on a budget, but the Toxix are far from the best portable option out there.
Let's tackle the design first. No denying that the Ear Pollution Toxix headphones are lightweight and the earcups compact, but the materials are cheap and there's no way to fold the headphones down for storage and transport. This creates a concern for space and durability, as it leaves the headband vulnerable to breakage. The band in question is adjustable and attached to two small (2.2-inch), round earcups trimmed in slightly stiff leatherette padding. We found that the slight pressure applied to our upper ears by the earcups proved uncomfortable after only 30 minutes of wear, although this is highly subjective. A single--impressively thick--47-inch cable descends from the left cup and terminates in a silver-plated L-plug.
On the plus side, the Toxix headphones present a touch of style; radiation symbols are stamped on each earcup and there are various color options. You can choose from silver, gold, pink, or brown versions, with each offering one main color and at least one accent to accompany it. As the price tag may suggest, the package includes nothing but the headphones.
Sound quality is unfortunately just about what you would expect from a pair of $20 headphones. Audio is passable, but not good by any means. Music through the Toxix earphones didn't sound any better than that played through stock earbuds. Everything had a bit of a mushy, muffled quality and mids came across slightly harsh. This set might be a worthwhile upgrade for those who find earbud-style 'phones highly uncomfortable and who are working with a very strict budget. If you don't fall into that camp, steer clear.