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Philips O'Neill The Stretch Headband Headset review: Philips O'Neill The Stretch Headband Headset

Philips O'Neill The Stretch Headband Headset

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David Carnoy
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David Carnoy

Executive Editor / Reviews

Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET's Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable reviewer of mobile accessories and portable audio products, including headphones and speakers. He's also an e-reader and e-publishing expert as well as the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All the titles are available as Kindle, iBooks, Nook e-books and audiobooks.

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3 min read

Philips O'Neill The Stretch headphones are difficult to review because they have a lot going for them -- excellent comfort and an affordable price tag -- but their sound, while fine, doesn't exceed expectations for an over-the-ear model in this price class.

Philips O'Neill SHO9567WT - headphones
7.0

Philips O'Neill The Stretch Headband Headset

The Good

The <b>Philips O'Neill The Stretch TR 55LX</b> are attractively styled, very comfortable, and relatively lightweight for over-the-ear headphones. They're also modestly priced and you can detach the headphone cord.

The Bad

Sound could be more dynamic and detailed; no built-in microphone; headphones don't fold flat.

The Bottom Line

The Philips O'Neill The Stretch TR 55LX get a birdie for design but only hit par for sound quality.

Let's start with the positives. The Stretch, which also goes by the model number TR 55LX (or Philips SHO9567BK/28) and comes in a white model, lists for $79.99 but can be found online for less than $50. And for $50 it offers good value, particularly in the design department.

Attractive design
For over-the-ear headphones, these are pretty lightweight and have nicely cushioned earcups. Aside from the relatively plush padding, what makes these guys comfortable is the dual-headband design. They have an auto-fit inner headband that's covered in stretchy "wet-suit inspired" Neoprene padding (thus, the O'Neill connection).

What's great about the auto-fit feature is that you don't have to worry about adjusting the size of the headphone band, you just put the headphones on and you're good to go (that said, these may not fit folks who have very large heads).

As for the outer headband, it's made of highly flexible translucent nylon. We gave it a good twist and it didn't break, so the headphones -- or at least their outer headband -- seems pretty durable.

The outer headband is made of highly flexible translucent nylon. Sarah Tew/CNET

When I put these on, my immediate reaction was, "Wow, these are comfortable." Editor Justin Yu had the same reaction, and they're definitely headphones that you can wear at home (or the office), as well as on the go, though your ears will get a little steamy if you were them outside on warm days, due to their closed-back design. The upside to the closed-back design is that these headphones do a good job passively sealing out noise and they don't leak sound.

I also liked that the cord on The Stretch is detachable from the earcup and that it's covered in a cloth material (think of the cord as a shoelace on a hiking boot). Alas, there's no integrated microphone for making cell-phone calls, though a step-up model (the Philips SHO9567BK/28 or Philips SHO9567WT/28) does offer this feature for around $10 more.

The cloth-covered headphone cord is detachable from the left earcup. Sarah Tew/CNET

Performance
The TR 55LX sounds decent enough for its price point, but there are other headphones, such as the Audio-Technica ATH-M30 and ATH-M35, that sound better for $50 (the drawback of the Audio-Technicas for mobile use is that they have extralong cords). While this Philips O'Neil has 40mm drivers like the Audio-Technica and a lot of other affordable over-the-ear headphones, the sound just isn't all that detailed, and the bass just doesn't have that much kick to it.

Sure, they sound a lot better than the cheap Apple earbuds that come with iPods and iPhones, but these aren't headphones that make you say to yourself, "Wow, these sound like headphones that cost a lot more." They lack the airy, more open qualities of higher-end closed-back models, and the sound comes across a tad recessed (it lacks vibrancy and presence).

For better or worse, they sound like a modestly priced over-the-ear model. That will be good enough for some people, but if you want a set of headphones with a little more spunk (or maybe "sparkle" is the better word choice), this will probably fall a little short.

Our take
As I said in the intro, it's tough to review something that gets high marks in one area and only middling marks in another. I really liked the design of The Stretch TR 55LX, but as you can tell, I was less enamored with the sound quality. That doesn't mean these are bad-sounding headphones; they just didn't exceed my expectations like the Audio-Technicas did.

At the end of the day, these Philips O'Neill The Stretch headphones deliver a good-size bang for the buck, but it's more design and comfort bang than performance bang. If you can live with that (and the bad pun ahead), they're certainly worth considering at a price point that won't stretch your budget.

The Stretch branding on the outer headband. Sarah Tew/CNET

Philips O'Neill SHO9567WT - headphones
7.0

Philips O'Neill The Stretch Headband Headset

Score Breakdown

Design 9Features 7Performance 6Value 7
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