Wait, Polaroid makes headphones? If that was your reaction to seeing this review, you’re not alone. Polaroid, best known for its line of photography equipment, dropped a large box of audio gear on our doorstep at the end of 2013 and we’ve been playing with this unusual collection of kit ever since.
First up are Polaroid’s Underground Graffiti headphones, a very cheap pair of cans that owe more than a little of their existence to moulded plastic. The first impressions given by these headphones were that they are as cheap as their price tag, which is a mere R150 from Homemark, who seem to be the sole distributors of these products in South Africa.
After a couple of hours of use, you might come to feel that these Polaroid headphones are underpriced. The moulded plastic construction and fairly minimal padding on the ear-cups and the headband are still sturdy enough to take the odd bout of stupidity in their stride and the sound reproduction from the 40mm drivers is better than we’d expected from the pair of cans at this price. In short, they will grow on you.
There’s no real reason for this to happen, the PHP-550 headphones just improve over time. They don’t fit all that well and wearing them for more than a few hours becomes uncomfortable but after a few sessions, they seem to fit better. They still won’t be comfy over a really long period but there’s some improvement.
What doesn’t improve is the sound. Sound is better that you’d expect from a R150 pair of headphones in the first place and sitting with your hands over the ear-cups actually gives you a little more detail but the way that the PHP-550s are constructed means that you’re losing some of the nuance from your music. But, in their favour, they PHP-550s are loud. Loud enough to shut out an entire office full of people and necessitate someone with a stick poking you to get your attention.
For less than R300 we’re not expecting scintillating audio reproduction and at half that price, we’re usually surprised the the headphones actually work. Polaroid’s UnderGround Graffiti cans have exceeded our expectations already on that score and the sound really isn’t that bad, considering what you’re paying for them. If you’re willing to put up with some discomfort (and the possibility of blinding passers-by with your graffitied cranium), you may grow fond of these thumping little speakers.