A Review of the PodPro Headphones for the iPod

by Gregory Ng May 15, 2003

imageSometimes a company that is successful in producing one type of product is also successful at making the leap into other products. After reviewing the PodPro Noise-Reduction Headphones from Macally, I have decided that Macally is not one of those companies. Macally, known best for their computer keyboards and computer mouse products, has completely missed the boat with these headphones. According to the Macally website: the PodPro are Noise Reduction Headphones (that) reduce outside noise and (allow) for a better music listening experience. Unfortunately, these headphones do not reduce outside noise effectively, nor do they allow for a better music listening experience. I wanted to give these headphones a fair shake, so I decided to perform a few tests to determine if they are really worth the $69.00 MSRP price tag. First, let me start by describing the packaging and unpacking.

The PodPro comes in a plastic blisterpack with the headphones already collapsed (Macally calls this feature a collapsible design for easy storage). The design of the headphones is not bad (the term “design” is subjective). There is a good blend of gray and white plastic mixed with black leather. Each earphone is egg shaped. The first thing that you will notice is the plastic appears very cheap. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as the plastic lends itself to a lighter product (weighing 6.5 oz.), but in comparison to some headphones with more metal parts it’s similar to the feeling of wanting a Transformer made of metal and getting a plastic GoBot. The remaining pieces contained in the package include: the cord to connect to the audio source, a two-prong airplane adapter, a black leather carrying pouch, and a direction sheet. Batteries for the Noise-reduction feature are not included. (This feature requires 2 AAA batteries)

Now onto the sound tests. Please remember, everyone hears sound differently and everyone has a preference for how much bass and how much treble they like. This test could never be as objective as a speed of a processor test or a rocket propulsion test, so bear with me. I tested these headphones using 3 sources: a 20GB iPod, a Sony Sports Discman, and an Onkyo stereo system. With each audio source I played 3 different songs in order to get a good sound range. The three songs I chose were:

Tom Sawyer by Rush
Picked mostly for the very first note: the gut rumbling bass

Lilac Wine by Jeff Buckley
I picked this one for its silent parts between unaccompanied vocals

Spybreak! by the Propellorheads
This song was picked for its bass, but I also wanted to hear how the headphones held up to the pulsating of electronica music.

I also listened to each song near a distracting noise. This was done to try out the noise-cancelling feature on the headphones. I listened to the three songs on my iPod outside with a lawnmower running across the street. Next, I listened to the discman near my crying daughter as she played in the living room. Lastly, I listened to the stereo with a vacuum cleaner on in the next room.

Here are the results:

iPod: The volume on my iPod was already set to the normal loud volume that I use with my iPod earbuds. When I turned on Tom Sawyer I could barely hear the initial bass note over the lawnmower. At first I thought the volume was not turned up enough, but I had turned the volume on the iPod and the volume on the volume control attached to the cord all the way up. These headphones are not loud at all. I fiddled with the noise-reduction and I still heard more lawnmower than Tom Sawyer. I had similar results with the playing of Lilac Wine. During the quiet parts of the song, it sounded like I didn’t even have the headphones on. Spybreak! was a little more successful. I was able to actually get into the song but I suspect that was because the steady beat gave me something to concentrate on over the hum of the lawnmower.

Discman: A crying baby can be ear-piercing, but my daughter’s cries were not as steady as the sound from the lawnmower. Tom Sawyer performed well and my daughter was admittedly a bit quieter, thanks to the headphones. Lilac Wine had similar results to the iPod test?the quiet parts were anything but quiet. Spybreak! performed really well. I wonder if it?s because we were inside. I did note that they still were not as loud as I would haved liked.

Stereo: The power of the stereo gave a pretty nice sound, but I still felt that the noise-reduction feature was inadequate against the steady noise of the vacuum cleaner. All songs performed satisfactorily. I did notice that the enhanced bass from my stereo added positively to the sound across the board. The volume was a lot better too.

In conclusion, these headphones cost more than a basic pair because of the noise-reduction feature. I did not get to test these on an airplane but I believe, based on my results, that they would not perform any better under those circumstances. If you are planning on using these for your iPod, don’t bother. Your apple earbuds are way superior in sound quality. If you are looking for noise-reduction headphones, I suggest buying a pair of Bose noise-reduction headphones. You can purchase them at the Apple Store and they are worth every dime. Unfortunately, the best part of these headphones is the leather pouch. Note to Macally: stick to mice.


You need log in, or register, in order to comment