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I have had many earphones/headphones over the years - my last pair went through the washing machine twice before finally going deaf in one ear. Generally, the <£9.99 band of earphones don't last very long around me. Even more so for earphones that travel around with me to be used with my mobile.
A few months ago, my dad gave these Creative MA330 earphones to me as an early birthday present, as he'd needed them to bulk up an order to qualify for free shipping, and he knew of my ubiquitous high turnover rate for these particular electronic accessories.
Creative are a brand founded in Singapore in 1981 and specialise in digital entertainment products. I've used several products from them in the past, including the Zen music player for a time, and have found them to be of a high standard. With this prior experience I expected these earphones to be of a similar good quality.
When I first received this earphone headset, it didn't look especially fancy - they came in a box with a clear plastic shell, with a bright green and black box emblazoned with the company logo and the name of the product in three different languages.
The appearance of the earphones is entirely black, except for a strip of silver between the earbud and the body of the earphone - there are no fashionably coloured wires here - and overall of a simplistic, one could say generic, design for a pair of earphones. There is a small version of the Creative logo on the outer part of each earbud in light grey, a triangle with a dislocated base, which also doubles as a "play" button and part of Creative's stylised logo motif. The earphones are labelled L and R respectively - a functional move, and one I appreciate.
At 9.9 grams, these earphones are relatively lightweight. The wires themselves are very thin, I would say 1.5-2mm width max. This does indeed make them easy to wear, but I find the thinner the earphones, the easier they are to tangle, though I am no expert on string theory. I certainly find that these earphones tangle, get caught, and knot up within itself very easily, even just left in a pocket, more so than any others I've had within memory.
To balance out this shortcoming, I find that they stay in my ears well without falling out. Tripling the comfort options for the customer, this set comes with three different sizes of silicon earbud, from small to large. I would estimate that the largest size is 10mm and the smallest 6mm. I personally use the buds the earphones came with, which I believe are the medium size. There is no storage container for these spares included, and I don't think it's worth keeping the packaging for, so I just keep them at the bottom of a jewelry box. There is no special maintenance guidelines for the earphones, but I do occasionally wipe the silicon earbuds, inside and out, as they do sit inside the ear and may collect dirt.
Of course, the most important part of any set of earphones is the sound quality. Like 99% of earphones these days the sound is in stereo, and according to technical specifications the range is between 6 - 23.000 Hertz. Compared to my non-in-ear former earphones, I find that the bass is impressive, and the high notes aren't tinny like they are through my computer stereo. Honestly - music sounds great with these. I can have my volume very low and make out every beat clear as day. I am not sure about the noise-cancelling aspect the product boasts, but I do find that, for example, I can't hear myself type when I have these earphones in, whereas I can make out other sounds such as the house-phone or the front door.
Enforced versatility is where the earphones start to earn the title "headset": the Creative MA330 is primarily designed for use with a smartphone. Specifically, an Android brand smartphone. I have not tried these out with another brand of device, so I cannot say for certain whether they do or do not exclusively work with Android.
On the intersection of the two earphone wires there is a small remote button, about 2 inches long, which functions as an integrated play/pause/skip, which can be used to accept/decline calls via your smartphone. Personally, I've found this remote has a sporadic personality and can refuse to work just as likely as it will work perfectly first time. There is seemingly no knack to it - I'd much rather just use the intended buttons on my phone, at least I know they are consistent.
There is also an inline microphone. According to Amazon, the headset includes 9mm Neodymium drivers for clearer voice calls, but in my limited experience using this to make calls, I can detect no real difference than using my mobile directly.
The concept of walking around muttering to myself in public isn't one I particularly relish either, and I primarily use these earphones to listen to music rather than make calls, though I can see how being hands-free can be attractive, especially without the obvious bulky microphone headset. For this reason, this may be a good buy for those who make frequent video-phone calls.
The MA330 works well with my phone, but disregarding the mostly-ignored remote feature, I can't say they have any particular special quality about them other than their ease of functionality with my mobile - which is honestly all I need.
There is also an adapter included in this set, meaning these earphones can be used on a laptop or PC. According to Amazon they are also Mac compatible.
The price tag is what may put a lot of customers off: the Creative MA330 earphones regularly go for between £20-£40. This may not seem a lot compared to certain other brands, but I feel the quality of these headphones isn't quite applicable to the £40 mark. I would be happy to pay around £20-£25 for these, but not much more.
Currently, there is no warranty available or included with this item. Packaging is recyclable but the headphones themselves are not.
To conclude, the Creative MA330 are lightweight and comfortable with great sound quality. For a headset, they are subtle, but the remote function leaves a lot to be desired. On Amazon at time of writing, these are for sale at £34.96, which I feel is overpriced for what I use these earphones for. I hope that the expense will gradually be offset by their longevity and the overall Creative brand quality.