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Review beyerdynamic MMX 2 vs. ZOWIE Hammer (USB-Headsets)

Felix Sold, 10/02/2010

Duel of the middle class. The stereo speakers and internal microphone have served their time. We tested two mid-range HiFi headsets. First, the Beyerdynamic MMX 2 from Germany and second, the ZOWIE Hammer USB headset. A happy medium or a bad investment?

The sound system and internal microphone of multimedia or gaming notebooks usually aren't that great, thus putting a damper on true gaming pleasure. Together without our review of the Mionix NAOS 5000 Gaming-Mouse, we also took a look at 2 USB headsets which should perfect the gaming experience on notebooks.

With the Beyerdynamic MMX 2 and the ZOWIE hammer USB, we have chosen equipment from the middle-price range, which is specifically designed for gaming or multimedia applications. We’ve compared the MMX 2 from the German audio specialist beyerdynamic with a Hammer USB headset from the Californian manufacturer ZOWIE. Priced at 69,90 Euros (Link) and 79,90 Euros (Link) respectively, we expect both to be good value for money.

Packaging and Product Contents Compared

The headset's packaging has been kept simple. The MMX 2 from beyerdynamic comes in a small box, either in orange or silver, which in addition to an illustration on the side also displays a short description and specifications in various languages. Overall, the packaging looks rather old-fashioned, but is still informative.

The packaging from ZOWIE is flashier and makes do without much text. In addition to the typical description, there are two comments from Emil "HeatoN" Christensen and Abdisamad "SpawN" Mohamed which explain its suitability for games. The packaging thus looks modern by comparison and is appropriate for the target group.

Alongside the headset, the packaging of the MMX 2 also contains a USB converter that enables a connection to a USB port. This has a button on the top side for deactivating the microphone, and offers an additional 1.5 meters of cable. Also in the product contents comes a manual, a warranty card and a jack adapter from 3.5 to 6.35 millimetres so that the headset can also be adjusted on the amplifier or AV receiver.

The product contents of the Hammer from ZOWIE are more substantial. The supplied USB converter provides the same functionality but is designed differently. To extend the cable, ZOWIE offers a separate jack extension cable and, thankfully, an additional two ear pads are included, for which the user has a choice of leather or a soft material.

We recommend the Belkin CushTop as a handy accessory.

The ZOWIE Hammer USB headset clearly has an edge in terms of packaging and delivery contents. The decisive factors in this are the interchangeable earpieces in two variations, the modern design of the packaging and the additional remote control cable of the headset, with which one can also regulate volume and deactivate the microphone without a USB converter.

The Belkin CushTop is designed for the sofa or the bed.
On the inside, there is space for the power supply and a small USB mouse.

Headset und Microphone

beyerdynamic and ZOWIE take two different approaches to their the speakers and microphones.

The microphone of the MMX 2 from beyerdynamic offers a flexible brace for finding the perfect distance to one's mouth and secure placement in the desired position. Another advantage is that the headset doesn’t need to be fixed when positioning the microphone.

The Hammer USB headset from ZOWIE is designed differently and offers plenty of room for big ears. The speakers are held lengthwise and the padding gives good support. Thankfully, the pads are replaceable. For this, ZOWIE offers a pair in leather or in a velvet material in the product contents, with the latter seeming to be more comfortable. The velvet pads also have an additional seam so as to hold the headset more securely in place and prevent slipping.

The weak point of the ZOWIE is clearly the attached microphone as it doesn't offer a flexible mounting bracket and the hinge is too taut, thus making it necessary to fix the headset in place to prevent it from sliding off the user's head.

The Laptop Hideaway from Belkin offers storage space.
The design is very reminiscent of grandma magazine rack.

Verdict

The carry bag is a space saver in our review.
The notebook sleeve is a simple but secure solution.

The first impression is usually the most decisive one and the ZOWIE Hammer USB-Headset clearly wins here.  The product contents and packaging are more impressive here. The designs of the two headsets differ considerably and it ends up being a matter of taste. The MMX 2 from beyerdynamic has been kept very simple and scores points with its level of understatement, whereas the hammer stands out due to its retro design.

The speakers vary in size, whereby the small sizes of the MMX 2 as well as the fixed pads, which aren’t changeable, bother us. The Hammer holds things a bit more comfortably and big ears have enough room. The construction of the microphone on the Hammer is not optimal and the MMX 2’s flexible solution impressed us more. However, adjusting the size on the MMX 2 isn't very straight-forward. This headset sits on an elastic band sitting under a rigid bar which allows for the different head sizes. The Hammer on the other hand has a rubber piece on the top side and size adjustment can be done separately for each side.

Unfortunately, we can’t professionally analyse the sound of the speakers, but both headsets leave a good impression. The sound of MMX 2 is good, though the Hammer sounds a little more harmonious and balanced. We would have liked both headsets to have a switch or knob for intensifying the bass. The microphones both give a good sound transmission. Even in a noisy coffee shop or lecture hall, very little background noise gets through.

Overall, we tested two good mid-level headsets, both of which have some small "weak points" that should considered before purchasing. Due to its better sound performance, its more comprehensive product contents and its good value for money, the ZOWIE Hammer USB gets a "Highly recommended" from us. Just behind it comes the Beyerdynamic MMX 2 in second place with a "recommended" in this middle-class comparison.

» Das beyerdynamic MMX 2 ist derzeit ab 71,18.- bei Amazon.de erhältlich

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Author: Felix Sold, 2010-10- 2 (Update: 2012-05-26)