The sound from the Almaz was better than I expected if not quite good. The headphones themselves are definitely tuned towards a more bass-orientated performance but the bass was nice, thumpy and full. The sound didn’t feel like it was constricted in anyway for being closed back in design and mids sounded quite good too where music is concerned with their being a respectable performance in highs also.
Having a blast through this years Radio 1 Live Lounge provided a good test of all popular genres and different takes on them such as an acoustic version of Rudimental’s own ‘Waiting All Night’ which has plenty of electronic organs, synth and other instruments layered with a appeasing, rusty-sounding vocals from Ella Eyre. Disclosure’s take on ‘Needin’ U’ is a perfect exercise of all the Almaz has to offer. Sam Smith’s gentle vocals over the ever impressive composition of the Lawrence brothers offers up a sublime cover of Duke Dumont’s track as well as being an outright tune, for lack of a better word, on its own and the Almaz picks up and throws everything at you with a nice sense of clarity and sound stage.
Turning the aural exercise machine that is Battlefield 4 and the Almaz were impressive here too. Guns and explosions all ring out and ooze with that Battlefield goodness and the sound produced from the Almaz only helps to increase the grin on your face as your run away from a building collapsing that you shouldn’t have escaped. Mixing and matching between the in-game equaliser settings also provided some good fun, with the ‘war tapes’ setting providing more of an engrossing experience thanks to the bassy nature of the Almaz rather than a specifically competitive one. If your source material is going to be making the most of the lower frequencies the Almaz appear to have you covered.
Moving onto the dedicated microphone and I was massively impressed with the audio quality and pick-up which is a shame as I think the microphone will be viewed as “just” a nice extra rather than an exceedingly good component. Test calls on Skype and through audio recordings on Audacity sounded superb and when compared to my Snowball desktop mic there wasn’t any difference at all to my ears. The in-line mobile microphone wasn’t as good as the dedicated one although that’s to be expected. In terms of voice quality the Almaz supplied Android cable didn’t sound any better or worse than the stock Samsung S3 earphones for voice and Skype calling.
The Almaz are quite comfy for on-ear headphones although I found they have a few niggles. Firstly, the rubberised headband means working the headphones into place can be a bit cumbersome as the headband sticks to your hair. It doesn’t hurt or tug so to speak, but it’s just annoying when you can feel your hair being ‘pulled’ due to the grip of the surface used. Secondly, not having a soft or spongy grip doesn’t do much for extending listening. I found that my head began to irritate on top of my head no matter how loose the headset was extended and this is just down to using a hard surface. Lastly, the ear cups themselves are quite comfy, but as with the headband, comfort started to wane at around the two hour mark and my ears became sore, no matter how loose (within reason) I had the cups.
The included android cables worked fine with my Samsung Galaxy S3 and both cable sizes should cover most people’s heights. I used the 1.2m cable and I felt I could use my fine quite freely without feeling constrained how it was held. Although the in-line portion of the mobile cables are limited to mute/pause and volume control, they’re adequate.