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id America Metropolitan In-Ear Headphones Review

by November 28, 2012
id America Metropolitan In-Ear Headphones

id America Metropolitan In-Ear Headphones

  • Product Name: Metropolitan In-Ear Headphones
  • Manufacturer: id America
  • Performance Rating: StarStarStar
  • Value Rating: StarStarStarhalf-star
  • Review Date: November 28, 2012 04:25
  • MSRP: $ 29.99
  • Driver Unit: 10mm Dynamic Magnet Driver
  • Impedance: 16 Ohm
  • Sensitivity: 100dB+/-3dB at 1kHz
  • Frequency Response: 20 Hz - 20,000 Hz
  • Rated Power Input: 1 mW
  • Maximum Input Power: 5 mW
  • Cord Length: 3.9 ft / 1.2 m
  • Plug: 3.5 mm Plug
  • Weight: 0.4 oz / 13 g
  • Colors: Brilliant Red, Yellow Green, Rose Pink, Aluminum Silver, Jet Black, Navy Blue


  • Variety of colors
  • Small and light
  • In-line control and mic
  • Price


  • Fabric cable transmits physical noise
  • So-so sonics


id America Metropolitan First Impressions

ID_metro_boxWhen creating devices as small as in-ear headphones, it is hard to be noticed. You have very little real estate with which to work with. With full-sized speakers, you can wrap them in real wood veneers or paint them candy-apple red, but that won't work with in-ear headphones. You need to do something else.

id America has gone with vibrant colors to distinguish their Metropolitan offering from the crowd. The make a black pair for the purists out there, but the rest sport such monikers as Brilliant Red, Yellow Green, Rose Pink, Aluminum Silver, and Navy Blue. Okay, that last one is a little pedestrian, but the rest are pretty out there. Having all these colors means that you could, theoretically, match your headphones to your outfit. That would be weird and, given the color options, calls to mind some very interesting flamingo dancer images... but you could.

The id America Metropolitan headphones are very tiny, very light in-ear monitors. The pair I was sent was in the Navy Blue finish and is probably the go-to pair for reviewers. The blue color is unique enough to remind us that they have a bunch of colors, but not so weird as to turn us off to the headphones. The enclosures are a flattened cone with a large + on the end that looks like an image of a Phillips screwdriver slot.


id America has included the ever popular fabric-covered cable with the Metropolitan headphones. The Left and Right headphones are marked so lightly as to be virtually invisible, but it won't matter. The left headphone has an in-line microphone and single button control for interfacing with your phone/MP3 player. As long as you can find the in-line control, you know which headphone goes in which ear.

The id America Metropolitans feature an all-aluminum design (It's possible the driver is aluminum as well, though all id America says is that the Metropolitans are "Aluminum in-ear headphones"). This allows for a very light set of headphones that are spec'd at 0.4 ounces - perfect for those on the go. The driver is 10mm and is rated down to 20Hz.


The cord is the standard 1.2m length and has a Y junction. Unlike many other headphones, there is no choke adjustment to the Y to control the spread of the two wires running to your ears. There is also no clip or any sort of method for securing the id America Metropolitan headphones to your clothes. 

The id America Metropolitan headphones have three different sized silicone tips but no memory foam ones for maximum sound isolation. id America has included the standard draw-string bag for transport which is more than large enough to hold all the tips and the headphones. The manual includes more pictures of the headphones in their various colors than actual instructions.

id America Metropolitan Use

ID_metro_shapeOf all the earbuds I've tested, the id America Metropolitan have been the easiest with which to install and remove the silicone tips. I've often wondered if that would make the tips more likely to come off in use (i.e. get stuck in your ears) but that didn't seem to be the case. I've actually had headphones that I was reluctant to try different tips with because of the difficulty in switching. With the id America Metropolitans, I was able to find the perfect size for me quickly because I wasn't dreading trying multiple tips over and over.

The in-line microphone and control work as advertised. This is a single button control that doesn't have any volume up or down. For people with iDevices, it will work as normal with a single press to start/stop music or answer/hang up a call. Double presses advance and triple presses go back. With some devices, you may be able to hold for volume up and double press and hold for volume down. Intelligibility during calls was good and, in my tests, I had no one complain that they couldn't hear me.


The fit and finish of the id America Metropolitan headphones was very good. There was a visible seam between the front and back of the headphones but nothing that was overtly obvious. The plus signs on the back of the earphones were distinctive, though we thought it a weird logo choice for the company overall. They've also labeled the top "Born in New York" which is the company's tagline. The posts on the headphones looked as large as the ones from the Phiaton PS 210 BTNC headphones but they fit comfortably in my ears.


The cone shape of the id America Metropolitan headphones was compact and allowed them to fit into your ear cup easily. id America could have gone with a wider back to allow for wedging in the ear cup for a more secure fit. As it was, the Metropolitan headphones fit snugly enough, and flush enough to my head, so that it wasn't an issue. The only problem I had with the fit was the cable. It comes out of the earphone at a bit of an angle, but it still got hung up on my ear - threatening to pull the earphone free. Perhaps future versions of this headphone could have more of an exit angle.

The fabric-covered cable was very well isolated below the Y split with almost no noise being conveyed up to earphone from rubbing. Above the Y, however, any rubbing was clearly audible even over the musical content. For those that are planning on using the id America Metropolitan headphones during exercise, this could be an issue.

id America Metropolitan Sound

ID_metro_inboxThe id America Metropolitan earphones run $30 a pair. That's about as bargain as you can get especially considering that they have an in-line mic and control. The closest thing I have on hand that is at all comparable is the RHA MA350 In-Ear Headphones. The RHA set my personal benchmark for the $40 price point but they are just straight headphones - no in-line controls or mic. They have a similar construction and design featuring all aluminum enclosures, fabric covered cable, and compact (and light) design.

To find a similarly priced offering, I had to go to my stock iPod earbuds. Currently on the Apple website, the stock (old style) earbuds with in-line controls and mic cost $29. I have no reason to believe that Apple did anything to the stock earbuds other than tack on an in-line control/mic unit. To compare the id America offering to the Apple, I had to dig through a few boxes but I eventually found a pair that hadn't been tossed.

To start with, the id America Metropolitan headphones are as comfortable as any in-ear headphones I've worn. The sound isolation is acceptable though not exceptional. The Metropolitan headphones sit very flush though not totally inside of your earcup. The overall presentation of the id America Metropolitan earphones was very dependent on the source material. I found them to have a quite understated bass response. With bass heavy material, the id America Metropolitan showed that they had good extension and output but with less bass heavy material, the bass response seemed lacking. A little bass boost with the id America Metropolitan headphones will help give it a lot more even presentation.


Midrange was mostly strong and well defined, though there were areas where it sounded thin. With well-recorded material this was less of a problem (mostly because of the quality of the recording), but with material that was heavy in one area the Metropolitans had a hard time sounding natural. Even within the same album, some tracks would sound very good while others took on a more FM radio quality. This was all due to where the emphasis was placed in the frequency response in the song.

The top end of the id America Metropolitan was where I really ran into problems. It sounded to me like the driver was compressing at the higher frequencies. With well-recorded material, this was less obvious, but with modern pop material, the top end sounded very compressed and tinny. Long listening sessions with the id America Metropolitan headphones were difficult if I didn't limit my music selection to high-quality recordings at fairly moderate volumes.


Imaging with the id America Metropolitan headphones was surprisingly good. I've experienced headphones at higher price points that didn't have as precise of imaging. Compared to the Apple offering, the id America Metropolitans won hands down. Yes, the Apple headphones have more complete controls, but the sound quality was certainly better with the id America Metropolitans. If you are looking for a step up from the stock earbuds, the id America Metropolitan headphones are a decent choice.

The comparison with the RHA MA350s was less clean cut. The RHAs cost $10 more (a third more than the id America offering) and don't have an in-line control unit or microphone. The fit was similar and the enclosure material and design nearly identical. The bass response was much better with the RHAs and the top end and overall presentation was much more consistent and natural. The id Americas, however, did have the in-line controls and the bass wasn't nearly as overstated as it is with the RHAs. As it stands, I think the extra $10 for the RHAs is well spent if you care more about audio quality than in-line controls. If a bit of compression on the top end doesn't bother you (and the number of people running around with the stock earbuds leads me to believe that many of you don't mind at all) and you really want in-line controls, the id America Metropolitans are acceptable.

id America Metropolitan Conclusion

It's hard to fault a $30 pair of headphones on much of anything. If they work, they are pretty much worth the money. The id America Metropolitan headphones come in a wide variety of colors to suit just about any style or mood. They have an in-line control and mic for use with your smartphone. They have decent bass extension and are very light and comfortable. Will more money get you better sound? Of course. But isn't that always the case? We think these would make great headphones for active people or kids that don't want to put out a lot of money but want a fully featured headphone.

id America Metropolitan In-Ear Headphone




The Score Card

The scoring below is based on each piece of equipment doing the duty it is designed for. The numbers are weighed heavily with respect to the individual cost of each unit, thus giving a rating roughly equal to:

Performance × Price Factor/Value = Rating

Audioholics.com note: The ratings indicated below are based on subjective listening and objective testing of the product in question. The rating scale is based on performance/value ratio. If you notice better performing products in future reviews that have lower numbers in certain areas, be aware that the value factor is most likely the culprit. Other Audioholics reviewers may rate products solely based on performance, and each reviewer has his/her own system for ratings.

Audioholics Rating Scale

  • StarStarStarStarStar — Excellent
  • StarStarStarStar — Very Good
  • StarStarStar — Good
  • StarStar — Fair
  • Star — Poor
Build QualityStarStarStarStar
Treble ExtensionStarStar
Treble SmoothnessStarStar
Midrange AccuracyStarStarStar
Bass ExtensionStarStarStarStar
Bass AccuracyStarStarStar
Dynamic RangeStarStarStar
About the author:
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As Associate Editor at Audioholics, Tom promises to the best of his ability to give each review the same amount of attention, consideration, and thoughtfulness as possible and keep his writings free from undue bias and preconceptions. Any indication, either internally or from another, that bias has entered into his review will be immediately investigated. Substantiation of mistakes or bias will be immediately corrected regardless of personal stake, feelings, or ego.

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