Setup, Design & Observations
The glossy plastic look may be enjoyed or loathed by some, regardless, it is hard to deny that the Almaz looks good. There is metal where it counts, at the folding joint, and on the headband. PU leather is a good choice to use on ear cups because it feels soft and cool while remaining breathable. Trying to fold at first was relatively stiff, it actually got me a little worried, but it could be a first time thing, once folded you can see that the internal wiring is braided which is a neat touch.
Using the Almaz was fairly simple, you could just use a jack to jack and control via whatever equipment you are using it with, the beauty of modular design is transferability. While wireless headphones have a clear advantage, having various cables supplied to which you can leave plugged into the relevant devices, I.E. PC headphone and mic cable left plugged into a PC, while Mobile device cable left with mobile, means that you can use it where ever you go simply by changing jacks.
Comfort is an interesting point and potentially subjective. As with earphones or in-ear headsets, on-ear headphones take a little getting used to. At first, for several hours, the Almaz deceived me into believing they are fairly comfortable, however, eventually my ears started fatigue and get a dull ache. I do not believe that this is because the Almaz' clamping force is too tight but merely because I am not used to using on-ear headphones. Regardless, for use over short periods of time, the Almaz did remain fairly comfortable which is good for their intended mobile use. As previously discovered, I generally would not recommend on-ear solutions to those who wear glasses.
The included communications adaptor is a neat design and is simple to use, it has a volume dial at the back and mic mute switch on the side. The iDevice and Android cables included seems over the top, however, logically it makes sense when you consider that the Almaz would make a perfect gift for many children. Including a shorter 0.9m cable for them means less cable slack swinging around. Visually there is little difference between the Android and iDevice cables, however, there may be internal differences which enable certain expanded commands and features for Apple devices, so if you are a proud owner of an Apple product, you may be happy to know that A1 have taken this into consideration.
Playing through my music library on random some Avenged Sevenfold gets thrown up, there is pleasant separation between the mid and high tones while the bass seems strong and smooth allowing for good awareness of guitar solos, vocals and bass notes. This is a repeating pattern heard on various following tracks. Putting the Almaz against some stable reference tracks, it is clear that the Almaz has intentionally coloured sound. The bass is certainly warm and pleasant, it does however lack in definition, preferring a more boomy approach. To take a more objective approach, I listened through Little Boots album 'Hands' followed by Tinie Tempah's 'Disc-Overy' to give a more mainstream experience, the Almaz responded by giving thumping beats and clear lyrics to which was enjoyable and easy to listen to.
World of WarPlanes gave an immense experience, the smooth booming bass made engines roar and added punch to the guns and cannon sound effects, while DOTA 2 showed competent performance so that the bass doesn't muddy the mid tones to completely block the sound of a salve or clarity being used just off screen.
The Android in-line microphone was capable and sounded 'normal' when used in a phone call and it would be safe to assume that the iDevice microphone quality would be similar. However, these do not hold a candle to the 'communication adaptor' with a dedicated flexible mic, the microphone quality was described as very good. The microphone arm is a little short and doesn't quite reach your mouth but didn't make for any major issue.