Why I've Given Up All My Headsets for The Haymaker

Yes, they're that good

I have a ridiculous number of headphones and earbuds. Some might call it an obsession. As a self-proclaimed minimalist, I've been trying to whittle down my unintentional collection. The problem is, each model does something unique or at least does it better than every other one.

I have a set of cans for listening to metal, a pair that gives me a mesmerizing movie experience, a noise-canceling set for practicing guitar, buds for running and for talking on the phone, a foldable set for travel, chunky, gaudy headphones for gaming, and, well, you get the idea.

When The Haymaker HM100 headphones landed on my doorstep, I was sure this was going to be yet another set that would do only one thing well. I was wrong. Here's what sold me on The Haymaker, and why I've gotten rid of all my other headsets.

The technicals

The Haymaker HM100s come from Haymaker, a Peak Audio LLC company. Haymaker is a small firm that's big on details. Their sole purpose: to make the only headphone you'll ever need.

The Haymaker comes with the highly-regarded Dirac 3D Audio and Dirac HD Sound baked in. If you're a gamer or immersed in VR, you've had some introduction to this technology. Dirac 3D Audio is what gives you that 360-degree surround sound experience that makes games, music, and movies come to life. 

The Haymaker HM100s also feature Bluetooth 5.0, active noise canceling, touch sensor controls, RGB lights on the headband and earpads, and two active noise-canceling microphones. Haymaker has also tossed in a spare set of speaker pads, a braided universal micro USB-C cord for charging, a 3.5mm aux cord, and a PC gaming controller adapter. And it all zips up nice and neat in a big, padded carrying case. If it sounds like a lot of gear, that's because it is. This is the first time I've unboxed a set of headphones and didn't need to go on a hunt for a cable, case, or controller. Everything you can imagine (and more) comes with The Haymaker.

How do they feel?

Cranking Zeppelin, drowning yourself in an action flick, throwing your all into a first-person shooter, and even chatting it up on the phone are all immersive experiences. When a speaker pad pinches your earlobes or a headband weighs too heavy on your noggin, it subtracts from your overall enjoyment. It causes you to tune out instead of tune in. It just “flat-out sucks.”

The Haymaker HM100s are comfortable from top to bottom. The thick headband is padded and sturdy, and it stays in place, whether you're sitting back in a gaming chair or running on the track. The speaker pads clamp down over your ears without force or pressure, creating a tight seal that locks sound in and muffles external noise even when active noise canceling is off. And if you wear glasses, the over-the-ear design never bites at your ears or causes irritation. Brilliant!

The button placement is logical and spaced out in a finger-friendly manner. The power and noise-canceling controls are on the left outer side of the frame, the aux cable slips into a port on the bottom left speaker pad, and charging and gaming cables happen in a port under the right side of the frame.

At 324 grams, The Haymaker HM100s feel sturdy in hand and while in use but are never too heavy to take up residence on your head for hours at a time.

Those lights, man!

LEDs have a solid foothold in electronics these days, especially gaming headsets. It's a love/hate stopping point for many. Some find them distracting and others seek out the flashiest set of cans on the market. I fall somewhere in the middle.

Thankfully, the Haymaker gives you options here. LED lights fill the outside of both speaker pads and also line the top of the head band. Holding your fingers down on the right pad turns the lights on, and swiping your digits over the logo cycles through eight vibrant color choices. The lights have four modes: static, flash, breathe, and cycle. Fade subdued shades in and out to your heart's content or ramp things up a notch and be the flashy one in the room. And if you find the RGBs too distracting, turn them off.

The important stuff: sound

Looking good and feeling good are nice but let's face it, functionality is what separates high-end headphones from the so-so models. 

When connected via Bluetooth or hardwired with the included aux cable, you can feel every thundering beat of the bass and drums in tunes, sail through the highs, and catch the mids. The bass won't blow you away, but it doesn't take a backseat either. The sound is crisp and balanced, precisely as it should be. When you want to drown out external voices or background chatter, the active noise canceling is solid. Whether you're deep in the throes of League of Legends, on a call, or relaxing with a session of music therapy, The Haymaker HM100s deliver the goods.

And the call quality is in a new league! Most headsets give you one mono microphone, but The Haymaker has two active noise-canceling mics built-in, both of which act to pull sound and voices to the forefront and push distracting background noises out of the way.

How I ended up with The Haymaker as my only set of cans

Today, I've pared down my audiophile obsession to a single pair of headphones: The Haymaker HM100. 

Thanks to superb surround sound courtesy of Dirac 3D Audio and Dirac HD, I've been happily donning The Haymaker for calls, gaming sessions, runs, and music. And because they're hinged just above the speaker pads, they fold down small. Coupled with manufacturer-guaranteed water-resistance, they meet my needs as a travel headset. The clear voice processing and stellar dual active noise-canceling microphones also make these a class-leading headset for making and taking calls. Needs met, and then some.

If you want one set of headphones that do everything and do it all well, grab The HayMaker HM100s because Haymaker may be right: these are the only headphones you'll ever need.

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