I recently had the opportunity to speak with the inventor of these headphones, and after giving them a very thorough run, I have to tell you the EX-29 Extreme Isolation headphones are incredibly comfortable, lightweight, and they do an amazing job at isolating sound so you get the maximum listening experience without the need to turn up volumes that might hurt your hearing. These would be absolutely perfect for studios, specifically vocalists who are close to mics, to prevent bleed over. They also would be very useful for times where you don't want to disturb your neighbor, such as on a plane. These headphones provide an incredible 29dB of sound attenuation which means they could also make the perfect set of headphones for your trip to the gun range for a little targe practice. Literally, there is not a situation these headphones won't rock! The EX-29 has to be on the list of must-have accessories for every band, studio, or musical lover.
Great for isolation during tracking or tweaking, not the best for critical listening when selecting preamps or microphones.
Flat Sound Great Quality
The headphones were just as describe. They came quick. And there everything that I was expecting and most importantly needed. I bought them after disguising with my sales engineer James Shilliday what I needed in a studio headphone. I wanted a flat response witch was most important. To be able to replace the cans,cushions and wire. And they had to be as close to two hundred dollars if possible. He hit the nail on the head when he suggested the Direct Sound EX-29. They are more then what I expected for under two hundred. There sound is excellent They have sound isolation to like 38db and everything can be replaced. There clearly color coded on the headband and even the cloth on the right side is red for right. And if your visually impaired they'll even imprint an R on the right in brail.There most importantly a Flat response. I defiantly recommend them to anyone looking for a pair of headphones with the same specification. Thanks James Peace
These are great. They feel nice and improve my mix very well. Best purchase I've made yet!
Light, comfortable & works
I bought a pair of these EX-29s for use with my electronic drum kit. They were perfect! Light weight and comfortable for long sessions, and they sound surprisingly good. I bought a second pair for use with my synths and other gear. I've been through a lot of different headphones, and while these seem at first overly simplistic in their plastic construction, the reality is that they work great and hold up well to lots of hard use.
These headphones sound great, fit great, dont get pocked up in the mic, and they wont break the bank! I've been using AKGs up to this point, but got tired of them bleeding into the mic. These guys sound just as articulate and the isolation is very good. I found a new favorite.
Solid, very well thought out, all they are supposed to be. EASY REPAIR.
it's always an hour of my time to repair any other brand headphones. drummers like them, vocalists like them, very well thought out design. $30 more than the $99 group of cans but one repair at light speed and they have become money ahead.
EX-29 Isolating Headphones
I have used a lot of headsets in 55 years, but this pair is one of the most useful for day to day operations. I am not saying they have the greatest range or tone quality, but they are more than suitable for the two albums and customer samples of the various stage and film projects I do yearly. For final mix an editor shouldn't be wearing earphones anyway. Above all they are comfortable and can be worn for long periods of time. Suffice it to say that for the price they are one of the best purchases I have made in a long time. I highly recommend them.
good isolation AND accurate response
I lost my old pair and eventually got a second pair. The only other headphones I've bought 2 of, was the AKG 240. I initially got the EX-29 to office use, to shut the chatter away, but ended up doing a good amount of audio checks on them, until ultimately I ended up doing an entire production (music + sfx) on them. I still check with my AKG 240 and 702, and genelec 8030, but most of the time, mixes from the EX-29 can go straight into production. I might even like them more than my AKG 702. (as a matter of taste)
Here's the bottom line. They're affordable, do the job frickin' well, and built like a tank. I'm not so sure how this thing can exist without becoming a big deal.
Best Drummer Headphones Ever
As a studio drummer, I have to say that these are the best headphones I've ever used for recording and practicing. If I had to design headphones for drumming, these would be it. They are comfortable, which is important when you're rehearsing or practicing for hours and hours. They sound good, not like a Hi-Fi good, but like a flat normal good which is better for studio situations. They offer incredible isolation that sounds better to me than what you get with in-ear monitors. With in-ears, they do isolate well but the drum kit will sound super flat and lifeless with no low end. With the EX-29, it keeps a lot of the low end so you can still hear and feel your drums but at a nice controlled isolated level that sounds pleasing and makes playing more fun. And lastly, they are modular, which is great because if anything breaks on them you can just order that part from their website and replace it yourself no problem. They are just awesome all around and well thought out and I wear them for hours every day and love them...
Best Headphones for Isolation, Comfortable and Durable
I used to be a KLH 141 guy in the studio, loved the isolation, sound quality and durability, then the price went up and the quality went down. I see a lot of engineers using Sonys in the studio, but they sound awful and fall apart so easily. When I found the Direct Sound EX-29s I was very happy, they sound great, give great isolation, put up with punishment and they are very comfortable.
I wear them on airplanes to save my ears with the 29dB of noise reduction, and they are comfortable enough where I can keep them on for a long flight and forget I'm wearing them.
I still have my original pair of EX-25s, the lighter pair, they are that durable, unlike the Sonys that might fall apart if you stare at them too long.
Of course what really sold me on them was the exceptional sound quality. The quality holds up to headphones that are two or three times the price.
I am also a "buy American" kind of guy when possible, and these are made by a couple of guys in Missouri who I always see at AES conventions. They go to other shows too, so you can meet them, chat with them. They are really nice guys and dedicated to producing a quality product.
These headphones get my top rating, both for studio and personal use.
Review of Headphones and Amp
I left the decision of which was the best for our needs and David Cochran made an excellent choice. The headphones are superb!!
ABSOLUTELY THE BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK
First I want to start off by saying this is the first product I have been compelled to write a reveiw for. With that being said I don't understand all the negativity I see here about these headphones!? They are designed to function exactly as they do. Superb!
Being a drummer for over 25 years, then moving into owning a medium to upscale home studio, I find these headphones to be not only extremely durable but also at a priice point anyone can afford.
I purchased three sets of these for my studio and use them in conjuntion with a Presonus HP 60 headphone amp. The volume levels are whatever you want to throw at them.
Most people have to consider that with any headphone, monitor, or PA, you get out what you put in. Much like recording. So if you are not setting up a mix right, ANY headphone at any proce point is going to sound bad.
These headphones set up properly supply astounding bass response for drummers, great isolation in the vocal booth for singers, and the clarity to pull out all the instruments and nuances of any recording when the signal sent to them in set up properly!
As far as bleed from a click track, I have NEVER heard them in my mixes. I use sensitive upscale BLUE brand microphones and have never heard any bleed over.
Every player that has come to my studio and used these headphones have always commented on how great these things sound, so I will take that as a the best response on my wise purchase of these headphones!
I anticipate buying three more sets to complete the package for my HP 60. Good luck on your purchase, and remember to take the opinion of naysayers with a grain of salt. Some people can't be pleased no matter what they buy!
PROS: If you have ever been a drummer on stage and have those bass, and guitar players that just don't know how to keep their voulme knobs under "11" these are going to go miles above and beyond any type of small monitor you are going to try and hear the band through.
They are completely modular and any part on them can be replaced. This point alone you will not find in ANY other headphone under $130.00
Very comfortable and completely cover your ears for hours of recording pleasure.
Completely Worth it!
Incredible isolation, the videos online are no joke. I'm extra excited for no click track bleed while tracking any acoustic instrument.
Great overall Hz response, bass feels more natural just from the isolation rather than a boost of the low end.
Clean & Quiet
These are truly isolating headphones. I can set the soundstage up without any interference, just dynamite for preventing bleed over. Lightweight and comfortable especially after a few days of breaking in. I tried them first in my studio where my dog loves to sleep and bring the house down with his snoring. I put the EX-29s on and whallah!!! snoring pretty much gone from 3 feet away. I would recommend these highly.
Direct Sound EX-29
Our church obtained a set of these headphones when we switched our
drummer from a wedge to a headphone monitor. Upon testing the
headphones, the first thing I noticed (of course implicit in the name) was
the attenuation of room-noise...these headphones really do provide great
isolation. The second was the lack of hiss that I am accustomed to in many high-end models I have used... these headphones have a flat response and are great for giving EQ a tweak during a live performance. I
took them home to try them out on recording and found them faithful in giving no bleed-through on the tracks. This is a great set of headphones for studio recording, live engineering, as well as reference EQing during post-production on recorded material.
EX-29's Do Not Disappoint
Extreme Isolation Headphones are called that because they do. These are the best I have found to cancel noise and keep you focused on what you need to.
Great for home studios, drumming, work, etc... HIGHLY recommend.
The manufacturer, Direct Sound, is known for their customer service. If you need anything, they are with you at the drop of a hat.
I have had other flat response, isolation headphones and these are hands down my favorite and most comfortable. What makes them so different from others is the ability to get replacement parts and no tools required. But at the same time just as sturdy as anything else on the market that I have tried, bottom line just a well-designed product.
I'M LOVING MY NEW head phones. reduced the souns and offers some hearing protection when I'm practicing.. They don;t bleed into the mics,, I'm very happy
Direct Sound EX-29
Excellent value for the money. Great sounding headphones that does have excellent isolation. Once plugged into the Line 6 POD 500 , the sound was fantastic. Beyond excellent customer service from the company. Part broke on them , but sent out the replacement immediately. Hard to find this type of service now a days.
A very good product overall
The EX-29 delivers on the promise of good sound isolation. It is effective at blocking sound in both directions. It is well made and well thought out. It is a bit bulky, but I can put up with that in consideration of the job it does.
Also, I like that it is made in the USA!
Live mixing & web programming
I have 4 pair of EX-29. At work (web programming) I wear these most of the day, either listening to tunes or just blocking out office noise. They really help me stay focused.
At church I run FoH sound and mix a live-to-CD/video recording. With a full band (85db SPL A-weighted slow-response w/ peaks around 90dB), I need good isolation to have any clue what I'm recording.
Re: quality - I damaged the 1/8" connector (ran over it with my chair) on one set :( But otherwise, they have held up well for about two years. I did buy a used pair off the inter-webs that had blown speakers - but they were cheap, and I was able to order replacement drivers from Direct Sound. Now they are the best sounding set I have. Of course, the ones from Sweetwater had good drivers to begin with :)
Note on fit: The EX-29 are a bit tight at first; but they'll adjust over time (leave them wrapped around a paint can for a while to speed up the process). Also, they are snug enough on the ears that the headband doesn't have to sit right on top of your head . Adjust the band up just a bit taller than you need it to loosen the fit a touch - particularly during the stretch-in phase.
Caveat: Don't expect these to compare to a $400 pair of Sennheiser or Beyerdynamics for critical listening or final mixing. You may find a semi- open design better for the latter. But for isolation, tracking, live mixing, etc. the DX-29 are *great*.
Good for the go
Very good, TRUE sounding, wide-stereoed headphones. Unfortunately, only a somewhat convenient folding style.
Really does isolate from loud sound
excellent isolation for recording loud sources like drums, bass, guitar,
also great for livesound mixing. They are punchy and loud without distorting. They also work great for vocal recording because there is no program leakage into the vocal mic. For mixing and mastering I prefer the Sony MDR 7506 headphones, however other people may like them for mixing and mastering. Great Product!
I bought these EX-29s for tracking in my home studio. I had recently upgraded from dynamic mics to a substant ially more-sensitive large diaphragm condenser, and was concerned headphone bleed-out while recording vocals and acoustic guitar. For tracking, the EX-29s perform as advertised in isolating signals -- in both directions. I get no headphone leakage onto recorded tracks; in addition, the headphones also effectively isolate the listener from the outside world. The sound on these cans is surprisingly good...you still can't rely on them solely for mixing, as they will mislead you on both treble and bass ends, but they certainly surpassed my expectations.
I recently ordered these as I felt the Vic-Firth headphones still didn't have quite the isolation and comfort I was looking for for the musicians I have been tracking, including myself. Being a drummer I am very picky about what I can hear as far as click track separation from the rest of the music and had no problems getting full, definite sound from the headphones as well as being able to easily mix in the drum mics without interference from the bleed. Very comfortable, have been able to mix the cans without blowing out crazy dB to hear the click, and nice to use as protection while adjusting guitar cab levels. Not good for critical mixing as suggested on the box, yet great for everything else
Great for FIlm Production
I am a production sound mixer and bought these cans to wear on set. The isolation is invaluable to hear what your mics are hearing when you're standing in the same room as the action.
I wouldn't mind seeing a version with attenuation more on par with the muffs you wear to the shooting range. These claim 29dB reduction but my 25NRR shooting muffs seem quieter. These also do not make a complete seal around my ears. Maybe my head's just shaped funny, but as I look left and right, the seal around the pad is broken, letting in more outside sound.
The low-frequency response is great, but the high-freq can sound a bit muffled. I didn't buy these to do detail mixing, so it's not an issue. They're great for the film production work I do but I haven't yet had a chance to take them in-studio.
They're quite comfortable to wear for prolonged periods. I just finished out a 20-day film shoot where I was wearing these pretty much all day and my ears only became slightly sore over that time. The cushions are plenty thick to keep the elements off of your ears, unlike many other headphones.
They're also VERY durable. They're designed to disassemble under stress, rather than breaking. Over the course of this film shoot, they were dropped, sat upon, stepped on, and slammed in a car door. They still work flawlessly although they're a bit scuffed up now.
And, I love the straight cable, rather than the coiled cables you'll find on many similarly-priced cans that production sound mixers/boom ops tend to wear. It's a lot longer than it needs to be for my purposes, but I'm planning to cut it shorter. In the mean time I just tuck the excess in to my mixer bag.
In short; these are pretty much unbeatable in this price range if you are looking to do production sound mixing or boom operation. The attenuation is invaluable, they're comfortable to wear for an all-day shoot, and they're durable enough to withstand the inevitable abuses which every piece of gear seems to suffer on your average film set.
The only ways I can think of to improve them would be a version with greater attenuation and a tighter seal around the ears, such as you find with shooter's muffs, and maybe an out-of-the-box option for a shorter cable length.
A great tool!
I should say up front that I avoid doing any critical mixing in cans...regardless of how I think they sound so I won't really comment on the fidelity.
People comment a lot about how great these cans are for avoiding headphone bleed while tracking singers and they certainly excel at that...but they are really indispensable for an engineer as well. When tracking, these are a great pair of headphones wear in the live room to go move mics and get a feel for the changes you are making without the ambient sound in the room clouding your judgment (e.g. have a guitarist work through a part at a pretty good volume while you sweep the sound field with a mic to find "the spot").
I also do a fair amount of live remote recordings and depending on the space I'm in, I may be very close to the musicians or PA...the EX-29 allow me to tune out the sound in the room and focus on the sounds I'm capturing to tape. Best tool I've found for that application bar none. If you find yourself doing long remote gigs as well, you'll come to appreciate the 29dB of attenuation by itself - I routinely turn down the volume at various points in the night to give my ears a break from the punishment. Sweet!
Awesome for certain applications
Great headphones but don't expect to be able to critically mix or listen with these headphones. Compared to a regular, non isolating, pair of headphones, these sound like a blanket has been thrown over the highs. There is no way around that in a closed ear set with isolation it seems.
These headphones are EXTREMELY valuable for certain applications like:
-not letting backing tracks or a click track bleed when your gain is cranked for, say, recording acoustic guitar or vocals.
-giving your drummer a better chance to hear guitar/bass/whatever else by blocking the direct drum sound a bit
Great isolation... frequency response is unbelievable. These are really great for drummers.
Good for Recording
If the objective is to block everything else out while recording, these work well. While recording live in the studio playing acoustic guitar and simultaneously singing they adequately block out the natural guitar sound. Monitoring levels is then more accurate in terms of balancing the voice with the guitar as well as any reverb levels. Before using these the natural guitar sound would be too loud and interfere with what could be heard in the cans. Therefore the rating reflects the utility for monitoring. Wouldn't necessarily use them for mixing a final product as other headphones have an overall better sound, however would be likely more expensive. For what they're designed to do however, they work fine. Isolation/monitor rating 4.0 and overall sound rating 2.0
I read a lot of reviews on these head phones and a lot of them are just ok. I was a little worried when I saw them. After using these for a couple weeks, I really like them. They have good response and very clear. Good isolation without having that tight suction feeling. Overall I think these are great, good for isolation and tracking and also if you get to know them should be good with doing preliminary mixes without too much trouble.
I was looking for a pair of headphones good for isolation since I'll be flying to Italy soon. But then I thought it would be nice to have something to double in my studio as well. Looking at the comparable Bose headphones was an expensive alternative so I called Jason at Sweetwater and he matched me with these. Wow - they are wonderful! Nice, smooth, tight, quiet are just a few of the words to describe them. OH - and did I mention affordable??
They do the job well
These definitely allow me to better position mics for fingerstyle guitar recording, and are comfortable enough to wear for hours on end.
Very good sound at a great price
Purchased these headphones as I have had a pair of EX-25s for a couple of years and was pleased with them. These have very good isolation, better than the EX-25s, which is helpful to me when practicing on my keyboard in a home environment. They seem to have better sound quality than the EX-25s, too. Also, the bass is not enhanced as are "Beats", a plus to me. My first choice, the Focal Spirit Professional phones, cost 3 times as much and aren't isolation phones.
Perfect for recording
No leakage on the recording track. They are a good fit for what I have to do
great value !
inexpensive phones for blocking out background sound. the are everything their advertised to be.
i needed some isolation headphones for recording drum sessions, and my Sweetwater Engineer Mark Bruhn, as always, helped me narrow my choices down to what i needed that also fit my budget. these sound great, the isolation is very good, and they are very comfortable to wear. i also use them for tracking my acoustic guitar parts so i have said goodbye to any click bleed. recommended!
Direct Sound EX-29 - Isolating Headphones
These headphones perform just as advertised. We use them while mixing for our webcast. Although we use a separate console for this mix, it is located within the FOH sound booth. The EX-29 provides the isolation needed for a price that is truly affordable.
Direct Sound EX-29 is Highly Recommended
Wow! absolutely beautiful; I'm very satisfied with my EX-29 headphones on which the sound and isolation is just wonderful.
standing beside a drummer
i've found these headphones to be great. they have been wonderful on stage where i play bass right next to the drummer, and also at home for writing and recording music. the sound isolation is great and they are very comfortable. i'm very impressed with the build quality, very sturdy and light. i've dropped them a couple times and no harm came from it. they do lack just a little in the high end, barely noticeable, but still not quite there. that would be the only thing i don't like about them. other then that great product, especially for bass and drum players on stage
Isolation for sure
Put these on and you can hear how they isolate. The sound good for the price, there probably are better, but those probably do not stop the leakage into your mics as well as these. use then for recording drums, vocals, high gain mics/preamps for the price and isolation, their better than anything I've used.
Throw out your practice amp/moniter
These things are perfect. Isolate perfectly (great for drums or gigs) and they don't bleed through in recordings AT ALL. I use these for when I practise guitar instead of my amps. I have an RP1000 which is plugged into my mixer which these headphones are the plugged into and the tone is so good, it's much easier to hear what you playing and I can properly mix my guitar in with the backing tracks instead of having them coming from to different speakers. I only use my amps for band practise now.
The Head Phones keep noise out and keep the music in while having great audio quality.
Bang Bang Bang for the Buck!
I am a Drummer/Bass Player. If you need a pair of great cans for tracking, want to protect your hearing, get great sound(sans deep lows), and don't want to spend a fortune-pull the trigger.
There are a couple of downfalls yet far from deal-killers.
As others have mentioned, these are not for detailed listening! The construction at first feels a bit flimsy, but the modular design and replaceable parts makes that issue a non-issue.
In short if you are a musician or studio/live engineer who needs a set of cans to play while tracking/placing mics/etc look no further!
I used to own a pair of an older model and I loved them. Unfortunately a friend of mine broke them, so I had to buy a new pair. The new pair however was one of the defective headband models that slipped by. One quick phone call to the manufacturer however, and they offered to send me a new headband to replace the defective one for free. So if you have this problem, give them a call and they will be more than willing to help you. They are even sending me a second one to fix the old pair! Great people!
Not quite as effective as expected
I bought the X29s hoping they'd live up to the hype regarding their attenuation of bleed during “normal” tracking operations. I'm not sure how the X29 demo video was edited, but the headphone bleed was effectively muted when the demonstrator pressed his pair of X29s together, during what he referred to as a “blistering amount” of playback level. My X29s didn’t even come close to accomplishing what that example did, and I don’t think I received a defective pair.
I tested the X29s against a pair of AKG K 240 Studio open-backs at matched levels, and the bleed coming off the X29s was only marginally attenuated in comparison. The X29 seemed to work comparitively better at lower, or more "normal" tracking levels (which makes sense), but even at these lower levels, the bleed was still easily loud enough to impart a sufficiently detrimental amount of “noise” onto the source signal.
Despite all this, I plan to keep these headphones because they are a step in the right direction (albeit a much smaller step than I had anticipated). They're also comfortable to wear for long periods of time, and they have a good “energy” to them--punchy low-end and “energetic” mids and highs--in other words, they’re hyped in a healthy sort of way, which makes them ideal for musicians to use during studio tracking (since that environment is much more about being able to hear, feel, and perform with the energy of a track, rather than to critically listen or represent it with pristine signal fidelity; and given that, I wouldn’t recommend using the X29s if you’re on the engineer or mixer side of the glass). As for live performance mixing, I can't say how well they'd function.
Overall, these are good headphones and they accomplish pretty much everything you might expect them to, but if you're looking specifically for something that effectively mutes bleed during normal studio operation (as I was), these headphones are not solution.
Much better, but needing more
Listen, these phones do a lot better job of keeping the click track out of the recording, but it's still there. Turning down the click obviously helps, but then the purpose of the click gets defeated. Thank you for an improvement on what I'm doing; wondering if there's another set that would take it up a notch.
Isolation? Yes. Quality? Not so much.
As advertised, they do keep the sound you want in...but that sound is average at best.
These headphones do the job and are great at isolating the headphone sound from bleeding into the mic. They are quite big in size, and somewhat bulky and perhaps not quite as comfortable as the ad says. Still, they are tolerable for the purposes of recording, but you wouldn't want to bring them on a plane, for example. My main gripe is that the ear cusions started falling off after a few months. They's come adrift and leave a tacky glue residue on the surface. They stick back on ok but the next time I come to the studio, the cushions have fallen off again. Other than this, the headphones do the job they were created for quite well, but are not good for casual use - a set of noise-cancelling headphones would be more suitable for casual listening.
A Bit Overpriced
Three things I like about these headphones - good isolation, fairly good comfort and reasonably priced replacement parts (although a detachable cable with jacks would be nice)
They are overpriced for the sound reproduction which is ... adequate. Certainly wouldn't use them for mixing.
I bought a pair of these that I have had for a short time. I also picked up a used pair that are in excellent shape, except that one of the pads is coming loose. Direct Sound gets an "F" here in customer service. I contacted them to ask what suggestions they may have to replace the sticky stuff they use to hold these on. They replied that I could order new pads for $18. I replied back that it seemed really senseless to replace a perfectly good set of pads just because the adhesive had broken down. Their reply was to "use any all-purpose glue".
Of course, using an all-purpose glue will present a real problem when the cushions get worn and I want to replace them in the future. Is their adhesive a big patented secret? I quite doubt it. Chances are good I can find an equivalent at my local hardware store. I just thought Direct Sound might be helpful ...
Of course, I can understand. Why be helpful when there is no profit in it.
These headphones do the job of isolating the signal from spilling into the mic. However...
They are nowhere near as comfortable as the manufacturer suggests and are very heavy, clunky and they will cause you to break out in a sweat if worn in a warm room. They are a bit like wearing ear protectors when digging up the road - only, they're heavier!
That's ok for short periods, but over a couple of hours my head feels like it's caught in a vice.
The really annoying thing about the EX-29's ( I bought a couple of years ago) is the replaceable cushions just fell off leaving a sticky residue of glue on both the cushions and the head phones. This happened just a shot time after I bought them.
I can stick them back on but within a half hour they'll fall off again.
I did contact the manufacturer but they didn't get back to me. It would be good to know if there was a solution to this problem.
I would not recommend these headphones to anyone but weight-lifters and road workers.
Isolates fairly well, but terrible sound quality
These headphones isolate fairly well if you have the right shaped head.
They'll isolate well on one singer and then not so well on another. As to the sound quality, it is absolutely terrible, very low fi. Would not recommend them for recording vocals or anything else where it is important to hear detail and you certainly would not want to mix with them. They would probably be fine for a drummer since they isolate outside noise better than most
Ok sound, crappy build
They isolate pretty well but sound pretty muddy - everything I record at the practice space sounds very different once I get it home and listen on my usual mixing headphones (which are themselves very inexpensive Monoprice headphones that still have way more definition than the Direct sounds). The biggest gripe I have is that, as other people have noted, the earpads start falling off only a month or two after you get them, at which point you have to glue them on yourself permanently with industrial adhesive - not a repair I feel a quality product would require the user to make.
(An additional note since the Sweetwater ratings scale considers 3 out of 5 to be "good" and 2 out of 5 to be "average" - just to be clear, I think these things are below average but not as bad as a 1.5 would suggest. Probably a 2 or 2.5 out of 5 if you consider 3 to be average like on most 5-point rating scales.)