The headphone market seems to get more crowded every quarter with new players coming and then some going just as fast. Newcomer A-Audio is not messing around, they are going right for the jugular with their line-up targeted at the luxury consumer. Even the logo kind of has luxury car feel to it.
A-Audio offers 3 headphone models and one earbud, the Lyric (on-ear), Legacy (over-ear), Icon (wireless over-ear) and Elite HD Earbuds.
We tested the A-Audio Icon Headphone which is priced at $379 and is essentially the same unit as the Legacy with wireless capabilties.
How Do They Look?
These things are built like tanks and the design might be a little heavy-handed for some. The product seems to be targeted at the guy that drives the Range Rover, wears the Panerai and sports really expensive designer sneakers. The Icon comes in two colorways, a black on black and chromed out model (we got the chrome, wish it had been the black. Oh well…). So in short, these are really masculine and scream baller, so if that’s not your bag you might as well stop here.
The headphones are foldable and come with a nice custom carrying case to throw in inside your expensive duffle bag. The case also includes a pouch for cables, and a polishing cloth so you can look your crispy best whilst rocking them.
How Do They Fit?
The units have a nice padded / braided leather headband and sit pretty comfortably on your head. Like many powered headphones they can get a little hot and tend to cause a ear fatigue after an hour or so of use. Overall these are pretty comfortable for their size.
How Do They Work / Sound?
The headphones require a charge if you want to use them in the wireless and powered listening modes and pair pretty easily with my iPhone. The three modes are as follows:
Passive - This is listening to them without power and wired. So if you run out of juice they still work just fine and sound great. The lead cable also comes with a nice hands free mic with inline control and volume control which is handy but kind of standard at this price point, but hey the jack is plated in 24k gold.
Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) - This is exactly what it sounds like and is a nice feature when you are traveling on noisey planes or just want to subdue the enviromental noise a bit. This mode really does the trick in a crowded coffee shop but you can still hear louder noises to some degree and your audio quality changes up quite a bit, but that happens with ANC. I’ve heard better noise cancelling technology, so I would rate this as fair.
Bass Enhanced - Again, just what it sounds like. This mode punches up the bass just enough for genres that kind of demand it like hip hop and, of course, EDM. It’s never outrageous either, just enough bounce.
You can change the modes simply by double-tapping the left ear cup, with a little beep to indicate the change. The Wireless mode is a really great option when you are travelling and don’t want screw around with wires while moving around. We’ve all been the guy on the airplane who gets tangled in the armrest while getting up to go to toilet, or maybe that’s just me… I digress.
You always sacrifice some audio quality when you go wireless and there is a small hiss when you are in the wireless mode that you can hear when music is not playing. Most people are not bothered by this simply because, when the music plays it’s not really that noticeable.
I listened primarily to high quality MP3s and some WAV files when testing the Icons, as that’s really what most people are going to use them with. I liked passive mode the best in all honestly, it seemed to always give me the most accurate playback and best range, but again it's nice to have the options for different situations.
Should I buy them?
I think these headphones are good, not stellar. So many people buy headphones for asthetic these days and that’s definitely a big play they are making with the Icons. If you are looking for a design with a lot of flash and a variety of features for all situations, these are a good bet. If you are a bit more concerned about sound across the board, you might look elsewhere.