I’ve had the opportunity to try out a few different varieties of headphone. From earbuds to on-ear to over-the-ear, there are definitely plenty of varieties available no matter your preference. We’ve looked at a few offerings from A-Audio in the past and have been pleased with their products so far. Today I’m taking a look at their biggest, baddest headphones yet: the A-Audio Icon Wireless Over-Ear Headphones. See how they performed in our A-Audio Icon review.
Where some headphones opt for a simple colored plastic shell, the A-Audio headphones go for something significantly more luxurious. A-Audio President and founder Christian Iacovelli has always said that A-Audio’s design takes its inspiration from classic watches and the auto market. Some of those design cues are evident when you look at the Icon headphones with inspiration for the octagonal cup design coming from luxury timepieces while the quilted diamond-stitched leather is inspired by the bucket seats on the Bentley Continental.
A-Audio prides itself on creating a high-end set of headphones that provide not only great sound, but great looks. The sharply angled design with very few plastic elements exudes quality, while the metal construction and soft, supple leather, and memory foam padding gives the Icons a definite luxurious feel. I’ve talked about luxury a lot in these last few paragraphs but that’s definitely what A-Audio is going for.
They’ve hit the industrial-luxury design they’re shooting for easily with the angled metal and exposed screws.The quilted leather on the headband and the soft padded ear cups are quite comfortable too. I’ve mentioned in previous reviews that I have a giant head – that has not changed as of this writing – and the A-Audio Icon headphones still fit quite comfortably even with extended use.
The ear cups twist outward in order to fit inside of the included deluxe case as well as fold inward to collapse to a smaller footprint. The left earcup has the power button and battery level indicator along with the Bluetooth connection light and the micro USB input on the bottom of the ear cup. The right earcup has some controls including volume up and down, play/pause, and track forward/back using buttons behind the top and bottom screws and the A-Audio logo respectively in addition to the 3.5mm audio cable input. Volume works exactly as it should, though I feel as though an opportunity was missed to use the left and right screws as buttons for forward/back. To do so in the current configuration requires double and triple-tapping the A-Audio logo button. These taps need to be timed properly in order to work which adds needless complexity. Using the logo button for play/pause and the extra directional screws as buttons probably would have made more sense.
In a word: Fantastic. The first time I listened to the A-Audio Icon headphones I was floored. The 40mm Mylar drivers put out some truly magnificent sound. Everything from rock, to rap, to pop, to metal, to dubstep, to games and everything else sounded great coming through the Icon’s speakers.
Performance was also very positive. I found that the wired operation was nearly flawless. Bass was strong without being overbearing, highs and mids were clear and honestly everything I listened to just popped. I heard intricate harmonies on some songs that I’ve listened to dozens of times that I had not heard before listening on the Icon headphones. I was truly very impressed.
Bluetooth performance was just slightly below wired with most of the same drawbacks of any Bluetooth connection, though the powered modes do offer a few benefits too – namely Active Noise Cancelling (ANC) mode and Bass Enhancer mode. These are the second and third of what A-Audio refers to as 3-Stage Technology. The first stage – passive audio mode – is on by default when the headphones are in wired mode.
Bass Enhancer is naturally best suited for bass heavy tracks, and tends to wash out highs and mids at least a little bit on most everything else. Active Noise Cancelling mode will get you a sound that’s closer to wired operation, but really the best mode for me was really passive audio with the cable plugged in.
One of the very few bad things that I have to say about these headphones relates to the reception and call making abilities. I could hear callers clearly, though using both the Bluetooth microphone and the wired in-line mic callers had a difficult time hearing me. The in-line mic is honestly probably too close to the end of the cable. It was positioned right around the middle of my cheek which probably didn’t help. Honestly though, I can’t imagine that this is a feature that many people look for on their headphones, high-end or otherwise.
A-Audio lists battery life for the Icon headphones at 12 hours, and that’s pretty accurate based on my testing. One really great thing about the rechargeable battery for the Icon headphones is that it’s replaceable. One thing to watch out for though, the battery cover is held on by magnets. They’re strong magnets, so you shouldn’t knock it off by simply bumping the ear cup, but it is a removable item. While you can still use the headphones quite effectively plugged in even when completely out of power, a user-replaceable rechargeable battery is a great add on.
The first thing you’ll see upon opening the box for your A-Audio Icon headphones is their carbon fiber style luxe travel case. This hard zippered case easily protects your headphones and the rest of the gear that comes with them. You honestly get a pretty good haul in addition to your headphones here. The ear cups rotate to fit into the case, and in the middle of the case is a soft pouch that holds everything else.
In this case, everything else really consists of quite a few things. Inside the pouch are two four foot tangle-free cables, one with an inline microphone and audio controls and one without. You’ll also get an A-Audio wall plug and USB/MicroUSB cable. A-Audio has also included a portable battery that you can use to charge your Icon headphones if you’ll be away from power for an extended time. If that weren’t enough, you’ll also get a polishing cloth and your A-Audio warranty card, all nicely concealed in the travel case pouch.
The A-Audio Icon headphones are top-of-the-line and have a price to match. Coming in at $379 these are not cheap headphones, but absolutely nothing about the headphones themselves is cheap. You’re getting premium materials with quality construction and incredible sound. When you see competitor’s headphones selling for the same price are made entirely out of plastic and don’t sound anywhere near as good I can easily recommend the A-Audio Icon headphones at this price. To sweeten the deal a bit, A-Audio has a few deals going to make the Icon Wireless headphones an even better deal. If you buy the Icons at the A-Audio link below and use the code “MBA25” at checkout, you’ll received 25% off of your entire order. Using the code “MBAEAR” will get you a free pair of earphones with your order. These offers cannot be combined and are only available at a-audio.com.
I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect with these headphones. I was pretty impressed with the last headphones I reviewed but the A-Audio Icons are clearly a step above when it comes to sound. Design is, and will always be, subjective, so if you don’t like the angled/industrial look that’s one thing. But you can’t argue with the way these headphones sound because they are truly incredible.
*We were sent a demo unit of the A-Audio Icon Headphones for the purposes of this review.
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