These days, it seems like there is an endless variety of headphones to choose from. With new models popping up on a weekly basis, it’s hard to sort through the crowd to find the ones that fit you best. When it comes to active noise cancellation this elite selection thins out a bit, but there are only a handful that fall into the same category as A-Audio’s Icon over-ear headphones.
From a functionality perspective, these headphones give you everything but the kitchen sink. They can be used wirelessly via Bluetooth with active noise cancellation, in passive (wired) mode, and even feature dual sound profiles. Along with that, they include a wide variety of accessories that offer more than enough for any situation…
Unboxing these headphones was a very pleasant experience. The box opens easily and immediately you are presented with a beautiful carrying case with a carbon fiber-like design. Within this case, you’ll find everything else. First up, you obviously have the headphones, but right in the center of the case is a small little bag being secured by Velcro that houses the headphone accessories.
Among the included accessories you’ll find two 4ft audio cables, one of which is equipped with an in-line remote/mic combo for controlling calls and music playback, a Micro USB cable and wall adapter for charging, a warranty card, microfiber cloth, and even an 1,800mAh rechargeable battery pack to keep you powered on-the-go. This is the first pair of headphones I’ve personally seen that came with its own portable battery pack.
The construction of the Icon headphones is amazing. This particular model comes in Phantom Black or Liquid Chrome and features premium materials where it matters the most. Each ear cup is attached to a steel frame with chrome plating along with leather padding and memory foam to keep you comfortable all day long. It’s hard to describe the premium design with these headphones in-depth, but you can check out our review video for a closer look.
Watch our A-Audio Icon review video below:
Each ear cup features 40mm drivers which are an absolute joy to listen to. Whether you’re utilizing the active noise cancellation or the Bass Enhancer mode, the audio is crisp and clear. These two modes case be switched between with a double-press of the power button on the headphones when in use. As for the passive mode, I didn’t hear a noticeable difference in quality between the ANC and passive modes, which was surprisingly refreshing compared to other comparable headphones.
Pairing via Bluetooth is very simple. Just hold down the power button long enough to kick the headphones into pairing mode and make the correct selection in your device’s Bluetooth settings. You’ll have to be in Bluetooth mode to take advantage of the active noise cancellation or Bass Enhancer mode though. The headphones are also equipped with a built-in mic and audio controls for convenience without relying on the detachable cable.
The playback/call controls are actually built into the design of the Icon headphones: the right side’s outer plate (where the “A” logo is featured) also works as a three button controller. Press on the top end for volume up, bottom end for volume down, and in the center a single press will play/pause or answer/end calls, double press for skipping tracks, and triple press for moving backwards.
I recently had the chance to test out these headphones on a lengthy flight and they delivered the goods. I was able to enjoy my music/movies in a peaceful environment without the noise and disruptions that come along with travel. The battery life is rated at 12 hours, which I found to be extremely accurate. If you do happen to run out of juice and don’t have the battery pack available, the headphones will also work flawlessly in passive mode, minus the sound modes.
I wish that the active noise cancellation would function when wired, just in case I don’t want to mess with Bluetooth at the time, but that’s certainly not a deal breaker. The sound quality here is great in my opinion—possibly among the best Bluetooth headphones I’ve heard in a while though the Bass Enhancer mode was a bit too much for my taste. Sound “quality” will always be subjective, but I feel like the Icon headphones hit the nail on the head.
Overall, I don’t have anything to complain about. The Icon headphones are well-built, flexible/durable, feature active noise cancellation, Bluetooth, great battery life, and all the accessories I could ever need. So what’s the catch then? Well, a lot of people will be turned off by this next part…
A-Audio’s Icon headphones retail for $379. I realize that is a pretty penny to pay for headphones and the price point will turn many away, but they are priced semi-comparably with the market, given their feature set. I definitely recommend these headphones, but at this price they aren’t for everyone. Check out the above video for a closer look at them.
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