At an MSRP of $379, the A-Audio Icon headphones are in the price range of premium headphones. This price range puts the headphones in a competitive market with the likes of many better-known brands. At the same time, the Icon headphones deliver wireless sound, active noise cancellation, excellent sound, and a bold design that is anything but cookie-cutter.
The first thing you notice when initially opening the box is just how heavy the headphones and assorted accessories are. These are no lightweight, cheap, quick-to-be-broken fashion headphones.
The next thing you will notice is the protective case that comes with them is actually a protective case. That is notable since many other headphones we have reviewed-headphones like the impressive Plantronics BackBeat Pro-come with soft carry bags that are far less protective. This case was designed for travel.
I was more than a bit impressed with the various items included in the package. The accessory package includes:
- The A-Audio Headphones
- A luxury travel case
- A Lithium Ion Rechargeable Battery 3.7V-580mAH (more on that in a bit)
- Two audio cables one with and one without remote & microphone
- A polishing cloth
- A warranty card
- An instructional booklet
The headphones, cables, and travel case are to be expected. Not expected, but a rather nice addition to the package, was the rechargable lithium ion battery. These headphones are both wireless and noise canceling headphones. Either of those two functions require the Icons to be charged, so including a battery for quickly recharging on the go was a nice, albeit unnecessary, addition. This kind of “delighter” helps a product such as this stand out. The good news is that the headphones will also work in wired mode if you are not able to use the Bluetooth functionality, or both the headphones and the external battery have died.
The company also saw fit to include two different high-quality cables for using the headphones in wired mode. Both have 24K gold plated contacts for optimum signal transfer. Both are 4 feet long and thick enough to be considered tangle-free. The 3.5mm to 3.5mm straight cable is nothing to write home about, although I will say I love the fact that A-Audio went with a full 3.5mm on the headphones rather than the small, substandard plug some companies opt to use.
The second cable is also 3.5mm to 3.5mm but also includes a control mic. As the company notes, this will
“work with iPad, iPhone and iPod, and may be supported by other music players and phones, With your control mic you can: Answer, end or reject a call, call waiting, play or pause a song or video, forward or rewind a song or video, voice command.”
I really appreciate the fact that the company made remotely controlling your music when using the headphones in wired mode as fully functional as the on-cans controls when using them wirelessly. Sometimes companies skimp on the wired controls. That obviously is not the case here.
All of this comes together and reflects A-Audio designing these headphones as ultra-premium wireless headphones with active noise cancellation while still keeping the price below $400. As the explain:
“The Icon is the ultimate everyday wireless headphone. Experience studio quality sound with a cable or without. Featuring the latest Bluetooth 4.0 technology you can experience rich sound wirelessly from your mobile device. The Icon’s rechargeable lithium ion battery gives you 12 hours of uninterrupted wireless sound. Long flight? That’s okay; plug in an audio cable and press play. The Icon Wireless Over-Ear Headphones deliver an unrestricted, rich listening experience wherever you are.”
This is my first pair of A-Audio headphones so I’ll have to take their word that the A-Audio Icon Wireless Over-Ear (ANC) Headphones feature their “signature aesthetic.”
Inspired by classic auto and luxury timepiece craftsmanship, The headphones “turn functional elements (on the ear-cups) into distinctive design features.
The leather ear-cups are thick, comfortable, and physically block out a good deal of ambiant sound before the active noise cancellation is turned on.
The headband is similarly plush and has diamond-quilted stitching that looks great.
The steel octagonal bezels on each ear cup hide the controls. Because of this it is a bit difficult to find the controls on the A-Audio Icon Wireless Over-Ear Headphones, and there is a bit of a learning curve with regard to learning where the controls are placed. It also means there are no unsightly buttons that detract from the iconic looks of the Icon headphones. It is a good tradeoff!
The A-Audio Icon headphones have a foldable design that lets them sit comfortably in the custom tailored carrying case. These aren’t small headphons by any measure but are still good for travel.
Much like a luxury sports car shifting gears at varying speeds, three-stage technology puts you in the driver’s seat to select the sound that best suits you in the moment.
The headphones actually have what A-Audio refers to as “3-Stage Listening Technology.” At the push of a button you can move between Base Enhancer, Active Noise Cancellation, and wired Audio modes.
This functionality is activated using the single separate button on one ear cup. It is a bit difficult to find initially but after using the headphones for a bit I got used to the location.
The headphones weigh a respectable 0.6 lbs and are available in your choice of Liquid Chrome or Phantom Black.
Features of the A-Audio Icon Headphones:
- Bluetooth 4.0 functionality for wirelessly connecting to mobile devices with range of up to 30 feet
- 3-Stage Technology to select Bass Enhancer
- Active Noise Cancellation or wired Audio mode
- Power bank for recharging on the go included
- Ear cup includes discreet panel for remote control of your music including volume up, volume down, play, pause, answer and end calls, and track forward and backwards
- Available in liquid chrome with black accents or matte phantom black
- Complete with chrome-plating, steel construction with zinc hinges
- Premium soft leather and memory foam padding for comfortable long wear
- Closed circumaural ear cups for isolated sound
- Fully articulating and collapsible ear cups for easy storage and travel
- Can also be used in wired mode, and comes with a detachable phone cord with remote and mic for connecting to your iDevice, plus one audio only cable and gold plated adaptor
- Active Noise Cancellation Audio mode
- Comes with luxe travel case, warranty card, charger and polishing cloth
The A-Audio Icon headphones have 40mm drivers with a frequency response of 2403MHz to 2480MHz. They sport bluetooth 4.0 but, unfortunately unlike the Plantronics BackBeat Pro headphones, which have outrageous range, these seem to have the typical 33ft of wireless connectivity. The active noise cancellation works well. These aren’t the quietest headphones when it comes to nixing sound but were good enough to block off most of the sound coming from the dryer running a few feet from me while writing the bulk of this review. When music is not playing they do put forth a bit of the noice cancellation hum often associated with active noise cancellation. This is not an issue but is something of which to be aware. The sound is good when the extra bass is turned off and better when the bass boost is active. For standard listening I think I prefer the BackBeat Pros with the active noise cancellation turned on (they are pretty lousy when the ANC is off) but bass-heads will want to opt for these. The BackBeat Pros also have a larger sound stage. If you want your music “right there in your head” you will want to go with the A-Audio Icon headphones.
If you are looking for a pair of wireless headphones with ANC and want headphones that look and sound aggressive and bold, you will want to check these out.