The past couple of years has seen a huge number of audio products enter the accessory market, and often launched by companies not traditionally known for making them. One of those is Incipio. Its reputation as a great case manufacturer is undeniable, but until it recently bought out Braven, its audio products weren’t as well known. So, I decided to give them a whirl.
Incipio’s f38 is an on-ear headphone that oozes retro styling. The matte-finish plastic on the cups and beige/brown coloring on the vintage white and espresso color options work fantastically well. Each ear is well padded and each cup large enough that you’re not left with anything pressing directly on the ear. Plus, the perfectly circular design has significant aesthetic appeal.
There are some negatives on the design front though. One of which is that I feel the materials and quantity of materials used on the head band aren’t right. The sponge used to pad it is pretty thin, and doesn’t provide a lot of padding. There’s literally no padding at all along the edges. What’s more, the hole-y covering is so thin that you can feel and see the internal metal band. It doesn’t detract from how it feels on your head, but, anyone with an eye for quality manufacturing and design won’t take long to spot that this looks a little cheap.
On the sound front it’s equally bad and good, and how great they sound depends entirely on the type of music you enjoy listening to. I wouldn’t recommend anything too trebley since the F38 has a tendency to over emphasize the higher frequencies, while sometimes neglecting to give bass the prominence it deserves. Modern acoustic folk like Mumford and Sons, or even the likes of Ben Howard sounded fantastic. All the sounds were clear. So much so that it wasn’t just the case of hearing the instruments, but you could hear the plectrum/pick brushing over the guitar strings or the stick beating the snare drum or hi-hat. More electronic music wasn’t particularly great though. I could hear the low bass synth just fine, it just didn’t kick me in the diaphragm like I’d expect, or like it was designed too.
In short, these are fantastic headphones, they’re just not particularly versatile on the audio front. That said, they’re not at all muddy, and for the purist, they’ll do the job just fine.
Ever since sports stars and celebrities started adorning their necks and heads with giant over-ear headphones, personal audio has as much been about style as it has been about sound quality. But, unless your name happens to be ‘Beats’, you’re not going to be able to go all out on both and charge a fortune. Compromises have to be made to make the price attractive enough, and I think Incipio’s done a fantastic job of creating a pair of headphones that look stylish, feel comfortable and have a great sound.
To get things in to perspective we have to remember the price. At $49.99 these are great value for money. Sound is clear and fairly well balanced, and they feel comfortable to wear. I’ve worn headphones that cost twice as much that give off incredibly muddy and unclear sound in comparison. Although they’re not the absolute best sounding, or expensive looking, the combination of style, comfort and sound mean they’re now – more often than not – my default choice of headphone.
Buy them direct from Incipio. If you don’t like the beige and brown vintage tones, you can get them in black, pink or turquoise too.