It seems like headphones have become more of a fashion statement, most commonly demonstrated by the Beats-equipped youth that traipse around as if their $100 Bluetooth headphones are a premium product. They've become as much of a fashion statement as clothing, with a pricing system to match - that is, many of the more expensive fashionable brands are simply the same materials with a fancier name. Short story long, the focus isn't so much on sound and comfort anymore, but rather on panache.
The THRONE headphones from I-MEGO seem to blend both form and function better than most competitors. Do they stand out in a crowded playing field of visually loud headphones? Absolutely. Is the sound impressive and the comfort excellent? Without a doubt.
- What: "Over-ear" headphones (that are actually on-ear).
- Options: "Gold" is tuned for bass, "Poison" is tuned for acoustics.
- How Much: $130
- In The Box: Headphones with 1.2m cable and multi-function button/mic, HiFi 1/4" stereo adapter, button-canceling adapter, soft carrying pouch.
- Drivers: 40mm
- Materials: Leather, high-quality plastic
- Sound quality: With one minor qualm (more below), the sound quality is really quite good. There's a wide range, good bass, and very rich sound. Listening to songs with the THRONEs reveals subtle details that you'd miss on cheaper headphones.
- Comfort: Oh God they're so comfortable. It's like wearing a cloud, even after hours of use. They stay remarkably well-planted (especially for full-size headphones) even while moving, yet are never too tight or even the slightest bit uncomfortable. The weight is fantastic - enough that you know they're there, but because most of it is allocated in the metal of the cans themselves (rather than, say, at the top), they feel light. In fact, these are probably the most comfortable on-ear headphones I've ever used.
Quality: I-MEGO clearly focused on quality with the THRONEs, and it pays off. There's attention to detail in terms of both design and build, like the stitching on the real leather headband. Speaking of the real leather, it's not cheap, hard leather like you'll sometimes find on entry-level luxury cars. Nope, we're talking full-on plush, cushy, soft leather. The top of the headband and the ear cups are both leather, and the underside of the headband is soft suede. The cans are high-quality electroplated plastic that almost feels like metal. Given that most headphones are overwhelmingly dominated by cheap plastics, that's kind of refreshing (even though it has literally no impact on the performance whatsoever, though I suppose it's great for durability). The cable is the perfect gauge, thicker than what you'd find on cheaper headphones (and likely more durable as a result), but not heavy, making them great for use on the go.
Controls: As is becoming increasingly common, the controls fall right below chin-level - perfect for the embedded microphone, and easy to reach. Plus, the addition of alternate connectors is a fantastically thoughtful choice for those with unsupported devices or a 1/4" jack.
A hint of fog: The clarity is weird in a very unusual way. It's not as if the sound is particularly muddy per se, but more... foggy? It's like there's a thin piece of paper between the drivers and my ears that just ever so slightly distorts it. However, you'll only notice it when directly comparing back-to-back to other headphones. I didn't even hear it until I'd already been using them for a few days, when I went straight from another pair to the THRONEs mid-song. Thankfully, your ears quickly compensate for the effect - after which point, the sound is quite good, as noted above.
Styling: Admittedly, this is much more subjective, but I have to say I'm not crazy about the styling. While they look nice and I certainly love using them while I'm home, the shiny metal is just too visually loud for my decidedly more low-key preferences to use while I'm out and about.
Cable length: The 1.2m cable is perfect for use while on the move with your phone or tablet in your pocket, but is too short for use with, say, a stereo or computer (unless the jack is within arm's reach of where you're sitting). Though frankly, I probably wouldn't even care that the cable is mobile-length if these didn't sound so good - it just means I have to go get an extension in order to use them as my daily drivers on my PC.
The price: I'm almost comfortable with the lofty (for a normal, middle-class gent like myself, anyway) price of $130, especially since they sound good, feel mind-blowingly great to wear, and are well-made. Almost. That minor issue with the sound quality coupled with the short(ish) cable keeps them from being worth the full $130. For some weird reason, I feel like even a $10 reduction in price would be good; at $100, they'd be a steal.
The verdict: if you're looking to invest in a good pair of headphones that will last years, the THRONEs are a fantastic choice - as long as you're okay with having shiny metal-esque headphones (and a mobile-length cable out of the box).