Fashion-forward audio accessories are nothing new. In the past couple of years, we've seen quite the parade of chic headphones from the likes of Skullcandy and Monster Cable. Nixon, a company best known for its board-sport-inspired line of watches and other accessories, has decided to dip its toes in these waters, too, and it should come as no surprise that the company's Nomadic on-ear headphones are among the most stylish we've come across. Unfortunately, these £75 cans suffer from muted, mid-heavy audio that's hard to overlook.
The Nomadic headphones have industrial chic written all over them, from the padded-leather, rough-stitched headband to the notched-edge, textured-metal earcups. The outer plate of each earpiece features the grooved circles one would find on a vinyl album. Each cup is attached to the adjustable band via a rotating ball joint and connects to the other through a partially exposed cloth-coated wire.
The headphones are available in a variety of configurations and colour options. Firstly, there's the standard Nomadic, which is suitable for a standard MP3 player and comes in seven colours: black, all-black, gunmetal, brown, lime, red and white. Then you have the Mic iPhone version (with inline call-answer and music-playback controls) for £95 in your choice of black or white. Finally, there's the more general music phone Mic model for £95 in black, all-black, white or lime.
Although we found the Nomadic headphones to be pretty comfortable for a couple of hours of wear -- thanks mainly to the thick, foam-padded earpieces -- they do tend to put some pressure on the ears and may not be cushy enough for some users, or for extended use. Also note that the headband tends to move around slightly while you walk, which can be annoying.
The Nomadic headphones are fairly light on extras, although those that are included are pleasing. There's a removable, cloth-covered cable, measuring 1.5m, that attaches to the left earcup. Nixon also offers a good, hard-shell carrying case for storing and transporting the headphones, which fold down into a relatively compact form. Finally, you have the nifty volume-control ring built around the right earcup, allowing you to adjust levels from the headphone itself.
You'll need to crank up that knob plenty, if you're using the Nomadic headphones with a portable player -- they seem to require quite an amp to run at reasonable volume. Some MP3 players might not be capable of driving them to your liking. Beyond that, there's the fact that the earphones sound generally muffled, with a heavy tendency towards the mid-range. Bass is particularly lacking, making hip-hop and electronic tracks sound anaemic. Also, we felt that the high-end clarity was compromised by the overly forward mids, although some detail comes through for certain songs.
We were unimpressed by the overall sound quality of the Nixon Nomadic headphones. It's far from terrible, though, and some style-conscious users will certainly be able to suffer it in the name of fashion.
Additional editing by Charles Kloet