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Incase Sonic

post #1 of 131
Thread Starter 

 

incasesonicDesk.jpg

 

Disclaimer: I am not an audiophile, I make music amongst other hobbies and prefer balanced sound to... whatever you want to call it you creeps.

 

Got a crazy deal on the Incase Sonic's so I picked up a pair because I love the look and feel. The initial price of the Sonic is $149 (i got them much cheaper) but to be perfectly fair I think they are absolutely worth $100-$149. The build is very unique/sturdy, and these are probably the most comfortable full-size headphones I have ever worn. I am also very partial to grey and orange so it was hard to resist these beauties:

 

AshOrange03.jpgAshOrange01.jpg

build

One sentence. "Simple, great materials, feel good, built good."

 

The one piece seamless headband has just the right amount of flex but is still quite solid, for this reason they don't fold up but the one piece design is fantastic. Simplicity is often overlooked in headphone design, so much random shiny plastic used for no reason. Definitely not the case on these. The exposed (but very well protected) wiring allows the ear cups to be adjust quite a lot, they should be able to fit anyone pretty easily I think. The Sonics are incredibly comfortable. The suede/memory foam of the ear cups is something other manufacturers should definitely take note of I think. The shape and size of the ear cups work very well for me as well, fit over my ears quite well in any scenario. The cable is detachable, includes a very nice mic/remote setup like you are used to for any smartphone setup and the mic actually sounds pretty good. It only attaches on the left ear cup and both included cables have nice right angle 3.5mm 4 pole TRRS connectors. Would have been nice to have some more options/lengths of cable, but the included cables are the perfect length for working on a laptop or player in the pocket setups. I already have extension cables that work well for me for desktop setups while making music, so this isn't a problem for me at all. Being Incase, they come with a very nicely made soft case that has some simple pockets and the nice faux fur material Incase uses in other bags they make. I don't ever really use hard shell cases so this works for me also. The funniest part about the Sonics is how beautifully packaged they are, and I will just leave it at that (don't want to spoil it for future purchasers).

 

sound

One sentence "Balance is what is most important to me, and these deliver on that, they are clear, they expose badly mixed music, and make good stuff stand out."

 

Setup: Usually a MacBook Pro, Apogee One, and Apple Lossless source.

 

I was so pumped on the look and feel and comfort of these things I would have probably picked them up even if they sounded like garbage to be honest, but they definitely didn't disappoint in this area. I don't really believe in how in depth some people get with sound reviews so I will keep it simple. I listen to a huge different range of music. Hip-hop (think The Roots, Black Star, Erykah Badu, Flying Lotus), Jazz (Billie, Ella, Louis, Thelonius), Classical, Electronic, Ambient and sprinkle in music from almost every other genre. (Except country, polka, and dub step, haha) Lots of different types of soundtracks as well (Ennio Morricone, Alberto Iglesias, Clint Mansell, John Murphy). Way to broad to mention everything, so if you are interested in these and are interested in my opinion on a certain genre or artist, just let me know, I will be glad to have a listen. Here is a list I often listen to when trying out new headphones/speakers:

 

intelligentlistener.png

 

I think Incase's description of these..

 

"Engineered for music lovers who expect a refined audio experience no matter what they listen to, Sonic over-ear headphones combine high performance acoustics, sound isolation and exceptional comfort into a graceful design."

 

..is actually perfectly accurate. There are headphones that may make some types of music sound significantly better but I think these work well for everything. They are very clear and can take a lot without any distortion. They aren't noise canceling (thank god) but they do a good job of canceling out the right types of sound. You will hear a little leakage if you are sitting right next to someone wearing them but the isolation is good overall. I am a big fan of the Apple dual driver in ear monitors, and had gotten pretty used to that "in-head" soundstage when on the go, so it is definitely nice to have that expanded a bit. My best description for these in terms of soundstage is "I am the conductor of a small orchestra on my desk". Definitely does more than just place sound in your right and left ears. I also use a very nice set of Yamaha studio monitors (HS50m) which obviously give a bit larger stage. I am a person who will never understand open headphones. They are for at home listening, they are ******* loud, just get full-size speakers. Just like my Yamaha's and addiem's they give a nice flat sound that still sounds interesting. This is always what I am after in sound, give me what the musician made, and if I want I will adjust it to my own taste, I will. I don't want my headphones or speakers to make the decision for me I want to make it myself. Sometimes I may want a little more impact from bass on certain tracks, but then I jump to another track and the impact is there. I was glad to experience this as it makes me comfortable to use them as monitors while making music as well. It is up to me to make my music sound the way I want on a neutral setup. If you make music on $1000 open headphones or bass monsters people listening to your stuff on earbuds will usually think it sounds like ****. These are a good balance I think. I can present stuff comfortably to a wide audience without having to listen to it on everything. They aren't marketed as studio monitors, but if they were I think they would do just fine. They can be worn for hours on end, listened to for hours, aren't trying to make things sound better, and are very clear. I guess they are just missing the longer cable and the words "Professional" marked on there somewhere in shiny text..

 

As I mentioned, I am not getting into detail on how the lows, mids, highs sound. I don't think it is relevant as everyone's ears are quite different and my taste is right in the middle. One thing I absolutely do always look for is the ability to present that lovely resonating low end while the mids and highs are going, and these do this very well. Ennio Morricone is probably the best example of this (as are many other film composers). Balance is what is most important to me, and these deliver on that, they are clear, they expose badly mixed music, and make good stuff stand out. Balance not only in sound but in the whole package, most headphone designs are absolute garbage. These are lovely, built well, and sound the way I want them to sound, couldn't be happier.

 

There aren't many non-sound companies that get into the sound game with intentions other than making some money. I think Incase has great intentions with these and should absolutely be taken seriously in this market full of hilarious endorsement deals. I definitely trust a company that makes a well designed variety of products over a company that makes over designed over price cables. I do get interested in the technical details though and have contacted Incase to see if they can provide any other details on the 40mm drivers.

 

I would be happy to provide some real world pictures of anyone is interested in any specific details just let me know!


Edited by circa86 - 1/1/12 at 11:58pm
post #2 of 131

Cool.  Good to see reviews of uncommon stuff around here.

post #3 of 131

I just ordered a pair of thiese - incase is haveing a 40% off sale so I ended up getting them for about $90 with free shipping.  Can't wait to try them out.

post #4 of 131
Thread Starter 

Awesome definitely interested in what you think of them. I definitely found the exact pair of headphones I was looking for.

post #5 of 131

I was at the Apple store the other day and just for fun I saw these things and decided to give them a try. I really wasn't expecting much from them and so I was pretty surprised by what I heard.  In my brief listen (it was pretty noisy and busy inside the store), they sounded a bit on the 'forward' side.  You can't miss the midrange and treble on these.  And in a more ideal listening situation, I think the bass would have been better.  It was still there- just not quite as much as I would have liked.  Ever since that audition, I've been thinking about these and will without a doubt go back to the store and listen to them again- and not on a crowded weekend!  The tonal balance on these headphones actually remind me of a can that costs exactly 10 times (almost to the penny) as much.  That's not to say that they are quite as smooth or detailed as such headphones.  But for the price, this could be another one of those over-achievers.  I just picked up a set of V-Moda M-80s, another headphone that surprised me by it's sound.  Oh- and these might be the most comfortable headphones I've ever put on.  They have a microfiber-like padding that remains cool and the headphones themselves are really light.

 

After reading the post above, I went and looked for that 40% off coupon and was disappointed that I missed it by a day.  At the $149 street price, I would consider buying it.  At <$100 shipped, I probably would have ordered them without a second audition.  Well, the good news is that it was a 40,000 Facebook fan milestone that they were celebrating.  And if you go to their Facebook page right now it says that they are going to have another (45%!) discount when they hit the 45k mark.  Needless to say, I hit the 'Like' button and will wait a few days or however long it takes.  For you guys who got the 40%, good for you- I'm not going to wait for '50' if it even comes.

post #6 of 131

I like the look of these too. Hopefully more people review them and they are actually good.

post #7 of 131

I would love to try them out when that 45% coupon comes around. They are definitely good looking and I hope the sound matches the style.

post #8 of 131

 

The only thing I'll say about shilling here is that if I like something I will say so.  And I get excited pretty easily too.  And yes, I do want people to sign up on Facebook SO I CAN GET MY 45% OFF!  ;-)  Speaking of which, I did further Googling and it looks like they did a 35% off back in early December.  So assuming the same sign-up rate, they should hit 45k in hopefully three weeks?  I'll be sure to post back here when it gets there.
 
I'm really curious about the development of these and who exactly is behind them.  Did they decide to go all out and hire top notch engineers and pick the right listening panel, or did they just get lucky?  I too am hugely skeptical when it comes to re-branding, etc.  But as shown recently by V-Moda, some of these companies just might surprise you.  In fact, V-Moda got beat up pretty good on the M-80 Reviews thread early on because it seemed like they came out of nowhere (or fashionista land) and gave out free cans in exchange for favorable reviews.  And each and every one of the people who criticized the write-ups had never even heard the headphones.  Anyway, I wish the Apple Store had the other headphones (Reflex and Pivot) to listen to.  The specs say that these Sonics use titanium drivers.  There aren't too many of those around (Ultrasone?).  I have a picture in my head of the titanium domes that JBL uses in their sound reinforcement gear, but it probably looks nothing like that.
 
JBL_dome.jpg  L3000.gif
 
Well, as promised I went back to the Apple Store today when it was much less crowded (but still a little noisy).  I sat there for about half an hour and did some more listening.  And I pretty much confirmed my first impressions.  These have an upper-midrange/high-frequency emphasis to my ears.  And having AKG K1000s and Etymotic ER-4Ss, I like that tonal balance.  There is a good (great?) sense of air and lots of texture in that upper region.  A lot of people would call this can bright, just as they would the K1000s or the K/Q701s.  But to my ears, it just rides that fine line between being revealing and fatiguing.  Admittedly, it can be a tad 'sizzly' at times.  If I had to compare it tonally with an IEM, I would say it sounds a lot like the TripleFi10, minus a little bit of the bass.  As for the bass, I would actually call it somewhat bass-light.  It's definitely there.  But it's the warm and smooth kind as opposed to the punchy visceral kind.  And the extension is somewhat limited too.  I had the chance to put on the B&W P5s right after, and those definitely sound more full in the lower region and have more weight.  And these are no match for my V-Moda M-80s when it comes to bass quantity.  That said, because the bass is always clean and disciplined you still get a good sense of rhythm (pace?) with these.  If you like the Etymotic ER-4s or the AKG K/Q701s, then you will probably like these.  If I got to listen to these in a quiet place I could only imagine they would sound better in all areas.  Around my head, the noise isolation of these is not that good.  But they would never match P5s or M-80s in bass slam, and that's fine by me.  Also, after 30 minutes of straight listening, I did not feel a bit of humidity underneath the pads- something I personally have a problem with on most cans.  So go ahead and call this an endorsement, but if these weren't going to be on sale in a few weeks, I'd be putting down $150 for them today.

 


Edited by Mkubota1 - 1/5/12 at 6:14pm
post #9 of 131

I spoke at length to the folks at Incase a few weeks prior to their press release for these headphones, and they made it clear that they wanted to compete in the fashion/accessory headphone market with a product that people would enjoy listening to, citing that their main competition, namely Skullcandy and Monster, had a sound and a build quality that they wanted to avoid.  Sure, Fanny Wang tried something similar, but to a lesser extent.  Fanny Wang made the mistake of strategically trying to target Beats fans using a suspiciously familiar form factor, succeeding only in a better hinge design and an improved sound... over Monster.  At Incase, obviously they knew little about headphones as a company, but put in a lot of effort to come up with a product that was thoughtfully designed and superior in as many ways they could manage.

 

The end result is something I'm quite proud of, despite not having an affiliation with the company.  They're a small local company (I'm in SF); their design team, that usually works on iPhone cases and laptop bags, created the minimalistic housing.  They incorporated memory foam pads and a detachable cable, and made their cans compatible with common portable sources (though they should perhaps give some thought to the Android users with a cable option).  Considering this, the price point is sweet.  I was hoping to have a review sample a few months back, but they've been busy.  Now there's a review out, so I probably won't get an evaluation model.  But I probably will buy one.  I'm not on Facebook, so hopefully someone will alert the audiophiles if the 45% discount comes around.

 

It's possible someone will come around and accuse me of shilling too.  All I can say is that as a headphone enthusiast, I've been waiting for this headphone to come out, and I am pleased that it's starting to get some exposure here at head-fi beyond the predictable doubt and cynicism that was offered since launch.  I wish I had mustered up the initiative (and the funds) to be the earliest adopter, knowing what I knew about this product well in advance, but thanks to @circa86, @Mkubota1, and hopefully a few more of you, this could be the next Aviator (which isn't well loved, but surprisingly respected on head-fi).

 

Cheers.

post #10 of 131
Thread Starter 

My pleasure, and thanks to everyone else that has chimed in. I would guess the majority of people wouldn't choose these over a lot of things out there because the difference in the low end and the lack of an "appeal" curve overall. I am just happy I have a set of cans that has the same feel as my studio monitors and I can pretty confidently work between the two and the finished product. I think most people (including a large number of head-fi users) have been trained over the years that bass always means punch or impact. It isn't an on/off switch and I think a lot of headphones treat it that way. The transition from high to low-end should be a linear one in my opinion/taste. The Sonics definitely will not really help something that was mixed poorly, but they absolutely respond to an EQ. I usually am not putting an EQ on things just for listening, but it is nice if I get something that is mixed heavy towards the mid-high end in a way that is a bit fatiguing it is easy to apply a subtle preset to help balance it out without changing the character of anything.

 

When people say that these are different in the low end then other headphones I think they are absolutely correct, only because most other cans have a bit more of an aggressive curve into the low end while these make a smoother linear transition into it. The best analogy is a photograph. Most people find a photograph that is a bit contrasty more appealing for various reasons than a photo that has no curve applied but seems rather dull overall due to the lack of contrast. Just like some cameras apply a built in curve to the add a bit of appeal to the photos they shoot, I would say that a huge majority of headphone makers do the exact same thing (and for good reason) but it has lead to a lot of music being mixed to reflect this low-end "kick" they are likely too receive. People that want that kick get it for free in most headphones these days so if you listen on a pair without this "enhancement" a lot of music could leave less of an impact. On a pair of "flat-ish" headphones like the Sonics you can absolutely get that kick into your mix, you just have to put it there yourself. Another good analogy is car balance. There are cars that "oversteer", "understeer", and are balanced and "neutral". I would compare a car that oversteers (rear tires lose grip under load) to headphones that are focused on low end and, blast to listen to in almost any circumstance but sacrificing accuracy (performance/overall speed in the cars case). Understeering cars (front tires lose grip, car doesn't turn under load) are like headphones that put emphasis on clarity and the mid-high end and they are always accurate/perform well and are consistent in many scenarios, but lack overall fun factor. Extremely well balanced cars (neutral, F&R tires losing grip at same rate under load) are still extremely accurate and consistent but bring back the fun factor of an oversteering car without sacrificing performance for it. So bassy headphones are drift cars (extremely fun, but inaccurate, and performance is sacrificed), mid-high end and high-end (price range) headphones are the F1 car (extremely high performance under very specific conditions, but terrible with music that doesn't suit them, only useful in very specific conditions), and balanced neutral headphones are the mid-range sports car that punches above its weight and can do so in nearly all conditions, and is still very fun. I would put the Incase Sonic in that last category.

 

Drift Car - Panasonic RP-HTF600-fS

F1 Car - Sennheiser Ultra high end whatevers

Middleground - Incase Sonic


Edited by circa86 - 1/6/12 at 12:55am
post #11 of 131
Thread Starter 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mkubota1 View Post

I was at the Apple store the other day and just for fun I saw these things and decided to give them a try. I really wasn't expecting much from them and so I was pretty surprised by what I heard.  In my brief listen (it was pretty noisy and busy inside the store), they sounded a bit on the 'forward' side.  You can't miss the midrange and treble on these.  And in a more ideal listening situation, I think the bass would have been better.  It was still there- just not quite as much as I would have liked.  Ever since that audition, I've been thinking about these and will without a doubt go back to the store and listen to them again- and not on a crowded weekend!  The tonal balance on these headphones actually remind me of a can that costs exactly 10 times (almost to the penny) as much.  That's not to say that they are quite as smooth or detailed as such headphones.  But for the price, this could be another one of those over-achievers.  I just picked up a set of V-Moda M-80s, another headphone that surprised me by it's sound.  Oh- and these might be the most comfortable headphones I've ever put on.  They have a microfiber-like padding that remains cool and the headphones themselves are really light.

 

After reading the post above, I went and looked for that 40% off coupon and was disappointed that I missed it by a day.  At the $149 street price, I would consider buying it.  At <$100 shipped, I probably would have ordered them without a second audition.  Well, the good news is that it was a 40,000 Facebook fan milestone that they were celebrating.  And if you go to their Facebook page right now it says that they are going to have another (45%!) discount when they hit the 45k mark.  Needless to say, I hit the 'Like' button and will wait a few days or however long it takes.  For you guys who got the 40%, good for you- I'm not going to wait for '50' if it even comes.

 

 

Glad more people are giving them a shot. I was at a bit of an advantage and was able to get the discount at any time. 45% would definitely be no brainer purchase for me as well, even thought I got a slightly better deal ;) I think the look and feel of these is going to be a matter of preference. But I think they make most ultra-high end setups look like over-designed monsters. Like I mentioned in my post, I think the amount of low-end with these is actually honest to the recording. They make no effort to add it if it isn't there, and don't emphasize it if it is, but if it is there, you will feel it.

 

And since I didn't really address it in my original post, these powered by the Apogee One are definitely a better experience for me. MacBook Pro standard audio ports have actually gotten pretty good in many of the unibody models, but a dedicated output device definitely help get rid of any odd artifacts that the onboard audio could be responsible for.


 

post #12 of 131

Mine arrived today and first impression - style.  The build is great, comfortable and Circa is right - the packaging is great (almost confusing though).  The cords feel solid and aren't too long (possibly a bit short?) I have only listened to a few songs (haven't had too much time, but I think they sounded great).  The bass is a bit lacking, but I am not a bass head.  The mids were impressive.  Def exceeded my expectations so far, but then again, I have not given them the full workout.  

 

I think incase will do well in the "Apple" market and get a niche following (iPhone/iPod users) similar to Beats and their general users (fashion statement).  However, having owned a pair of Beats at one time (for about 1 month before they BROKE), these def feel more solid and sound light years better.  However, I fear they made have a harder time breaking through to the true, gritty audiophiles who are much more picky and really expect their headphones to perform at a peak level.

post #13 of 131

Does anyone here have some more lasting impressions? I definitely want to demo these before that 45% off sale begins. To the Apple store!

post #14 of 131

Hahaha.. I keep going back to the Apple store to re-listen to these, waiting for that 45%.  And I'm pretty much holding steady with my initial impressions.  In fact, I think I labeled these as being on the bright side and even bass light.  I would probably revise that *just slightly* to say that they're a bit more neutral than that.  Bass is definitely adequate, but not heavy by any stretch.  Anyway, this 45% is taking a bit longer than I had anticipated.  So I'm pretty anxious.  At the rate they're going, it looks like it might be sometime mid-March?  I actually want to get another case for my iTouch, so this will work out pretty well for me.  biggrin.gif

post #15 of 131

These really caught my attention, is this coupon going to appear on their Facebook page rather soonish?

EDIT: What are the Sound signature on these like? And what's the sound stage like? I'm really intrigued by these!


Edited by Arboginge911 - 2/18/12 at 1:27pm
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