Incipio f38 review: Budget headphones with good sound

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MSRP: $49.99

The Good The affordable Incipio f38 over-the-ear headphones feature an attractive, retro design, decent build quality, and a relatively comfortable fit, and they sound good for their modest price.

The Bad The f38s don't fold up or flat, and there's no inline remote/microphone for making cell phone calls.

The Bottom Line While they may not be truly special for their modest price, the Incipio f38s are solid, good-sounding headphones for the money.

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7.0 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 5
  • Sound 7
  • Value 8

Incipio Technologies is known for its iPhone and iPad cases, not headphones. But hey, everybody's getting into the headphone game these days, so why not Incipio?

Not surprisingly, its f38 over-the-ear headphones, which can be had online for as little as $30, are based on the design for an existing headphone model, in this case the $70 Fischer FA-004 (this design is also used for other headphones). Since I haven't reviewed the Fischers, I can't tell you whether the two models sound identical. But what I can tell you is that the f38s deliver decent sound for slightly less than half the price of the FA-004s. I also thought they were relatively comfortable.

Design and features
The f38s have a retro look because they're based on a retro design. They seem sturdy enough, with a thicker than average cord, but they're mostly plastic except for the steel wire tracks that the earcups slide up and down on. The headband is padded well enough and covered in faux leather that looks and feels very much like faux leather. The headphones don't look cheap, though they also don't look like they cost more than $50. They come in multiple colors -- I thought the Espresso version, model no. NX-104, looked the classiest.

The f38s are based on the Fischer Audio FA-004 headphones. Sarah Tew/CNET

The headphones felt pretty comfortable on my head, and for over-the-ear headphones, they're relatively compact. The earcups aren't particularly plush -- they, too, have very much a faux leather feel to them -- but they offer decent padding. The earcups themselves aren't all that big, so folks with larger ears might find that the pads sit a little on their ears instead of around them, but they fit my medium-sized ears fine.

Alas, the headphones don't fold up or fold flat.

A closer look at the earcups. Sarah Tew/CNET

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