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 Phiaton and Monster Cable. Nixon, a company best known for its board-sport-inspired line of watches and other accessories, has decided to dip its toe in these waters, too, and it should come as no surprise that the company's Nomadic Custom On Ear Headphones are among the most stylish we've come across. However, these $100 cans suffer from muted, mid-heavy audio that's hard to overlook.
The Nixon Nomadic has industrial chic written all over it, from the padded-leather, rough-stitched headband to the notched-edge, textured-metal earcups. In fact, 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 color options. First, there is the standard Nomadic ($100), which is suitable for your standard MP3 player and comes in seven colors: black, all black, gunmetal, brown, lime, red, and white. Then you have the iPhone Mic version (with inline call-answer and music playback controls) for $120 in your choice of black or white, and the more general music phone Mic model for $120 in black, all black, white, or lime.
Although we found the Nixon Nomadic headphones to be pretty comfortable for a couple hours of wear--thanks namely 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 of note: the headband tends to move around a bit while you walk, which can be an annoyance.
The Nomadic headphones are fairly light on extras, though those that are included are quite nice. There's a removable, cloth-covered cable measuring 60 inches that attaches to the left earcup. Nixon also offers a nice, hard-shell carrying case for storing and transporting the 'phones, which fold down into a slightly 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, too, 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 toward the midrange. Bass is particularly lacking, making hip-hop and electronic tracks sound anemic. Also, we felt that the high-end clarity was compromised by the overly forward mids, though some detail comes through for certain songs. Still, we were unimpressed be the overall sound quality. It's far from terrible, mind you, and certainly some superstyle-conscious users will be able to suffer through it in the name of fashion.