How much is good audio worth to you: $9.99, $19.99, $99.99, $999? To some, the bundled headphones with your phone/MP3 player are just fine. To others, nothing under three figures is worthy of your golden ears. And then theres the fact that audio quality is purely subjective. Oh, and lets not forget that everyone’s ear canals are shaped differently, meaning one pair of headphones will sound a certain way to one person, and sound completely different to another. It’s a nightmare of epic proportions trying to review headphones. But it’s something I enjoy greatly. So here I am with several nights of use under my belt with Wicked Audio’s Evac headphones. Are they worth the $49.99 asking price and should you be saving your Washingtons for a pair?
Design & Fit
Wicked Audio is one of those companies that generally puts an emphasis on physically good looking products. While headphones’ first and only real purpose in life is to provide audio to your eardrums, it’s nice when companies go the extra mile and make their audio products visually appealing too. With the Evacs, Wicked Audio took a more laid back approach with mostly black and dark hues. If you’re the type that needs a bright pair of headphones to alert the astronauts in the international space station, look elsewhere. Sorry.
Moving past physical attraction (or lack thereof), the fit of a pair of headphones is second only to audio quality. Why, if a pair of headphones isn’t comfortable, you’re not going to want to spend half the day jamming out to whatever it is you jam out to. On that note, the Evacs are an on-the-ear design meaning you’re not going to get the complete isolation that over-the-ear headphones provide. Likewise, some sound is going to leak out because of the lack of a “seal”. Also, the added comfort of not having your ears squished is lost here. Still, even resting on the ears, though, I didn’t experience any real fatigue or pain to speak of after ~4 hour music sessions.
Five years ago, you really didn’t find too many options under ~$100 that were “great” sounding. These days, however, manufacturers have to cater to a market that is highly choosey. As such, there are countless manufacturers making headphones, some better than others. For example, if you asked me a couple of years ago if “good” audio could be had in $30 earbuds, I would have laughed at you. And then I listened to and reviewed the RHA MA-350 earbuds. And lets just say, they trounce pretty much every other ear bud south of three figures. It’s crazy how RHA managed to get the MA-350s that cheap.
Back on topic, can fuller sized headphones come in low on the price scale and still sound good?
In the case of the Evacs, no. While I’ve gotten used to keeping expectations in check with the price range of the pair of headphones I’m testing, the Evacs are below average no matter how it’s approached. Lows are muddy and don’t offer any real punch, mids are forward/present but not defined at all. And the high range (what isn’t rolled off) is soft and distant. Circling back to the RHA MA 350s for reference, it’s crazy to admit that those $30 earbuds sound far better than these $50 “normal” headphones.
Am I surprised? Not necessarily. Unless you’re paying several hundreds of dollars (or more) for headphones, design taking a front seat often means audio quality takes a backseat. There’s only so much you can do when you’re trying to hit a certain price point. You can’t have both class leading sound quality and a pretty face on the cheap. It just doesn’t happen. With the Evacs, it’s clear that more money was spent on design and marketing than audio quality.
Removing the RHA MA-350s from the equation, we can’t even say the Evacs stack up favorably to headphones in the same price range.
For $49.99 you can’t expect $500 sound. But you should get more than what’s offered here. Simply put, Take your $49.99 elsewhere and either get a better sounding (potentially cheaper) pair of over/on-the-ear headphones or put that money towards something a little further up the scale in terms of price and audio quality.
Special thanks to Max Borges for the review sample.