When it comes to headphones, the market at the $100 price-point is quite crowded. As a consumer you have so many decisions to make: over-ear vs. on-ear, DJ vs. studio vs. casual listening use, color, shape, size, brand, and the list goes on and on. It can be overwhelming, but all of us can agree that for that price range we want solid, reliable headphones that sound good and are comfortable.
When the kind folks at Plugged sent us a pair of Plugged Crown Headphones, we were very excited to take them for a spin. We ditched our usual headphones and passed them around Equipboard HQ, taking them for a two-week test-drive. Here’s our review of the Plugged Crown Headphones.
While what truly matters is how they sound, the packaging, look, and feel is important and oftentimes these details set the stage for what type of love and care the manufacturer puts into their product. Right from the start you notice the Plugged Crown headphones come in hefty, attractive box. Sliding off the cardboard cover reveals a nice heavy black box, with a magnetic clasp closure. We should point out that right from the start this feels like an expensive product - definitely a premium feel in the initial unboxing.
Opening the box reveals these striking, minimal headphones in all their glory. Plugged sent us the black ones, which we prefer (though a white version is available as well). Removing the headphones and taking a peek at what else is in the box, we noticed a canvas soft case with zipper closure (bonus points for little pockets inside of the case), and cables for both Android and iOS-specific usage. Good on them for thinking of both customer bases. Aside from some minimal literature and warranty, that’s about it for the unboxing! Simple, but elegant.
The Plugged Crown headphones are pretty gorgeous to behold. They look to somewhat have some elements borrowed from the Urbanears Zinken DJ headphones, and AIAIAI TMA-2. If that sort of matte/minimal look is your thing, you’ll dig these. Starting with the ear cups, they feel nice and comfortable. The ear cushions are quite plush and have a memory foam feel. The ear cups also swivel, which is great if you intend to do some DJing with them. The headband expands to fit different sized heads, as you would expect, and it does so smoothly, revealing the gold contrast color which looks very nice. The headband is not overly plush; it’s nice and flexible and the padding is rubber, but rest assured it’s quite comfortable. We had some extended 3 hour+ listening sessions with them, and are happy to report there was little to no discomfort and fatigue - at least none more than you would get wearing any headphones for multi-hour stretches. Any time we try new headphones we’re apprehensive about their comfort level, which we feel is a deal-breaker despite everything else being good. We’re very happy that the Plugged Crown headphones deliver good results in the comfort department.
The outside of the ear cups is scratch resistant which is essential, because that could otherwise quickly ruin the very sleek matte black look. We haven’t owned them very long, or put them through extreme stress, but all in all we’re comfortable reporting that the build quality feels very good. Definitely superior to many other headphones we’ve tested in the $100 price range. Aesthetically, these elicited a “wow” from everyone that took them out of the box. They’re on-point in the looks department.
Now, the important question - how do these bad boys sound? In short, for a $100 headphone, they sound great! Keep in mind, these are not necessarily studio headphones, in that they don’t have a completely flat frequency response. The bass feels like it’s boosted, and the highs sparkle (luckily without any undesired harshness). These are tell-tale signs of more of a consumer-minded headphone, as opposed to one best suited for studio use. Still, studio use is not completely out of the question. They would be ideal for testing out final mix-downs, and honestly so long as you know the Plugged Crown’s bass/mid/treble boosts & cuts and you know how to compensate for them, you should be good to go.
These headphones are neither overly loud or soft, relying on 40mm drivers to deliver sound. Overall the listening experience was very good for all of our Equipboard team members, and we can confidently say we put them through their paces - from Mat Zo to Mozart to Miles Davis, no genre or style was incompatible with the Plugged Crown headphones. Sure, those whose daily headphones are in the $250+ range said they preferred to go back to those in the end. It’s not quite a fair comparison putting these up against headphones 2-3X their price. Still, the bass response is excellent, the mids are clear enough, and the highs are clear without being too harsh (no ear fatigue here). Aside from daily casual listening, these would make a good mid-level DJ headphone. And finally, the passive noise isolation is quite good.
$100 is an interesting price point because it’s both the lower end of “expensive” headphones, and the higher end of “budget” headphones. The Crown Plugged headphones punch above their weight class. As of now they’re going for $99 which feels like a fantastic price considering what you get. We get the feeling these headphones will do quite well. They deliver comfort, are well-built, and definitely sound better than your “average” $100 headphones. Those looking for a totally flat studio headphone in this price range need not apply, but if you’re after some seriously enjoyable and comfortable listening with some headphones that look fantastic, give the Crown Plugged Headphones a shot.
Thanks again to the folks at Plugged for sending a pair to Equipboard HQ!
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