The Kicker brand has been around since 1973, mastering presentation of music in our cars and trucks. Clear and crisp sound with deep and rich bass has been their MO. Now they are “diving” into the home and personal market, bringing their 40+ years of experience with automobile sound systems straight to your homes, and well, your heads. Last month, on May 8th, they announced the launch of several home and personal products, such as the new Vapor premium headphones. RFMag takes the new Kicker Vapor headphones for a spin to see how effective is their latest market immersion. Look and Feel
The Vapor is pleasing to the eye. I like how it sort of went with a utilitarian look – a sound system for your head. They went with black and yellow, adding a metallic plate on the headband which houses the Kicker logos. As these are on-ear headphones, the ear cups are angular, conforming to the shape of a ear. The part of the headband that comes in contact with your head as well as the ear cups utilize a sort of plush leather. The cable is detachable, housing an inline controller for apple and other mobile devices. (Always give big points for detachable cables!) The Vapor has a very snug hold on your head. The “leatheresque” material on the headband and ear cup cushions has a nice feel to them. Despite being made of (a sort of coated) rubber, the detachable cable is surprisingly resistant to snag. The in-line controller works as it does in any standard mobile headset: play, stop, forward, and back functions for all mobile devices with volume controls working exclusively for iPhones.
The nuance I immediately noticed here was that there were little to no tactile difference between the various controls. This lead to either the occasional lowering or heightening of volume or an added amount time to scan the controller with my fingers – all in efforts to try to simply stop the currently playing track. Most of the in-line mobile controllers that house volume controls implement distinct tactile differences, allowing the user to know what they are about to press just from a touch. In contrast, take this in-line controller from a Munito headset. One can find the stop/play button by feeling for a gap. This did not make or break the listening experience, but I felt it was appropriate to mention in terms of ease of use.
The one other more notable “snag” was in the comfort department. If it is of any relevance, note that I have a shaved head – not much to contend with when it comes to headwear. When worn, the headset seems to apply the majority of the pressure against the upper half of your ears. While, I still stand by my “snug hold” as mentioned before, it’s something you get used to and otherwise fine with. However, this pressure is much more noticeable when wearing glasses. They are on-ear head-phones after all; some pinch is to be expected. But here existed a noticeable drop in comfort as it caused some fatigue after moderately long-term use. Otherwise no glasses, no problem.
Here come the meat and potatoes. Being a fan of bass (deep bass, not muddy), I was interested in seeing how Kicker presented what they call “thumping bass.” Now, I felt bass was on the soft side, but it most likely due to balance. Not necessarily bass prevalent, these may be one of the more balanced sound presentations I’ve experienced. The main aspects of the music come across nice and crisp. It actually made me think that I may have leaned myself into bass so deeply, that it was nice to take a step back and appreciate everything else. Pinch or no pinch, the ear cups do a great job in sound isolation. You can’t hear much of the outside world just as the outside world cannot hear much if any of your music bleeding through. This further enhanced the actual enjoyment of the music being played.
The Total Package Summed Up…
At an almost standard “premium headphone” price of $199, you get the headset with a detachable cord and a hard carrying case. Like the hard carrying case, detachable cords improve the longevity of your headset as the cables themselves are the most prone to damage or wear-and-tear. Those are definite points towards your investment. I prefer deep bass over soft (or warm) bass. All buzz words, I know. It’s just important to mention that the Kicker Vapors are a more balanced sound than a bass-focused one. If you prefer balanced sound and you don’t intend on wearing glasses with this unit, then the Vapor may just be your cup of tea. The sound is definitely nice, clear and enjoyable. And if your listening style falls in line with what I mentioned above then the Kicker Vapor is a solid investment for you.
Check out the Vapor for yourself here!
† Review unit and main article image provided by Kicker