Incase recently released a full line of audio gear to go along with its ever growing collection of protective cases and bags. Not having any audio background, we didn't think much of the new headphone offerings until we got to try out Incase's flagship headphones, the Sonic. It was love at first listen with great sound quality and possibly the most comfortable over-ear headphones we've ever reviewed. It only seems fitting that we should reviewed Incase's Reflex on-ear headphones, the next in line to the much more expensive Sonic headphones. The Reflex promise custom tuned drivers that deliver clear, natural sound across the audio spectrum and surprisingly enough, they've got the same 40mm diaphram drivers as the ones found inside the Sonic headphones.
Incase isn't the first brand you would think about when wanting to get a new pair of headphones. That's about to change. More on the Reflex headphones right after the break!
The Reflex are considerably less expensive than the Sonic at $79.95. As expected we're seeing less fancier add-ons. Packaging is equally as impressive here. A bit smaller, understandably. The only accessories you'll find with the Reflex is a neat carrying case, against with Incase's expertise in making cases and bags. This is no short of a great protective storage pouch to put the Reflex in while on the go. On the inside you'll find the same faux fur material lining that's oh so soft to the touch. No padding to be found here unlike the more puffy, zippered carrying case that comes with the Sonic headphones. The outside of the carrying case feels like, well, a diaper.
Comparing the two headphones side by side, the over-ear Sonic are much larger, beefier in construction and have much more padded ear cups that completely surround your ears than the smaller on-ear Reflex which have a rounded and much slimmer ear cups. But with that being said, Incase has done a fantastic job designing the Reflex to have a seamless design with hidden ear cup joints as the more expensive Sonic. There's a lot of things that are familiar between the two headphones like the soft-touch, rubbery coating on the ear cups. We were sent the Reflex in the Oregano / Orange color scheme which would be more fitting to call olive green. It looks absolutely stunning nonetheless.
Except for a detachable audio cable, the Reflex have the same rubbery tangle-free audio cable that's found on the Sonic with a 3-button remote and mic that works flawlessly to control music, calls and Skype on a Mac and on any iOS device. The mic is also a worthy feature here as it's a really high quality mic that does however, tends to pick up background noise very easily. An L shaped 3.5mm plug is slim enough to insure compatibility with virtually all iPhone, iPad and iPod cases.
Build quality of the Reflex is outstanding. They feel durable and well put together. The headband is made from a flexible steel with a canvas exterior finish that's coated with some sort of water repellent coating that's feels slick to the touch. The ear cups don't feel loose yet have the freedom to articulate around and adjust to your head and ear shape.
When it comes to comfort, the Reflex felt really comfortable at the beginning with their soft, suede foam ear cups. After a while I started to feel discomfort due to the relatively strong clamping force from the steel headband pushing the ear cups against my ears. The pressure only becomes worse after only an hour of use. This is something the Sonic headphones have a strong point in with their large ear cups that surround your ears without applying any pressure onto your ears. Also, the headband of the Reflex is nearly empty on padding like tasty barbecue ribs that have been finished off. However, the headband should be the least of your worries.
What's the sound like? The Reflex will impress anyone who wears them for the first time whilst looking at the price tag. The Reflex deliver clear and opened sound thanks to their on-ear design while the Sonic's over-ear designed ear cups enclose all of the sound resulting in a more constrained sound quality with more detailed mids and stronger, deeper lows. Both headphones feature the same exact drivers and virtually no difference in specs, yet due to the difference in design, the Reflex sound less detailed than their bigger brother. That's not to say the Reflex disappoint with their sound quality, quite the opposite. As on-ear headphones, the Reflex manage to deliver bold bass response when needed but sadly not enough to satisfy you if you're bass hungry. Needless to say, the lows are clean and do not overpower the mids and highs.
The highs are rich making vocals sound really good. When compared to the Sonic, the highs aren't as treble infused and lively. You can crank up the volume without the Reflex annoyingly distorting your music. When compared against Incipio's f38 over-ear headphones at $49.99, the Reflex sound a lot more richer and have a full bodied sound in a much sleeker, modern headset featured package.
If you're on a tight budget but don't feel like missing out on good sound, Incase has done a superb job with the Reflex at $79.95. It's just a real shame they aren't my ideal on-ear headphones because of my discomfort tiff with them. You might find them to fit you more comfortably, and that's why the Reflex should be considered as a solid choice for on-ear headphones with headset functionality.