Has Incipio gone mad? What we may know as one of the most known protective case brand on the market has now splurgded into the audio market with its very own line of audio headphones. If Incase can have its own audio line, why not Incpio? We know what you may be thinking to yourself right now, how can a company without a single ounce of audio knowledge and background possibly out good sound headphones? To our surprise, Incipio's Forte 38, aka f38, headphones might in fact have a chance in this fierce headphone market. The Forte 38 aren't your typical hipster headphones you would get at your local clothing store. How good are they? Find out after the break!
Incipio's Forte 38 headphones aren't yet available to consumers and once they will be, expect them to run you $49.99. I've had the chance to fully test these creamy turquoise colored headphones out for nearly a month now and I can say that I'm pleasantly surprised that the price tag is very much affordable and exactly the right price for these pair of headphones. Obviously Incipio went for the retro look with the Forte 38 instead of going with a more mainstream design. Urbanears comes to mind when using these as they resemble the $60 Plattan headphones with similar textured finish and ear cup design with the adjustable metal headband. Only that the Forte 38 seem like they are just as good as the Plattan only that they took some illegal steroids. I wasn't so keen towards the Plattan however because of how uncomfortable they were. The two are quite different in terms of size and portability, but it's still worth comparing the two against each other.
I must say for Incipio's first attempt at making headphones, the Forte 38 aren't half bad. In fact, they are a really good pair of starter headphones for their price. I really hope these will be available in black though. I'm not a fan of this color combination to be honest. Since these aren't yet released, who knows what sort of changes Incpio will make to put those final touches before you can get your hands on a pair. Right now, the Forte 38 do look and feel like they are ready for prime time.
Having a really hard time adjusting to the vicious clamping force of the Plattan headphones, the Forte 38 have an over-ear designed, moderately pleather padded ear cups which fully surround your ears inside of them while putting very little stress on your ears. Wearing the Forte 38 headphones has been a joyful time and I could wear them all day long without any discomfort. The ear cups have been constructed to be stationary and aren't adjustable nor do they have any sort of pivot points to them which could be an issue from person to person.
The build quality of the Forte 38 headphones feels solid and makes them feel well put together, especially for their price. The exterior of the ear cup housing is coated with a very light sot-touch coating giving off a matte look with a smooth feel identical to what you find on the Plattan headphones. The headband is on a slim side and is lightly padded. Adjusting the size of the headband is very simple and done by sliding the metal guided rails up and down like old school pilot headphones. Again, the build quality as just as good as what you will find in the Plattan headphones only that the Forte 38 don't fold up yet you can stretch them out with confidence of them not snapping in half. With that said, at $49.99 you can definitely notice the plasticky build quality.
The audio cable seems very durable and isn't detachable, however I was happy to see it only connect to one side. It's on the short side which is great for portable use.
As we get into how these actually sound, I do want to point out that sound leakage is very minimal thanks to the closed-back design of the Forte 38, however sound-isolations is pretty poor and has mostly to do with the limited adjustable ear cups which don't fully seal your ears all that well. After almost a full month of usage, the Forte 38's audio drivers have been fully "burned-in". I wasn't expecting much out of these, and although I haven't listened to them as a brand new pair, I'm happy to say that they sound very good for what they cost. It isn't that easy finding a pair of over-ear headphones that sound this good let me tell you that.
Overall sound quality is clear with a warm dynamic sound signature. By no means are these muddy, and at the same time they aren't very detailed as well. But that's to be expected for what you pay. On the other hand, don't expect to be blown away. There isn't much to give here if you're a bass lover. The bass response is somewhat on the weak side for my taste and I would love some more oomph to give these more power. There is potential here however. When paired together with my little cMoyBB portable amp using bass boost, I found that the bass response really improved and sounded great without distorting the rest of the mids and highs.
Like I said, mids aren't very detailed but remain clear. There isn't much instrument separation and highs are very clean. Vocals sound perfect and clear. I can't stress enough how these are the most clear and cleanest sounding pair of headphones I've used at the $50 price range. Cranking up the volume won't distort the sound for those of you who love blasting those tunes. All that's missing is more delicious sounding bass to balance things out.
Well done, Incipio. The Forte 38 headphones have proven that even case makers can out good sounding cans that do justice to some of those awful hip and retro headphones out there. I don't see why I wouldn't recommend these to anyone who doesn't want to spend a bunch of money on a better pair of headphones. Good sound at an affordable price, who doesn't like the sound of that?