In the Artifact Headphones you will experience quality Sound, Comfort and Cost, what a Wicked Trifecta.
Company names, product names and logo design all play an important role in product sales. It, therefore, makes sense that companies would spend countless hours and resources trying to perfect their designs, color schemes, and packaging. Our species demonstrates a very strong word association and it is a goal to try to create a link in your brain. If you have never played a word association game, you have been missing out. This is how pneumonics work; this is also how some of us memorize so well and sometimes the links can be pretty funny. When I think of Wicked, the first thing that comes to mind is “Witch of the West” and the second is the little boy riding the big wheel in the Incredibles stating “that was totally wicked.” Sometimes the links are strong and quick, but others may be more subtle. Hopefully, after this review, we may associate wicked with audio headphones.
The product arrived in a flashy, vibrant 7 7/16 inches wide by 8 1/2 inches tall by 3 3/4 inches thick retail package. Across the top of the cover, you will find the “Wicked Audio” title in white block letters. Just to the left, you will find a very visually pleasing Logo, which combined the style of the Wilson lower cased “w” logo with the power of the Maserati Trident. The logo permeated the packaging and was found on four of the six surfaces. Beneath the Logo, in a light to dark fading magenta color, you will find the title of the product “Artifact.” Furthermore, the cover details the all-day wear and total ear coverage of the headphones in two distinctly different fonts. If you rotate the package ninety degrees clockwise, you will see a lifesized image of the blue Artifact headphones. Sadly the coloring of the image is lighter than the actual color of the product.
We are all likely aware of standard camouflage styles, such as those from Real Tree and those worn/used by our military. Interestingly, the Wicked Audio package sports what I will refer to as urban graffiti camouflage. Every surface of the box is saturated with color, reminiscent of a Jackson Polluck painting. Along the left side of the box, Wicked intelligently utilized an atypical trapezoidal, clear-plastic window to showcase the blue headphones. The window measures 4 1/4 inches wide at the top by 5 3/4 wide at the bottom by 5 inches tall on the front cover and 6 1/8 inches tall on the right side. The absence of color was a stark contrast to the remainder of the packaging. If you can navigate the kaleidoscope of color on the back, you will see the specifications for the headphones: 40mm driver, 32 Ohm impedance, 103dB sensitivity, 20Hz to 20kHz frequency, 3.5mm jack with 4 feet (1.2 meters) cord and a gold-plated plug. The package also notes that the ear cups will provide total ear coverage for all-day wear.
I will be honest, reviewing headphones is one of my guilty pleasures. Music as a universal medium has the power to reach every language, every nationality and every people group on the planet. We may not all like the same music, the same groups nor the same songs but there is music that reaches us on more than a superficial level. I sometimes like to measure my headphones on the “Goose pimple” scale. As I listen to my test tracks and then my comfort songs, I want to feel the song, see the staging and experience the atmosphere. I want my bass to be like Atlas holding the earth, I want my upper notes to be smooth like running water, and I want crisp sunny, warm harmonies. You know exactly what I mean when I say sunny warmth, after being inside for the past four months.
To test the Wicked Audio Artifact Headphones, I first navigated to Audiocheck.net and evaluated the low-frequency range test and the high-frequency range test. The frequency range promised 20Hz-20kHz, and I was pleased to hear and feel sound at the 20Hz level as promised. If you have read any of my headphone reviews, you would know that we typically lose our upper range first, as we age. My children can hear up to 18 kHz, but I can hear between 15-16kHz. The more barotrauma we suffer, the more presbycusis (Greek presbys=old and akousis=hearing) that we experience. It is recommended to listen to sound at levels less than 85 Decibels (blender, a propeller plane flying at 1000 feet, city traffic inside a car, garbage disposal). This level is typically suggested, as it likely will not cause issues unless exceeding 8-hour use. For every three decibels, you can expect to halve the suggested safe listening time according to dangerousdecibels.org. Without a built-in decibel meter, this can be difficult. My typical rule is to stick to 5-6 bars of volume on my iPad Pro 10.5″ and iPhone X and to never exceed 8 bars (50%).
To test the bass of my headphones I use “Why So Serious, Joker Theme,” from the Dark Knight Rises, the opening sequence to Star Wars Episode III, Attack of the Clones, The Gladiator Sound Track and “Bright Lights Bigger City” by Cee Lo Green. The Artifact headphones did not disappoint at the lower end. For this review, I took the test a step further, and I navigated to lifewire.com and reviewed the ten favorite test tracks for evaluating stereo equipment. After perusing their list, I have two new test tracks to add to my repertoire. If you have not listened to “Rosanna,” by Toto, it is a great quick-and-dirty test for your headphones: good bass, guitar-runs, vocals, instrumentals, etc. You will know in about a minute if the headphones are worth keeping. The second track was “Train Song” by Holly Cole. The song had some fantastic bass, and I was pleased to hear that it did not sound muddy. In fact, I compared the Wicked Audio to my Bose AE2 over-ear, and I was very pleased with the sound from the Wicked Artifact headphones. The Bose headphones can fold, have a carry bag and were a tad more comfortable but were also priced at $70 more. For the price, the Wicked Headphones sounded smooth and were comfortable enough that my wife said: “I like those.”
To test the upper range of the headphones, I typically use The Far and Away and Braveheart soundtracks and anything John Williams. Instrumental sounds tend to sharpen and become harsh with lesser quality headphones. I was pleased with how well the Artifact headphones maintained the blend of instrumental songs. I never listened to any of the songs at more than 50% volume and was pleased with the headphone blend/quality even at lower volume. The success of the headphones continued throughout my various tests. The headphones proved to be stereo, passing the Left/Right/Stereo Sound test on audiocheck.net and my favorite test track “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen. Lastly, the Yosi Horikawa Wandering and Bubbles songs highlighted the staging effect of the headphones. If you have not heard the Bubbles song, be prepared for a treat.
After testing, I was not certain that the packaging lived up to the “sound is so powerful it can only be measured on the Richter Scale” promise. As stated, I never turned the sound up beyond 50%, as I was concerned with hearing loss. I do not want to end up like my relatives/friends. The packaging and color of the headphones added a modern, trendy feel to the headphones. The device does not use batteries, does not require charging and can be used with any device that accepts a 3.5mm Audio-In jack. Unfortunately, modern Apple phones no longer have a 3.5mm Jack. I ran tests on my iPhone X using the Lighting to 3.5 mm adaptor and felt that the sound was essentially the same. I turned to CCR, Alabama, some Acapella favorites and the Gather Vocal Band for comfort listening and enjoyed every minute with this headset. The Wicked Audio Headphones provided everything I needed in a pair of around-ear headphones. The cuffs were comfortable for prolonged listening. The 7.5-ounce weight, the padded 1-inch thick foam on the top and the 3.5-inch diameter ear pads proved to be a success.
I would rate the around-ear headphones at 5/5 for comfort, sound and the under $30 price point.
BUY FROM AMAZON