review of the nixon masterblaster headphones

first off we went after this particular nixon headset for its fabulous looks. we received our advance copy in its considerable box last week and have been putting it to the test. a few observations: the exterior of the box reflects the unit and is simple and clean, a mix of a clock work orange meets ipod. we like the name nixon but the unit name and slogans “master blaster” and “bring the noise” seem off target and pretty lame! they belong to pioneer not nixon! inside you’ll find a modern darth vader helmet case which again is at odds with the retro inspired audiophile cans, but one can see why they tried to avoid a fully retro kit.

the unit itself is rather beautiful and well made. designed by yves behar they sport premium leather ear cups, large volume knob, aluminum cans with a ball/pivot that is ingeniously engineered to fit, at least my head perfectly. like all high-end headphones the cord is detachable and i simply love the choice of this particular cable. it makes the whole piece come together, yet unlike the retro fabric cords the 3.5mm stereo plug at the end is delicate avoiding the cumbersome look of the old cans. the pivot joint and the cable where truly the first two details i noticed. one disappointing detail is the logo/pajama style printed fabric used inside the ear cups. who made that decission? gladly noone will see it but you.

the sound on the nixon master blaster is not as high end as its great looks, but the sound is ‘good’ and well above average for its price range of just under $200 (vs. say $450 for the AKG 701 that we reviewed). the headphones at 95 db are not super sensitive and will probably sound their best using headphone amps like headroom or other brands. but on its own the sound is rather neutral with a leniency towards a heaviness in the bass. i would have liked to see more detail in the mid range, and easier on the bass, but i always say that no matter what i listen to unless they are magnapan speakers (which i once owned, but with those you then loose the bass! the MG20.1 seem to have addressed the issue at $4,000/pair). all in all the nixons are great fun, good looks, decent sound, quite affordable, with details to awe over. we used the nixons at a recent event and we had 2 people asking us about them and where to buy them, now no one ever asked me about my AKGs… so they do indeed turn a few heads. by dd