There’s a seemingly endless supply of £200ish over hear headphones on the market, all with a subtle twist demanding that they be the puppy in the window you pick. Polk’s Buckle does have such features – a cool describe and great built-in control functionality. But the thing the pleased me most about them – and ultimately all that anyone really wants from a pair of headphones, was that they were comfortable and made Aphex Twin’s new album sound like magic.
Polk are a long-standing audio brand and their audio products evoke vintage audio quality, with rich, warm tones. Opening the box I instantly felt like I should own a log cabin and take a hit of whiskey from hip flask between Springsteen tracks.
Despite their rugged pilgrim look they were every bit as comfortable as my pampered urbane ears demanded. The ear cushions are plush and inviting, and the leather, stitched headband makes for a lovely contrast with the solid metal arms. It feels like something refashioned from a 70s car dashboard – I want to say Mustang, but I’ve never been good with references. If Tom Selleck pulled out a pair of these, no one would be surprised.
However, this isn’t all needless nostalgia – there’s a pretty innovative control system baked into all this. The Buckle has a really cool little volume and jog wheel delicately placed on the the side of the headphones so you can simply reach up to adjust volume or playback. There’s also a built-in microphone so you can take calls or deal with Siri. The headphone cord is also detachable, which – as an owner of several broken headphone cords – is always great to see.
The Buckle features Polk Optimized Electro-acoustic Tuning (POET) technology and is engineered with 40 mm drivers developed with Polk’s Dynamic Balance design process. Like most modern headphones, the bass is a little pumped – but they are careful not to over do it. They sound great for instrumentals and Syro was played many, many times with lots of subtle nuances jumping out at me. The highs were not quite as crisp as I would like, but that’s quibbling.
The Polk Buckle is a stylish, great-sounding paid of headphones and at £159 they’re excellent mid-range cans.
Find out more at Polk