• Nixon RPM
Our Verdict 
The RPMs don’t set any new standards – but they’re not without merit
For 
Uncompromising looks
snug fit
noise isolation
poised, occasionally exciting sound
Against 
Not dynamic, not entirely engaging
short of dynamic headroom
Reviewed on

When a company's more renowned as a manufacturer of fashionable accessories than headphones, it's easy to be dismissive of its electronic efforts.

But, while there's no doubt Nixon knows its way around wristwatches and sunglasses, these RPM over-ear headphones are quite obviously no thrown-together afterthought.

Hefty, yet comfortableIn a heftily industrial, black-on-black kind of way, the RPMs are chunky, purposeful lookers.

They're far from the lightest or most compact design we've tested, but the Nixons are comfortable to wear. The gel-filled ear-pads are particularly pleasing, and there's a nicely damped feel to the way the earcups articulate.

The RPMs also gesture towards 'pro' use: a coiled 2m cable is provided beside a straight, 1.3m alternative that's fitted with remote and mic. Both terminate in a substantial 3.5mm jack.

More after the break

It doesn't take long for the Nixons to reveal their modus operandi: they'd like to party, please, but in quite a grown-up, balanced and well-supervised manner.

Happiest with danceThey're undoubtedly at their happiest when churning out the dance-floor stuff – a FLAC file of The Roots' Lighthouse revels in exciting low-end speed and presence (even if the actual tonal quality of the bass is on the soft side and would benefit from a touch more solidity).

There's plenty of bite and drive on display in the midrange, too, which helps the definition of the machine-gun rapping no end.

At the top of the frequency range the RPMs undeniably play it safe, rolling off the uppermost information – but, as the Incase Sonic review shows, there are less sensible ways of going about reproducing treble sounds.

The soundstage the Nixons generate is decently proportioned, and when playing a dense, fairly complex recording like Kool & The Gang's Open Sesame they offer a good sense of positioning and three-dimensionality.

Specific instruments are easy to follow, even as the RPMs knit each element together to form a coherent, convincing whole.

Tentative approach to dynamicsThe same song reveals a rather tentative approach to dynamics, though – the RPMs are either unwilling or unable to put the distance that the song requires between 'very quiet' and 'very loud'.

As long as you don't mind looking vaguely like a Cyberman, the Nixons are a worthwhile outdoors proposition.

They are very stable in situ and in sound, and isolate both the wearer and those nearby from unwanted sound. Over time, though, they do feel every one of their 347g.

For all of their good-mannered vigour, the RPMS are slightly undemonstrative performers overall – but they do prove that companies you might not associate with electronics can turn out diverting, authentically competitive headphones.

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