Earlier this year, Axel Audio launched on Kickstarter with a set of modular headphones that could be customized to match your music preferences and your fashion style. Six months later, the company is shipping to its early backers and launching an online store where you can design a pair for yourself.
Not much about Axel Audio has changed since it first hit the scene. The modular design, which asks you to picks out the frame, headband and speakers, looks pretty much the same. The company did add a white version of its over-the-ear headphones based on customer requests. It also tweaked a pair of hinges in the frame that let you fold it up for easy travel.
This is also still a family business, with electronics industry veteran Sam Oh and his children Kevin and Samantha leading the charge. Each pair of headphones is assembled at their home in New York. Axel Audio is independently owned, and the company is still running off its Kickstarter money despite some investment offers from bigger firms.
But how do they sound?
I’ve been testing out a pair of Deep over-ear headphones from Axel Audio for the past few days, and it’s been an almost entirely positive experience. First of all, they sound great. That’s particularly true when I’m listening to something with a lot of bass, but they’re also great for listening to pop or even folk music.
The headphones are also extremely comfortable, and the memory foam ear cushions will likely feel even better the longer I use them. My only real complaint is the silicon headband insert, which sometimes feels like it’s squeezing my head a little too hard. You can pop that out and keep listening though, and it’s good to know my headphones won’t fall off if I’m rushing to get somewhere.
The company’s clearly put a ton of thought into every little detail. Even the unboxing process feels special. The box is designed to resemble a book and, once you get to the headphones, you’ll have to assemble them for yourself. Don’t worry,though, the entire process is simple, intuitive and only takes a minute or two to finish.
These may just be the most personal headphones ever, and you’ll probably feel the same once you’ve gone through the process of designing your own pair online and putting the pieces together at home. The fact that they’re also a lot cheaper than anything offered by Beats is just a perk.
You can order your own pair of Axel Audio headphones online, where you’ll pick between an on-ear or over-the-ear design for $145 or $195 respectively. You also get a choice of black or white, and three different sound styles to choose from. There’s Deep, which offers the best bass for hip hop and electronic music; Pure for classical, jazz and folk; and Core if you’re more of a pop or rock fan.
You can also order extra parts from the online store. That includes different speakers so you can switch between sound styles based on your mood. You can also order different color inserts for the headband to better match your outfit.
In the future, Axel Audio headphones may be available from other online stores like Amazon, and even from specialty music retail chains like Guitar Center. For now, though, you’ll have to go straight to the source.