Nixon Stylus Review
A pretty face only goes so far.
Headphones have a pesky way of looking better than they sound. In manner of Trojan horse, they take the appearance of magnificent gifts—but the insides are another story.
The Nixon Stylus impresses the eye with crisp-white ear cups and sleek lettering, cushy leather and an edgy coiled cable. What happens when you put them on and push play? For $130, buyers should expect real quality; it's time to put the Stylus to the test.
Great isolators—and that's all, folks
If you cough up 130 bucks for these headphones, you're paying largely for a look. I'll say it outright: You can do much better for this price range—and that goes for sound and design.
First, big bass buffs may be disappointed to find that the Stylus underemphasizes the down-low notes. The midrange suffers no such trouble, but high mids—representative of upper notes on everything from vocals, to woodwinds, and strings—sound quieter than they should. Rounding things out, the highest notes plummet in loudness as well, impacting the uppermost capabilities of instruments like flutes, piccolos, and violins.
The Stylus also struggles to maintain equal volume in the left and right speakers; in the lowest portion of the scale, music will sound nearly twice as loud in your right ear as in your left. Bassoon enthusiasts beware! Except for the midrange, milder problems of this nature pester music all throughout the scale, with sub-bass and upper notes suffering the most egregious imbalances. So far, the Stylus sounds like a 130-dollar disappointment.
However, as isolators, the Stylus can really deliver the goods. The fit can be tough to master, but if you get it right you won't be too bothered by high and midrange sounds like chit chat or beeping alarms. The only real trouble from outside noise will come in the form of low frequencies, like rumbling, grumbling engines.
Design & Features
The Mean Girls reference was unavoidable—stop judging. In short, the Stylus isn't customizable, its design isn't inventive, and its materials aren't high-end, yet the clean, sleek shape should satisfy most. Buyers may choose from black, white, or army green.
While the flexible plastic band is not collapsible, the arms do fold up for a more compact shape, and the ear cups pivot in and out. Once folded, the Stylus fits nicely into the included leather carry bag. The on-ear design is moderately comfortable at first, thanks to memory foam on the inside of each ear cup, but extended use tends to make one's ears ache—as with many on ears.
Ever drop your phone and cringe as your headphone cord rips out of its socket? That's less likely to happen with the Stylus due to a coiled portion of its cable that extends and retracts. Counting the extra length from this springy spiral, the cable is about 4.8 feet long and includes a remote and mic for taking calls and controlling tunes.
A closer look...
Before you buy the Nixon Stylus, take a look at these other headphones.
The Stylus in real life
In practical terms, these headphones are a great ticket for on the go, thanks to the sleek style, the handy carry case, and the wonderful isolation performance. With the right fit, the Stylus blocks out enough unwanted noise to make it a solid companion for noisy environments like the mall and the office.
On top of that, the Stylus's long, flexible, removable cable makes it an unlikely candidate for breakage—and that remote and mic come in handy for easy control over phone calls and music listening.
Of course, the on ear design fights these happy attributes; the persistent pressure applied to the outer ear is more painful by the minute. For anyone with sensitive ears, these just aren't the right buy.
The Long & the Short
"Where th' offense is, let the great axe fall."
Amusingly, Nixon's About page utilizes some terrifically unflattering language to describe its products. From the horse's mouth, as they say. But perhaps this is a fair reflection of these overpriced headphones.
For $130, ho-hum audio quality and plastic parts just don't impress. The market is too flooded with better alternatives to throw cash at the Stylus, which I couldn't even find on sale. Some might not complain about the sound on these headphones—might not even notice the flaws—but an audiophile would. Research before buying. Have the most for your money. Take it from me, you can do better than this.
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