I-Mego Reviews: Throne Gold Headphones, Walker Junior Headphones & ZTone Earphones
I-Mego, a new concern, has debuted a number of headphone products aimed at the budget conscious consumer who doesn’t want to skimp on style. In the crowded headphone space, where many companies offer style over substance, I-Mego has managed to offer a unique value proposition that allows consumers to enjoy both.
I-Mego’s flagship product, the Throne, is a steampunky affair that certainly could have been at home on the set of the movie Dune, if not for it’s shiny cans. It comes in two flavors, the Gold, which emphasizes the bass frequencies, and the Poison, tailored more for vocals and mid-range clarity. We opted for the Gold, not only for the electronic music sound signature, but also for the aesthetic, which reminded a couple of our reviewers of the “RCA radio mic of yesteryear.”
Designed For Sound
To be honest, nowadays a pair of headphones for $129, didn’t have our mouths salivating for it’s arrival in our Sound Lab, but we were all pleasantly surprised. The fit and finish of the Throne Gold is excellent with the bronze “metal” finish, polished to a fine luster on the plastic grills, and real leather on the ear cups and headband. The headphones are actually smaller than they appear in pictures, which is a good thing. The tensile strength of the headband “could be a little tighter” but does “provide all day comfort as long as your not moving around too much.”
Throne Gold Features & Specifications:
» Quality audio at value price point
» Real leather headband
» Memory-foam ear pads
» Integrated one-button mic controls music and takes calls
» 40mm Drivers
» Frequency Response: 20 – 20,000Hz
» Sensitivity: 105 +/- 5db
» Impedance: 32ohms
» Cable Length: 4ft (1.2m)
» Connector: 3.5mm gold-plated stereo plug
Where I-Mego did cut costs was on the headphone wires. The two wires to each earcup are quite thin, and although they are reinforced with a weaved fabric covering, one of the wires did come loose from the housing when it unexpectedly caught on mic stand in our Lab. A quick repair had it back in action, but it is somewhat of a design flaw since the only thing actually preventing the earcup from rotaing downward is the cord. Not a good mechanical decision. The cord running from the left side cup to the minijack connector is also not very substantial, but it didn’t fail during our testing. The four foot connection cord does contain a one-button mic and “got the job done” when using the Thone as a cell phone headset, but one of our reviewers “had to result to the dreaded hold the mic to your mouth routine for the other party to hear them in a semi-noisy environment.”
The sound quality belies the price point with smooth, substantial bass tones that weren’t boomy or distorted, and a mid range that reproduced modern music well despite a pit at 1K-2K. The Throne Gold lost some of it’s juice and definition in the higher frequencies, despite housing 40mm drivers, but the soundstage held up, and overall listening was a pleasant experience.
The Walker Junior's folding headband compacts nicely for travel
Noise? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Noise!
I-Mego also included the Walker Junior, an active, noise-canceling headphones that retails for $139. The Walker Junior’s sport a pivoting and folding headband design for compact traveling, as well as 40mm drivers. Each earcup contains a microphone that counters outside noise with an opposing waveform. We tested these on two flights and found the “noise canceling technology worked well,” albeit at the “expense of the primary sound source,” which became “thinned out” and “tinny.” Listening to the DirecTV system on jetBlue, the Junior’s “sounded just fine, all but eliminating the harsh and fatiguing ambient airplane noise.” The caveat here is that the audio is massively compressed on the DirecTV system and when evaluated on full-bandwidth MP3’s the noise-canceling degraded the sound beyond audiophile standards. Without the noise-canceling technology, the Walker Junior’s offered “acceptable quality” that “neither impressed nor depressed” our reviewers, but wasn’t up to the Throne Gold experience. The Walker Junior’s come with a detachable 4 foot cable, a 2-prong airplane audio adapter and a travel bag.
If you hate untangling wires, then the ZTONE may not be for you...
Next up was the ZTone, a semi-custom, earphone that I-Mego is positioning as an on-stage “monitor” for musicians. The semi-custom refers to the four different-sized, molded gel inserts that can be swapped out to obtain the best fit for placement in the outer ear. Three additional pairs of silicone in-ear fittings provide additional customization. Our reviewers were “amazed” at how well the outer ear fittings worked, “considering the wide variety of ear shapes and sizes that occur in nature.” The sound is present, detailed and “has excellent mid-range depth,” but comes up wanting on the lower frequencies with a surprising drop off around 100K. The mid-range had “punch” and “presence” with “solid clarity,” but the upper ranges tended to “disappear” and “fade.” Overall, reviewers found the ZTone to be a solid choice for “active” and “sports-oriented” users who are looking for a “secure fit” while “listening to pop” or “audio books.”
The Throne, Walker Junior and ZTone are all available now for $129, $139 and $99 respectively.
Great start for I-Mego. We like their design direction and price points, but would like to see a broader bass signature in the ZTone’s and wires that don’t instantly become tangled the moment you put them down. The Throne Gold would benefit from slightly more strength in the headband, more robust wires and a design solution so the earcups are not reliant on the wires to prevent rotation.
» FutureMusic Rating: Throne Gold: 85% | Walker Junior: 80% | ZTone: 75%
– ZTone Bass Response
– Walker sound quality under heavy noise cancelation
– Throne cables
“I appreciate the aesthetic direction that I-Mego chose to differentiate themselves in the marketplace, but they’re going to have to do more sonically in order to retain customers.” —Bruce Dealer
“I thought the Walker Junior’s folding mechanism was a little suspect, but they held up well during my travels and provided much needed ambient noise reduction. I even used them to cut down on engine noise without music, so I could slumber on my red-eye.” —Karen Wright
“Snowboarders and others who want a soundtrack while they enjoy their active lifestyle will appreciate the snug and secure fit of the ZTone’s, but they’ll wish for a little more bass in yo’ face.” —Garth Fields