What It Is: A slimmed-down, stylish pair of on-ear Bluetooth headphones that fold up for travel.
Why We Like It: The sound quality of portable Bluetooth headphones has come a long way. A longtime limitation of wireless transmission — reduced clarity — has been all but rectified, and there are a crop of stylish headphones hitting the market. Leading that charge is the Polk Audio Hinge Wireless.
The design looks like it was lifted straight from the interior of a luxury sports car — our review sample was a blue-and-brown synthetic leather model that is buttery soft everywhere you touch. Sticking to a clean aesthetic, Polk placed only a single control on the right earcup, a dial that can be rotated up/down or pressed inward. The default action is to change volume when rotating the dial, and toggle between play and pause when you press it just once. A double-tap skips ahead a track, while a triple-press goes back to the previous track. We loved that we didn’t have to fumble for tiny buttons, guessing which did what. The audio quality complements the set’s appearance. We found the sound to be well rounded and plenty loud in quiet listening environments.
If you drive them too hard, however, the bottom end gets a little muddy and distorted — though the 40 mm drivers put out a satisfying amount of bass, even at low volumes. For travel, we like the set’s small dimensions, especially when the headphones are collapsed and tucked in our carry-on. Plus, with a 12-hour battery, they’ll last through just about any flight we’d ever take. But, if that’s not enough, you can still listen to them using a detachable 3.5 mm cable (included).
Nitpick: Some wearers found the headband to be too thin and hard right where it rests on the top of their head. And the multi-control button had a tendency to stick just a little when we tried to increase the volume, occasionally requiring a second or third stab at it.