AUDIO EXPERIENCE FROM FRANCE
They were certainly audacious. It was a bold move to throw themselves into the headphones market, which has grown considerably but is still completely saturated with hundreds of brands and hundreds of thousands of products. Nonetheless, two young Parisian entrepreneurs, Raphael Lebas de Lacour and Baptiste Sancho, decided to launch themselves into the fray three years ago. From the beginning, the goal was simple: to design and produce on-the-go headphones that use high-quality materials and provide an exceptional audio experience.
Three years later, thanks to their strong entrepreneurial spirit and a reasonable amount of buzz, their company, Aëdle, has gone from being a project to producing headphones that, little by little, are making a place for themselves on an enormous market.
Raphael Lebas de Lacour explains, “From the beginning, our goal was that production take place as much as possible in France. Since we are based in Paris, it was a natural choice, and it made it much simpler to completely control assembly quality. We first explored the possibility of working with French micro-acoustic suppliers without much success; the military is only player in that sector. Ultimately, we went with a micro-acoustic supplier in Taiwan that met our high standards. The company that supplies our leather is French, our aluminum parts come from a company in Asia, and the final product is assembled by hand by six people in a small factory near Rennes, Brittany. At present, we produce 400 headphones a month and, given our success, we are close to running out of stock.”
I have been trying out Aëdle’s VK1 headphones over the last several days (the Carbon edition). From the very first glance, the packaging clearly communicates that it contains a premium product: its compartments are well thought-out.
Holding the headphones in my hands, I am immediately struck by their absolutely impeccable finish. The fact that they are hand made in a factory in Brittany really adds to the product’s aura of quality; in particular, the leather seams are flawless.
When I place the headphones on my ears, it is apparent that they are designed for primarily on-the-go use. Aëdle has chosen to employ ear cushions that do not completely cover the ears. Once they have been adjusted to the user, they have an agreeable fit and remain comfortable even over extended time periods. Even though the headphones do not come equipped with noise-cancelling technology, I definitely felt acoustically separated from the outside world.
When I turn on my music, the clarity of the sound is unmistakable. I am particularly impressed by the sound’s balance, which is very consistent overall. The mid-range frequencies are fairly clear, the bass is well-defined without going to extremes (which, unfortunately, is a common issue with these types of headphones), and the high frequencies are precise, although sometimes a bit too bright for my tastes. Listening at low volumes is also a good way to test out this type of product, to ensure that the user will not be forced to overly raise the volume to fully experience the sound’s range; the various registers are perfectly represented without any masking effects.
In conclusion, this high-quality product is not only easy on the eyes; it also faithfully renders musical signals in a neutral and balanced way. Although the cost of these headphones put them rather out of the reach of the masses (290 €), the company’s approach is courageous and honest; the fruit of its labors should satisfy nomadic music lovers on a quest for quality. Ultimately, the price for these great headphones is not really all that outlandish. Aëdle means “noble” in Danish; this new brand carries its title well.
What I liked:
What I disliked:
How much do they cost and where can I buy them?
The headphones have a price tag of 290 € and come in two styles: Classic (brown leather with aluminum earphones) and Carbon (matte black). They are available on the Aëdle website, in the brand’s temporary boutique in Paris (18 rue chariot 75008; open through February 2014), at Rétrofutur (55 quai de Valmy 75010), or at Selfridges & Co. in London (400 Oxford Street W1A 1AB).
Frequency Response: 20 Hz to 20 kHz – Impedance: 32 Ohms – Weight: 215 grams
Test Conditions: iPhone 5 (on the move) – Imac (at work) – Atoll IN 80 and Micromega IA60 Amps (in my living room)