MartinLogan is best known for making electrostatic speakers, but have lately started to expand their catalog with other types of products. The Mikros headphones series is one of those additions.
The electrostatic speakers that made MartinLogan famous in the hi-fi community was not intended for a wide audience, but more for the audiophiles who have a highly developed taste for sound, but also aesthetics. The high price meant that they could only be found in higher-end systems, but MartinLogan have since made far more affordable electrostatic speakers, such as the ElectroMotion floorstander in the ESL series. Then they took another step closer to accommodate a wider range of customers by presenting the Motion series (non-electrostatic) and followed with an active wireless speaker, the Crescendo. And now, they´ve launched the Mikros headphones, which currently has only two models, the Mikros 70 (in-ear) and the Mikros 90 (on-ear).
The Mikros 90 makes a strong first impression, which indicates that MartinLogan does not want to be just another headphone manufacturer. The idea was apparently to create a sophisticated product on the same level as their speakers. This is also evident in the packaging of the Mikros 90 as they come in a nice gift box - a hard case with high quality print and capital letters in silver.
In the box you find a stylish carrying case with a visible relief forming the characteristic MartinLogan logo. The case is hard, so it will fully protect the headphones from any possible physical damage. Besides the headphones, the package include a piece of paper with instructions, a cable and 1/4-inch adapter. The cable is about 4 feet long, and on it is a control device with three buttons for managing phone calls or music.
Mikros 90 are certified for iOS devices, but MartinLogan does not guarantee that the keys will function properly with all phone models. We tested the headphones with a selection of different phones from different manufacturers and in some cases only the middle button (pause) would work. This is however quite a common phenomenon caused by the wide range of Android phones.
Design and Comfort
The Mikros 90 does indeed look very luxurious, and the leather covering them is, of course, real leather. The earcups are completely covered with leather and only the central oval part with the MartinLogan logo is made of plastic. The whole headband is also covered with stitched leather, and the padding has a sponge-like feeling. In short, if you like leather, these headphones are for you.
Some of the details, like the thin rings on the earcups and the section where you adjust the headband, is nickel-plated. The headband can be extended about an inch, which should be enough for most heads. MartinLogan informs us that the ear pads can be changed, and that the headphones provide good noise insulation and reduction up to 92 percent.
The first time you put the headphones on you may be a bit surprised as the Mikros 90's provide a very strong and firm pressure, which is almost entirely directed to the ears, and not so much on the top of the head. This may at first seem to be very uncomfortable, but this is not the case. The high pressure more or less forces the headphones to stay in place no matter how much you move your head and it requires some serious headbanging for them to slip off. The pressure does take some getting used to and we realize that some people (those with a large head) may find them too uncomfortable.
The built-in driver is 35 millimeters, and the ear cups can be rotated about 90 degrees, allowing them to be flattened. The headphones are lightweight and will not bother you unless you a find the higher pressure on the ears a problem. This is however a problem with most on-ear headphones, and the sound reproduction is affected very much depending on how the ear cups are placed on the ears.
The bass is quite powerful, with a nice body, weight and control, but you´ll never have to worry about the bass being too overpowering, as is often the case with many modern headphones. The midrange is natural and detailed, although it could benefit from a little more warmth. The treble is very clean, and we must say that it is very fast and dynamic, and handling transients excellently - much like MartinLogan's electrostatic speakers.
If you like to listen to acoustic music or 'snappy' percussive songs, the Mikros 90 will surely make you happy. We also listened to more 'aggressive' music to see if the headphones would cause any problems with added harshness or distortion, and fortunately it never happened - unless the 'noise' was already present on the recording. MartinLogan have certainly made these headphones sound balanced, and we believe they put in as much effort in the Mikros 90's as they have in their electrostatic speakers.
The Mikros 90 squeezes the most out of its relatively modest dimensions, and is in some areas approaching the quality of even more expensive headphones. Sound insulation is at a very impressive level, although we prefer an active system, like the one in the Bose QuietComfort 25, if you want to reduce noise.
MartinLogan's Mikros 90 shows an overall excellent workmanship and stunning design. Apart from the tight pressure from the ear cups, there are no particular faults to be found, although, the pressure can be regulated somewhat by extending the headband. Sound quality is extremely high, with tight bass and excellent high frequencies. They could do with a bit more warmth, but they are actually quite neutral. The recommended price of $299.95 puts them in the middle class, but we have seen them sell for less than half the price. In our opinion, they definitely deserve to be on the shortlist if you´re looking for a new set of headphones.
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- Includes soft, replaceable ear pads which isolate up to 92% of ambient noise for outstanding sound quality with natural deep, extended bass and an open, revealing midrange.
- The Mikros 90 body is constructed from genuine leather and lightweight polished aluminum to provide years of deepening enjoyment. Included with each headphone is a compact carrying case to assure safe stowage when traveling.
- Apple-approved in-line remote and microphone controls volume, play/pause, track, voice control, and seamless transitions between music and phone calls on compatible Apple devices.
- Remote and microphone also function with a variety of smart phones, digital media players, and similar devices with a standard 3.5mm 4-conductor socket.
- Inspired by the sonic clarity and detail of MartinLogan's legendary electrostatic speakers.
|Transducer||35mm dynamic driver|
|Frequency Response||6–22,000 Hz|
|Nominal Impedance||26 Ohms with cable|
|Sensitivity||98dB (at 1kHz with 1mW input)|
|Maximum Input Power||300mW|
|Maximum Output||112.83dB SPL|
|Noise Isolation||92.05% (-22dB SPL, at 1kHz with 1mW input, 30cm)|
|Connector||Right angle gold-plated 3.5mm (1/8”) 4-conductor plug|
|Cord||4 foot (1.2m) cable|
|Microphone Frequency Response||180Hz–10kHz (-5dB; 3dB)|
|Microphone Pickup Pattern||Omnidirectional|
|Microphone Sensitivity||-42dB (as per 121 R 9-5)|