Skip to main content

Digital Trends may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site. Why trust us?

Plugged Crown headphones review

After five years in the making, Plugged's Crown headphones are worth the wait

Plugged Crown Headphones
Plugged Crown headphones
MSRP $100.00
“Is there another high-style headphone out there that that can beat the Crown at this price, I haven't seen it yet.”
Pros
  • Stylish and comfortable
  • Scratch-resistant finish
  • Excellent noise isolation
  • Solid, energetic sound
  • Awesome price
Cons
  • Midbass boom crowds some instruments
  • Slightly weighty
  • Cable kinks up

Two years ago, an excited pair of entrepreneurs approached me with their new headphones, sights firmly set on breaking into a market that was already going absolutely ballistic.  They wanted my honest, unfiltered feedback about the product they were working on, and I gave it to them: The headphones weren’t great.

I delivered my criticism in the kindest, most considerate way I could, but I recall Shaz Amin and Imran Patel, co-founders of Plugged headphones, leaving perhaps a little disappointed. But not dejected. If anything, they seemed determined to make some changes and come back to prove me wrong.

I had trouble getting it out of my head that the headphones were just $100.

Two years later, they did just that.

After years of diligent research, tweaking, more research, more tweaking, many sleepless nights, and at least a few trips to China, Shaz and Imran came back to me with the subject of this review: The Plugged Crown headphones. The Crown are stylish, comfortable, durable, and they sound very good. But that’s not the best part:

While Shaz and Imran could easily price these cans to compete against Beats and other premium offerings in the $150 to $250 neighborhood, they’ve managed to keep the price surprisingly low at just $100. Is there another high-style headphone out that that can touch them at that price? If there is, I haven’t seen it yet.

Out of the box

For $100, I expect headphones to come in the kind of blister pack that shreds your hands to pieces when you try to open it – you know the stuff. But the Plugged Crown come in packaging pulled straight out of the Apple handbook, complete with heavy-gauge cardboard box, invisible magnetic clasp, and a heaping serving of that unmistakable new-headphone smell.

Inside the box is a pair of Crown over-ear headphones, an Android or iOS control cable with microphone, and a high-quality carrying satchel with a nice, heavy-gauge zipper. I’d like to see a ¼-inch adapter for anyone who might want to use these as DJ headphones, but at $100, I’m not going to complain.

The headphones take a few queues from the Beats brand, with supple leatherette wrapped around squishy memory foam earcups and a headband that’s cushioned modestly with that grippy silicone stuff, but that’s where any similarities end. The cans’ outer surface – available in black and white — has a resilient matte finish that is said to be scratch resistant. I deliberately took my keys to the headphones and can indeed vouch they are sufficiently scratch resistant. If they take a tumble onto the tarmac, you’re probably going to be OK.

Otherwise, the Crown have an understated-yet-unmistakable style and appeal. Sometimes simple is better, and these headphones exemplify that notion. I expect I’ll be seeing a lot of the Crown around town.

Comfort and noise isolation

Sometimes simple is better, and these headphones exemplify that notion.

I’m always concerned when I see such modest padding on a headphone’s headband – I tend to get a sore crown (no pun intended) over long periods of use if I wear a pair of weighty headphones for longer than, say, an hour at a time. And the Crown are a bit on the weighty side at 9.35 ounces, owed to their solid build quality. However, a well-balanced amount of clamping force puts most of the headphones’ grip around the ears, where their ample padding cushions the squeeze enough for a soft-yet-secure fit.

I also want to call attention to Crown’s smooth and stable adjustment, which feels almost hydraulic in nature, and their superior noise isolation. This is about as good as it gets without going for active noise-cancelling cans.

Performance

As I listened to the Crown critically, I had trouble getting it out of my head that the headphones were just $100. These cans really do punch above their price class, delivering poignant, deep bass hits, truthful vocals, and, my favorite part, treble that offers a respectable amount of detail, sparkle, and refinement without getting too hot and crispy.

Cover Plugged headphones
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

Discerning listeners will probably note a bit of a mid-bass bump which can add some coloration to string instruments as they work through their lower octaves. The issue manifests itself as this sort of hum that some may actually enjoy when listening to hip hop or EDM, though I found it a little distracting for some pop hits and acoustic tracks.

For instance, when I listened to Kendrick Lamar’s “These Walls” from his recent To Pimp a Butterfly release, I had no sense of this mid-bass bump whatsoever. What I heard was deep, sustained bass accented by a punchy kick beat with perfectly clear lyrics that rose just above a wash of background tracks and swirling synth sounds.

When I switched over to Snarky Puppy’s live recording of “Sintra” from the band’s release, Sylva, however, I couldn’t help but feel some of the Moog bass and electric bass began to encroach on the delicacy of the string section, and even cover up some of the more breathy elements of the brass.

Overall, though, I think the Crown deliver the sort of listening experience their target audience is looking for: engaging, energetic, powerful, and suitable for multiple styles. If a strictly audiophile experience is what you’re looking for, check out the Momentum On-ear from Sennheiser – you won’t get the same style look or passive noise isolation, though.

Conclusion

There’s far more refinement here than I’d ever have expected for a $100 headphone. The Crown successfully blend style, superior build quality, comfort, noise isolation and a surprising level of sound quality in a headphone that could easily cost double its asking price.

Pre-order it now from: Amazon

Highs

  • Stylish and comfortable
  • Scratch-resistant finish
  • Excellent noise isolation
  • Solid, energetic sound
  • Awesome price

Lows

  • Midbass boom crowds some instruments
  • Slightly weighty
  • Cable kinks up

Editors' Recommendations

Caleb Denison
Digital Trends Editor at Large Caleb Denison is a sought-after writer, speaker, and television correspondent with unmatched…
Wiim Ultra, a music streamer with a color touchscreen, teased ahead of May launch
Wiim Ultra.

LinkPlay, the company behind the Wiim family of wireless network media streamers and integrated amplifiers, is giving its fans a sneak peek at its next creation: the Wiim Ultra. The hi-res streaming device, which will get its official unveiling May 9 at the High End Munich 2024 Show, has an abundance of analog and digital inputs and outputs, plus a glass-covered, 3.5-inch color touchscreen on the front panel.

LinkPlay hasn't provided pricing, availability, or a detailed list of specifications for the Wiim Ultra, but it has dropped the some tidbits to whet peoples' appetites.

Read more
A $20 Chromecast with Google TV is perfect for this one reason
Chromecast with Google TV.

Normally, I would never recommend that someone buy a streaming device that tops out at 1080p resolution. Even if you somehow don't have a 4K TV already — I'm not judging, there are plenty of good reasons — you might well have one in the future. And at that point, it's better to not have to buy new hardware until absolutely necessary. Just go ahead and spend the extra $30 now for a 4K version.

But it's hard to say no to a $20 Chromecast with Google TV HD.

Read more
Tidal vs. Spotify: Which music streaming service has the features you need?
Tidal app for iOS on an iPhone 14 showing now playing screen with Max quality track.

Spotify is the world's leading music streaming service, with over 236 million active paid subscribers and a vast library of artists, albums, podcasts, and audiobooks. It is available on almost every desktop and mobile device. However, if you are a fan of hi-res audio, Tidal may be a better option as it emphasizes hi-res content and offers a vast collection of music and video content.

To determine which platform is better, we compared Spotify and Tidal based on price, sound quality, and supported devices.
Price
Spotify has two tiers of service for individual users. The free, ad-supported tier gives access to the entire library of Spotify content, but has restrictions on how you can interact with it and also has ads. The full-featured Premium plan costs $11 per month, which is standard for the industry now. Spotify also offers plans for two individuals for $15 per month, called Spotify Premium Duo, and a six-person family plan (with parental controls) for $17 per month. There's also a student plan at just $6 per month.

Read more