For Hi-Fi gear fanatics, McIntosh is a name that brings a sense of nostalgic reverie thanks to the brand’s storied placed in audiophile lore. However, what you may not realize is that the McIntosh Group is now a massive brand that sells everything from crazy high-end wireless speakers to headphones. After debuting the Sonus Faber Pryma headphones last year, McIntosh has cut the cord for the cans — and at CES 2017 revealed the new Pryma Aria.
Based on the original Pryma, the Aria strike an intriguing aesthetic right off the bat with their buckled headphone design, which keeps each aluminum die-cast ear cup separated so you can disassemble the cans into three discrete pieces. That makes for an interesting engineering challenge as the headphones must be Bluetooth paired not only to your source device, but also to each other to link up for stereo sound. This is done by powering on the left ear cup and pairing it to your phone or other device, and then tapping on a button along the right ear cup to complete the stereo circuit, as it were.
While that might seem like a bit of a hassle, the Pryma Aria can be paired easily, and a rep told us that they’ll auto-pair to your device (and each other) after the initial setup. The buttons on the side of the cans are fairly easy to navigate, with volume, song skip, and play/pause functions all controlled by the tactile buttons on the left cup.
That leads us to the buckled band, which is assembled from Italian leather and adjusts for multiple sizes easily, if not a little awkwardly, seeing that the little gold nub is the only thing keeping the headphones assembled. They’re a little wobbly as you put them on as well, but they fit comfortably thanks to ample cushioning on the band and the removable ear pads. Each of the aluminum die-cast cups houses a 40mm driver within. The headphones come in two shades, including silver with a coffee band, and black on black.
Sound performance was solid in our short audition, displaying clear mids and exposing impressive instrumental textures from within the McIntosh Group’s comfortable Venetian suite. The headphones’ Italian styling likely accounts for a healthy share of that relatively steep price tag. For fashionistas looking for something stylish with a premium flair, the Pryma Aria will be available sometime in the next few months.
- Stylish design
- Lavish Italian leather
- Removable pads
- Well-defined instrumental textures
- High price
- Buttons a little awkward