Late last year I came into contact with a Texan company called, I-MEGO and their brand new range of headphones called The Throne. I remember during the review that I felt the Throne was a bit of a niche design with a fairly generic but non-offensive consumer type presentation that sadly distorted a touch when driven too hard. One for the window shop eye shall we say for a freshman release.
Well back I-MEGO come 8 months later with their latest creation, the MAZE which retails for $139.99 and classed as an on-ear portable design headphone. Two things to note from the marketing on the site; firstly, it is designed with a retro feel incorporating aspects of a turntable physical appearance and the second is the claim that it sets out to recreate that “live” sound you would get from a concert experience. If I remember my concert days and live experience from my late teens and early twenties I am half expecting to remember nothing, a buzz in my ears for 2 days after and the sweet smell of beer and lipstick from my clothes that would remain hidden from the laundry demon for about a month. If it could do that then I got my live experience. Perhaps I am asking too much or perhaps the midlife crisis will continue unabated.
Build and Fit
Out of the box the MAZE follows a far more classic and mature form factor that the brighter Throne Editions. The lack of bling and increase in understated but more purposeful engineering stands the Maze in good stead for my more conservative tastes. To all extents and purposes the MAZE looks like a regular closed portable on-ear headphone which you can take out and about without a second look. The headphone itself is constructed from a fairly solid looking hard plastic material with plether pads and headband. Though looking far more robust and flexible than the previous Throne edition I reviewed last year I would still not put this in the TMA-1 or Thinksound On1 category of durability.
Not only has I-MEGO settled down into the design aesthetics they have also engineered the MAZE properly to give it a hinge folding mechanism to further reduce the form factor so it will fit into the accompanying zipper soft pouch. The MAZE also comes with a single detachable 3.5mm terminated rounded rubber finished cable which is 1.2m in length. The cable connects at the bottom of the headband rather than into the cup. It does retain a bit more memory than I would have liked but otherwise it is unobtrusive and lightweight. Attached to the cable is the now almost obligatory portable headphone mic and remote control pod around 4 inches down from the cup for taking calls during playback.
The MAZE is actually quite a light headphone and possesses reasonably deep superaural memory foam pads and a pliant headband that sits pretty comfortably on my head. There is minimal downwards pressure, good balance on the top without any focused pressure points and the seal is not bad actually for a passive superaural headphone. It sort of reminds me a little of the Philips Citiscape Downtown in terms of comfort with about 90% of the seal capability. The plether finished pads might cause a bit of sweat and discomfort on extended use but that is normal for plether unless it is the more breathable protein type. They do not look to be user replaceable also without some extensive modding but they do look reasonably durable and not too thin.
The MAZE apparently has also achieved a ‘Honorable Mention Red Dot Award’ in the way they designed the face plate of the cups to mimic a deco plate and tone arm of an old turntable. It is a neat touch and actually does indeed evoke that image so kudos to I-MEGO and their design team for coming up with the concept and it not looking like total guff.