Well designed, Benny Benassi endorsed high quality DJ headphones with a great bass response. On ear design may mean that its difficult to isolate sounds in live performances and the design of the ear cups is such that they don’t swivel, which may be an issue for some. Build quality and choice of materials is second to none however, and the classic fold up design means they won’t take up too much space on the move.
First Impressions / Setting up
The RCF Iconicas come in a nice black and white box made of thick cardboard – it feels expensive from the get-go. Opening the box, you see the Iconica housed in its own zippered clamshell case. It comes with two cables: one that has a coiled portion towards the jack that you connect to your controller or mixer, and the other has a remote for using with a smartphone or tablet. It comes with its own 1/4″ adapter too.
I like the case a lot – it’s slimmer and flatter than most headphone bags, and smaller too. I’d imagine that these headphones would appeal to those who prefer on-ear designs like the Pioneer DJ HDJ-C70 or Sennheiser HD 25. Inside the case sat the Iconicas, which looked awesome yet understated: the colourway is a mix of black and “pepper” which looked to me like a darker bronze. I like how muted they looked, which gave the Iconicas an air of professionalism, as if wearing them meant you were going to “get the job done.” So far so good.
I connected the coiled cable to the headphones (there are two jacks on either earcup, it doesn’t matter), plugged it into my DJ controller, and got to work.
One word comes to mind: premium. Just holding the RCF Iconica in your hands you already feel the quality: nothing cheap about the construction even if most of it is plastic. On your head, the leather ear pads feel cushy and sit on my ears perfectly, and the headband isn’t too squishy. Put simply, they feel great.
There are joints on both earcups that let you adjust them 180 degrees, however the earcups themselves don’t swivel, and if you’re coming from headphones that have swivel cups, the static nature of the Iconica may take some getting used to.
On the box, the RCF Iconica boasts of excellent bass coming from its 40mm drivers, so I fired up the new Flume record (an excellent listen, by the way). Bass-wise, the phones don’t disappoint: there’s a ton of low end to be had, and that’s considering these are smaller headphones compared to something like the Pioneer DJ HDJ-2000MK2. The highs are crisp without being over-the-top and fatiguing, while the mids are clear and consistent.
The low end is the main selling point of these headphones. You’ll be able to pick out some nice bass details in tracks like Flume’s Lose It, which features a pastiche of interesting synth sounds and basses. Listening to Father Stretch My Hands Pt.1 from the new Kanye West album reveals grit in the lows, something that could be glossed over if listened to through less bass-sensitive cans.
For styles of music that don’t require a focus on the low end, the RCF Iconica is still a decent set of headphones. Listening to heavier rock / metal styles of music sounded a bit too muddy for me because of the emphasised bass, but I enjoyed listening nonetheless. Folk and indie rock styles were also fun to listen to, although for productions that had vocals take a backseat in the mix (the new The Strokes cut “Alive”, for example), I found myself turning the volume up so I could hear the vocals better. Unfortunately, that’s when the “hyped” bass became a bit overpowering for me.
Speaking of volume, the RCF Iconica is loud. I had no problem turning it up during my listening tests and bar gigs, and it didn’t distort. However, I played a big show recently in an extremely noisy venue with poor monitoring, and found that the headphones had some difficulty blocking noise in the booth, no doubt due to their on-ear nature, as opposed to over the ear designs that really cover your entire ear. I turned the volume up just a little bit more (such a bad habit, this) and then I got to the point where the headphones started distorting, so I turned it down (and promptly called the booth technician to sort the monitoring situation!) As such, I’d prefer to use my Pioneer DJ HDJ-2000MK2 headphones for rowdier / larger venues because it isolates noise better, letting me focus on my headphone monitoring.
Though far from being a Benny Benassi fan, I can sincerely say that I like these headphones a lot. They’re a solid pair of cans for DJing and casual use, and they look great. You get that nice bass response which can be inspiring during DJ gigs, and they fold up nicely in a case that you can throw in just about any bag without taking up a lot of space. I like the form factor too – they sit comfortably around your neck when you’re not DJing and they won’t feel like someone’s got their hands under your neck (folk with beards will know what I mean).
For mobile, professional, and club DJs who play out in larger venues with greater noise levels, the RCF Iconica may leave you wanting more: a bit more noise isolation and a bit more power, but that’s just because, again, these are smaller than your average pro headphones. Having said that, these come recommended.