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Polk Audio Buckle Headphones Review

Tested using Methodology v1.3.1
Updated Sep 19, 2017 at 03:11 pm
Polk Audio Buckle Picture
5.8
Mixed Usage
6.5
Neutral Sound
5.5
Commute/Travel
6.0
Sports/Fitness
5.8
Office
4.9
Wireless Gaming
6.7
Wired Gaming
5.6
Phone Call
Type Over-ear
Enclosure Closed-Back
Wireless No
Noise Cancelling No
Mic Yes
Transducer Dynamic

The Polk Buckle are well-made, sturdy headphones that sound a little dark and bass-heavy. They look and feel high-end, and they're sufficiently comfortable for most listeners. Unfortunately, they have a rigid design that's not very portable and they don't block a lot of noise so they won't be the ideal option for commuting. On the upside, they barely leak even at higher volumes.

Our Verdict

5.8 Mixed Usage

Mediocre-at-best for mixed usage. They're well-built premium looking headphones with a decently comfortable design and very low leakage. This makes them a decent option for office use and they have a good enough sound to be average headphones for critical listening. Unfortunately, they do not block a lot of noise and they're not portable so they won't be the best headphones for commuting or for sports.

Pros
  • Minimal leakage.
  • Sturdy and durable build quality.
Cons
  • Poor noise isolation.
  • Cumbersome and rigid design.
6.5 Neutral Sound

Decent for neutral listening. They have a slightly elevated bass that bleeds into the mid-range, which makes their sound a little muddy and boomy. That and the tapered high-frequencies, as well as the limited soundstage, due to their closed-back design, makes the Polk Buckle sound a bit dark overall. They're still balanced and comfortable enough to satisfy most casual listeners, especially fans of a deep rumbling bass-range. But unfortunately, they won't be the ideal headphones for more neutral listeners.

5.5 Commute/Travel

Subpar for commuting. They don't block a lot of noise, and they're kind of bulky and cumbersome to carry around on your person. On the upside, they're comfortable and have a good control scheme.

6.0 Sports/Fitness

Mediocre for sports. They're a bit too bulky and unstable to use while running. They're also not particularly breathable headphones, so your ears will get quite hot when exercising with these headphones on.

5.8 Office

Mediocre-at-best for office use. They won't block the chatter of a busy office but they do not leak much at high volumes so they will rarely distract your colleagues.

6.7 Wired Gaming
5.6 Phone Call
  • 5.8 Mixed Usage
  • 6.5 Neutral Sound
  • 5.5 Commute/Travel
  • 6.0 Sports/Fitness
  • 5.8 Office
  • 4.9 Wireless Gaming
  • 6.7 Wired Gaming
  • 5.6 Phone Call
  1. Update 11/21/2019: Converted to Test Bench 1.3.1.
  2. Update 11/21/2019: Converted to Test Bench 1.3.
  3. Update 2/16/2018: Converted to Test Bench 1.2.
  4. Update 9/28/2017: The microphone has been tested with our new methodology, as explained here

Test Results

Design
Design
Style

The buckle have a premium aesthetic that makes the headphones look high-end and expensive. The headband is covered with faux leather and the ear cup padding is soft and well-made. The ear cups are mounted on a swivel hinge on the inside of the headband which gives the headphones an old-school design. They come in two color scheme; black with silver accents and brown. They will easily stand out in a crowd although they may not look as good for all listeners.

7.0
Design
Comfort
Weight 0.8 lbs
Clamping Force
1.2 lbs

The Polk Buckle are well-padded, decently comfortable headphones that feel a bit tight on the head. They're also somewhat heavy for their size but thanks to the amply padded headband and ear cups the weight and tension is more evenly distributed around your ears.

7.4
Design
Controls
OS Compatibility
iOS
Ease Of Use Good
Feedback Decent
Call/Music Control Yes
Volume Control Yes
Microphone Control No
Channel Mixing
N/A
Noise Cancelling Control N/A
Talk-Through
N/A
Additional Buttons No

The Buckle have a good and efficient control scheme. There's only one general purpose toggle that provides the basic functions for call/music, track skipping, and volume control. It's easy to use, but feedback is not always the best. When trying to pause tracks, you can accidentally turn up the volume which is not ideal but doesn't take too long to get familiar with.

6.4
Design
Breathability
Avg.Temp.Difference 6.1 C
5.6
Design
Portability
L 7 "
W 7 "
H 3.3 "
Volume 168 Cu. Inches
Transmitter Required N/A

The Polk Buckle are relatively small for an over-ear design but do not fold which makes them slightly cumbersome to carry around on your person. The ear cups do not lay flat either so unless you have a bag they won't be the most practical headphones that you can keep on you at all times.

5.5
Design
Case
Type Pouch
L N/A
W N/A
H N/A
Volume N/A

Comes with a stylized cloth pouch that will protect the Buckle from minor scratches and scuffs while they're in your bag. Unfortunately, since it's a soft pouch, it won't shield your headphones against impacts and accidental drops which is slightly disappointing.

7.5
Design
Build Quality

The Buckle have a sturdy design and use a lot of premium materials in their build quality. They won't break from a few accidental drops, and the cable is replaceable in case it gets damaged through regular wear and tear. Unfortunately, the ear cup hinges are the most susceptible points where these headphones could get damaged. The multi-purpose toggle is also mounted on a spring mechanism which may get worn out after repeated use.

7.0
Design
Stability

These headphones are decently stable. They're tight enough that they don't move much during casual listening sessions and even during a light jog. However, the bulky design and heavy ear cups do sway a bit under more strenuous conditions, so they won't be the best headphones to take to the gym. On the upside, the audio cable will disconnect pretty easily if it gets hooked on something.

Design
Headshots 1
Design
Headshots 2
Design
Top
Design
In The Box

  • Polk Buckle Headphones
  • 1/8" to 1/4" Adapter
  • Audio cable
  • Carrying pouch
  • Manual

Sound
Sound
Sound Profile
Bass Amount
1.38 db
Treble Amount
-6.42 db
6.7
Sound
Frequency Response Consistency
Avg. Std. Deviation
0.68 dB

Average consistency performance. The Bass Range performance is susceptible to inconsistencies due to the positioning preferences and head shape/size of the listener, especially if they are wearing glasses. However, amount of deviation in the Treble Range is low and within good limits.

Sound
Raw Frequency Response
7.7
Sound
Bass Accuracy
Std. Err.
3.17 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
10 Hz
Low-Bass
4.9 dB
Mid-Bass
2.82 dB
High-Bass
2.59 dB

Good Bass Range performance. Low-frequency extension is at 10Hz which is excellent. The entire Bass response is flat but consistently over our target by more than 3dB, making these headphones slightly Bass-heavy.

8.0
Sound
Mid Accuracy
Std. Err.
2.71 dB
Low-Mid
2.74 dB
Mid-Mid
3.29 dB
High-Mid
0.73 dB

Very good Mid Range. Low-mid and mid are relatively flat, but emphasized by 3dB. This makes the Mid Range of the Buckle slightly muddy and forward sounding, bringing vocals/leads to the front of the mix.

5.0
Sound
Treble Accuracy
Std. Err.
5.9 dB
Low-Treble
-3.52 dB
Mid-Treble
-7.61 dB
High-Treble
-7.84 dB

Sub-par Treble Range performance. Low-treble is under our target by more than 3dB, decreasing the intensity and projection of vocals/leads. Treble is underemphasized by more than 7dB, negatively affecting the presence and brightness of vocals/leads.

7.7
Sound
Peaks/Dips
Peaks
1.3 db
Dips
1.71 db
7.4
Sound
Imaging
Weighted Group Delay
0.22
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
2.26
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
2.88
Weighted Phase Mismatch
7.01
4.2
Sound
Soundstage
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
4.18 dB
PRTF Size (Avg.)
1.19 dB
PRTF Distance
6.91 dB
Openness
6.2
Acoustic Space Excitation
2.3
7.3
Sound
Weighted Harmonic Distortion
WHD @ 90
0.315
WHD @ 100
0.244
Isolation
3.8
Isolation
Noise Isolation
Isolation Audio
Overall Attenuation
-9.93 dB
Bass
0.61 dB
Mid
-3.77 dB
Treble
-26.75 dB

Poor Isolation. These headphones do not have active noise cancelling and do not isolate in the Bass Range. In the Mid Range, they achieve about 4dB of isolation which is poor. In the Treble Range, they isolate the outside noise by about 27dB, which is decent.

8.2
Isolation
Leakage
Leakage Audio
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
32.55 dB

Very good Leakage performance. The significant portion of the leakage is spread between 300Hz and 4KHz, which is a relatively broad range. However, the overall level of leakage is quite low.

Microphone
Microphone
Microphone Style
Integrated
No
In-line
Yes
Boom
No
Detachable Boom
N/A
6.1
Microphone
Recording Quality
Recorded Speech
LFE
329.38 Hz
FR Std. Dev.
4.69 dB
HFE
4005.49 Hz
Weighted THD
8.271
Gain
14.18 dB
5.6
Microphone
Noise Handling
Speech + Pink Noise
Speech + Subway Noise
SpNR
7.55 dB
Active Features
N/A
Active Features
Battery
Battery Type
N/A
Continuous Battery Life
N/A
Additional Charges
N/A
Total Battery Life
N/A
Charge Time
N/A
Power Saving Feature
N/A
Audio While Charging
N/A
Passive Playback
N/A
Charging Port N/A
0
Active Features
App Support
App Name N/A
iOS N/A
Android N/A
macOS N/A
Windows N/A
Equalizer
N/A
ANC Control
N/A
Mic Control N/A
Room effects
N/A
Playback Control
N/A
Button Mapping N/A
Surround Sound N/A

No compatible app.

Connectivity
0
Connectivity
Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
N/A
Multi-Device Pairing
N/A
NFC Pairing
N/A
Line of Sight Range
N/A
Default Latency
N/A
aptX Latency
N/A
aptX(LL) Latency
N/A

Wired connection, negligible latency

0
Connectivity
Non-Bluetooth Wireless
Non-BT Line of Sight Range
N/A
Non-BT Latency
N/A
9.0
Connectivity
Wired
Analog Audio
Yes
USB Audio
No
Detachable
Length 4 ft
Connection 1/8" TRS
Wired Latency
0 ms
Connectivity
PC / PS4 Compatibility
PC / PS4 Analog
Audio Only
PC / PS4 Wired USB
No
PC / PS4 Non-BT Wireless
No
Connectivity
Xbox One Compatibility
Xbox One Analog
Audio Only
Xbox One Wired USB
No
Xbox One Wireless
No
0
Connectivity
Base/Dock
Type
N/A
USB Input
N/A
Line In
N/A
Line Out
N/A
Optical Input
N/A
RCA Input
N/A
Dock Charging
N/A
Power Supply
N/A

Polk Audio Buckle Price

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