Polk Audio Buckle Review

Polk Audio Buckle is a new entrant in the saturated realm of over-ear headphones. While the name might evoke visions of a bygone era, these headphones are a part of Polk’s Heritage Collection, representing a blend of classic charm and modern innovation. Polk’s deliberate emphasis on rustic aesthetics with a minimalist touch is evident in the Buckle’s design, showcasing weathered leather adorning the headband, a subdued color palette, and substantial matte-finished metal components.

polk audio buckle

A visit to Polk’s website places the Buckle headphones alongside imagery of a whiskey flask, passport, and a compass tethered to a leather cord, evoking the sense of embarking on a steampunk-inspired adventure. Priced at $200, these headphones offer more than just a vintage look; they come equipped with contemporary features, notably an ingenious iOS control system seamlessly integrated into the headphone frame, complete with a microphone.

Our recent journey involved putting the Buckle headphones to the test, venturing beyond their aesthetic allure into the realm of modern audio. We explored how these headphones fare in real-world scenarios, evaluating their performance and functionality to determine if they live up to the promise they exude visually.


Unboxing Polk Audio Buckle

Unboxing the Polk Audio Buckle headphones offers a unique experience, straddling the line between premium and budget packaging. The faux-wooden box opens from an unconventional bottom orientation, revealing the headphones nestled within a thin layer of eco-friendly packing foam. Extracting the headphones, we encountered small plastic fasteners that added a slight challenge to their removal.

polk audio buckle unbox

Upon liberation, our senses were greeted with the aroma of fresh white leather lining the interior, reminiscent of new headphones. The exterior of the headband boasted a textured brown leather covering. Extending from the headband, sturdy metal arms supported the distinctive turtle-shell style ear cups, which were positioned at a slight angle. Interestingly, unlike many headphones in our evaluations, the Buckle’s ear cups lacked the ability to collapse inward for more compact storage.


In addition to the headphones, the box contained a modest assortment of accessories. This included a felt tote bag, perfect for protecting and transporting the Buckle headphones. A removable brown headphone cable, a gold-plated ¼-inch adapter, and a packet of instructional materials completed the package, providing users with all the necessary tools and information for their audio journey.

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Design and Features of Polk Audio Buckle

The Polk Audio Buckle headphones boast a classic color scheme, primarily black on silver, although our brown and white variant adds a touch of individuality, evoking thoughts of iconic Doc Martins. Whether this design suits your taste is subjective, as some may prefer a more traditional aesthetic.

Upon examination, the headphones exhibit a commendable level of overall build quality, primarily attributed to the robust metal components. However, the premium impression is slightly compromised by the presence of plastic elements on the earcup exteriors, which tend to convey a less luxurious feel.

polk audio buckle features

Ear Cups

Upon unboxing, the interior reveals plush heaps of soft white leather, exuding that unmistakable fragrance of new headphones. The ear cups are securely attached to the metal arms of the headband, allowing for a full 360-degree rotation along their angled mount. Within each cup resides substantial padding, encasing black screens that conceal the Buckle’s formidable 40mm dynamic drivers.

Frequency Range

These drivers offer an impedance level of 24 Ohms and an impressive claimed frequency range spanning from 10Hz to 21.5kHz. The lower boundary of this range will become pertinent in the forthcoming performance assessment.

One of the Buckle’s standout features is its integrated iOS control dial and microphone system. Positioned within the metal arm that supports the right earpiece, this feature performs admirably, provided one manages to locate it on the ear cup. The dial facilitates precise volume control, while a simple click serves multiple functions like play/pause, call answering, and song navigation—typical of iOS-compatible headphones.


Adjacent to this functionality lies a pinpoint microphone, strategically placed at the lower section of the arm, in proximity to a 2.5mm headphone cable input.


Extending the headphone experience, the included cable spans a generous 48 inches and terminates with gold-plated jacks. Notably, the far end of the cable sports a practical 90-degree angle, enhancing ease of use. Etched silver accents gracefully adorn the cable’s jacks, bestowing an air of elegance and sophistication to this audio accessory.

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Comfort Matters

When it comes to comfort, the Polk Audio Buckle headphones demonstrate a commendable performance during prolonged use, largely attributable to the plush padding enveloping the ear cups. This feature ensures that even during extended listening sessions, discomfort remains at bay, allowing users to immerse themselves in their audio experiences.

However, it’s worth noting that the Buckle headphones exhibit a clamping pressure that some users may find slightly tighter than ideal. While this snug fit provides stability during wear, it may create a sensation of slight pressure around the ears for those sensitive to such aspects. Personal preferences regarding clamping force can vary significantly among individuals, making this aspect a matter of individual comfort.

In our longest listening sessions, we encountered a desire for additional padding at the headband’s upper section. Although the ear cups’ padding contributes significantly to comfort, the need for extra cushioning atop the head becomes apparent during extended wear. This adjustment could alleviate any potential discomfort experienced during prolonged usage.

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Audio Performance That Sings

Diving into the realm of audio performance, the Polk Audio Buckle headphones reveal a distinctive and meticulously crafted sonic signature that perfectly complements their stylish exterior. The headphones’ sound profile is characterized by a deliberate sculpting of frequencies, resulting in a unique auditory experience.

One notable feature of the Buckle’s sound signature is its smooth and subdued treatment of treble frequencies. This careful attenuation of treble imparts a polished finish, creating a sonic landscape that exudes a dark and chocolate-like richness. Simultaneously, the headphones emphasize the lower midrange and bass frequencies, adding depth and warmth to the audio, reminiscent of indulging in a decadent treat.

Despite the deliberate emphasis on bass and lower midrange frequencies, the Buckle headphones maintain an impressive level of clarity and detail, particularly evident in the expansive stereo soundstage. This spaciousness allows for the preservation of instrumental intricacies, offering a vibrant and dynamic listening experience. It’s worth noting that the Buckle headphones deliver this punchy audio without any noticeable distortion, ensuring audio quality remains uncompromised.

Bass Prowess

In today’s headphone market, characterized by the dominance of bass-heavy sound profiles, the Buckle headphones do not shy away from highlighting their bass prowess. During our evaluation, these headphones demonstrated remarkable authority in reproducing deep bass layers, making them particularly well-suited for genres like hip-hop and electronic music.

However, what sets the Buckle apart is their ability to maintain balance in the lower frequencies. Even with their pronounced bass response, they manage to provide a controlled and full-bodied representation, avoiding the pitfall of overwhelming bass that plagues some headphones.

Furthermore, during our assessment, the Buckle headphones tackled challenging tracks like Nickel Creek’s “Reason’s Why” with finesse. They displayed a judicious distribution of the heavy stand-up bass, preventing it from becoming overpowering and maintaining overall balance.

Despite these commendable qualities, some nuances in the upper register left room for improvement. The headphones occasionally exhibited a laid-back approach to shimmering high-hats and snare sounds, affecting the energy of percussion elements and certain tracks as a whole. This characteristic was well-suited for particularly dynamic and intense productions but sometimes led to the masking of instruments in the upper frequency range, especially in dense arrangements.

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Impressive Pros and Minor Cons of Polk Audio Buckle

When it comes to evaluating the highs and lows of the Polk Audio Buckle headphones, there’s much to admire and just a touch of room for improvement.


  1. Powerful, Distortion-Free Sound: The Buckle headphones excel in delivering powerful and distortion-free sound. Whether you’re delving into high-energy tracks or exploring subtle nuances in your favorite music, these headphones maintain clarity and precision.
  2. Rich, Well-Defined Midrange: One of the standout qualities of the Buckle headphones is their ability to offer a rich and well-defined midrange. This characteristic ensures that vocals and midrange instruments are faithfully reproduced with depth and authenticity.
  3. Heavy-Hitting Bass: If you’re a fan of deep, resonant bass, the Buckle headphones won’t disappoint. They bring a substantial and impactful bass response to the table, enhancing the overall listening experience, especially for genres that rely on a robust low end.
  4. Built-In iOS Control: An innovative feature of the Buckle headphones is their built-in iOS control. This functionality, integrated into the headphones’ design, allows for convenient control over volume, playback, and calls. It seamlessly integrates with iOS devices, making daily tasks more effortless.
  5. Great Value: The Buckle headphones offer exceptional value for their price point. With their combination of impressive audio quality, stylish design, and added features, they provide a compelling option in the competitive headphone market.


  1. Lack of Presence/Excitement in Treble: While the Buckle headphones shine in various aspects of audio reproduction, there’s a slight drawback in the treble frequencies. They exhibit a lack of presence and excitement in this range, which can impact the overall sparkle and liveliness of certain tracks. This may be a consideration for those who appreciate an emphasized treble.
  2. Imaging a Little Murky Toward Center: In terms of soundstage imaging, the Buckle headphones perform admirably, but there’s room for refinement. In some instances, the imaging can appear a bit murky, particularly toward the center of the stereo image. This may affect the precision of instrument placement in complex compositions.

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In conclusion, the Polk Audio Buckle headphones stand out as a fusion of style and performance. Their distinct design and built-in iOS controls make them a trendy choice. While their powerful bass and well-defined midrange offer a satisfying audio experience. Despite some treble presence issues, they excel in delivering distortion-free sound. Priced at $200, these headphones strike a favorable balance between style, functionality, and affordability. This makes them a noteworthy contender in the competitive over-ear headphone market.

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1. What is the Polk Audio Buckle?

The Polk Audio Buckle is a pair of over-ear headphones offered by Polk Audio, known for their Heritage Collection. They combine a unique rustic design with modern features.

2. What sets the Polk Audio Buckle apart from other headphones?

The Buckle distinguishes itself with its stylish design, featuring worn leather, metal accents, and a vintage aesthetic. It also includes built-in iOS controls and a microphone for added convenience.

3. How is the unboxing experience of the Polk Audio Buckle?

The unboxing experience falls between premium and budget packaging. The headphones are found within a faux-wooden box and come with soft white leather padding.

4. Are the Polk Audio Buckle headphones comfortable for extended use?

They offer plush padding on the ear cups. So some users may find the clamping pressure slightly tight during longer listening sessions.

5. What is the audio performance of the Polk Audio Buckle headphones like?

The Buckle headphones provide a distinct sound signature, emphasizing bass and lower midrange frequencies. They offer powerful, distortion-free sound but may lack some treble presence.

6. What is the unique feature of the Polk Audio Buckle headphones?

One standout feature is the built-in iOS control dial and microphone, embedded in the right earpiece’s metal arm. It allows for easy volume control and call management.

7. Do the Polk Audio Buckle headphones fold for compact travel?

No, the ear cups of the Buckle headphones do not collapse inward for more compact storage. This may be a consideration for travelers.

8. How much do the Polk Audio Buckle headphones cost?

The suggested MSRP for the Buckle headphones is $250. But they can often be found online for $200, making them a competitively priced option.

9. What kind of accessories come with the Polk Audio Buckle headphones?

In the box, you’ll find a felt tote bag and a removable brown headphone cable. Also, a gold ¼-inch adapter, and a packet of instructional materials.

10. Who should consider purchasing the Polk Audio Buckle headphones?

These headphones are suitable for those seeking a blend of style and audio performance at an affordable price point. They cater to individuals who appreciate a unique design and built-in iOS controls in their headphones.

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