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Wicked Audio WI-8500 Evac On-Ear Headphones Review

by July 01, 2013
Wicked Audio WI-8500 Evac Headphones

Wicked Audio WI-8500 Evac Headphones

  • Product Name: WI-8500 Evac
  • Manufacturer: Wicked Audio
  • Performance Rating: StarStarStarStar
  • Value Rating: StarStarhalf-star
  • Review Date: July 01, 2013 08:40
  • MSRP: $ 59.99
  • Buy Now
  • Includes WI-8500 high fidelity headphones and manual
  • 40mm driver
  • 32-ohm impedance
  • 103dB sensitivity
  • 20-to-20,000Hz frequency
  • Enhanced bass
  • Noise isolation
  • Volume control
  • Gold-plated plug
  • Measures approximately 7-1/2"H x 5-1/2"L x 2-3/4"W
  • Lifetime Limited Manufacturer's Warranty


  • Good overall sonics
  • Interesting retro styling
  • No frills design


  • Recessed midrange
  • MSRP (you won't be paying it)
  • Indistinct L/R marking


Wicked Audio WI-8500 Introduction

You might say I have a headphone addiction. I just love them. They are so different, so unique, and, unlike other AV gear, there is a surprise around every corner. In the dozens of headphone reviews I've done, I've probably had only a couple where the headphones sounded exactly as I'd expected.

That makes it difficult for consumers, though. As someone that has had a ton of experience with headphones, I can say, pretty much unequivocally, that you can't judge a headphone by it's box. Or brand name. Or anything really. You won't know what you've bought until you put them on. That's why I think these headphone reviews are so important for readers. They give you some idea of what to expect.

The Cover

I don't remember requesting the Wicked Audio WI-8500 Evac headphones for review. That's not all that unique. I request a lot of headphones (addiction, remember?). So when I opened them up, I really had no idea what I was looking at. The box is...unique. If you're an old-school gamer like me, you might look at the Wicked Audio logo and think Castle Wolfenstein or, more accurately, Return to Castle Wolfenstein (check out that cover art 'W' - tell me it doesn't look like the Wicked Audio logo). This made me vaguely uneasy.

You see, Castle Wolfenstein was full of Nazis.

In the vein of every single headphone released since beats!, the Wicked Audio logo is proudly displayed on the side of the earcup. Now, only old men like me may make the connection but, still, I feel like I have, at best, a game advertisement on the side of my head, at worst? I don't want to think about it.


Wicked Audio WI-8500 Evac Headphones

Add to this first impression the box art, which looks like it is trying very hard to be "cool" and "hip", and my first reaction could be best described as a groan. 'Wicked Special Forces' the box displays proudly. Cut-throughs that look like stylized bullet holes revealing more text. Snarky, "in your face" marketing copy on the side of the box. It all added up to a headphone that was all style at the sake of performance.

"Not another one," I said to no one because I work from home and I talk to myself - don't judge me.

But, as previously stated, you can't really judge a headphone until you actually try it.

The Competition

The Wicked Audio WI-8500 Evac headphones retail for $59.99 though you can find them for much less with even the most cursory of internet searches (sub-$30 on Amazon right now). But we have a rule around here - if you want to overprice your product so that you can sell it on the perceived "value" of the forever "sale" price...well, we can't stop you. But if you say your MSRP is $60, then we have to compare you to other $60 headphones. We didn't set the prices - you did.

I have reviewed a pair of $60 headphones fairly recently. The RHA SA950i on-ear headphones. This is what I said about them:

"It's hard for me to believe that the RHA SA950i on-ear headphones only retail for $60. Sonically, they perform much better than their price would indicate."


Wicked Audio WI-8500 Evac vs RHA SA950i

The RHA SA950i weren't (and aren't) a perfect headphone. They were bass heavy and fit very tight even on my relatively small head (not ego, that can't be properly measured yet). At a quick glance, these two headphone look very similar. On-ear design. Old-school slide adjustments. Roundish earcups with plush ear cushions. Braided fabric cables. But the RHA's have a detachable cable and in-line controls and mic. The Wicked Audio WI-8500 Evac headphones are just headphones. They don't even come with a case.

"This is going to be a slaughter," I said to myself again. I may have laughed manically for a bit.

But was it? Was it a slaughter or was I surprised that there was substance behind the disturbing logo and flashy box?

Wicked Audio WI-8500 Evac Overview and Use

So, what do you get with the Wicked Audio WI-8500 Evac headphones? You get headphones. That's it. Well, and a sort of manual, but Wicked Audio obviously believes that their consumers can figure out how to put on a set of headphones. There is no travel case. No cord extender. No 1/4" adapter. Just headphones.

I found that sort of refreshing.

The current trend in headphones is to overload you with accessories that you rarely if ever use. Adapters, cases, extenders, modular cables...the list goes on. I buy headphones because I want to listen to music. If I'm spending $60 on headphones, I'm probably plugging them into my phone. If I decide to use them with my AV system, I probably have a 1/4" adapter somewhere.


Wicked Audio WI-8500 Evac Canvas Headband 

The Wicked Audio WI-8500 Evac headphones weigh in at just under six ounces. While that isn't especially heavy, they are fairly beefy for their size. My comparison headphones (the RHA SA950is) weigh in at just over four ounces which makes the Evacs almost 50% heavier. That's noticeable.

The Wicked Audio WI-8500 Evacs have a matte white finish (a case could be made for semi-gloss though they definitely aren't glossy). They forgo the normal leather or pleather headband for, wait for it, canvas. It really brings home the old-school theme behind the Evac headphones. The earcup cushions are leather (or pleather) and very plush. The 3.5mm jack is gold plated. The cable is fabric covered and braided. It is attached to both earcups with the traditional 'V' connection which was not, I discovered, an in-line control/mic as I expected.


But this is a comparison. As I mentioned, the Wicked Audio WI-8500 Evacs are nearly 50% heavier than the RHA SA950is. But this is not empty ounces - the Wicked Audio WI-8500 Evacs are much larger than the RHAs. This makes for a much wider range of people that can wear the headphones. In the pictures below, I extended the outer headphones as far as possible while making the inner ones as small as possible. I think the images speak for themselves.

wi-8500_rha-SA950i_size1     wi-8500_rha-SA950i_size2

There is no doubt that the Wicked Audio WI-8500 Evacs will fit you. They fit my 3 year old son and they fit me with only a slight adjustment. Even if you have the size of head that makes hat makers swoon, the Evacs will probably fit. There is just tons of space.

Even though the Wicked Audio WI-8500 Evac headphones didn't have a travel case, they did fold up. Because I knew there was no internal connection between the two earcups, I didn't feel uncomfortable playing with their collapsability (not a word). The only issue was that there was no way to fold them where the metal extending rods weren't exposed, but they did make an easy point for wrapping the cable so it ended up being a bit of a wash. You won't be putting these in your back pocket but they were definitely more compact and, most importantly, the cable connection to the earcups seemed better protected when folded.


Wicked Audio WI-8500 Evac Folded 

My only real problem with the Wicked Audio WI-8500 Evac headphones in use was telling which side was which. The sides were marked with a raised letter on the inside of the bracket. In bright light, these letters are hard to see. Since I often use headphones in dimmed rooms, it was a real hassle. I'd highly recommend taking a sharpie and marking one side. With no physical cues (like where the cord connects) to give you a hint, you'll want something obvious.


Wicked Audio WI-8500 Evac Close Up

Wicked Audio WI-8500 Evac Sound Quality

And here we get to the meat of the review. If the marketing, logo, and box were "The Cover" - this is

The Book

wi-8500_onAll the slick marketing in the world can only get you so far. Eventually someone is going to buy your product and at that point, it is put up or shut up (or just sue people into submission).

And the Wicked Audio WI-8500 Evac headphones put up. Big time.

I compared the Wicked Audio WI-8500 Evac headphones to the RHA SA950i (which retail for the same price as the Evacs) and the Audio-Technica ATH-M50 over ear headphones. The M50s retail for much more (around $150) but they are one of my favorite headphones and ones that I believe are very linear in sound and neutral  in overall presentation. Together, both sets provided price point and sonic quality comparisons.

The Wicked Audio WI-8500 Evac headphones brag "Extended Bass" which is usually a red flag for me. It usually means "we'll make your bad, bassy music sound even BASSIER!" I.E. - not targeted at the people that actually care how their music sounds. But within the first few moments of listening, it was clear this wasn't the case.

The Wicked Audio WI-8500 Evac headphones have more than enough bass but it isn't overdone. Compared to the ATH-M50s, it was clear that there was a bass boost, but the RHA's showed me that it wasn't over done. I felt that the RHA's had a lot of bass (without any "Extended Bass" label) and the Evacs were about the same (or maybe a touch less). Most people prefer a bit of extra bass in their music anyway. The Evacs have that bump but not to the point where it overshadows the overall sonic presentation.


Wicked Audio WI-8500 Evac Folded 

I've read reviews of people complaining about the treble side of the Wicked Audio WI-8500 Evac headphones. I didn't find any real problems here. Compared to the RHA SA950is, the Wicked Audio WI-8500 Evac headphones sounded about the same. Maybe a touch more laid back but not really noticeable. Compared to the Audio-Technica ATH-M50s, both the other two sounded a bit fatiguing. And by a "bit" I mean "you might notice it after a few hours of use." That's not exactly unexpected at this price point.

The Wicked Audio WI-8500 Evac headphones are extremely easy to drive. Compared to the other headphones, I had to adjust the volume up for the other two quite a bit to get to the same level of the Evacs. This is great for those that will be pairing them with phones and other portable devices as it won't take much to put out a good deal of volume.

If the Wicked Audio WI-8500 Evac headphones had a weak point, it was the midrange. While the bass and the treble both sounded as good as the RHAs, the midrange had a recessed quality. This took away from the overall presentation, making everything sound a little softer and less defined than it should. It wasn't a dramatic effect, but noticeable in comparison.

Wicked Audio WI-8500 Evac Final Verdict

I was expecting the RHA SA950i headphones to crush the Wicked Audio WI-8500 Evac headphones on every level. That certainly wasn't the case. Sonically, the RHAs sound a touch better in the midrange but, if you owned both, I bet you wouldn't think it was much of a difference. Obviously, the RHAs have a lot more technology. They have a removable cable, in-line controls and mic, a carry pouch, and more current stylings. But, sonically, they sound a lot alike.

If you bought the Wicked Audio WI-8500 Evac headphones at full price, you'd get a set of headphones that sound about right for $60. What you wouldn't get was everything else. That makes them not such a hot deal for $60 (hence the value rating). But you probably won't spend $60 on the Evacs. Instead, you would spend half that for $60 worth of sound without all the extra bells and whistles. To me, that is a worthy trade.

Wicked Audio WI-8500 Evac On-Ear Headphones




The Score Card

The scoring below is based on each piece of equipment doing the duty it is designed for. The numbers are weighed heavily with respect to the individual cost of each unit, thus giving a rating roughly equal to:

Performance × Price Factor/Value = Rating

Audioholics.com note: The ratings indicated below are based on subjective listening and objective testing of the product in question. The rating scale is based on performance/value ratio. If you notice better performing products in future reviews that have lower numbers in certain areas, be aware that the value factor is most likely the culprit. Other Audioholics reviewers may rate products solely based on performance, and each reviewer has his/her own system for ratings.

Audioholics Rating Scale

  • StarStarStarStarStar — Excellent
  • StarStarStarStar — Very Good
  • StarStarStar — Good
  • StarStar — Fair
  • Star — Poor
Build QualityStarStarStarStar
Treble ExtensionStarStarStarStar
Treble SmoothnessStarStarStarStar
Midrange AccuracyStarStar
Bass ExtensionStarStarStarStar
Bass AccuracyStarStarStarStar
Dynamic RangeStarStarStarStar
Fit and FinishStarStarStarStar
About the author:
author portrait

As Associate Editor at Audioholics, Tom promises to the best of his ability to give each review the same amount of attention, consideration, and thoughtfulness as possible and keep his writings free from undue bias and preconceptions. Any indication, either internally or from another, that bias has entered into his review will be immediately investigated. Substantiation of mistakes or bias will be immediately corrected regardless of personal stake, feelings, or ego.

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