Friday, September 20, 2013

By Will Greenwald

On one hand, it's nice to see a new pair of headphones branded by a celebrity who isn't a rapper. On the other hand, Snooki Couture is the kind of celebrity brand that makes me wish I was testing Death Grips here or 2 Chainz instead. The $59.99 (list) headphones aren't meant to inspire good audio quality to begin with, but even the low price and famous Jersey Shore pedigree can't excuse their poor performance.

You're better off going wireless for $10 more with the very solid Outdoor Technology DJ Slims or saving big bucks while keeping the style and still improving the sound by getting the $20 Editors' Choice RHA MA150 earphones and a cheap leopard print headband.

The headphones find just the right balance between tacky and uncomfortable. The plastic band itself doesn't feel too bad, but it makes the cups put uncomfortable pressure on the small on-ear cups that wedge up against the shape of your ear with their oval design. Admittedly, I have a very large head, but I suspect that almost most people wiil find the shapes of the earcups uncomfortable. The headband has a removable outer band with a bow on it so you can swap out designs between leopard spots, silver sequins, and gold sequins (the headphones come with your choice of one of the headbands). The designs really make you appreciate the subtlety and nuance of the Haus of Gaga.

A bright spot: There's a removable cable, which is an unexpected touch in this price range-it's easier to replace a cable than a whole pair of headphones. The port on the headphones is very narrow and recessed, and while the included thin cable has no trouble connecting, you might encounter problems replacing it with a cable with a thicker plug.

When you get a pair of leopard-print headphones with a bow on them, you clearly want to rock out with the most powerful low-end and crisp high-end possible. Sadly, our bass test track, The Knife's "Silent Shout," didn't fare too well on the Snookis. The pair didn't distort at maximum volume, but that's because they didn't get particularly loud at maximum volume to begin with. The headphones suggest at bass as an abstract concept, discussing it on a philosophical level more than actually making it part of the conversation itself.

Low-end-neutral tunes don't fare particularly well, either. Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G major has crisp violins, but the cellos almost completely disappeared from the mix, and the harpsichord notes sounded tinny and robotic, as if they were being synthesized poorly. Midrange and mid-high fared decently, but everything outside of that range exhibits an empty, radio-like feeling. Fatboy Slim's "Don't Let The Man Get You Down" doesn't do any better with a distinct sound of needle static on vinyl that slowly fades to the samples from Five Man Electrical Band's "Signs" and the bass and drums that rise behind it. With these headphones, the song keeps an empty, artificial feeling long and the percussion sounds like tin cups getting hit with hammers.

The Snooki Couture headphones are overpriced at $60, with pitiful sound. You might be able to forgive the gaudy designs, but audio quality isn't something you can brush aside based on personal taste. If you really want some stylish headphones, consider the similarly priced, excellent-sounding Editors' Choice Griffin Woodtones. Wood looks a lot better than animal patterns or sequins any day.

Source: Pcmag


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