Home audio and video magazine Sound & Vision recently conducted a review of the best and worst celebrity-branded headphones, including gear from renowned musical acts like Jay-Z, Quincy Jones and Miles Davis. The magazine asked an expert panel of listeners to run comprehensive tests, with big winners including offerings from Bob Marley and Dr. Dre, and losers including the Soul by Ludacris and Justin Bieber’s JustBeats Solo model.
Evaluated on a range of criteria including critics' subjective preference and objective measurements of elements such as frequency response and isolation, reviewers generally found that shoppers are paying more for name recognition. "Rarely have I come across such flawed (and often just plain bad) product as what we saw in this roundup," stated editor Geoff Morrison, citing serious complaints regarding comfort and usability about even the best-rated units.
Across the board, lower-scoring selections were panned for their universally cheap feel, poor ergonomics and inferior audio quality. ("I’m not sure how a product this bad gets out the door at any company," said one tester of Luda’s SL300WB cans, the last-place finisher.) Conversely, higher-ranking contenders such as Dr. Dre’s Beats Pro headphones and Bob Marley’s victorious Marley Exodus were praised for durability and enhanced acoustics, yet also panned for poor construction and comfort levels.
Ultimately illustrating that, like other officially-branded musical gear, licensed gadgets can command a premium at the expense of product quality. Reviewers concluded their findings with a word of advice for shoppers. "Why would you buy any of these?" they asked, advising that fans of today’s top artists seeking high-performance portable listening solutions instead turn to alternate accessories from a range of unlicensed, but more quality-minded manufacturers.
The moral of the story, contributors say: "Just because some guy with an album you like slaps his name on something doesn't mean it's any good. Or that he's ever seen the product."