Headphones endorsed by celebrities have been big moneymakers, with uniquely-styled models giving starry-eyed consumers a way to declare their support for artists.
This year, even more are being released, with many of them unveiled at this week’s CES in Las Vegas.
One of the main companies responsible for these artist-edition headphones is Beats by Dr. Dre, having kick-started the recent celebrity headphone craze just on two years ago.
In 2010, Lady Gaga attended CES to announce her own range of Beats earphones, “Heart Beats.”
Beats currently also has headphone models endorsed by hip-hop artists Dr. Dre and Sean “Diddy” Combs, as well as Canadian pop star Justin Bieber.
This year, Beats has unveiled a model of headphone made in collaborate with fashion designer Oscar de la Renta: it’s purple, fluffy, and works with an iPhone. It’s also priced at almost $700 in America, but as we already know, fashion always comes at a cost.
It’s not just Beats By Dre that’s pushing out artist-inspired earbuds and cans. Parent company Monster is really working the celebrity angle, grabbing ’70s soul trio Earth, Wind and Fire and making a set of in-ear phones inspired by their band.
Called “Gratitude”, the special edition canal phones come in a rose gold finish, use a flat tangle-resistant cable, and come in a special-edition carry case and box.
Nick Cannon – a musician, record producer, comedian, and husband of singer Mariah Carey – will market at least two headphone models with from Monster this year, under the “NCredible” line.
In recent years, Monster has made headphones inspired by jazz legend Miles David and pop sensation Gwen Stefani.
Meanwhile, hip-hop artist 50 Cent has unveiled his own brand of wireless headphones, built by SMS Audio.
A DJ will also be joining the ranks of SMS Audio, with DJ Pauly D getting a line of headphones later this year.
Another hip-hop artist – Ludacris – has also been talking up his “Soul by Ludacris” brand of headphones, which were released in late 2011.
This year, Ludacris will be adding an AirPlay-enabled wireless speaker with iPad dock to the eight-strong lineup of headphones.
Finally, headphone manufacturer iHip has announced a relationship with Jersey Shore star Nicole Polizzi, also known as “Snooki”. The headphones have apparently been designed by Ms. Polizzi and feature heavy bass, rhinestones, and animal prints.
So there are lots of big (and, frankly, not so big) names appearing on headphones, but what, if anything, do they bring to the sound reproduction and comfort of those headphones?
In the past few months, we’re trialled Beats by Dr. Dre and the Soul by Ludacris headsets, and been impressed by what we’ve heard. But not all headphones are made equal, and a celebrity name isn’t always an assurance of good performance.
So, as always, select your headphones for sound, comfort and price, and if you’re looking for a name, remember it’s the manufacturer’s name that really counts.