Enough with the celebrity-endorsed headphones

Six or seven years ago, if you wanted to show off your cool cred, you wore the white earbuds that came with your iPod. Everybody wanted to dance to the white earbuds. But then people realized that those earbuds were crap (I actually like them and find them comfortable).

That’s when Dr. Dre’s Beats and Monster decided to slip in and make fashionable headphones and earbuds “trendy” enough to be fashion accessories. And at the same time: expensive. Like so much that I can’t even afford them and people will try to rob you for your shiny muffs.

I’ve never particularly liked the Beats headphones. Stylish as they are, they are a little big on my noggin and in my opinion tuned to offer bass that I just don’t really care for or need.

The part that I’ve always been more intrigued by on Beats/Monster gear is the use of flat fettucini noodle-like wires that don’t tangle. Now, that’s a trend I wish more companies would get behind.

At this year’s CES, celebrities came out swinging with their own branded headphones. What started out as a beautiful relationship between Dr. Dre’s Beats and Monster is now over. HTC and Hewlett-Packard are Beats’ new buddies. That’s fine, as a company, Beats needs to go where the money is at.

Beats is now large and popular enough to strike out on its own.

Monster, too, is big enough to not need Beats anymore (although, guys, why are you still ripping everybody off with those expensive “premium HDMI” cables that don’t improve picture quality?). It’s still got Lady Gaga, Wonder Girls (see my crappy YouTube video of the girls and JYP unveiling the new gold “Diamond Tears-Edge High Definition headphones”) and some designers who pump out stuff like the Diesel Vecktr On-Ear Headphones. The angular design on those just look high-tech. Never mind how they sound. Who cares!? Only $280!

My point is, Dr. Dre and and co-founder of Beats, Jimmy Lovine started Beats because they wanted to make good sounding audio relevant again. As our music collections started to become digitalized, things like bitrates totally made our classics sound like shit. That’s the speech Lovine gave at the unveil for HTC’s Rezound smartphone. That’s the exact same reason why it let HTC buy 51 percent control – Lovine really believes Beats can make mobile devices not sound like garbage – with premium audio parts.

For Dre and Lovine, Beats was the culmination of creating quality audio gear. Beats was expensive only because it sounded good, like a BMW or Mercedes drives tighter than a Toyota.

From what I can tell, the spirit of quality has gone out the window again, as companies rush to slap star brands on any old lousy pair of headphones.

50 Cent and SMS’s wireless have the “SYNC by 50 Headphones” ($400). Bob Marley’s son was showing off some “Exodus” headphones ($150). Ludacris has his own SOUL SL300 ($300). Hell, even Miles Davis has some earbuds by Monster called “Trumpet” ($350) and he’s dead! You know things have gone too far when headphones for a dead musician are being sold.

Enough is enough!

It’s alright if companies want to make good headphones that justify their high prices, but don’t just churn them out like cockroaches laying eggs. Don’t just slap on Justin Bieber’s name to some earbuds, paint it purple, and sell them for $80 and call it day.

It’s a winning solution in the short-term, but ultimately, destroys and ruins the purpose of premium audio accessories.

Give me cables that won’t tangle or rip in a few weeks. Headphones that are waterproof so that I can take them on my sweaty run. And sound drivers that’ll make me feel like I just blew the best $300 of my life because I can finally listen to music that isn’t auto-tuned and hear the natural voices of singers again.

Who’s going to brag about wearing Ludacris’ headphones anyway? I wouldn’t, even if SOUL gave me a free pair.



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