POWERBEATS BY LEBRON JAMES
If you have not heard of Beats by Dr. Dre, then you have probably been living in a cave for the past 2 years. But you would be forgiven for not realising that within the mass hysteria of collabs with the likes of Lady Gaga & Justin Bieber, ‘the Dr’ has also worked with the biggest star in the NBA, LeBron James, to craft a pair of sports headphones for the more active Beats fan. I got my hands on a pair to see if the PowerBeats can stand up to my, ahem, arduous training regime.
PowerBeats are ear clip style earphones, designed to remain firmly in place even at your most active (In my case, lifting a lager from table to mouth). LeBron has personally been involved in the development of the earphones, attempting to create a product that is flexible; sweat resistant; and durable, born out of frustration from years of breaking inadequate headphones while playing basketball. They also feature a remote & microphone for easy control without having to take out your phone or mp3 player.
I open the familiar Beats packaging but what’s inside differs considerably to all other products in the collection. The main difference is obviously the ear clip design, which is unique to this model, and the other major disparity is that these do not feel as resilient as the rest of the range. This could be because the PowerBeats have purposefully been made lighter for mobility, but I can’t help but think they would break if given rough treatment.
Before placing in my ear, the instructions clearly state that you must choose the correct sized ear buds from the 3 available to ensure maximum comfort and fit. This could be a problem as I have slightly odd ears where the medium sized buds are a bit too big, but the smaller ones are a bit too small. I start with the mediums which seem to fit seems fine, but then again I am just sat at my desk shaking my head like there is a wasp swarming. The sound is typically Beats Audio with thumping bass and clear tops, however, as I turn up the volume, I feel like all eyes are on me, and as I look up my fears are realised. The reason my colleagues are giving me more daggers than usual is because the sound leakage from the PowerBeats is appalling. So bad that someone sitting 5 metres away in a not so quiet office could hear exactly what I was listening to (Good job it wasn’t my X-Rated playlist). Although this wouldn’t be matter in the gym, it makes the PowerBeats near impossible for everyday use. I did test them on my morning commute but did feel rather self conscious, partly because of the leakage, and partly because the radical styling made me feel uncomfortably alone in my choice of audio hardware.
Now for the real reason I am testing these earphones, the gym test. As I walk in with my bright red distinctive earphones, I feel like I can take on the world (A stark contrast to my commuting experience!). I do a gentle warm up with dumbbells and all is well- the PowerBeats fit snugly and are so light, I almost forget I am wearing them. I move on to the treadmill and 10 minutes in everything seems fine but as my ears start to sweat, I feel the earphones start to flap and I have to intervene to put them back into place. This happens continuously for the entire half an hour run which is annoying. I thought it may be because I am using the wrong ear buds, but I get the same problem with the other sizes- maybe my ears are the wrong shape? I leave the gym slightly disheartened that such prestige headphones couldn’t stand up at the first sign of sweating.
This is a disappointing end to the test, as I had such high hopes at the start and thought they would come out trumps. Although the sound quality cannot be questioned, the brand has come under criticism for being poorly built and overpriced for what they are. Unfortunately it is more of the same with the PowerBeats, as although great to look at, there is something decisively flimsy about them and wouldn’t be surprised if they broke during sustained strenuous wear. Retailing at just under £120, they are astoundingly expensive and with wireless technology coming on leaps and bounds, can shelling out so much for wired earphones be justified? The PowerBeats offer superior sound but this is not the most important factor when choosing sports headphones, therefore, in my opinion, there are better alternatives available at a similar price point.
For information and stockists visit www.beatsbydre.com, RRP £119.99