Heartbeats by Lady Gaga in-ear headphones
These boutique earbuds are so fashionable it hurts
The Heartbeats by Lady Gaga in-ear headphones are ultra-trendy — they're designed for the fashion tragic who can't bear wearing anything not studded with diamantes and pearls. Their design is the only thing setting them apart from the wide range of other in-ear headphones available; sound quality is merely average and comfort levels are not particularly high. If you need adjustability for your canalphones, you'll need to look somewhere else.
- Fashionable design, sturdy IEM construction and cable
- Painful IEM design, expensive given the sound quality, microphonics from cable if not properly secured
The Heartbeats by Lady Gaga in-ear headphones have comparable sound to other mid-range canalphones, but a very fashion-forward design has the downside of reducing overall comfort and adjustability. The flat cables reduce tangles but also cause distracting microphonics unless secured.
A lot of effort has clearly gone into the looks of the Heartbeats by Lady Gaga canalphones. Sporting a textured fascia and a triangular, almost-pyramidal shape, these canalphones do stand out from the crowd. We tested a pair with a rich red finish, but two bright chrome paintjobs are also available. The headphones feel sturdy, and the cables are solidly attached — they feel more robust than many pairs of canalphones we've tested. Four sets of silicone ear-tips are included, with large, medium and small sizes available.
The design is certainly striking, but the unfortunate downside is that it detracts from comfort levels significantly. The triangular design means that when inserting a monitor into your ear there are only three usable angles — if you want to rotate the canalphone to adjust the fit or alter the angle of the headphone cable, you're likely to stab yourself in the ear with one of the sharp corners. So, while the headphones look great, they don't always feel great. There were a few instances where we didn't have the range of adjustment we needed to get a good seal on the canalphones.
The Heartbeats by Lady Gaga earphones have a flat Y-cable that's 1.3 metres long — a good length for day-to-day wear. The cable is heavier than other canalphone cords we've tested. If secured against clothing with the included clip the cable doesn't cause any problems. If left to hang on its own, though, it puts pressure on the canalphones and introduces distracting microphonics (vibrations that you can hear in the earphones) if touched.
Sound quality is average given the canalphones' high price tag. When an appropriate seal is achieved, the Lady Gaga earphones have good bass levels with decent amounts of accuracy and little audible boominess. Mid-range is slightly too powerful for our liking, but it gives the music a rich, warm timbre. Treble frequencies exhibit good detail up into the higher registers, and this is maintained even at loud listening levels.
The Heartbeats canalphones would be well suited to listening to compressed MP3s on a portable music player like an Apple iPod or iPhone. Good acoustic noise cancellation is achieved when a tight seal is made — noise in the office or on the train is almost inaudible when music is playing.
Anyone seriously considering the Heartbeats by Lady Gaga in-earphones probably isn't too interested in minute details of sound quality. The fact is that the canalphones sound good enough for listening to a low quality MP3 version of Poker Face. What we think really sets these in-ear headphones back is their uncomfortable design — but only you can make that decision on how much you are willing to suffer for your fashion.
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