There's a lot of noise when it comes to celebrity headphones. Practically anyone who's anyone has a pair. At CES, a number of folks loaned their names for cans of their own, including Lance Armstrong, Bob Marley (whose son was representing the Marley name), and Snooki. Justin Bieber, on the other hand, decided a dancing robot was cooler than headphones, which I have say I agree with.
But two of the most buzzed about headphones go to hip-hop icons 50 Cent and Dr. Dre. I got a chance to play with wireless versions from both of their lines, SYNC by 50 and Beats by Dre. Here's how they compare across five categories.
SYNC by 50: These headphones are a behemoth. They're among the largest I've tried - with a much bigger footprint than Beats. The fact that these aren't collapsible make them a nuisance to carry around, and the included hard-shell case only adds bulk.
Beats by Dre: Beats, however, manages to create a slim frame that collapses into an even smaller size, making it a great pair of headphones to reach for when you're on the go.
SYNC by 50: For some strange reason, SYNC decides to use a wireless transmitter, which seems dated compared to Bluetooth. And it's slightly annoying that with a pair of wireless headphones you have another piece of equipment to keep track of. When transmitter and headphones are in sync, they both flash a blue light, which can be distracting. There's also an included cable in case the transmitter isn't doing it for you. However, my experience is sound quality decreases when you're wired in.
Beats by Dre: Following the standard of most modern wireless devices, Beats uses Bluetooth, which connects seamlessly.
SYNC by 50: The liberal use of plastic makes these over-ear headphones feel flimsy. Furthermore, the cups aren't designed in such a way to provide a snug fit, so there's no passive noise canceling (or active noise canceling, in case you were wondering). Plus it means others can hear your embarrassing playlist. I do like how the on-board controls are split up among the two cups, to make it easier for clumsy fingers to find the right button.
Beats by Dre: Like SYNC, Beats is also dominated by plastic material. The on-ear cups are comfortable and provide a good seal. Their major downside is that on-board controls are all on one cup, so it's easy to skip a track when you want to increase volume.
SYNC by 50: My first times listening with these, I found the sound to be merely OK. I was largely distracted by the hiss from the wireless transmitter. Eventually, the hiss went away, and SYNC proved itself to be a decent pair of headphones, providing nice full sound.
Beats by Dre: Overall, Beats blasts warm, full audio - but it is noticeably heavy on the bass, and that's exactly how Dr. Dre intended it. It might be good for hip hop, but probably won't play so well across all music genres.
SYNC by 50: $399.95. Ouch.
Beats by Dre: $279.95. A little better, but buying a pair will still hurt your wallet.
And the winner is: Beats wins out across almost all categories, but I'm inclined to say save yourself a couple hundred bucks and the vanity, and look for something altogether higher quality.
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