No-one would ever accuse Lady Gaga of being subtle. It stands to reason, then, that any item bearing her name is going to be flashy and perhaps a tad ostentatious. Monster's £80 Lady Gaga Heartbeats headphones are unlike any we've seen before, and their sturdy, eye-catching design is sure to turn some heads. But comfort issues and a sometimes overpowering low end may prove problematic for some prospective buyers.
The Heartbeats are pretty much exactly what you'd expect from Lady Gaga: completely over the top and stylish to the point of absurdity. Perhaps it's to be expected that these earphones aren't terribly concerned with comfort. The issue is that the large, triangular earpieces aren't terribly ergonomic, which wouldn't be as much of a problem if the aperture arm were slightly longer. As it is, the angular edges of the earbuds tend to press against the ear, causing some discomfort and also tending to push the earphones out constantly. In other words, whereas the Beats by Dr Dre Tour earphones were suitable for exceptionally deep ear canals, these appear to be for very shallow ones.
Monster includes three sizes of silicone eartips in the package, although none worked for us. You also have the option of purchasing a variety of other tips, including a foam set and a triple-flanged set. The foam tips provided us with the most comfort, but tended to slip out of our ears.
The Heartbeats are available in a variety of colours, including red, black and silver. The latter two are shiny, and the former is matte but no less eye-catching, with its deep red hue. The outside of each earpiece is etched with a multitude of smaller triangles, which add a pleasing visual depth. This effect is repeated in the included hard-sided case. Don't raise your hopes too high, though: you'll find only plastic construction here.
Still, the Heartbeats have a sturdy feel to them, thanks largely to Monster's signature flat ribbon cable, found originally on the Tour earphones. Our one gripe is that the white cord found on the silver and red versions (the black version has a matching cable) seems like it would easily pick up and show dirt. But we appreciate the little accents wrapped around the cable at each earpiece that indicate right and left channels with an initial outlined in a heart.
Another accent at the Y connection features a Lady Gaga signature and Heartbeats logo, along with a slider for preventing tangles -- not that the cord is particularly prone to them. In all, it measures 117cm, and terminates in a gold-plated L-plug.
Bass all up in your face
As for sound quality, we decided to start the Heartbeats headphones out with a Lady Gaga playlist. And what do you know? These earphones are pretty well-suited to her music. Still, even some of Lady Gaga's own tracks suffered from a rather muddy low end, which is what we experienced with many of our normal test songs as well.
We'll give these earphones one thing -- they certainly offer plenty of bass. It can be overpowering for many tracks, to the point where we found ourselves cranking the volume on our MP3 player to hear more details for artists such as Weezer, Tears for Fears and Britney Spears. We liked the warmth offered by the Heartbeats, though, and a few artists with more minimal tunes had a tendency to shine -- the xx being one example.
On the whole, we'd say that, if you're concerned with balanced audio and a sparkling high end, the Monster Lady Gaga Heartbeats are probably going to disappoint you. But some users with a hankering for overly present bass and a desire to sport truly unique and eye-catching earphones will find that these fit the bill.
Additional editing by Charles Kloet