No one would ever accuse shock pop sensation Lady Gaga of being subtle. It stands to reason then that any item bearing her name is going to be flashy and perhaps just a wee bit ostentatious. Enter the Heartbeats by Lady Gaga Headphones, the first artist line from Monster and Beats by Dr. Dre. This super unique pair of earbuds retails for $120, but can be found for closer to $100 online. No doubt, these earphones are unlike any we've seen before, and their sturdy, eye-catching design is sure to turn some heads. However, comfort issues and a sometimes overpowering low end might prove problematic for some prospective buyers.
The Heartbeats are pretty much exactly what you would expect from Lady Gaga: completely over-the-top and stylish to the point of absurdity. Perhaps expectedly, these earphones are also not terribly concerned with comfort. The issue is that the large, triangular earpieces are not terribly ergonomic, which wouldn't be as much of a problem if the aperture arm was a bit longer. As it stands, the angular edges of the 'buds tend to press against the ear, causing some discomfort and also tending to push the earphones out constantly. In other words, where the Dr. Dre Tour earphones were for exceptionally deep ear canals, these appear to be for very shallow ones. Monster includes three sizes of silicone eartips in the package, though none worked for us. However, 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 the most comfort, but tended to slip out of the ears.
But back to those large, triangular earpieces, as this is arguably where most of the Heartbeats' personality resides. Naturally, they are available in a variety of colors, including Rose Red, Black Chrome, and Bright Chrome. 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 nice visual depth. This same effect is repeated in the included hard-sided case. Don't get your hopes too up, though: you'll find only plastic construction here.
Still, the Heartbeats have a nice, 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 Shiny Chrome and Rose Read versions (Black Chrome has black) seems like it would pick up and show dirt easily. However, we do appreciate the little accents wrapped around the cable at each earpiece that indicate right and left channels with an initial outlined in 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 46 inches and terminates in a gold-plated L-plug.
As for sound quality, we decided to start the Heartbeats headphones out with a bit of a unique test: 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 for a lot of our regular test songs as well. We'll give them one thing: there certainly is a lot of bass. It can just tend to be overpowering for a lot of tracks, to the point where we found ourselves cranking the volume on the MP3 player to hear more details for artists such as Weezer, Tears for Fears, and Britney Spears. However, we did like the warmth offered by the Heartbeats, 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 are concerned with balanced audio and a sparkling high end, the Heartbeats by Lady Gaga Headphones are probably going to disappoint. However, certainly 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.