Sony's newly redesigned Street Style headphones will stay put when you're blading, jogging, or just grooving to your music. Like other Street Style 'phones before it, the Sony MDR-G54LP ($20 list) has an ultralight design and wraps behind your neck instead of over your head, so the 'phones won't mess up your painstakingly coiffed hairdo. Our only quibble from an ergonomic standpoint was that the headphones' clamp-style design applied a little too much pressure on the ear; the fit may be a little tight for some.
The MDR-G54LP weighs almost nothing--just 1.5 ounces--but it doesn't fold up, so it's more likely to be damaged when you stash it in your pocket or carry bag. The 4.9-foot-long cord is fitted with a gold-plated stereo 1/8-inch minijack. On the inside, the headphone's streamlined silver ear cups house powerful neodymium magnets and 30mm drivers. Sony's Acoustic Turbo Circuit is said to deliver extended bass response.
For our auditions we relied on an iPod and a Jens of Sweden MP-110 MP3 player. The G54LP's sound was detailed and clear. Aerosmith and the Rolling Stones rocked with conviction, but we would have liked more bass. Our Sennheiser PX 30 headphones' sound was warmer and more laid back but lacked the resolution of the G54LP. However, the Sony model's aggressive tonal balance might be fatiguing over extended listening sessions.
The MDR-G54LP headphones offer a cool design and decent performance at a bargain price. But if you're a fan of the Street Style look, check out the MDR-G58V, which offers a touch more bass and a built-in volume control, or the MDR-G74SL, which adds a folding neckband and notably better sound quality. For an additional $10 to $15, the upgrade is a no-brainer.