Depending on one’s perspective, iFrogz is either getting better at headphone design or experiencing the sorts of improvements that are naturally possible at higher prices. Last month, we reviewed the company’s super-low-end custom-bodied earphonesNervePipe and Fallout, $35 headphones that could be visually customized to a significant extent by the user, and now, we look at the company’s EarPollution DJ Style Headsets ($50 each), which offer upgrades in sound quality, build quality, and looks.
The DJ Style Headsets are sold in five pre-designed versions, including the gold, brown and yellow “Billionaire” and black/chrome “Hustle” shown here, plus a red, white, and blue Union model, a black, red, and gold Munich, and the red, black, and chrome Silver Spider. These different models have the same speakers inside, and substantially similar bodies save for their coloration, but there are differences: the top of the Billionaire model has the EarPollution name rendered in Old English, while Hustle uses a more modern font, and the earcups alternate from model to model in design: some are complete flat pieces, and others look like hubs and spokes with logos in the center, matching the color of plastic between the spokes.
While there’s no doubt up close that these headphones are predominantly made from plastic—including some small imperfections that detract a little from the execution—they just look nicer than their predecessors. And they feel better, too: they’re bigger and better padded, combining leather, mesh, and extendable plastic frames to offer better comfort while on your ears, and have a sturdier, more resilient feel. Hinges are included above the earcups so that they can fold up for greater portability. From a physical standpoint, their only other issues are small: they come in seriously annoying blister pack packaging, and their headphone cord uses a plug that’s incompatible with original iPhones, but fine for other iPod and iPhone models.
Sonically, these are good, but not amazing headphones. iFrogz has upped the speakers in the DJ Headsets to 50mm drivers versus the 40mm ones found in NervePipe and Fallout, which accounts for the larger size of these earcups and the improvements in sound that they offer. While they’re not going to win any reputable awards for fidelity, and don’t offer the most dynamic highs or lows of earphones we’ve tested at this price point, the DJ Headsets present enough of the spectrum—mids, mid-treble, and mid-bass—with enough clarity to strike us as roughly appropriate to their $50 price point, when taking the aesthetic options and comfort into consideration. Audiophiles won’t be blown away, but that’s no surprise given the price or the EarPollution target audience; still, we hope that iFrogz will start to work on giving its speakers as much attention as their casings.
All in all, what iFrogz has accomplished with the DJ Headsets is a positive set of upgrades to the prior NervePipe we liked, at a commensurate price premium—these are as good a value at $50 as NervePipe was at $35, and better than Fallout. They rate our general-level recommendation; further attention to manufacturing and sonic quality will help future models to do even better.
Company and Price
Model: DJ Style Headsets
Compatible: All iPods, iPhone 3G