Pros: Stylish over-the-ear headphones with detachable ear loops, available in multiple colors (including iPod-matching clear/white), potentially superior for exercise applications than in-ear buds, inexpensive.
Cons: Non-adjustable neckband and ear loops will be uncomfortable for some users, sound quality is only okay by comparison with comparably priced options, little isolation from outside noise without turning up volume.
Though it should be obvious, super-stylish headphones aren’t necessarily the best-sounding or most comfortable – they’re just the best looking. And for a certain audience, Logitech’s new Curve headphones ($29.99) may be a draw on that point alone. They’re rebranded versions of the company’s PlayGear Mod, a headset first sold in black for Sony’s PlayStation Portable, and now offered as an athletic headphone option targeted at female iPod owners. The first Curve to hit stores will be in the green color depicted here, with graphite and clear versions to follow in the next month or so.
Each Curve includes 9 items: a pair of behind-the-neck headphones with an attached translucent cord, four foam earpads – two replacements for the two already attached in the box – and four rubber earpieces. Two of the rubber earpieces ship attached to Curve, and use loops of rubber to wrap around the tops of your ears for added headphone stability; the other two lack the extra loops, and can be used instead solely to seal Curve against moisture.
On aesthetics alone, Curve is an extremely attractive, modern design. It looks like a translucent woman’s headband, worn horizontally rather than vertically, and Logitech uses the translucence in smart ways to accent the outer edges of the earpieces and the attached cable. With around four feet of length, the see-through cable’s metal core runs just long enough for comfortable iPod use, and ends in a golden tip.
Fit and comfort are another issue. Unlike typical over-the-ear headphones, there’s no adjustability in the Curve design – it is, as its name suggests, a single curve of plastic without any sizing mechanism, and two different testers found that it hit the backs of their necks in different places – one less comfortable than the other’s. However, the ear loops and pressure of the plastic design tended to keep Curve in one place when being worn in motion, and removal of the loops didn’t dramatically reduce the stability.
Sound quality is okay, but not great for the price: your satisfaction will vary based on your specific needs. On one hand, we’ve heard many low-priced earphones for the iPod that sound better than Curve, most of them relying on in-canal designs that are similar to or more comfortable than Apple’s iPod pack-ins. Even Apple’s phones, derided by audiophiles (but enjoyed by many other users on everything but build quality) provide greater apparent treble, more detail and less flattening of the original sound of music. Curve’s strongest suits are in the midrange and bass, but it’s still flat sounding even there.
Additionally, over-the-ear phones like these don’t provide significant isolation from outside noise, and consequently require you to increase the volume to drown out your environment – something that’s not especially good for your ears. An comparably priced pair of Sony MDR-EX71s (iLounge rating: A-) will sound at least as good and fit far more comfortably for indoor listening.
On the other hand, if you’re looking at Curve specifically as an accessory for running or jogging and like the style, there may be more to recommend Logitech’s design. Unlike silicone tipped and precariously balanced foam earbuds that can get wet or otherwise loosen and fall out as you’re moving, Curve is much less likely to come off your head accidentally. In that regard, less than great sound can prevail over even the very best earphones – you can’t hear what won’t stay in your ears.
The ideal set of workout headphones would look cool, be comfortable for men and women alike, and provide great sound at an affordable price. Curve hits some of these marks as a sharp-looking set of headphones, primarily for women, at a price point that won’t hurt anyone’s pocketbook. Comfort and sound quality will vary based on the size of your head and your expectations, respectively – we found them to be “okay” on both – but they get a bump in rating for looks and originality. We wouldn’t pick them to replace Apple’s earbuds, but would consider them as an option for situations when earbuds are inappropriate.
Company and Price
Model: Curve Headphones
Compatible: iPod 1G, 2G, 3G, 4G/color/photo, iPod mini, iPod shuffle