Appearance isn't a priority for me when it comes to music. The sound is. It didn't initially impress me that Nick Cannon helped design these N-ERGY earphones -- I had to look up his name to figure out who he even is. That said, I have to admit that the magnetic clasp features which lets you hook them around your neck like a chain is pretty slick. It's a quick an easy way to store them if they're not in your ears but still lets you have quick access to them. And it helps keep them from getting tangled. They fall behind your neck unless you hang from the shirt clip. The included shirt clip is a nice one that actually has a built-in swivel which allows it to rotate while remaining clipped to your shirt.
The big "NCredible" badge where the two buds split off from the main cord is a bit flashy, but not overly so -- and I like the non-tangle style flat wires, though they are not as thick or effective as the ones on my Punch Plugs. Still, they help keep things from getting too tangled. Three sizes of noise isolating eartips are include to help you get the best fit. The ones that came on the buds initially fit fine for me, though I ended up using the largest size. They stay snug in my ears. Slight negatives are attractive yet the less than eco-friendly packaging, and the right angle plug. I prefer a straight one.
The Universal ControlTalk feature (built-in mic and answer/end button for hands-free calling) is neat to have, but not one I'm likely to use any time soon. Build quality is solid. Blue and red color accents make it easy to tell which earpiece goes in which ear (red = right, blue = left). Noise isolation from the rubber tips is decent/good enough, but other earbuds I own are even better. The cord transmits a small amount of noise when moving around, but not enough to get in the way of the audio.
Most importantly, how do they sound? Well, in a word, f-N-GREAT! Some Monster products may be over-priced and over-hyped, but these earbuds appear to be a good value for this price range. The bass is powerful for earbuds and the clarity in mid to high range is excellent. The high-middle range lacks some power on flat settings, but it can be compensated for to some extent with an equalizer. In fact, these buds seem more responsive than most to equalizer adjustments. I listened to music on 2 different MP3 players and on 2 different Macs, and it sounded good and distortion free on all of them, no matter how high I cranked the volume. And cranking it lets these headphones really shine. While they sound fine at lower levels, when things get loud is when you really hear all that the N-ERGY buds have to offer.
I tested a wide range of music including Gershwin's 'Rhapsody in Blue', Ella Fitzgerald's 'Summertime', Duran Duran's 'Leave A Light On', Lady Gaga's 'Americano', Ozric Tentacles' 'Kick Muck', Radiohead's 'Backdrifts' and NIN's 'Closer'. These and more all sounded good. Very spacial and revealing elements of the music I had not picked up before (a sign of a good headphone). Base is emphasized, but not overwhelmingly so and it allows for a wide and detailed sound stage. They've only "burned-in" for about 12 hours now, but I'd be hard pressed to see how they can get much better. They compare very well to my Logitech Ultimate Ears 350s and my Rockford Fosgate Punch Plug earbuds; more like the former than the base-heavy latter. I welcome the the slight emphasis on base in earbud headphones like these have. The N-ERGY headphones are probably the best I've heard in the $60 and below price range, just squeaking past the UE 350s.
Monster got this one right, and perhaps this Nick Cannon guy isn't all hype after all. ;]
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