Short Version: The audio is only passable (at least at speed) and the fit questionable, but hey, these do just what they set out to do: put some headphones in a decent hat.
Feels a little weird to plaster my face all over the front page like that, but hats without heads in them are even less photogenic than I am.
- Several styles to choose from (this review is for “Cotton T Black”)
- In-line mic for iPhone/Blackberry
- Low-profile headphone drivers
- Regular 3.5mm jack
- Hey, they work
- Hat is decent quality, fairly warm
- Easy to set up and remove (handy for washing)
- Sound quality not so good
- White cable not so hot against black hat, or going to non-iPod device
- Tight fit can make headphones press against ears too hard
I have to say that when I first tried these out, biking about a mile over to the Central District, I was pretty disappointed. I found the fit too tight and the sound tinny. But a friend tried the hat on and pronounced it perfectly comfortable, and on the way back I played a different playlist and found that they really didn’t sound so bad after all. I mean, let’s be honest here. You’re going to be walking, running, biking, or skiing while listening to these, and if you can make out the lyrics over the wind rush, that’s better than nothing. And while they weren’t beating my eardrums with their bass or allowing me to marvel and their crisp highs, they did sound clear enough once I got the alignment right.
The hat itself is a plain cotton, quite decently made, with a red patterned interior that showed as a sort of rim. It fit snugly — almost too snugly for me, but I tend to prefer looser knit caps. Why I didn’t review a knit one is beyond me. But this one was a bit tall and narrow for me; it fully covered my ears and still had a little poof at the top. Not Smurf levels of poof, but enough that I felt I had to pat it down. I wore it during a cold snap a while ago here in Seattle and it did all right, though it took forever to dry out when I got rained on.
The headphones themselves are touted as having a flat design, which is true, but then again so do most headphones once you take the padding off. Yeah, there’s no padding on them at all except for the millimeter-thin material making up the inner lining of the headphone pockets in the hat. That can be pretty rough on your ears if you have a helmet pushing on them or if they’re just not aligned over your ears just right. In the next generation of this product I’d really appreciate a little bit of padding in the headphone pocket.
The sound is what you’d expect from a plain pair of traditional headphones — something you’d pick up at a drugstore for $15-20. They’re loud enough if you want to push them and I didn’t hear a lot of distortion, but there wasn’t too much clarity either. But the fact is I could hear my music perfectly well while zooming around on my bike, so really, mission accomplished there. I’m not expecting a high-fidelity audio experience while trucking down to the coffee shop.
Conclusion: I think $60 is a little steep for what they’re offering. However, if you do spend a lot of time on the slopes, for instance, or riding your bike around, and want to listen to music or talk on the phone, this is definitely a simple and workable solution. I’d go with the knit version, though.