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Friday, January 7, 2011

Dear Famous Musicians, Stop Trying to Fleece Us With Your Overpriced 'Signature' Headphones

Posted By on Fri, Jan 7, 2011 at 11:08 AM

click to enlarge You trust this guy's opinion about headphones?
  • You trust this guy's opinion about headphones?

It's CES time again, that once-a-year event when every consumer tech company

that you have (and haven't) heard of flocks to Las Vegas to reveal this

year's lineup of middling products they're sure will drive profit margins


And, building on recent trends, it's also the time of year when

celebrity musicians come out of the woodwork to lend their name to some

overpriced/mediocre/irrelevant gadgets. This year's honorees? Ludacris and

50 Cent, who now have their own "signature" pair of headphones from Signeo

and Sleek Audio, a couple of lesser known audio companies. 

Um, great.

Both rappers' new products were announced this week, with lackluster names

and even more snore-inducing looks. Ludacris teamed up with Korean electronics

maker Signeo to crank out an entire line of headphones, each more generic

looking than the next. The Sleek by 50 Platinum Headphones were funded by 50

Cent, which also means he got to lend his design expertise to to project. As

a result, we end up with a pair of headphones covered in carbon fiber and

military-grade metal. And, matching his own quarrelsome personality, 50 and

Sleek audio issued a listening challenge to the man/headphone that started

this entire trend: Dr. Dre's Beats headphones (made by Monster).

Dre began this lamefest in 2008, when he and Monster teamed up to release a

decent but wildly-overpriced pair of consumer-oriented cans ($350!).

The headphones somehow ended up a huge success, spawning multiple pairs and

endorsers in the series (Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, Diddy, Usher), as well as

clones (high end audio-maker Harman Kardon got Quincy Jones to endorse a

pair of studio-grade cans). In the case of the Monster products, they're

mostly just the same product repackaged into different shapes and colors,

with an inflated price tag slapped on them. Endorsements aren't the world's

most evil thing, but in this case, they're more than a bit cynical.

Even if these products from Luda and Fitty don't end up sounding like total shit (nobody has

yet to hear them), it's almost impossible to imagine they'll be good enough to justify the overinflated price.

Notice how you never see actual musicians using celebrity-endorsed headphones in studio photos. Follow us on Twitter @SFAllShookDown, follow Adrian Covert @adilla, and like us at

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