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Celebrity-endorsed headphones put to the test

December 21, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Celebrity-endorsed headphones are one of the hottest gifts of the year. But are they the best on the market?

When Consumer Reports tested the headphones plugged by the famous, they found some headphones to be just OK, while some traditional headphones were a best buy.

Beats by Dr. Dre has celebrities like Gwen Stefani and Kanye West touting its headphones. Even Lady Gaga designs for the brand.

Consumer Reports evaluated these headphones and also tested headphones produced by traditional big names like Bose, Sony and Panasonic.

The models in Consumer Reports' tests ranged from about $10 to $350. They included studio-style headphones, which are good for listening to music at home, and portable ones, which are better on the go.

Also tested were noise-canceling and noise-isolating earphones, which block outside noise to varying degrees.

Consumer Reports' audio experts, who have tested hundreds of headphones, say you can't buy by brand.

"Monster's Beats by Dr. Dre headphones have done well in our tests. But one model, the Solo, which costs about $180, didn't do as well," said Jim Willcox of Consumer Reports. "In fact, it was one of the lowest-rated models we tested."

You don't have to pay for pricier celebrity headphones to get very good audio quality. The studio-style Sony PIIQ headphones are a best buy at just $35.

If you prefer a portable set, the Sennheiser CX 215 headphones are a best buy at $40. Plus, they reduce outside noise.

For those interested in wireless headphones, Consumer Reports found a good set, but they're expensive. They're the Sennheiser RS 180. It's a studio-style, digital set that goes for $330.

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