Gizmos

A Definitive Ranking of Today’s Celebrity Headphones

The Rock is (maybe) bringing back celebrity headphones. Is that a good thing?

Project Rock Headphones.
Project Rock Headphones
Under Armour

There was a time not long ago when the personal audio landscape was dominated by a then-unusual trend: celebrity partnerships. Between 2011 and 2014, anyone who was anyone—particularly in the music business—had a pair of headphones they lent their name and style to. And seemingly overnight, many consumers abandoned their plain white earbuds for a pair of $100-plus over-ear cans endorsed by the likes of Ludacris, 50 Cent, or Dr. Dre. Even Simon Cowell got in on the headphone game. While companies like Beats, which popularized the idea, have slowed their celebrity partnerships in recent years, it certainly hasn’t died.

Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson is the latest to co-develop his own brand of wireless headphones. We don’t know whether his headphones will resuscitate the celebrity audio gear space or if he’s just cashing a paycheck at the tail-end of the trend. What we do know is they seem to be a standout in the short history of celebrity-developed headphones. Below is a ranking of the best star-studded headphone collaborations you can buy today.

Skullcandy Grind Wireless Headphone

NBA all-star Kyrie Irving joined Skullcandy as an ambassador-owner in 2016. Irving doesn’t just hawk the company’s audio gear—he also has a hand in developing products that reflect his personal tastes. His favorite is the Grind Wireless, a $90 on-ear headphone with a built-in mic and remote, up to 12 hours of battery life, and impressively loud audio.

Performance: 8/10

For its price point, the Grind Wireless is light, comfortable, and provides powerful, quality audio.

Star quality: 3/10

These cans have an understated style—and an understated celebrity tie-in.

Bose QuietComfort 35 Wireless Headphones II

While its athlete partnerships aren’t as overt, players such as Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones have partnered with Bose to promote a handful of its in-ear and over-ear products, including the QuietComfort 35 wireless headphones. These headphones come with built-in Google Assistant for voice-based queries, but with those extra smarts, its battery life suffers slightly. (New England Patriots receiver Julian Edelman also sports this headphone model, but in silver.)

Performance: 6/10

Many reviewers find its noise cancellation excellent and its Google Assistant integration “surprisingly useful.”

Star quality: 4/10

These headphones don’t stand out for their looks, but you can pair them with Jones’ or Edelman’s specially curated Spotify playlists for moods such as Devoted, Energized, Inspired, and Excited.

Third Man Records’ Beats Solo3 Wireless Headphones

Third Man Records is Jack White’s music label, the one behind his band The Raconteurs. In a limited edition collection, Beats partnered with the label on a distinctive black and yellow-colored variant of its Solo3 Wireless Headphones. At $330, they’re one of the most expensive on this list—and you can get the nonbranded variety at a far cheaper price. But a purchase does come with a custom carrying case, matching braided 3.5mm cable, an adapter for plugging directly into a turntable, and a yellow flexi disc of The Raconteurs’ 2017 single “Level.”

Performance: 7/10

Battery life and wireless performance are good, and they offer a comfortable fit, according to CNET.

Star quality: 4/10

These Beats have a fun colorway, but we can’t picture The Raconteurs wearing these headphones themselves.

Dior Homme x Sennheiser Pocket Solution

A fashion house isn’t technically a “celebrity,” but we couldn’t pass up this red carpet partnership, which bill itself as “the most sensual combination.” The Dior Homme x Sennheiser Pocket Solution is comprised of a pair of Sennheiser IE 800 Ear Canal headphones with a woven tri-color cable and a matching fine leather storage pouch. Sennheiser’s earbuds are designed for audiophiles, with a broad sound range, comfortable fit, and noise reduction qualities. That designer label will cost you, though: The already pricy $800 in-ear buds cost more than $1,500 with Dior Homme packaging.

Performance: 8/10

PCMag says they’re thoughtfully designed and their audio quality really is worth the price (although you won’t be able to use its wired design with your iPhone X).

Star quality: 6/10

While sensual isn’t the descriptor we’d use, the Dior Homme–branded carrying case is both chic and practical.

Beats Balmain Collection

Beats introduced a suite of products styled for the Kardashian clan—and naturally, Kylie Jenner is the face of the collection. Beats’ Balmain Collection, introduced in July 2017, features earbuds and headphones available in two colors, khaki and safari, along with golden accents and Balmain branding. At $250, they’re among the cheapest Balmain-labeled products a noncelebrity can afford; they also feature noise reduction, well-balanced sound, and a secure fit.

Performance: 9/10

The PowerBeats model delivers crisp audio quality, an excellent fit, and superior battery longevity.

Star quality: 7/10

The Balmain branding may veer into the realm of overkill, but that’s the Kardashian way, right?

Project Rock

The Rock’s $249 “Project Rock” headphones are more than just a pair of headphones: They’re the audio component to a complete suite of the wrestler-turned-serious-actor’s “Chase Greatness” lifestyle products. The headphones themselves are a modified version of Under Armour’s Sport Wireless headphones, but with the Rock’s brahma bull insignia on each earpiece and the phrase “Blood. Sweat. Respect.” emblazoned across the band.

The headphones are designed to be worn while working out. To that effect, they feature details such as hand-washable ear pads lined with UA’s “SuperVent” material for breathability and grippy fabric on other portions of the headphones for securing its position on your head.

Performance: 6/10

Reviewers found the build quality “a bit flimsy,” the overall audio performance adequate, and the battery life excellent.

Star quality: 9/10

It’s only a matter of time before you hit up the gym, the Rock is there too, and you can be all, “Hey, we’re wearing the same awesome headphones!” and become instant BFFs.