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Reviews

Headphones for Snowboarding

Published in Whitelines Magazine Issue 96, March 2011

The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche once said:“Without music, life would be a mistake.” OK, so he also said a few things that inspired Hitler and the Nazis, but on this one I think we’re inclined to agree with him. Seriously, life would suck without tunes, wouldn’t it? Snowboarding certainly would. Imagine watching a snowboard film with no sound? Rubbish! Or what about listening to tunes while you ride? Pretending you’re starring in your very own movie as you slash powdery banks, line-up a double kink or point your nose and drop into the pipe. Even if you’re not into music on the hill, what about all the time spent getting there? How boring would travelling be without tunes? Yep, there’s no doubt about it, music makes snowboarding better. So it’s no wonder that a whole host of snowboard brands have started launching headphones recently. And just as having the right board, boots and bindings helps you get the most out of your days, so does having the right headphones. Which is why we’ve done this ‘Shoplift’ special – the first ever Whitelines headphone review. Our highly scientific method consisted of listening to the same stupidly bassy tune on repeat (the massive Saxon Dub by Chase & Status in case you’re interested) and then rating each set of ‘phones on three simple criteria – sound quality, rideability and steeze factor. So whether you want your headphones for riding, mixing, or just looking pimpin’, there should be something for you here.

1. WESC BANJO – £50

Minimalist styling and classic lines make the Banjos look cool, and the soft foam keeps your ears comfy too. Nice sound quality, and not too in-your face with the colour schemes. Classy!

SOUND QUALITY: 7

RIDEABILITY: 5

STEEZE FACTOR: 6

2. O’NEILL STRETCH – £100

Rather than strike out on their own, O’Neill have hooked up with Phillips to launch a series of co-branded models. These comfortable over ear headphones, apparently inspired by wetsuit design, come in at the top of their range.

SOUND QUALITY: 8

RIDEABILITY: 4

STEEZE FACTOR: 4

3. FRENDS ALLI – £40

These may not feel like the strongest set of ‘phones, but we’ve given them a good punishing and they’re actually surprisingly tough. Light enough so you don’t notice them after a while, and decent sound quality for their size and price.

SOUND QUALITY: 5

RIDEABILITY: 9

STEEZE FACTOR: 6

4. BOSE QUIET COMFORT 15 NOISE-CANCELLING ‘PHONES – £250

These are the big daddies of the headphone world. The sound quality really blows everything else out of the water, and the noise-cancelling technology (which emits ‘countering sound waves’ into your ear) is so good one of our testers even claimed it made his tinnitus quieter! £250 makes these a serious investment, but if you love your music, one worth making.

SOUND QUALITY: 11+

RIDEABILITY: 1

STEEZE FACTOR: 2

1. SKULLCANDY AVIATORS – £150

Brand new this season, but with retro styling lifted straight out of a 70shelicopter cockpit. These over-ear ‘phones look sharp in an understated way, and sound pretty good too. Surprisingly light for their size, so at a push you could take ‘em up the hill.

SOUND QUALITY: 9

RIDEABILITY: 3

STEEZE FACTOR: 10

2. WESC OBOE – £35

These classic phones from the Scandinavian streetwear brand have been around for a while, and there’s a reason they keep selling. Comfortable for long periods, decent sound, but most importantly, damn good-looking – whatever the colour.

SOUND QUALITY: 5

RIDEABILITY: 5

STEEZE FACTOR: 8

3. AERIAL7 TANK – £70

The largest and heaviest headphones in our test, these are also the only ones flexible enough to seriously consider DJing in. They come with a quarter-inch jack attachment as well as the standard mini-jack, and decent sound quality. Bold styling too.

SOUND QUALITY: 7

RIDEABILITY: 2

STEEZE FACTOR: 7

4. SKULLCANDY FULL METAL JACKET – £65

That might look like a hell of a lot to pay for in-ear buds, but these are pretty special. Metal casings and muted styling make them look cool, but it’s the sound quality that makes them stand out – how they pack that amount of bass into buds, I have no idea.

SOUND QUALITY: 6

RIDEABILITY: 10

STEEZE FACTOR: 3

5. AERIAL7 SUMO BUDS – £25

Aerial7’s sumo buds pack a decent punch, and with extra features like a Skype microphone thrown in, they offer a lot for the price. Never going to be the best sound quality in the world, but they’ll beat your standard iPod phones hands down.

SOUND QUALITY: 3

RIDEABILITY: 10

STEEZE FACTOR: 3

6. FRENDS CLASSIC – £65

Frends only launched their headphones range this winter, but already seem to be doing well. The Classic, which is ‘inspired by early American industrial design’, is large for an on-ear ‘phone, but easily light enough to ride in. Feels solid too.

SOUND QUALITY: 6

RIDEABILITY: 6

STEEZE FACTOR: 8

7. SKULLCANDY ICON SOFT – £35

An update on one of Skullcandy’s most popular models, the Soft Icons are light weight, flexible and easy to ride in. Sound quality is OK too, especially given the price. The classic on-ear, on-the-hill phone is still rockin’.

SOUND QUALITY: 5

RIDEABILITY: 8

STEEZE FACTOR: 7

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