FixYa is known as a site that answers questions of a technical nature by breaking them down into language that’s easy to understand, but its forums are also teeming with feedback about a range of products. The data for this report comes from all that participation, not a traditional or official survey and product testing process. The data was culled from 30 million users in the site’s databases, collected over time and taking into account all experiences to crunch it down into the results released in the report.
Not exactly a scientific method, and a little out of the box, but the report keyed in on Beats by Dre, Soul by Ludacris, 50 Cent’s SMS Audio 50, Jay Z’s Roc Nation Aviators, and Bob Marley’s House of Marley brands. The celebrity-branded headphone market has exploded since rapper Dr. Dre found success with the Beats line made by Monster, prompting other musicians to do the same in partnering with competing manufacturers.
The findings indicated that Soul by Ludacris’ noise-cancelling capabilities were lacking, despite users being pleased with the line for listening to bass-driven tunes. Beats by Dre were the most popular but also criticized for “uneven sound across different musical genres”. Many users also called them “overrated”.
The most maligned of the group was 50 Cent’s SMS Audio 50, said to be inferior to the others, particularly because of “poor wireless quality, a muddy sound experience and overpowering bass”.
Jay-Z’s Skullcandy Roc Nation Aviators were especially praised for delivering higher quality relative to their cost. Durability was a concern, as was a lack of bass, something FixYa considers a surprise since Jigga himself apparently helps with their production.
The best of the bunch was House of Marley — and by a long shot, apparently. They had fewer complaints, users took to the eco-friendly design (and its mission) and its ability to play various genres with quality sound.
FixYa even broke down all the complaints to the percentile, outlined below for each of the brands.
Top Soul by Ludacris Issues:
1. Poor Noise Cancelling Performance – 35%
2. Heavy Bass – 30%
3. Battery Power – 15%
4. Overly Dynamic Sounds– 10%
5. Other – 10%
Top Beats by Dre Issues:
1. Noise Cancelling Performance – 40%
2. Uneven Sound – 25%
3. Headphone Malfunction– 15%
4. Overpowering Bass – 10%
5. Other –10%
Top SMS Audio 50 by 50 Cent Issues:
1. Wireless System – 30%
2. Muddy Sounds – 20%
3. Overpowering Bass – 20%
4. Uncomfortable Fit – 20%
5. Other – 10%
Top Skullcandy Roc Nation Aviators Issues:
1. Durability – 20%
2. Light Bass – 20%
3. Bright Sounds – 20%
4. Outside Noise – 20%
5. Other – 20%
Top House of Marley Issues:
1. Comfort – 30%
2. Noise Isolation – 25%
3. Treble Levels – 25%
4. High Frequency Levels – 10%
5. Other – 10%
“Celebrity product branding is certainly not a new thing, it’s been used for decades to market everyday products, from children’s toys to makeup,” said FixYa CEO Yaniv Bensadon. “Leveraging FixYa’s enormous store of data, we can now compare these top celebrity-endorsed headphones head-to-head, in order to see which headphones are worth the hype and their high price tag, and which ones are full of hot air.”
Unfortunately, FixYa didn’t compare its data with more traditional surveys and market research to gauge just how much it jives with what that data might be. Some of the issues pointed out above have long been weaknesses known for each brand, but it’s a wonder if any of them were enough to compel consumers to steer clear of them. FixYa’s report doesn’t delve that deep, so we won’t know.
It’s also not yet known if FixYa will continue to do reports like this for other tech categories, given how extensive and pervasive user feedback tends to be.
More information about the headphones report can be found here.