With the increasing capacity of our various electronic devices to store our music library in an easily accessible and organized manner, not to mention streaming radio apps like AOL Radio and Pandora, we are listening to music more and more on the go. Whether it be on the bus, jogging, or walking to work, our ears are wired in. For the most part, earbuds and headphones are generally black and functional looking. Seeing as they’re an accessory that we’re often wearing everyday, why can’t they have both form as well as function? For myself, there is also a social etiquette issue – my discrete black Klipsch earbuds completely disappear amidst my mass of long black hair, causing countless co-workers to yell my name at the back of my head with nary a response.
Welcome to Experience Headphones, located on South Granville, Vancouver, which markets itself as the world’s only fashion focused headphone retailer. Miranda first introduced this premium store back in December, but recently I made a more in-depth visit. The side walls of its clean layout are lined with listening stations, allowing customers the choice of either sampling music that is continually playing in each headset, or connecting your own device to the set. I would choose the latter – you are very familiar with that favourite track you’ve put on repeat for the past three weeks, plus it provides a constant when testing the various brands.
After trying out every brand in the store, I came up with my top picks. And the overall winner for both form and function goes to Frends, a US brand that specifically caters to the female demographic. The cheekily named Frends with Benefits Taylor line of over-the-ear headphones feature a metallic cap covering the speaker which can be changed depending on your mood or outfit. My outfit of the day matched the rose gold ones perfectly, but there are also silver, oil slick, gold, and even Rebecca Minkoff-designed pairs. The design of the set is also such that the phones are collapsible, making them easy to store in a purse when not in use. Not only do they look sleek and high-end with the leather headband, the sound has a crisp quality with a balanced and full range backed by a 40mm driver. I’d love a pair of these if anyone wants to give me an early birthday gift….just a suggestion.
Frends also produces an equally sleek line of Ella in-the-ear earbuds which feature an ambient tip that provides space in your ear canal to hear your environment for safety and convenience. With either black or white cording, the tip is adorned with a metallic design, giving it a sci-fi look. The sound quality is equally good.
If more subtle but equally sleek headphones are more your preference, Molami is your answer. A Swedish brand designed by women for women, Molami specializes in black and white headphones which have a modern minimalist look, making them an equally stylish accessory around your neck as on your head. The Twine line of phones takes the double accessory function further by imbedding the speakers inside a silk satin and chiffon blend headband. This way your headphones become part of your hairstyle. The Bight earbuds sit in your ears and look like leather studs from the outside.
My top pick for sound quality phones that aren’t specifically geared towards the female user are by Marshall, the giant Swedish brand renown in the music industry for making powerful amplifiers. The Monitor headphones are both light and solidly constructed for road trips and heavy usage, featuring the same leather used for their amps, as well as brass accents and cast metal hinges. Marshall headphones come in basic black, white, or brown, catering to music aficionados who want to look cool without being loud. The sound quality is excellent, pushing a slightly more robust notes than the Frends phones.
Experience Headphones owner Dean Horsfield urged me to check out the Lamborghini of the store, the Aedle VK-1. Designed and hand assembled in France, the VK-1 boasts high-performance titanium-neodymium transducers in a body made of the same aluminium used in aircrafts. The headband and cushions are made of lambskin leather. Beautifully handcrafted and smooth to the touch, they certainly felt luxurious on the ear, but I found the high notes a bit too bright on initial listening.
Providing both a physical store and e-commerce capability, Experience Headphones offers a one-stop shopping destination for fashionable and premium music accessories, including such perks as a generous 365 day return policy and free shipping. We like to adorn our ears with earrings, it’s time we decorate them with beautiful headphones. And at the cost of a pair of shoes, I wager you’ll get a lot more wear out of these.
Photography by Aurora Chan