Now, I’m no audiophile — I don’t buy speakers made from rare woods and rich leathers — but I know what I like, and I like the Fanny Wang On-Ear Headphones ($170).
Originally released around last year’s CES, the Fanny Wang On-Ear Wangs, from sound to design, were built to compete squarely with the Dr. Dre Beats Solo On-Ear Headphones ($200) by Monster. So do they make the cut? Or are they wiggity wiggity wack?
Upon first play click, the Wangs surprised me with just how well they delivered audio. I guess the shiny design and furry carry bag had me thinking these phones were going to were going to be all gimmick and no game. I was wrong. Rich base support is present but not overcooked, and distinct, balanced mids and highs sung true from classical pieces to Led Zeppelin. These are some of the best headphones I’ve had the pleasure of listening to, though I should temper that by saying you’ll need to pair these with a preamp if plan on hearing what they can really do. Sure, plugging them directly into your Mac’s audio jack works fine too, you just won’t be using the Wangs to their fullest potential. Overall, I think these actually sound better than the Dr. Dre Beats Solo Headphones. Quite a bit better.
I’m also a fan of the construction and materials used in the Wangs. Refinements and attention to detail abound. They’re made of high-end plastics and even have a bit of metal in the hinges — a nice touch. The ear cups are made of a soft and well padded pleather, as is the padded headband. These little refinements make the Wangs comfortable to wear, though your mileage may vary depending on your ear and head size.
Finally, I think it’s worth pointing out that the audio cable that comes with the Wangs has plugs at both ends, meaning you can replace it if it wears out. The cable also has an audio out jack you can use to plug another set of headphones into. I didn’t find this feature particularly useful but I bet it would be super popular with teens and kids who like to tandem listen.
Now, though I’m a fan of the overall design of the Wangs, I find the outer plastic band a bit gaudy. It’s super shiny, and the repeating “u” pattern stamped into them feel like a failed attempt to disguise a material that isn’t as high-end as it could have been. It also seems to me that the Beats utilize materials that are slightly higher quality than the Wangs and are more solid in their build.
In fact, in regards to overall design and material quality, I feel like the Beats win all around. The Beats are more innovative and original in their design. They were also the first to really define the market for these kinds of headphones. Now, that’s not to say that the Wangs aren’t designed well, they are, but to me they are like the Zune was to the iPod: Zunes were great MP3 players, but as good as they were, they still weren’t iPods.
The Fanny Wang On-Ear Wangs sound fantastic, are designed well, and, in my opinion, sound better than the more expensive Dr. Dre Beats Solo headphones. I would definitely recommend them to anyone looking for new, mid-tier cans.