If you've watched the Olympics, then you might have noticed during swimming events the athletes often appear wearing big headphones. It seems to us, more often than not, these are Beats Audio cans. It seems like Dre's headphones are certainly managing to carve out a nice market for themselves.
Accutone wants a piece of that market, it seems, so has developed the Pisces, a set of over-the-head type cans, aimed at the market of young people with plenty of spare cash, who want to enjoy high-quality music on the go.
Are they worth the £150 asking price though. We chucked a pair on to find out.
If you've seen the Beats Solo headphones, these are similar. There's a plastic outer band, within which is a sturdy metal band. This means that the headphones are strong, but flexible enough to fit a variety of head sizes.
Indeed, there's quite a lot of metal used in the construction of these headphones. Even the backs of the ear pieces are made of metal. It gives a weight and quality to the whole affair that we rather like.
We also love the flat cable. This might sound like a funny thing to love, given all the beauty in the world, but cables getting tangled is enough to annoy a monk, so here, we're pleased to see this tangle-free arrangement. Of course, nothing is truly tangle-free, but you'll have a lot less trouble with these than you will with traditional cable.
You'll also find a volume control on the headphones, along with a microphone for using them with an iPhone. The headphones themselves work well on all the Android phones we tested them with, although you won't see any benefit from the volume and multifunction button.
For travel, the Pisces just fold up to a neat little package. There's a soft case supplied too, so you can keep them in good condition when you throw them in your bag to carry around as you attend to your affairs.
One negative though. There's no way to replace the cable on the Pisces. This might sound like a minor gripe, and we suppose it is, but we've lost too many pairs of headphones to broken wiring. That's annoying, because a wire costs almost nothing, but having to chuck away an expensive pair of headphones because its broken is a real bind. Of course, Accutone may have very long-lasting cable, or it may offer to repair them for a modest cost, but we'd still rather see a user-serviceable way to replace the most fragile part of the arrangement.
We like the "only just" over the ear design. But there are some advantages and disadvantages to it. On the plus side, your ears don't get as hot as they do with those which cover your lug-holes completely. On the other hand, they put more pressure on your years. If you've got ears that stick out a bit - we do - then you might feel that as a general ache after a while of wearing the headphones.
The good thing about the grippiness of the headphones is that you can bang your head in time with Carly Rae Jepsen, and they won't fly off. That's important, you know, when you're out on the town and want to look very cool indeed, hoping that no one can hear what you're listening too. Sadly, with these headphones they will.
And the reason people will know you're listening to mega-pop is that these headphones are a touch on the leaky side. So any real volume, and people on the train will rumble your secret Canadian pop starlet obsession.
After we noticed the leaking, the next thing we noticed was that the sound is quite clear, there's no real bass push, something that's a little bit too common on these headphones designed for the trendy youth. At first, we weren't totally sold though, there was a slight bias towards the mid-range, with muted highs and lows. We were listening without EQ though, so you can always tweak those settings to get the most out of the headphones.
Crank the volume up, and we found that they kept their composure on most music. Our go-to test track for high-bass is The Prodigy - Warrior's Dance (Future Funk Squad's "Rave Soldier" mix). Crank it up here, and you'll get good bass that has real depth. The high-end was a little overpowering though, but this was at volumes higher than you'd ever usually listen.
After a few hours listening, we did start to fall for the Pisces. They're a solid performer, and give a good overall sound balance.
The Pisces sit well with the competition around this price range. However, there's a problem. This kind of headphone is about 50 per cent musical ability and 50 per cent fashion. And, while these look amazing, they aren't Beats, and that might present a problem for the target market.
But with that said, we don't rate things on how cool they are, we rate them on how well they work, and happily, the Accutone Pisces sound terrific, are well-designed, and we love the portability of being able to fold them up and chuck them in a little bag for safekeeping.
While they do sound great, we think they're ever so slightly less comfortable than, say, the BlueAnt Embrace we reviewed a while back. But much of that is because of the pressure they put on your head, and that will subside over time as the band loosens.