Fanny Wang 3000 series
Unlike Dr Dre, Fanny Wang isn't actually a person, despite what the headphone firm might want you to think. But, clearly, people need a "name" attached to their headphones these days, or they simply refuse to be seen out-and-about sporting them.
But a name is one thing, but to pick two names which both remind people of their naughty bits and combine them into one uber-suggestive name is quite another. We don't object, but expect some funny looks when you explain to people what headphones you're wearing.
When Monster still owned Beats Audio, there was a lawsuit - hardly a surprise, given Monster's aggressive and litigious nature - about Fanny Wang's design. And, there can't be much doubt that Fanny Wang is aiming squarely at the Beats audience, but we're pleased to say they are distinctive enough on their own.
The 3000 series cans are big, really big. You're going to have to want everyone to know you've got headphones on in order to venture out of the house with them. To be fair, that's not a problem, because these headphones are all about fashion, and there's no point to fashion if no one notices.
Once clamped on your skull, they're actually incredibly comfortable to wear. The earcups go over your entire ear, and that means they're more comfortable than the "on ear" type, which make our shell-likes ache after a few hours of use. While the headphones are heavy, that never feels like much of a problem when you've got them on. The balance is good, and they feel nice, despite their weight.
The earcups are filled with a memory-type foam, which makes for a nice on-head experience. With headphones, we're always on the lookout for how hot our ears get, as this can create an uncomfortable listening situation. We're very happy to say that the Wangs are fine when it comes to this too.
The audio cable that connects your Wangs to either your MP3 player or phone is detachable. We always like to see this, because it means that if anything breaks you can replace it simply and easily and for minimal cost. The 3000s also have an interesting feature, called the "DuoJack" which is a headphone splitter that allows a friend to plug in, and share your music with you. We noticed that this worked on some in-ear 'phones we had, but a pair of over-the-head Sennheisers just wouldn't. That may be an issue with how much it takes to drive some headphones. So more-sensitive cans will work, but less-sensitive ones won't.
There's an inline remote and microphone too, which allow you to make calls on an iPhone. All Apple devices can be controlled via the volume rocker too. As we often find, lots of devices can make use of the microphone on the 3000s too - we used it with a Dell laptop, and it worked well for Skype calls.
Noise cancelling and bass boost
Another area where the 3000s have something interesting to offer is the active noise cancelling (ANC) and the 6db bass boost option. These are controlled by a three-way switch on the headphones. The first position, off, is a pass-through mode which allows you to save battery and just listen to the music without alteration.
The next mode is ANC, and claims to block out 95 per cent of noise. We found that, in fact, it was some of the least efficient noise cancelling we've encountered. As a caveat, we weren't able to take the Wangs on a flight with us - they're massive too, so we don't know how practical they are for travel - but we did other tests, including playing white/pink noise to see how effectively they were able to block sound. In every situation we tried, we just couldn't see what the ANC was actually doing.
What you do get though, is a significant boost in volume, because the ANC and Bass Boost circuit has an amplifier, it's quite striking. What it also means, is if you are listening on passthrough, and switch to ANC mode, you'll get a lot of volume very quickly. That could be bad for your hearing, so be warned, don't switch it on without turning down the volume on your player.
The bass boost mode is much of the same. It's louder, because of the amp, and claims to add more bass. We think it adds something, but it's not as dramatic as you might think. But that's all beside the point, because the Wang's are bass monsters anyway.
You might think that we don't like the Fanny Wangs. And, while we're disappointed by the noise cancelling, it's not a complete showstopper for us. Headphones are about music and sound quality, and that's what we care about.
And it's here that the 3000 Series get interesting. We honestly loved the way they sound. They're bass heavy, but it's not to the point of damaging the music we listened too. We're dance fans though, so classical music listeners might find things less optimal.
Generally though, the Wangs did well with mid and high-range sounds. We don't like over-bright headphones, and these keep tight control over the higher frequencies. That's a very good thing indeed, and makes for a less-tiring musical experience.
When it comes to hard-hitting bass, the Wangs are a delight. This is the area they're really designed to perform well in, and if you like the low frequencies, then we think you'll really enjoy these cans. They push hard, but the bass remains tight and controlled, which we respect and love in equal measure.
We did notice that the 3000s leak quite a bit too, so even on modest volumes, they can be heard in quiet rooms. Out on public transport, and people will hear what you're listening too. It's not as bad as some we've tested, but it's worth remembering from a social responsibility perspective.
Fanny Wang might not exist, and the name might be ludicrously provocative, and the noise cancelling might not be great, but for some reason we still love these headphones.
Leave them in pass-through mode, and they sound well-balanced (with a bass bias, admittedly) and crisp. We've loved wearing them, and the music performance is actually very good for most pop, dance and everything that involves rapping.
If you need noise cancelling ignore these. If you're more into a "fashion" headphone, but want something that sounds good, then these are quite likely the sort of cans you should consider. And they are gloriously comfortable.