When you think of Vivienne Tam, the first thing that comes to mind besides her being highly regarded as a fashion designer, is her fusion of fashion and technology. She first attempted this with the her collaboration with HP and their fashionista netbooks with peony designs, and then later on with the Butterfly Lovers netbook. The next logical step for Tam seems to be music. Hence her collaboration with Monster that brought about the newly released Monster Butterfly by Vivienne Tam High Fashion In-Ear Speakers which also at times are called In-Ear Headphones.
You don’t have to be a fashion connoisseur to come to the conclusion that these headphones are going to impress just from the packaging alone. When you open up the box to reveal the headphones, you are greeted with the saying “Music, Tech, and Fashion Equal Triple Happiness” and we couldn’t agree more. The exterior of the packaging is a plastic slip case that when slid off, reveals an exquisite champagne gold colored box. The design of the box is the same as with all the Monster headphones and even Beats by Dr. Dre – open the box with the material latch and you reveal a delicate pair of In-Ear Speakers that are the epitome of class. The headphones are made of out of a champagne colored all metal housing and are extremely lightweight in the palm of your hand. Also inside the box are not one, but two cases – one case being for the headphones – the other for the extra tips that are included. Because no fashionista would throw their tips loosely into a purse! There are 8 tips included that range from mushroom shaped, tree shaped, and foam. There is enough of a variety to fit most ears. I certainly am very impressed with Monster these days for not only including so many extra tips, but for making them color coordinated too. And not only are most of the tips color coordinated, but so is the cable slider and even the ControlTalk piece – which is also diamond shaped. Everything on the headphones is covered in a champagne gold color except for the foam tips and cable clip. In addition, each end cap has a butterfly adorning it, one an orange butterfly (goes in the right ear) – the other a blue-purple colored one (goes in the left ear). Talk about details – you can tell that there was a woman’s touch involved in the design. However, as lovely as the Champagne Gold coloring is, I am a bit concerned that the cable will pick up dirt over time, not unlike the traditional white Apple buds.
Soft and delicate is probably the best way to describe the sound of these Monster Butterfly by Vivienne Tam High Fashion In-Ear Speakers. There is no overbearing bass drivers – everything is just balanced and supple. No matter what song I played on it – everything sounded smooth and silky. These are a welcome relief to headphones that emphasize the bass, especially when you are looking for something to listen to, that you don’t necessarily need to pound in your head with. The Vivienne Tam In-Ear Speakers brings out the dynamic levels of wind instruments and certainly specializes in the sweeping mid- range. Where as the Lady Gaga Heartbeats and Diddybeats shined when it came to bass reproduction and that low end.
Higher bit rates of course performed the best on these headphones and truly provided an emotional experience for me when listening to some music soundtracks from Dragonheart, Shindler’s List, and Dances with Wolves. However, pop favorites with deep bass grooves from the likes of Lady Gaga, B.o.B, Katy Perry, etc… sounded just as good too and won’t leave you disappointed. However, again the higher the bit rate, the better the experience. Also, even though noise cancellation isn’t a feature here – I certainly didn’t hear anyone around me when I let the music take me over, and if I did, it was ever so subtle. My personal taste is to use the foam eartips which provide my ears with a full sound yet feel like my ear canals are able to breathe. The mushroom tips on the other hand provide a deep suction and certainly don’t let any of the music escape.
Where I was fond of the mushroom tip in the Diddybeats., I went back to my tried and true foam tips this time around. I was able to walk quickly and shake my head without them falling out. If the foam tips don’t quite cut it for you – there are certainly enough to choose from in the box that should make you feel comfortable. The headphones do hang out a bit from your ear – so if you plan on falling asleep with them in your ear – don’t count on it. It will probably hurt a bit. Overall, because the in-ear headphones are lightweight, they don’t create much pressure on your ears and end up being very comfortable to wear.
Just like all Monster or Beats by Dr. Dre In-Ear Speakers, headphones, etc, where the ControlTalk feature is included, it still remains superior on the these Vivienne Tam Butterfly In-Ear Speakers. The latest update to ControlTalk technology is that it now supports the iPad too. Monster’s ControlTalk technology lets you switch between listening to music and talking on your phone on the fly. The ControlTalk cable in particular has a call answer button and a built-in mic. ControlTalk lets you answer or end a call, decline an incoming call, play or pause a song or video, skip to the next or previous song or chapter, scan forward or backward through songs and video, and also control the volume. Incoming calls sounded crisp and clear when using the ControlTalk, effectively enhancing the overall experience and practicality of using these headphones even more. The one gripe I will say is I felt that the actual ControlTalk controls felt a bit on the cheap side, as did the 24kt gold plated connector – even with its stylish diamond’esque pattern.
With her avant-garde pair of Heartbeats headphones, Lady Gaga proved that you don’t have to be afraid of who you are, and that her fans could wear a pair of unique looking headphones and still be true to themselves - whether you where a boy or a girl. P. Diddy added his own personality to his Diddybeats and merged fashion and technology from a man’s perspective. Vivienne Tam’s Butterfly In-Ear Speakers put a nice bow on this triple threat and completed the package for Monster in delivering the final piece of the puzzle thus far, in this crazy headphone three part play. Each one shines in their own way but for me, so far, the Vivienne Tam Butterfly High Fashion In-Ear Speakers may just be the best of them all. The sound quality is silky smooth with no overbearing bass, everything is completely balanced, and you almost feel like you have to wear a cocktail dress to wear them out. Monster and Tam took the time to be detail orientated, and delivered a well made quality product without any hiccups so far. I even tried to scratch at the painted butterflies with my nails to see if it would chip off – it didn’t. Speaking of Butterflies, the Butterfly Lover design used on the headphones is from Vivenne’s Spring 2010 collection, and it is the same design used on Tam’s HP Butterfly Lovers Edition Netbook. Which is why we’re concerned that she’ll soon come out with a new collection and that the Butterfly Lovers design we’ll be so last season. That said, they do have a very timeless aesthetic. But besides for that, the one sticking point may be the price of $199.95. However when you think about the fact that you can not only wear these as headphones but as a fashion accessory too, you are actually getting two things for the price of one.
The Good: Extremely stylish and elegant, color coordinated and well made. Good assortment of tips. Sound is soft and smooth and really brings out a rich high mid-range especially with orchestrations and wind instruments. Two cases included! Very comfortable to wear.
The Bad: ControlTalk control feels a bit chintzy. Performs much better on higher bit rates. Price might be an issue for some, but considering a Vivienne Tam cocktail dress would run you $200 plus – don’t you always pay a price for fashion?