It’s probably not a coincidence that the new Fanny Wang On Ear headphones happen to look just like the SOLO Beats By Dr. Dre. At least, Monster didn’t think so when they sued Fanny Wang earlier this year. But alas Fanny Wang circumvented and was able to push ahead with their freshman pair of headphones, albeit under the watchful eye of Dr. Dre.
The On Ear Wang’s design is almost unmistakable for the Solo Beats by Dr.Dre; they’re really just missing the big B on the sides. They come in the same black, red, and white varieties, have removable cords, and feature the same type of tri-folding design for easy storage. The Wang’s are appropriately named “On Ear” because they ear cups sit on your ear, not around your ear. They will completely cover most ears, but if your ears are large like mine, they may stick out a tad on top. The ear cups, which just swivel up and down, are a bit larger than the Solo Beats, though the ear cup cushioning is not as soft as the Beats. The Wang’s win for overall build quality. The Solo Beats feel cheap and plasticky considering how expensive they are. The Wangs have a much more solid feel. They are constructed with thick plastic and strong metal hinges. The inside of the headband is made of a soft cushiony rubber, which is comfortable, but seems like it could someday begin to wear.
The White On Ear Wang’s are a very clean and attractive looking set of headphones (compliments and inquiries are fairly regular). The outside of the headphones are glossy white with a grooved pattern. The inner band and cups are grey. The cord is all white, with black plugs and gold tips. The cord is thick and tangle proof, which is great. It might be a tad longer then your average cord too. There is a headphone splitter built into the cord so a friend can plug in their headphones and listen too. There is an included carrying bag that is extremely soft. It’s white on the outside and black on the inside. The bag doesn’t offer much protection, but it’s nice to have.
I had all my friends swear to me that the On Ear Wang’s were the best sounding headphones they have ever heard. They became lost in the music, which isn’t too difficult considering you can’t hear any ambient noise after turning up the volume to about 40%. The truth is, the Fanny Wangs are a phenomenal sounding set of headphones, though they may not be for everyone. They are an extremely balanced set of phones, they’re not skewed towards the low-end bass thumping that some listeners may prefer. The mids are clear, detailed, and near-perfect. The bass is certainly present, and true to the music. You can surely feel it, and it doesn’t overwhelm the music or hurt your ears. Bassheads though will still prefer the intense thumping that the Solo HD or Solo Beats by Dr. Dre reproduce. However the the bass is present and very well balanced with the music. Also, you can use the bass-booster setting in your iPod or MP3 player if it’s really necessary. The high frequency audio is very crisp, but I felt like the Wang’s miss some of the finer details. Highs are still good, but could be a bit better.
I found the Wang’s to be pretty forgiving to my low-bitrate music. Even my 96kbps MP3 rips sounded better than expected with barely any distortion. Since the Wang’s are so well balanced, and stay true to how the music was intended to be heard, they sound great across genres. Listening to any type of Rock on the Wang’s was very fun. Techno and electronic were also fun genres to listen to, the Wang’s did not disappoint. Rap sounded great, but had me initially wondering why my brain wasn’t rattling from the bass. Classical music was very detailed and clear, but could have benefited from some more precise highs. If I had to choose, I would say Indie Rock was my favorite genre to listen to, though classic rock was a close second. Listening to Simon and Garfunkel was a very surreal experience, it was as if those two were singing directly to me in a world of my own.
The On Ear Wang’s are comfortable and light, but they got uncomfortable after a couple hours of wearing them. The SOLO Beats are more comfortable, but suffer the same problem–after a couple hours of use they hurt from pressing on your ears. The second you put on the Wang’s, a lot of ambient noise is blocked out. At a very low volume most ambient noise is blocked out, and at a normal volume you really can’t hear much aside from your music. Once your music hits about 40% volume, it will begin to leak sound, and people in close proximity will be able to hear it. Both the Wangs and the Solo Beats have 40mm titanium drivers, but the Wang’s seem to be much more efficient as I can comfortably listen at a much lower volume. I rarely had to go past 60-70% volume on the Wangs, where it was more like 80-90% with the Solo Beats. I usually kept it to about 40% volume.
All-in-all the Fanny Wang On Ear Wang’s are a terrific sounding set of headphones for a very wide range of music. They have a solid build quality which some would consider better than the Solo Beats and Solo HD Beats by Dr. Dre. However the Fanny Wangs are a little less comfortable. The On Ear Wangs retail for $169.95 which is cheaper than the $179 for the Solo Beats with ControlTalk and $199 for the Solo HD Beats. However, the Solo Beats are available with ControlTalk which lets you control playback of your iPhone or iPod directly from your headphones. This is a feature that the Wangs lack, however a pair of On Ear Wangs + iPhone Remote are on their way too. That said, at $170, the Wangs are still on the expensive side, but pretty justifiable. Will Fanny Wang be able to muscle into the Beats by Dr. Dre territory? That remains to be seen as the Beats headphones have grown in popularity and mass appeal. However I do hope that when Fanny Wang comes out with an updated line of headphones it does something fresh and not similar looking to a competitor, so it’s not mistaken for just being a wannabe and actually is a force to be reckoned with. Stay tuned for the Over Ear Noise Cancelling Wang’s that they’re teasing us with on their website.
The Good: Built in Splitter, Great audio quality – rich and balanced, portable with tri-fold design, durable, well built
The Bad: Leaks music at mid-high volumes, uncomfortable for extended period of time, carrying case doesn’t offer much protection,bass reproduction could be better.