Celebrity gadgets are often a rage, and headphones tend to be a big part of that. You’ve seen Dr. Dre’s Beats and the Marley family’s House of Marley, and now Will.i.am is there, too.

A new range of celebrity earphones is on its way to Australia, as Black Eyed Peas front-man Will.i.am joins the race to sit in your ear.

Not literally, of course, though his first pair of earphones arriving in the Australian market does appear to make an impression, not exactly going for the subtle look and dominating the bottom of the lobe almost like a giant circular vinyl-inspired piece of jewellery.

They’re called “Buttons” — actually, Will.i.am’s brand “i.am+” calls them the “BUTTONS” as if they’re shouting at you (but we’ll just stick to one capital, not all, thanks) — and they’re designed for those who think earphones aren’t currently made for style-conscious, while still delivering good audio chops.

We’re not sure what company has been employed for the audio technology, either, though interestingly while Beats normally aims for a feeling of “music the way the artist intended”, i.am+ is building these for imagination and design while also delivering — you probably guessed it — deep bass.

Testing them briefly, the design is… we want to say strange, and you’ll either love it or hate it. We will have a full review later on, but the earphones are definitely unique, and won’t be for everyone.

 

Despite a questionable design, initial impressions of the sound aren’t bad, with a very crisp level of detail, but a little too much bass when worn properly.

And that last point is critical, because these Bluetooth earphones come with so many tips, it’s easy to see that fit will be important here.

Without that fit, you’ll find the bass is lacking and the earphones will fall out, but even if they do, the earphones big metal circular casing will act as a magnet plunging the two together in much the same way that Bang & Olufsen’s H5 and Jabra’s Rox previously have.

“Technology doesn’t have to look like technology,” said Will.i.am, adding that “it’s gotten to the point where no one has imagination. Everyone else is making what everyone else is making. ”

We wanted to do away with all that; now that technology is ubiquitous, shouldn’t you look fresh?” he asked.

The Buttons range could do that, though with a $289.95 starting price, it’s a fairly pricey range to stay looking “fresh”, competing with the likes of B&O, Bose, and Beats for that top-end in wireless earphones.

Honestly, we’re just stuck at the tagline: Bluetooth earphones for the dope. Last we checked, dope meant three things: drugs, stupid, and cool.

We’re going to guess Will.i.am and co are going for the latter, but it stands to reason that it’s possible to infer the other two quite easily, so we hope that dope-thing just doesn’t stick, and the brand just switches to fresh altogether, especially since it’s also planning on donating 1% of proceeds to charity to improve science and technological opportunities for students, an attitude which itself could be described as fresh thinking.

The Will.i.am and i.am+ (i.am plus) Buttons are in stores across Australia now, arriving in black, gold, silver, and rose gold — the iPhone colours — with compatibility extending across any Bluetooth device.

A technology journalist working out of Sydney, Australia, Leigh has written for publications including The Australian Financial Review, GadgetGuy, Popular Science, APC, PC & Tech Authority, as well as for radio and TV since 2007.

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