Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi, who's the best footballer in the world? To Monster, that question is unimportant, as the brand that once made Dr. Dre's Beats headphones has done custom cans for both of world football's top stars. Even so, today Monster would answer in favor of Mr. Ronaldo, having secured a partnership with the Real Madrid superstar to create his new line of Live Life Loud headphones.
"We didn't choose Cristiano Ronaldo, he chose us," says Head Monster (that's his official title) Noel Lee. "We can't afford Ronaldo." It's odd to hear such a candid admission from the chief of a company whose trade has always been exaggeration and excess. It does speak to the fact, however, that these new headphones are indeed a collaborative project rather than a simple branding exercise. Ronaldo has contributed to both the style and the sound of his headphones.
So let's talk about said headphones. There are three varieties, starting with the in-ear ROC Sport SuperSlim by Monster, priced a few cents under $170 / €170. Then you also have the $250 ROC Sport Freedom by Monster on-ears, and the $300 ROC Sport Black Platinum by Monster over-the-ear cans. The design of these headphones is as busy and overwrought as their names. Gold accents add bling to an entirely unremarkable plastic construction. The ROC headphones aren't any lighter, tougher, or smarter than any generic set you can find. The two larger models work either wirelessly or via the usual 3.5mm jack and the on-ears have on-board controls for volume and playback. So far so standard.
I looked for signs of Ronaldo asserting his personality through these headphones, but was left disappointed. Other than the garish, light-catching appearance, there's simply nothing to make the ROCs stand out. Maybe that's just how much personality he actually has. I did like the noise insulation of the on-ear Sport Freedom model, and having listened to them all, I don't find anything offensive about their sound, but are these headphones worth their lofty prices? Depends on how much value you attach to wearing their label.