Yet for all the glittering hardware and crisp white leather, the Taylor fell far short of my expectations. These are one set of on-ears that just aren't worth their weight in gold.
Bothersome bass, troubled treble
When I listened to the Taylor for the first time, I heard problems right away. But before I get up to my eyeballs in details, I'll just say this: If you—like so many average consumers—want a pair of headphones that really emphasizes bass, but also retains detail, detail, detail—these are not for you.
Bass is rather quiet. Sure, some people won't mind that, but the additional fact that a couple points of the midrange and almost all of the high midrange are greatly underemphasized spells real trouble.
Here's the real-terms breakdown: Bass notes on drums, horns, woodwinds, and everything else are anything but booming. Next, most of the middle range receives proper emphasis, but not all; some middle notes just plummet in volume for no apparent reason—for instance low female vocals or low notes on trumpets—and the drop sweeps right into the upper midrange, too. Thus, upper notes on horns, cellos, and similar instruments lack proper emphasis, as well.
Time in the lab revealed distortion, as well, but nothing that should bother the average ear. Last, the Taylor effectively seals music in and even blocks a fair amount out—though nothing out of the ordinary. All in all, my time in the lab with these headphones produced middling results.
Mouthwatering design, but not especially comfortable
Lady Ga Ga endures bodily pain for fashion, but that doesn't mean the rest of us should. Meat dresses? Methinks not. The same goes for these 200-dollar on-ears. Yes, the Taylor is a beautiful product, but as most on-ears tend to do, they apply steady pressure to your outer ear, which often causes aching. If you have sensitive ears, avoid these. There are just too many plush over-ear options in this price range to settle for these.
Comfort aside, the Taylor does offer many of the modern conveniences that consumers love, and in a truly beautiful package—you really don't see design like this every day. This hardware is head-turning. A four-foot cable houses a glitzy three button remote and microphone, so that busy bee users can race in circles while taking calls and controlling tunes without pause. We prefer removable cables to this permanent one, though—be sure to handle with care! And speaking of, use the pretty white carry case that ships with the Taylor, since the hardware seems very vulnerable to dings and scratches.
Looks aren't everything.
The fact is, the Frends Taylor on-ears look a lot better than they sound. Points of underemphasis throughout the scale result in music that's less textured than it ought to be, and comfort-wise, the Taylors don't feel as plush as you'd think.
With an MSRP of $199, I suggest passing these lookers on by. Comparison shopping will do you a world of good.
If you're wondering why the Taylor took a bit of a front-page beating, just take a look at our numbers.
The data pile I got from the audio lab is not very flattering. The frequency response reveals areas of the scale that are greatly underemphasized, and volume is unbalanced between left and right speakers. I also found a notable measure of distortion, and middling attenuation.
Breaching the lower limits
At first, the Taylor starts off with a relatively flat response—which is what many audiophiles like so much, since it works well with equalizers. Many regular consumers prefer booming bass, but that isn't what you get with the Frends Taylor. That would be find if things didn't go downhill from there, but they do.
At 300Hz, sounds drop in volume so that they are 5dB short of the lower limit. That's not much, but don't underestimate it either—low female operatic vocals are annoyingly quiet at times, for example. The rest of the midrange is very healthy until the upper portion of between 2-4kHz, when volume can be a whopping 17dB lower than it ought to be. So much for upper notes on brass, bass, cello, and the like! At times, you'll find yourself turning tunes up, up, up in order to get the texture you're looking for—and by then everything is just too loud.
Left, left, left.. left, right
When we talk about tracking, we're discussing the balance of volume between left and right speakers. This is an area of performance that many headphones struggle with. The Taylor is no different, but at least its errors are such that only practiced ears should take any real offense.
Most of the bass range favors the left speaker, so that music is consistently louder in that ear. Luckily, these errors aren't that obvious, and will probably go mostly unnoticed. Errors in the uppermost range are a different story: Notes between 4-5kHz are nearly twice as loud in the right ear as in the left, and the same applies in reverse to notes between 5-6kHz. Luckily, since these errors flip flop so consecutively, I found that they were very tough to make out.
If you take your Taylors on the go, you'll find that unwanted high-pitched noise can be reduced by up to 1/8 of its original loudness, but lower disturbances—passing trucks, for example—are barely blocked at all. Most of the lower frequencies easily breach the Taylor's barrier, so if you're hoping to wash away the Saturday-morning recycling crew, too bad. The overall average attenuation is measured at 13.1dB.
Meet the testers
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Virginia is a former Managing Editor at Reviewed.com. She has a background in English and journalism. Away from the office, Virginia passes time with dusty books & house cats.See all of Virginia Barry's reviews
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