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Alpine Headphones review: These are thumpin' good cans

Sarah Jacobsson Purewal | Nov. 14, 2014
The transducer in the headband will bring a new dimension to your listening sessions.

An app that doesn't work with any of your music
The Level Play app's main appeal is its ability to sort the music on your phone and spit out curated playlists according to the tracks' "energy" level. It analyzes your music library and categorizes the tracks into "high," "medium," and "low" energy levels (based on beats per minute). When you want to listen to music, you can choose a level and it will play tracks that match.

This is cool if you're looking for a thrown-together playlist, but this capability is not unique to Level Play. Apps like RockMyRun and PaceDJ do the same thing, offering up tracks with similar BPM rates for workouts (RockMyRun draws from its own database, while PaceDJ uses your music archive).

That's not all that Level Play can do. It also has a five-band equalizer that lets you manually tweak the sound of the headphones by way of their onboard digital signal processor.

But my biggest issue with Level Play is that it works only with the music stored on your phone. I'm a big Spotify user, so this app is mostly useless to me.

Headbangers' Ball
Alpine Headphones are clearly designed to appeal to a specific crowd: Gamers and fans of electronic dance music. Luckily, I happen to be right smack in the middle of that demographic. The deep, thumpy, dirty bass these headphones put out is just what I like.

You can disable the bass transducer if you tire of the vibration, but they sound a little flat without the assist (even after I played around with the EQ settings in Level Play). That puts them closer to lifestyle class than premium cans. With the transducer enabled, you get a much deeper, sexier bass that makes you feel almost like you're at an outdoor festival surrounded by speakers.

But outdoor festivals are obviously not everyone's cup of tea. Some listeners prefer to hear music in fine-tuned symphony halls and similar built-to-purpose venues. The bass the Alpines produce sounds great with EDM, rock and roll, and hip hop, but it's too muddy for classical music and heavily vocal ballads.

Should you buy a pair?
I love these headphones, but they're clearly not for everyone. And with a $300 price tag, it's fair to expect both just a little more refined audio performance and a more useful companion app. The unique bass transducer is clearly the star of this show, and I found that it delivered a new dimension to my listening sessions. But if you're not into games and EDM, you'll probably want to pass.


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