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Target made its own cheap headphones and they're suprisingly good

The company's new Heyday On-Ear Wireless headphones cost $60 and compete well with models that cost a lot more.

In case you missed it, Target -- yes, that Target -- is selling a new line of electronics accessories under its new Heyday brand. Along with a selection of iPhone cases and cables, Apple Watch bands and screen-protecting bumpers, Target's making some portable audio products, including Bluetooth speakers and headphones. 

One of the more intriguing products is a set of modestly priced ($60) over-ear wireless headphones that have somehow been labeled Heyday On-Ear Wireless Headphones on Target's website. They are not on-ear headphones, which is a good thing -- I prefer over-ear -- but I'm going to continue calling them by their given name until Target changes it after reading this write-up.

The Heyday On-ear Wireless headphones are really over-ear headphones.

Sarah Tew/CNET

As far as the design goes they seem sturdy, but they're pretty lightweight at 8.3 ounces or 236g, and feature nicely padded earcups. They're generally comfortable to wear, have a clean, stylish look and fold flat, though they don't come with any sort of carrying case. The only complaint I've heard is that the headband (at its crest) puts pressure on the top of some people's heads and creates discomfort. You can alleviate that by opening up the headphones a bit, but then they won't fit your head as snugly.  

One smart choice the designers made was to make the Heyday brand label very small. You barely notice that it's stamped on a tiny plate at the base of the headband on either side. The headphones come in three color options: My sample was the tan/gold version and it also comes in gray/gold as well black print/gold.

The controls are pretty straightforward. There's a power button -- I had no problems pairing and re-pairing with an iPhone X and Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus -- plus a set of small volume control buttons. You tap the power button to pause or play music and answer or end calls. To advance tracks forward, you hold down the volume-up button. To skip back a track, you hold down the volume-down button.

As for the sound, it's well-balanced overall and doesn't accentuate the bass (if you're looking for really big bass, this isn't the model for you). It's not incredibly defined or articulate (the sound tilts warm), which you wouldn't expect from $60 headphones, but there's just enough of presence boost in the treble to bring the detail out and give the sound a bit of sparkle.

The control buttons and microphone.

Sarah Tew/CNET

I'm not going to oversell the sound, but it's pleasant to listen to and when I had fellow editor Ty Pendlebury try the headphones he guessed that they cost significantly more than they do. He was also shocked they were made by Target. The company's reps told me the headphones were designed from the ground up by its engineers.

It's also worth mentioning that the Heyday On-Ears worked pretty well as a headset for making calls. I didn't get any complaints from callers and I could hear them fine.

Battery life is rated at 20 hours of music playback at moderate levels, which is decent, and you get a cord for those times you want to go wired.

The Heyday brand label is very understated.

Sarah Tew/CNET

I don't think I'd use these at the gym, but they are in the group that I would recommend to folks who work in open-office environments who want good sound and a comfortable fit without spending much. 

We've started seeing modestly priced headphones like this model and the Tribit XFree Tune that deliver sound you'd expect from more premium headphones. They're not without their small downsides (the Tribits sound a little better but are heavier), but as these budget models continue to improve, the big headphone brands -- some of which are sold at Target -- will face increased pressure to discount their headphones. That's already happening to a degree.

I'll post my full review with a final rating as soon as we try the headphones out on a few more heads to see whether they find the headband comfortable. 

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