CNET logo Why You Can Trust CNET

Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement

Monster Cable Heartbeats 2.0 by Lady Gaga In-Ear Headphones review: Monster Cable Heartbeats 2.0 by Lady Gaga In-Ear Headphones

Monster Cable Heartbeats 2.0 by Lady Gaga In-Ear Headphones

David Carnoy
David Carnoy Executive Editor / Reviews
Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET's Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable reviewer of mobile accessories and portable audio products, including headphones and speakers. He's also an e-reader and e-publishing expert as well as the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All the titles are available as Kindle, iBooks, Nook e-books and audiobooks.
Expertise Mobile accessories and portable audio, including headphones, earbuds and speakers Credentials Maggie Award for Best Regularly Featured Web Column/Consumer
3 min read

Beats by Dr. Dre and Monster rolled out a new set of Heartbeats earphones designed by Lady Gaga that the company says are "inspired by leather and studs." On the surface, that sounds pretty kinky--and these earphones do have a unique look--but the Heartbeats' design is actually more subdued than that of the original Heartbeats, which featured a triangular, earringlike outer cover that people either loved or hated.


Monster Cable Heartbeats 2.0 by Lady Gaga In-Ear Headphones

The Good

Monster's <b> Heartbeats 2.0 by Lady Gaga</b> have a unique look that improves the design of the original Monster Heartbeats earphones. We also liked the flat, tangle-resistant cord, the integrated mic for making cell phone calls, and its pop-optimized sound.

The Bad

Sound isn't terribly detailed, and the ControlTalk mic lacks volume control.

The Bottom Line

The Heartbeats 2.0 by Lady Gaga have a better design than the original Heartbeats and offer pleasant sound with good bass.

The Heartbeats 2.0 by Lady Gaga are available in two colors, black and gold, for $149 (list). They come with a small protective pouch and six sets of eartips, one of which should allow you to get a comfortable fit.

Design and features
The Heartbeats' new look is more appealing than the original, with a new flat cord that's tangle-resistant and features a flexible, flat L-shaped plug that should hold up well over time. It also hugs the top of your device better and is more discreet, so there's no awkward plug sticking out of the top of your smartphone).

The design earns our favor, though just like Lady Gaga, it's obviously not for everyone. It's also worth mentioning that while the studded ends of the buds aren't sharp, they're fairly pointy, which does produce an odd sensation when you go to push on the buds to get a snug fit in your ear. Some might say they bring out your inner masochist.

More of today's earphones include an integrated microphone for making cell phone calls, and the Heartbeats 2.0 are no exception. The integrated in-line mic is compatible with Android and iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch) and allows you to jump tracks forward and back by double- or triple-clicking the call answer/end button. Alas, there's no volume control in the ControlTalk button. That's unfortunate.

In our tests, we listened to some Gillian Welch, Adele, The National, Peter Gabriel's "Scratch My Back" album, then moved on to Lady Gaga herself and some hip-hop tracks. Overall, we liked the sound of the Heartbeats 2.0. They're pleasant-sounding earphones with lots of bass. But clarity just isn't their strength.

As we said, like seemingly all Monster and Beats by Dre headphones, you'll get plenty of thumping low-end out of these guys (or should we say gals, since these are Lady Gaga earphones). It's just not terribly well-defined bass, and for those who like more natural sound, you'll consider these a little too accentuated.

In other words, if superclear sound is your thing, these probably aren't the headphones for you. The Bowers and Wilkins C5 earphones are the next logical step up in quality, and for $179, they offer more detail in terms of sound quality. And if you can do without the flashy design, the Klipsch S4i's at $90 are a better bargain along with Monster's own $99 Turbine earphones.

Still, the Heartbeats 2.0 offer decent sound that appeals to the types of folks who would buy them (perhaps we're stereotyping, but we're assuming that if you're interested in Lady Gaga earphones, you listen to music that's oriented more toward pop and hip-hop).

To a certain degree, the attraction of these earphones is the design, and their celebrity backing--or not. If you're a Gaga fan, these are quite decent-sounding earphones that have the added bonus of including a built-in microphone for cell phone calls, as well as a flat, tangle-resistant cord. Yes, you can get less flashy earphones that sound about the same for around $100, but that extra $30 is the price you pay for the leather-and-stud flair that goes along with the Lady Gaga and Dr. Dre mantles.


Monster Cable Heartbeats 2.0 by Lady Gaga In-Ear Headphones

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 7Performance 7
Shopping laptop image
Get the best price on everything
Shop your favorite products and we’ll find the best deal with a single click. Designed to make shopping easier.
Add CNET Shopping