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Extreme sports and music go hand-in-hand, so it's not surprising that companies such as Skullcandy and Nixon take advantage of this relationship to market headphones to teens and young adults with an interest in such activities. Now you can add Roxy to the list. The female-centric surfwear maker has teamed up with JBL to offer a line of stylish earphones aimed at young women. At the top end of the spectrum are the still-affordable Reference 430 headphones, an on-ear set that lists for $70. They're not particularly comfortable and the bass may not be thumping enough for many, but the colorful style has a good chance of appealing to the target audience.
Without a doubt, the Roxy Reference 430 headphones are eye-catching. The set comes in a choice of two color combos: orange and pink, or blue and green. In either case, the earcups are decked out in one color, while the headband and cable are splashed with the other. The headband, which is padded in black felt, is a leatherette material with rough stitching on the outer edges and a branch and leaf decal on either side. The earcups, made out of cheap-feeling plastic, are painted with the Roxy logo and attach to the headband via steel loops that slide along the band when adjusted. The overall look is somewhat-funky industrial with a hefty dose of California color thrown in.
Now, the style of the Reference 430 headphones may be that which only a surfer girl can love, but they do manage to be fashionable. Our problem with the set is that the felt padding of the earcups made our ears itch after just less than an hour of wear, and it's not as if we were working up a sweat being active. On the plus side, the earphones don't put an undo amount of pressure on the sides of the head, but the itchiness still prevented them from being comfortable. We also aren't particularly fond of the fact that the set doesn't fold down into a compact form for storage and transport. However, the package does include a carrying pouch with a cute Roxy logo emblazoned around the bottom half. Also, the 3-foot cable, which terminates in a gold-plated straight plug, is plenty thick and not overly tangle-prone.
As far as sound quality is concerned, the Roxy Reference 430 headphones do a decent job. Music comes through clearly, with no distortion and good balance--nothing sounds harsh or overpowering here. Still, while the cans offer a low-end that is tight and not at all mushy, bass is underwhelming for many songs. People who are after a lot of thump will likely not be too taken with the audio. Also, high-end detail is not completely defined, and mids aren't the richest we've come across. Overall, the Reference 430s sound better than passable, and we give them a solid good rating. Surfer chicks who can get past comfort and construction issues will likely be satisfied with the headphones.