KitSound takes music seriously, so I wasn't that surprised when I read how in recent 'blind testing' consumers were unable to tell the difference between a set of KSDJ headphones costing under £20 and high end headphones costing up to £900 when it came to the audio output. I mention this as I was very surprised when I plonked a beanie hat with a bobble on the top and a snowflake pattern onto my head and plugged it into my iPhone; surprised by the excellent clarity, tone and warmth of sound that was being reproduced by the speakers hidden within it that is.
Obviously, fashion is in the eye of the beholder and while a purple beanie with a white snowflake pattern and a big fluffy purple bobble on the top wouldn't be my own personal choice of headgear (I am more an army-green cadet cap type of a guy), KitSound do produce these audio beanies in a range of different styles and colours so there is a good chance that you'll find something that you, or the person you are buying this for, will like.
While the fashion aspect of the audio beanie is questionable, the audio reproduction certainly isn't. Plug the supplied cable, a woven design to reduce the tangle risk, into your MP3 player, mobile phone, tablet or whatever (I tested it with my iPhone 4S) and you can start to appreciate the quality of the sound that hits your ears. And it will hit your ears because, thanks to some cleverly concealed velcro within the hem of the hat, you can adjust the precise positioning of the speakers so that they are a perfect fit for just about any head shape or size. Clever that, and a very nice touch.
In case you were wondering, the headphones/speakers are easily removable from the beanie itself to facilitate the hand washing of the hat.
Shame that KitSound were not so clever when it comes to the in-line volume control though. To be honest, this clunky bit of plastic with an imprecise control wheel is something I could have done without. I would rather just control the sound through my hardware device than bother with this at all, it feels cheap and nasty and performs in much the same way.
The designers get back to earning kudos when it comes to the beanie itself, made from a polyester and acrylic mix (rather than wool, so a Vegan such as myself can happily wear it) it's both soft and warm. The super soft lining really feels nice on the head and ears, especially when you have no hair up top! KitSound promises an 'excellent sound experience' combined with 'keeping your head and ears nice and toasty'. The audio beanie certainly delivers on the latter, but what about that sound?
Well, as I've already mentioned, the audio reproduction is really very good indeed. Courtesy of some 40mm drivers delivering a big sound with solid bass and without losing a load of detail. These little speakers retain the clarity of your music and the soundstage, which is actually rather impressive given the low cost and the fact that we are talking about a hat here!
Overall then, would I wear this beanie myself? No, but that's only because it isn't my style. Would I buy this a gift for someone who does look good in a beanie? You betcha, in a heartbeat.