A recent American Airlines flight from Dallas to Las Vegas provided a bevy of in-seat entertainment with which for me to man-spread, get comfortable and really relax. Austin City Limits featuring the legendary Steve Miller Band was an option—very familiar content with which to review the AVIS Wired Headphones distributed by flight attendants.

PRICE

While there was no charge or transaction on the flight for the AVIS Wired Headphones, one wonders what costs are added quietly into the airfare. We are only able to assess the value of checking luggage, a window seat, or early boarding to ensure there is an overhead bin in which to stow one’s carry-on as to avoid the charge for checking luggage. As a result, we are unable to provide a value assessment for the AVIS Wired Headphones.

UNPACKAGING

The headphones came in a no-frills, clear, heat-sealed pouch adorned by its brand logo, “AVIS.” Small packaging like this can, at times, be tricky to open. Plastic often stretches rather than bursts open when pulled upon, and often the remains cling to one’s thumbs. And this was no exception. However, once open, a simple unwrapping of the cord made this headset plug and play, literally. The plug fit neatly into the phone jack in the seatback in front; one could nearly detect a snapping click.

STYLING

AVIS’s effort to go head to head with other style products such as Beats was obvious. Sporting a matte red base that abuts a flat black nozzle, AVIS makes every effort to appeal to the secondary market trend of matte finish automobile wrapping. The effort falls flat, however, as the shape and style seems cheap. Further, I wondered almost aloud if AVIS would fall into the notorious trap of the form-over-function balance—a struggle that pollutes many an engineer’s dreams. But, more on that later when I speak to the product’s comfort.

COMFORT

AVIS Wired Headphones are uncomfortable. By time Miller launched into an extended guitar solo of ‘Fly Like an Eagle’, it felt as if two cube-shaped eagle eggs had been crammed, unbroken, into my ears. As I write this hours later, all I want is an omelet made from the eggs I feel are still there that cause a throbbing, residual pain. Hold the maple bacon; I’m doing keto.

PERFORMANCE

All in all, the AVIS Wired Headphones failed spectacularly to deliver a sonic range that showcased Miller’s soaring vocals and subtle trill, not to mention those of what I assumed to be a very talented group of harmonizing back up vocalists. Most of the lyrics sounded muddled—as if in 1979 a 5-year-old opened the glove compartment of a $400 used car and pushed all the equalizer sliders all of the way down, then poked holes in the single center dashboard speaker with the pointed end of the final remnants of the AVIS Wired Headphone’s sound designer’s dignity and self-esteem.

In an honest effort to be fair and eliminate a poor source as the cause, I watched ‘A Star is Born.’ But sadly, the epic Hollywood production with a powerhouse musical talent like Lady Gaga wasn’t delivered to my ears. The most glaring tell from this sample was that the AVIS Wired Headphones trapped Bradley Cooper into sounding like Sam Elliott for the film’s duration, and this quickly grew distracting.

Since performance is everything, I returned to the Miller concert only to find that the cleanest of tones from Miller’s Fender Stratocaster guitar sounded muddled and distorted, and his distorted tones sounded like Joe Cocker choking on a sip of cariogenic weed killer.

CONCLUSION

In the end, when the AVIS Wired Headphones are combined with a screaming, over-modulated flight attendant pitching a 100,000-bonus-miles credit card offer to passengers when they are at their most irritable, a vote in the main cabin would likely have led to an authentic pleading to the pilot to crash the plane into the Grand Canyon, or, a BOSE factory—whichever was closest.

RATING: Three out of five stars

CORRECTION: We have learned that AVIS is an advertiser on the Wired Headphones. AVIS is a car rental company, and do not manufacture headphones. AVIS has not been called for comment.

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