Brief: One of the several toxic-looking headphones produced by Skullcandy-esque headphone/accessory manufacturer iFrogz. The Nerve Pipe is sold with a twist – a customization tool for the headphones is offered on the iFrogz website. Yes, this monstrosity was custom-designed, though I gladly yield all credit for the creation to my girlfriend.
Build Quality (4/10): The Nerve Pipes are made completely out of plastic and feel rather toy-like in construction. There are some molding artifacts and sharp edges but the build quality is decent for a $20 headphone, with no squeaks or rattles. Cabling is rubberized slightly and not too thin but the strain reliefs at both ends are too hard for my liking. The best thing about these is probably the folding mechanism, which uses a third joint in the middle of the headband to make for a truly collapsible headphone. At their smallest the folded Nerve Pipes are fist-sized.
Comfort (9/10): The faux (I hope) zebra pads are surprisingly pleasant to the touch and the ear. The ‘fur’ is fairly short and smooth and offers an excellent compromise between (sweaty) pleather and (irritating) foam. The cups swivel and pivot freely for a very comfortable fit. I’ve actually managed to forget I was wearing these a few times. If there was one bone to pick, it’s that the headband is unpadded, but it is quite wide and the Nerve Pipes are light enough that it exerts very little pressure. Also, they may not have enough clamping force for people with smaller heads, though I had no problem keeping them on.
Isolation (4.5/10): The Zebra pads seal well though and isolation is on par with the other semi-closed portables. However, the Nerve Pipes are vented at the back and leak a surprising amount for supraaurals with ear-sized cups.
Sound (3.5/10): The sound produced by these is decidedly unrefined on the scale of audiophile portables. They are balanced and punchy, with bass that is surprisingly tame for a mainstream teen-targeting headphone and a recessed midrange. The low end is muddy but extension is fine, rolling off smoothly past 45Hz or so and the drivers are quite capable of coping with some bass boost EQ. Upper-end extension is average. The treble is actually quite natural-sounding and doesn’t have a hint of harshness. The soundstage is average in width and lacking depth, resulting in an intimate sound that works decently well with the warm tonality. Overall, the sound really doesn’t impress in any particular area but isn’t as harsh or boomy as some other cheap portables can be.
Value (5/10): The EarPollution Nerve Pipes are extremely comfortable and decently performing portable headphones that boast customizable looks and a reasonable price tag. I found myself using these more often than I expected, mostly to watch a video in comfort. In fact, the warm and smoothed-over signature works very well for films and TV.
Frequency Response: 30-20,000 Hz
Impedance: 32 Ω
Sensitivity: 120 dB SPL/1mW
Cord: 3.94ft (1.2m); Straight Plug
Space-Saving Mechanism: Collapsible