ShareBrand: Headphones with Heart

Everywhere you turn, new ways to support causes and ideas have been created. Crowdsourcing and crowdfunding is inescapable. Friends just used Honeyfund to let wedding guests finance their honeymoon. Perhaps more philanthropically, another friend is getting help with medical payments through My bicycle rides are logged onto the Plus3 website that, through corporate sponsors, donates money to charities based on how many miles I ride. (I’ve personally raised almost $700 and burned 1.4 million calories; that’s a lot of M&Ms.) It seems that new ways to raise money for a cause are being created daily. Enter ShareBrand.

ShareBrand was created by two friends in a suburb of Denver, Colorado. They’ve created a diverse line of products that connect commerce with charity. Twenty-five percent of the proceeds from all their sales go to charities. Items are color-coded - blue product proceeds go to men and children’s health, yellow to education, pink to women and childhood causes, green to environmental issues and red to fight poverty.

Their partner/benefactors include Project Angel Heart that delivers meals to people struggling with life-threatening illnesses, Rays of Grace that’s building a school in Uganda, and Friendship Bridge that helps Guatemalan women escape the bonds of poverty through microcredit and education.

The products offered by ShareBrand are limited: tee-shirt, coffee mug, dog collar, iPhone cover, wallet, tote bag, yoga mat, earphones and headphones. Obviously, I wanted to check out the headphones.

The stereo headphones ($65 retail) are available in the whole range of colors. I got the red ones. They’re on-ear headphones with an inline microphone for taking phone calls. They have a 40mm neodymium driver. The upper area of the headband is well-padded and quite comfortable. However, the rest of the band is plastic and has a rather cheap feel. The cups swivel to ensure a good, snug fit at a comfortable angle.

I really embrace what ShareBrand is going for, but I was disappointed in the sound of the headphones. I checked out the headphones with Michael Jackson’s Xscape downloaded from HD Tracks. The first single is “Love Never Felt So Good” - this version features a guest appearance by Justin Timberlake. The high end had a veiled, pulled-back quality, especially on both men’s vocals. I noticed that there’s a rather thick layer of foam covering the drivers inside the ear cup. I wonder if simply replacing that with thin fabric would help bring back the treble. The lush strings and upper percussion lacked sparkle. A song this happy and upbeat needs that sparkle to shine.The bass had a warm, enveloping sound but lacked distinction.

If you’re looking for a meaningful gift for someone you know with a kind heart, take a look at the whole ShareBrand product line. An audiophile might be looking for something with a better sound, but for many people, helping out a charity is just as important. Make a statement: giving is good for the giver and receiver. While most products make corporations richer, these are products you can feel good about buying - they enrich in other ways.