When I first heard that Atari was venturing into the world of Speakerhats with their new partnership with Audiowear, I must admit, much like many of you probably did, I sort of chuckled at the whimsical concept as a novelty. So, as you can imagine when the opportunity came up to get my hands on a review unit of their Blade Runner 2049 limited edition version of their new fashion tech endeavour you know I wasn’t going to pass up such a unique opportunity. It was time for me to don the cap and put it through my personally designed series of test. This is our Atari Audiowear Speaker Hat review.
First off, this thing comes in a nice package. While I’m used to hats coming in boxes, this packaging is more akin to a high-end headset. The bright orange box sleeve encases the outside and the contoured foam inside contains the hat itself, instructions, a USB charging cable, and some bonus Atari and Blade Runner stickers. Unfortunately though, the charging cable does not come with a plug adapter.
The hat itself is stylish and all the non-electronic components are made of high-quality fabric and features the iconic Atari logo on the front side. I will admit, my biggest worry was that, like almost any other hat I’ve ever tried one, that this one would not fit my giant, giant head. Somehow though this thing fits me like a glove even with the battery and bluetooth receiver pouches contained in the brim. This is no small accomplishment in my mind. Honestly, finding headwear that actually fits me is a miracle.
As for the speakers themselves, they’re definitely more in the mid to high-range frequencies with not a lot of bass. Which honestly, I somewhat expected from the lack of a sub-woofer speaker in the hat itself. Still, the speakers get good volume without distorting. And the battery life is great on these; it lasted me a whole work day with no need for a charge. The one minor complaint I would have about the sound beyond the lack of real low-end would be that my ears were so used to hearing sound from the left and right side of my head that it took a couple minutes to get used to focusing on the sound coming from above the front of my face.
And while the Atari speakerhat may seem like a novelty, I quickly found some semi-practical uses for it. I wore it around the house all day listening to my podcasts as I worked. I wore it under my helmet while I rode my bike, which is super convenient because the one ear bud I’m legally allowed to have in usually slips out. I usually carry around my logitech boombox in my side bag, but it’s rather cumbersome, especially compared to a hat that I can just shove in a backpack when I’m not using. I could imagine this freeing up hands for a cooler full of ice cold age appropriate beverages at the beach too. But, this is probably not a hat you can wear out in a wet environment like the rainy streets of future Los Angeles. Also, at $139.99 for the special edition Blade Runner hat or $129.99 for the standard logo edition some may feel a slight bit of sticker shock.
Overall, the Atari Audiowear Speakerhat is a novelty as you would’ve expected, but even with that said they could’ve done a lot worse. There’s decent electronic equipment wrapped inside a stylish, comfortable hat that will fit even the biggest of heads. This would make a great gift for the replicant or human in your life if they’re fan of retro gaming fashion or maybe in need of a new jambox. It actually has some very practical uses for active folks who hate wearing ear buds like I do. And while I’d never be brave enough to try it myself these would be a great way of drowning out the crappy music the kids on the bus always seem to be playing on their phones.