Cali Buds is a homegrown company, working right here out of sunny California slangin’ some cleverly named audio gear and clothing. Last month we featured their headphones because they looked dope and the company was local, but we were really dying to get our hands on a pair a try them out. So, we got in touch with Cali Buds founder Aaron Phillips to find out more about the company and their ‘medical music’ gear. Read on!
HOW DID CALI BUDS COME TO BE? AND HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH ‘MEDICAL MUSIC’?
The seed was planted for Cali Buds about 3 or 4 years ago. It all started with a high thought to put green headphones in a bud jar. It wasn’t until a few years later that the name Cali Buds came to mind, and that is when it all clicked. Ideas started flowing in like crazy. I remember being up at 2:30 in the morning after a house party just writing down ideas for names and catch phrases before I forgot them. Sitting on the tube in London I started sketching a medical logo with ear-buds wrapped around it instead of serpents. Medical Music was then born.
(Aaron’s original logo sketch)
Cali Buds is a name known internationally for the best quality bud around…it has a reputation. The packaging, the name and the product all tie in together. When someone is looking at a medical jar on the counter at a local mom and pop wondering what its doing there and then see Cali Buds on the label, later finding out it is ear-buds, it makes perfect sense.
DO YOU HAVE A BACKGROUND IN AUDIO EQUIPMENT?
In 2007 we launched a corporation called Soundescapes, Inc. Soundescapes is the parent company for Cali Buds and also another brand called I/THREE/SIXTY. Soundescapes, Inc. has successfully patented audio equipment, developed and manufactured a line of custom Bluetooth products, headphones, and soft goods. We work with and have established relationships with a variety of manufactures from around the world in the UK, Canada, Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, and Vietnam.
WHAT WAS YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE STARTING CALI BUDS?
The biggest challenge for Cali Buds is where we have arrived at the present moment. www.calibudsaudio.com was officially online and started selling August 1st 2013, only a few months ago. We have secured a variety of retailers online such as Karmaloop, but the biggest challenge for Cali Buds will be to build the brand name, generate awareness and get the buds in people’s ears. Some challenges we have faced have been with a few in store buyers at first glance who see the way the buds are packaged and think it’s a gimmick assuming we are some stoner kids who just threw some cheap headphones in a bud jar. It can be funny at times.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE CALI BUDS LIFESTYLE?
With Cali Buds we want to keep it real, I think it’s as simple as that. We are a team of young conscious thinkers who want to build a brand, something most people wish they were in a position to do. Our lifestyle is to have fun with whatever it is we are doing at that moment. We look to connect with trendsetters, fashion geeks, stoner kids and active people who all love music.
AS A BRAND THAT EMBRACES THE SWEET SWEET HERB, ANY PLANS TO COLLABORATE WITH COMPANIES ON THE SMOKING GEAR SIDE OF THINGS?
We sponsored the 2013 High Times Cannabis Cup in Seattle donating a bunch of product for their gift bags. We are always looking for opportunities to partner with different brands and cross promote.
IF YOU COULD DO A SPECIAL EDITION WITH ANY CELEBRITY WHO WOULD IT BE?
I would have to say Curren$y… Audio Dope!
HOW ARE CALI BUDS DIFFERENT FROM EVERYONE’S FAVORITE/MOST-HATED HEADPHONES FROM APPLE?
The two most important things for me personally are sound quality and comfort. We put a premium speaker driver in our buds, and manufactured a speaker casing with an offset in ear-bud that is in the shape of an oval…this allows a good seal in the ear without being uncomfortable. This also allows the speaker to stay in the ear securely without falling out. We know how much it costs to produce some of these headphones on the market today and is our goal to provide a quality product with quality sound at a reasonable price. All Cali Buds retail for $29.95 and come with a limited lifetime manufactures warranty replacing all defective products.
– High End Speaker Driver
– Driver Specs: 10mm/6μPlus/32Ω/20~20khz
– Microphone Including Multi Function Button
– Pause/Play Music and Answer/End Calls
– Off Set Speaker With Oval Design For a Comfortable Fit
– Tangle Resistant Flat Wire
– Bottled In A Medical Jar (Patent Pending)
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE MUSIC TO LISTEN TO ON YOUR CALI BUDS?
I like it all really…Instrumentals, Hip Hop, Rap, Electronic, Reggae…something to chill to when I am thinking, and something that slaps when I am active.
HOW HAS SOCIAL MEDIA CHANGED OR IMPACTED YOUR BRAND AND COMPANY?
Social media is cool…grassroots is where it’s at and getting out meeting people face to face, developing relationships is the most important thing for us. I think our following wants to see what we are doing in the real world. Social media is a way for people to find us and stay in tune with what we are doing. What you do in real life carries over to the social media world and I think some people forget that.
ARE THERE PLANS TO EXPAND THE PRODUCT LINE?
Yes, currently we are building an apparel line called Golden Grown Apparel and look to expand our headphone line offering a few more colors, and also over the ear headphones…there are some good things coming around the corner.
WHAT IS YOUR ULTIMATE GOAL OR DREAM FOR CALI BUDS?
To establish the Cali Buds brand in the marketplace where people can engage with us, and who know we are real people behind the name. We don’t want to feel like we have to sell people…we want people to purchase our products because they are quality and if something goes wrong they know we will take care of them. The goal is to have a drip feed of sales though our sales avenues and have fun while doing it.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR CALI BUDS?
Right now we need to hustle…we can use all the help we can get to promote the name and get out there. We are taking it one day at a time…we have good stuff coming but all that depends on what we do now with these first products in order to pave the way for what’s next!
Aaron and the team at Cali Buds hooked us up with their essential gear: their ‘Kush’ headphones, classic tank, bud jacket/koozie, and some Cali stickers. The tank is a super comfortable tri-blend cotton with the Cali Buds logo subtly printed in a faded white, and definitely a great start for this brand. We can’t wait to see what they come up with next in their ‘Golden Grown Apparel’ collection.
Alright, now let’s get down to what Cali Buds is really about: dope headphones. I had the opportunity to road test the Kush headphones against the standard set that came with my iPhone 4S. To get a good idea of how the Kush performs under various conditions I tested them alongside the Apple joints, listening to different styles of music from Kendrick Lamar to Dave Brubeck.
The main issue I find with headphones masquerading as HI-FI sets is that those companies simply boost the bass frequencies to trick you into thinking your music sounds better. This is DEFINITELY not the case with Cali Buds. Yes, the bass is more responsive, but everything else is too. The sound clarity is really impressive from this set and the offset speaker design (something I had never tried before) is super comfortable, stays in your ears properly, and helps blocks out outside sound. Cali Buds also come with two other sizes of rubber tips so you can customize your fit.
All Cali Buds (in either ‘Kush’ green or ‘Hash’ matte black) retail for $29.95 which is a steal for the audio performance you’re getting. The standard Apple Earbuds will run you $29 with the in-ear version jumping all the way up to $79, a steep entrance fee for a lower-performing set that doesn’t have the same quality and warranty that Cali Buds have. My only reservation with Cali Buds is that although they have a pause/play multi-function button, they don’t have a volume control like Apple’s do.
As a musician and an audiophile I’m pretty critical of sound quality (and yet I still use Apple earbuds for some unknown reason), and having recently tried out ‘other’ affordable headphone options without being the least bit impressed I was not that optimistic going into this test. But, Cali Buds delivered in a big way with headphones that look and sound dope for a great value. So, the next time you plan on throwing away $30 or more on another pair of shitty headphones, support our hometown heroes at Cali Buds and get yourself into some medical music.