Product: Beats by Dre.
Price and Availability: $350, available now online or at Apple Stores and Best Buy.
Pros: Loud, deep bass, great mid to high range sound.
Cons: Not proficient at noise canceling, sound leaks out of headphones.
Overall: Maybe not the best purchase at $350, but still very good.
During this past January’s CES, Monster, Jimmy Lovine and Dr. Dre announced their partnership and displayed the headphones they were set to release in August. When I received the Beats by Dre headphones a few weeks ago, I was ecstatic — both as a Dr. Dre fan and headphone enthusiast of sorts. The Beats, which retail for $350, look like a high-class product, from its packaging to the headphones themselves.
Look and Feel
From the headphones’ packaging to its form factor, you can tell that Monster has put a lot of effort into designing the device and anything associated with it. When you open the box, you’re greeted with a fairly large carrying case for the headphones on one side of the box, and two headphone cords (1 with a mic button for the iPhone and 1 regular one), a 1/8″ to 1/4″ adapter, and a box containing instructions and a cleaning cloth. The headphones themselves are colored red, black and aluminum, and conveniently fold up neatly. While the headphone cables are a bit on the short side, they are still long enough to be fine for most situations. Possibly the coolest feature of the Beats, and of any set of headphones I’ve ever used, is a mute button on the right ear which mutes the current audio for only as long as you hold it — perfect for when people are speaking to you.
The Beats are advertised as high-end, sonically mind-blowing headphones — Bose-killers, if you will. To me, they most certainly live up to the hype, especially since I own a pair of Bose in-ear and over the ear headphones. The first thing you’ll notice, after popping in the 2 included AAA batteries, is that the Beats are loud. Of all the headphones I’ve owned or used, these are by far the loudest of all, bar none. As a common reference point, I can clearly and easily hear any song on my iPod at around 1/3 full volume. At 1/2 of full volume, the song is borderline too loud for those who, basically, aren’t deaf.
I tested the Beats with The Chronic, Dre’s first solo album. A-mazing. Dre is noted for his thumping basslines and extreme highs (known as G-funk), all of which are evident in full sonic force in every track on the The Chronic. The Beats handle these with ease and give you a great sounding album, one that almost sounds entirely remade, not one that was made in 1992. After that, I threw everything I have in my music collection at these headphones, from Daft Punk to Bond to The Beatles. Everything I played, the Beats gave me all the highs, mids, and lows in perfect form. Dre himself puts it best, “With Beats, people are going to hear what the artists hear.”
However, I did notice that the Beats are not noise-canceling, like they’re advertised. Agreed, they are very loud and do drown out most ambient noise with the music, but they are not true noise cancelers. While listening to music with them on, I usually can hear most of the noise going on around me, but when I speak, my voice is muffled. Other than that, I have no complaints about the Beats’ sound quality.
Though I can’t say I agree with the notion that the Beats allow one to hear a song the way the artist intended, they come pretty darn close. The sound quality is breathtaking, and the design is both stylish and functional. They, in my opinion narrowly edge out the Bose over the ear headphones. However, while the Bose headphones retail at $300, the Beats come in at $350, a price which I think is only so high due to the Dr. Dre and Monster premium. Other than that, these headphones are flawless, and I give them a 5 out of 5.