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Beats By Dr. Dre Headphones Review

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Robscix

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Beats by Dr. Dre Headphones Review




Price: $399 at Future Shop and NCIX
Availability: In Stores now
Manufacturer’s Part#: 129346-00
TechWiki Info: Beats by Dr. Dre
Warranty: 1 Year Limited
For more info on <a href="http://www.beatsbydre.com" target="_blank"> Beats By Dre Headphones</a> go to <a href="http://www.beatsbydre.com" target="_blank">www.beatsbydre.com</a>



The Monster Cable brand name is very well known among audio / video aficionados and also to many others that have ventured in to any electronics store. They manufacture many different products for the audio video market concentrating on the high end and ultra high end consumers. Their products span from cabling to high end power conditioners to headphones. Now, Monster has enlisted the assistance of the legendary musical artist Dr. Dre who is considered by many to be a force of nature in the Hip-Hop and Rap musical genres and is involved in everything from management and production of various high profile artists to producing his own musical contributions.

With Dr. Dre prepared to lend his expertise, Monster also enlisted the assistance and experience of Jimmy Iovine who is currently the Chairman of Interscope Geffen A&M Records. With Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine onboard, Monster set out to design a new set of studio headphones. Naturally, these industry luminaries didn't want just any new headphones, they wanted a product that would allow the user to experience the full sonic spectrum any audio source had to offer. After three years of research and development, what this dream team proudly unveiled is the Beats by Dr. Dre. Today, we will be running these headphones through some various audio tasks common to PC users to see if they live up to all the hype and fanfare that has surrounded this product. Let’s go to it shall we?

What the Man himself has to say:

“People aren't hearing all the music. Artists and producers work hard in the studio, perfecting their sound. But people can’t really hear it with normal headphones. Most headphones can’t handle the bass, the detail, the dynamics. Bottom line: the music doesn’t move you. With Beats, people are going to hear what the artists hear and listen to the music the way they should: the way I do.”

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Robscix

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Packaging / Bundle

Packaging /Bundle
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The Beats come in very solid packaging with a heavy weight to it insuring great protection is afforded your new $300 beauties while the outside cover contains all information needed to incite your interest. There is a nice great shot of the headphones themselves, with further shots of the speaker and ear cup design and last but not least a great shot of Dr. Dre looking quite thoughtful in reflection to what he has brought to the audio world. At least that is what we would like to say he is thinking about.

The black outside cover pulls off to boast a contrasting red inner box complete with logos and Velcro snaps to keep everything in check.

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The inside box opens similar to a book, with all accessories and cabling on the left hand side and the Beats contained in their protective road case on the right hand side. Monster spared no expense on the bundle which comes complete with 2X AAA Duracell batteries to power the noise cancellation circuitry and genuine Monster brand cabling. The bundle includes two cables for the Beats, one cable for use with MP3/CD players and one for use with the Apple iPhone. This cable features a built-in answer button and microphone for your phone. You can also use the Beats with a Blackberry and other music enabled phones.

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Full bundle Includes:
  • Touring Case
  • Cleaning Cloth
  • 2 AAA Duracell Batteries
  • Airline adapter
  • 6.3mm to 3.5mm adapter
  • 3.5mm cable
  • Monster iSoniTalk cable

The polishing cloth is a great addition as the Black finish on the Beats is very shiny, you could call it a piano finish. The cloth will keep them looking great well you’re out on the road. We all want to look great while we are out right?
 
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Robscix

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The Beats by Dr. Dre Headphones

The Beats by Dr. Dre Headphones


The Beats headphones contain powered noise isolation circuitry and with the flick of the switch on the right ear cup you can drop outside sound which gives you a better presentation and less bleed through from outside distractions and noise. There is also a “kill switch” which will mute all sound from the music source. To add an even more advanced aspect, the included iSoniTalk cable allows integrations with your cellular phone and the Beats headphones. Let’s take a closer look at these sonic monsters by Monster.

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The Beats are quite stylish and modern looking, at least they don’t make you look like a WWII wireless operator, a style many high end headphones suffer from. You can go out on the road with these and still look good. The ear cups are very comfortable and the plush cushions allow breathing to keep your ears cool during long music sessions or those late night game runs were you just can’t make it past that last enemy. Let’s take a look at the ear pieces.​

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Both ear pieces have the stylish coloring and the "b" logo for the Beats. On the head band we have the Monster emblem. Yes sir, they definitely have some styling going on for sure. Let’s take a closer look at the ear pieces and the build quality overall, as these headphones are definitely built to last.​

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The right hand ear cup contains two switches, the slide switch is for activating the noise cancellation circuitry and the silver “b” emblem hides the mute switch. The left hand ear cup contains a removable panel that hides the power source for the noise cancellation circuitry in the form of two AAA batteries. Many past and present headphones suffer from the “frail” factor meaning they are extremely easy to break and you’re constantly worried about damaging them or at worst just snapping them in half. The Beats by Dr. Dre do not suffer from this in the least and they are built tough, extremely tough. Let’s have a look:​

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The Beats have a very solid construction, using solid plastic and rivet based construction. The ear pieces are quite tough and they feel extremely durable. The entire headset is built around the same design aspects and you feel as if you have a product that is worth the investment.​

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The inside of the head strap is fully padded to keep it as comfortable as possible on your head. The two silver panels on the inside offer more catch phrasing with the words “Monster” on the left and “Studio” on the right. The entire head band feels solid and well built again offering you great quality for your hard earned audio dollars and giving the impression they will go the distance, while other headphones will fall by the way side.​
 
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Robscix

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Subjective Testing: Music & Movies

Subjective Testing



Gear Used:
Silverstone EB01 USB DAC
Sapphire Ivory MP3 Player

Soundcards:
Auzentech Prelude 7.1
ASUS Xonar Essence STX

Note: The beats were allowed to Burn-in for about ~50 hours prior to any auditioning.


Music


Metallica: Master of Puppets
Ozzy Osbourne: Live at Budokan
Ozzy Osbourne: Black Rain
Nickleback: Dark horse
Robert Jonson: The Complete Recordings
Obie Trice: Cheers
Brooklyn Bounce: Best Of
50 Cent: Get Rich or Die Trying


I will admit I figured I would have bass monsters on my hands considering the influence Dr. Dre had on these headphones' design. This is always a worry when a product is aggressively marketed towards a certain market. However, I was pleasantly surprised with the bass response of these headphones; actually the bass response of these cans amazed me. The bass was deep but not boomy and had quite a bit of articulation, as we tested quite a bit of House, Techno, Hip Hop and old school Rap to look for breaks or holes in the response. After much searching there were no gaps in the bass response and all of the tones came out perfectly clear. If they were designed to have soulful bass region they succeeded in spades. The Beats smashed out whatever tracks we threw at them and kept on bouncing which was quite impressive. We also tested many other genres and were equally impressed with what we heard. What really stood out to me was the clarity in the mid range and highs. Reverberation would trail off further than with other headphones giving a much larger sense of space. The mid range was crystal clear, producing no noticeable smearing anywhere within the response. The detail on these headphones has to be heard to be believed, they truly leave nothing out of the soundscape.

The Beats have that “IT” factor that many headphones lack. When you listen to them, they make you move; tap your foot, bang your head, whatever. This quality is very hard to capture since we all know that many headphones will sound excellent but they are missing that vital ambiance that makes you "feel" the music. To put this into perspective; you can wear the Beats, listen to a song you have heard you whole life, and hear new sounds you never thought were there. The f-bomb John Lennon drops in the background of "Hey Jude", subtle cymbals chiming in the fourth movement of Beethoven's Symphony No.9, I could go on and on but let's just say that if you are listening to high-quality recordings, these headphones will simply amaze you.


Movie Listening Impressions


Ozzy Osbourne: Live at Budokan
Star Wars EpII: Attack of the Clones
Star Wars EpIII: Revenge of the Sith


Even though this isn't the Beats' advertised territory, we tested a few movies with the Beats using Dolby Headphone imaging. We found that even here the excellent dynamic range of the Beats came into play. Every raindrop, gun shot, lightsaber twirl and footfall could be heard without being muddied by even the most complicated soundstage. Speaking of lightsabers, the Lucasarts movies sounded particularly spectacular and we really got the feeling that much more attention was given to audio effects than these films are given credit for. The space flying sequences had amazing directional sound and a few times I ducked and look to the side in order to dodge a stray starfighter. The Beats could ramp up the action without bottoming out with heavy bass sequences such as explosions or crashes and presented a thoroughly crisp, clear and solid movie image during the entire reference movie set. Without a doubt, we really couldn't have asked for more.
 
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Robscix

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Gaming Impressions

Gaming Impressions


Gear Used:
ASUS Essence STX
Auzen Prelude 7.1

We are always curious in the Audio Lab as to how headphones under test will react to gaming audio effect routines (EAX/OpenAL and GX 2.5) and upmix technologies available on modern soundcards such as CMSS-3D and Dolby Headphone. We figured what better cards to test with then the Prelude and Xonar Essence STX? Now onto the games:


Call of Duty: World at War

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The Call of Duty series is a staple to many of us being our favorite or one of our favorite FPS. I was just starting to play COD: WAW when the Beats came along and they seriously impressed me for sound quality. Many have mixed opinions on the audio for this game arguing about the sound of the guns and other armaments. The beats brought out everything the audio tracks in this game had to offer. I could hear new detail in the environments and with the weapons. New in game sounds came out to the forefront, details previously lost or missed with my other headset were easily noticed through the beats. The in game sounds had more realism through the Beats and they surpassed my previous “reference”, headphones easily.


Call of Duty II

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While the new COD chapters are great, I still find myself going back to this chapter. Call of Duty 2 will always be one of my personal favorite as it is with many other gamers. The soundtracks and weapon sounds in this game are custom, compiled and modified by yours truly for my own enjoyment. I have spent much time editing these sound files using audio editors so they are well known to me. With the Beats, new detail came through in the game and when reviewing the tracks in Adobe Audition.​


Call of Duty 4

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This game provides great tests for audio equipment. Offering large environments, great weapon sounds and heavy action sequences for the player. New details, nuances and clarity were noticed through this game also. I found myself looking to the side a few times while playing. The Beats offered great realism and enjoyment while playing this game. All imaging was perfect through these headphones and enimies could be easily pinpointed in the sonic image. All the weapon sound had something new also, more detail and articulation, The game just sounded exceptional over these headphones.​


Infernal

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This is a new game in me reference set. Not new but good none the less. Many large environments using lots of reverbs can be hard on headphones to reproduce accurately offering a fake simulated sound instead of an authentic “openness” sound. The beats again never disappointed while playing infernal or other test games. The sound quality built into these headphones comes through no matter if you use on card game effects or the game has a built in effects engine. For gaming I opt to use these headphones from here on out.​
 
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Robscix

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Audio Recording / Simulation

Audio Recording / Simulation

Audio recording has become quite simple with a PC which means electric guitar players and other musicians now have an array of software that can aid them in getting the perfect sound for a recording. Amplifier simulation software has proven to be a versatile solution for these musicians and offers them a myriad of recording and output options while being relatively easy on the pocketbook. Basically, with this software users can experiment with different soundscapes without buying different instruments. Naturally, with this software comes the need for some kick ass headphones or speakers so you are able to hear all the nuances the tune you are trying to carry.

I use Guitar Rig myself for tracking other musician’s guitar licks or tracking a few of my own.

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Since the packaging for the Beats has words like "Studio", recording and monitoring had to be on the testing regimen. Again the Beats did not dissapoint providing crisp, clear sound and clean articulate bass tones. What was immediately apparent from the first chord is that these headphones have much more detail than my previous set when used for this task. There were sonic details and nuances in the sound that were previously unheard with other headphones used. Suddenly the tube amplifier presets came to life instead of sounding like just another modeled amplifier. All in all, the Beats proved they are as much at home in an actual studio environment as they are when you are using them with your iPod.
 
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Robscix

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Conclusion

Conclusion


We are all used to what happens when a celebrity sticks their name on a product in the hopes it will sell like hotcakes. In some cases the products end up being ten kinds of suck while in others you pay mega bucks for something that is a solid middle-of-the-pack contender. That all changes with the Beats since these are the real deal. These headphones do not feel like just another generic set where the company bought off a well known artist for face appeal and slapped his name all over the box. After spending a considerable amount of time with them, the sonic signature and overall product construction give the impression that much time and care was put into their crafting. Every time they are used I am impressed with the clarity, bass detail and sonic imaging they present and that impression hasn't lessened over the weeks I have had them in my possession. Every time I play movies or music or even try my hand at gaming, the Beats wowed me again and again; let me tell you, that is a tough thing to do these days.

Indeed, if you roll your eyes at the thought of spending $400 on a pair of headphones, these are not for you. However, for those out there that have an appreciation for quality sound, regardless of how light your wallet is, the Beats should be high on your list. Sound quality wise, they compete with the Sennheisers and Grados of this world while looking oh so cool which is a trait not many other $400 headphones can claim ownership of.

The sound quality is incredibly musical, imparting new sounds and detail previously unheard in most of the test tracks. The Beats managed to breath new sonic life into well known music and made all test tracks much more enjoyable.The added noise reduction / cancellation circuitry feels like an integrated feature instead of a tacked on effect which says a lot about the R&D that went into their design. This circuitry is incredibly quiet when enabled and unlike other (failed) examples of it, you cannot hear any hiss or hum at all, just dead silence until the Beats come to life with your favorite tracks.

The only real complaint we had with them is a bit of bleed-through when the headphones are on higher volumes and the 3.5 mm cable can be a bit short for PC use. I should be noted however that the cable is perfect length for portable audio player.

To tell you the truth, the only major problem with the Beats is that they make audio you thought was perfectly adequate feel suddenly lackluster. Instead of using that 128kbps bitrate which sounded good before, you will find yourself striving to find space for those 256kbps MP3s which eat up 4GB audio players like a pack of ravenous wolves. It is a well known fact that headphones can only be as good as the source they are connected to. Without a doubt, you would be doing the Beats a huge injustice by using them to play low bitrate MP3s. Granted, they can make even low-quality audio sound quite good, but where these headphones really come into their own is when they are plugged into a high quality DAC or when you are listening to high bitrate MP3s.

It is for these reasons and so many more that the Beats by Dr. Dre get our Dam Good Award.



Pros
- High Quality Sound
- Tough Build Quality
- Good Bundle
- Amazing design

Cons
- Some sound leaks at loud volumes
- Short 3.5mm cord for PC use


 
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