Hands-On With Monster's New Dr. Dre Beats Headphones
Without getting too technical, we can confidently say that the Beats handled all the frequencies thrown at them without flapping on the bass or screeching on the treble. They have a definitive "warmth" to them that may make hardcore audiophiles scream such things as "accuracy" and "flat response," but, frankly, these headphones are designed to sound good on subways and streets. We convinced the Monsters to let us try out some of our own old '70s and '80s music just to see how the Beats handled that -- we weren't disappointed, although they behaved a lot more evenly with modern hip-hop and R&B. All in all, DJs and club-goers will absolutely love the sound quality.
Design & Comfort
These things scream class. With a shiny exterior and high-end ear cups, the Beats are seriously comfortable. While we only had them on for about 10 minutes, we experienced none of the ear fatigue or "hot ears" that other, less well-designed head cans exhibit. They come in a nice, sturdy case and fold up with an assuring "click." The Beats aren't small, though, so don't expect to just throw them in a pocket like you can in-ear headphones. What's more, big headphones like these are questionable as gym accessories.
Instead of including a call/send/end button and microphone right on the Beasts' cables, Monster has you using a cable adapter that makes things a little annoying, with several wires hanging from your ears and multiple connections to maintain. Performance on calls was also questionable, as we experienced radio interference from the phone's antenna. Hopefully Monster will take the time to add some shielding if they really want to call the Beats iPhone-compatible.
So Are They Worth It?
At $399, these aren't the headphones for just anyone. They are, however, perfect for street-smart, style-conscious, serious hip hop and club music listeners with a little extra cash and a penchant for high-end, high-impact sound. They sound every bit as good and loud as Dr. Dre promised they would, and they look great.
As mentioned, hardcore audiophiles may be disappointed in their hip-hop-friendly bass warmth. Overall, these are a solid entry into the crowded, but long-in-the-tooth high-end headphone set. It's nice to finally see some innovation in a genre of headphones that hasn't seen anything new and exciting in quite some time.