Monster Beats by Dr Dre Pro review: Monster Beats by Dr Dre Pro
Grabbing these cans, the first thing that'll strike you is the sheer size of the things -- the massive earcups will easily eclipse even the most prominent of lugs. They're not light, either. Constructed mostly of aluminium, the Beats Pros feel very substantial. The good news is, we reckon the hefty metal frame will stand up to a few knocks. The not-so-good news is that they feel really heavy on your head.
It's not necessarily a dealbreaker, though -- we never found them uncomfortably weighty. More of an issue is if you're walking around, or indeed indulging in a spot of headbanging, you might find the Pros gaining momentum and sliding off your ears. That heavy look does give the Pros a very definite style, though, and the sheer size of them will ensure they turn a few heads.
Listening for extended periods of time was comfortable enough, though because the earcups themselves are quite shallow, we did notice a little pain setting in after a few hours due to our ears pressing against the inside of the cups themselves, so that's something to watch for.
Each earcup swivels up for easy storage inside the headband, which cuts down their size if you're carting these 'phones around with you. The cable is thick and rubberised with a coiled section, which should give you a little extra freedom if you need to be further from your music source for a moment.
Chainin' and coilin'
Another neat feature is that there's a cable socket on each earcup, with the unused socket serving as an output, so you can hook up another set of headphones and 'daisy-chain' the sound from the Pros to the attached set of 'phones. We imagine this would come in handy for communal listening, or professional deejaying. We don't think it's the intended purpose, but you can also plug in two sound sources to the Pros -- one to each earcup -- if, for whatever reason, you want to listen to two songs at the same time. Cool for amateur mixing, perhaps.
Since these sound-muffs have a closed-back design, you get a good deal of sound isolation with these on your head. We tested them on the London Tube and found they did a reasonable job of blocking out the horrifying sound of our fellow man. It's still not as much sound isolation as you'd get with a set of inner-ear headphones, but it's a pretty good showing.
These are quite leaky, however. It's not so bad when you've got them attached to your head, but if you break that seal, expect everyone else on the bus to be hearing your thumping choons. Admittedly, that's not a problem for you, but if you're planning on using these in a quiet office, it's something to bear in mind.
So, in terms of design, the Pros are a little rough around the edges. But these little niggles will melt into delightful quirks when you actually pump some music through these beasts.
A shotgun of sound to the face
Let's preface the sound-quality section by saying that despite the price tag, these headphones probably won't satisfy hardcore audiophiles. If you want faithful, accurate, natural tone in your headphones, stop reading now, because these cans don't offer that kind of precise audio reproduction. What they do offer, however, is a massive amount of fun. We see these headphones satisfying aspiring DJs, or anyone with a good deal of spare cash who really enjoys blasting a few beats.
As you'd imagine, the Pros are bass-heavy. That's possibly the biggest understatement you'll read this year -- the kind of aggressive, head-pounding, eyeball-rattling low-end thump these cans deliver is a rare thing indeed.
Anyone can create really bass-heavy headphones, but what the Pros do well is deliver that bass without letting it balloon out of control and obscure the rest of the mix. The bass through these cans is monumental, but always feels contained -- like a rabid pitbull kept on a tight leash. Listening to Skee-Lo's I Wish, for example, the strong kick drum and wandering bassline were always prominent, and delivered a proper thump, but we could still hear the delicate piano trills that lurk in the mid frequencies. The result is a low end that will liquify your brain at high volumes, but doesn't interfere with your enjoyment of the song as a whole.
There's a great deal of clarity in the high end, too. Cymbals and hi-hats, for instance, came through very clearly on every track we tested. We did notice that, at higher volumes, some high tones became hot and edged into distortion territory. We noticed this on the lead guitars during the chorus of Puddle of Mudd's She Hates Me. Even though sound quality fades at higher volumes, we can forgive the Pros because rocking out with these 'phones is buckets of fun.
The Pros don't offer a particularly wide sound stage, but that's not totally surprising considering the tight-around-the-ears fit.
If you're a fan of accoustic or folk music, it goes without saying that you won't get the most out of these cans, which are very much tailored toward hip-hop, rock or dance music. Anything with a prominent bassline will sound great, and this is the core of the Pros' appeal. When the kick drum and bass hit simultaneously on The Tempest by Pendulum, you'll feel as if a bomb has exploded inside your head, and you'll actually feel the bones in your skull shaking loose from their tendinous constraints.
If you want your music reproduced as exactly, precisely and carefully as possible, opt for a different set of cans. If, however, you want headphones that will compromise the structural integrity of your face, the Monster Beats by Dr Dre Pro deliver. A few design quirks stop them from being truly brilliant, and they're exceedingly expensive, but we cannot deny that the Pros rock us to our very core.
If you want the same 'bass over accuracy' approach but for half the price, check out the V-Moda Crossfade LPs.
Edited by Emma Bayly
Everything You Need to Know About the Very Ugly Monster-Beats Lawsuit
A former partner of Beats Electronics is suing the company and phone manufacturer HTC for “deliberate acts of corporate betrayal.” Monster, which was involved in the design and development of the original Beats headphones, is alleging that Beats founders Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre conned Monster out of its stake in the headphone empire through a series of unscrupulous business maneuvers. Now Monster is seeking punitive damages from Beats, which Apple bought last spring for $3 billion.
In its 64-page complaint, Monster unloads a barrage of allegations against Beats, particularly against Iovine. (Beats did not respond to an email seeking comment). Here are the key points you need to understand about the contentious relationship between the two companies that helped grow luxury headphones into a billion-dollar market.
Monster Prototyped and Manufactured the Original Beats
According to Monster’s complaint, Monster CEO Noel Lee and his son Kevin originally pitched the idea of high-end headphones to Iovine and Dr. Dre, who had been considering launching a speaker line, in late 2005. Eventually, Beats and Monster entered into a licensing agreement in early 2008—Monster would handle the engineering, production and distribution of the headphones, and Beats would offer the “Beats by Dre” branding and leverage the clout of Iovine and Dr. Dre to market them to sports and hip-hop fans. Monster says it financed the engineering of the original headphone line and developed at least 30 protoptypes. The combo of headphones of at least decent quality with extremely slick marketing and packaging was an immediate smash hit. Between 2008 and 2012, Beats by Dre products generated $1.5 billion in revenue, according to Monster.
Monster and Beats Cozy Up
As the premium headphones began to gain traction, Monster took a few actions to strengthen its relationship with Beats that the company now says led to its “betrayal.” In August 2009, Noel Lee bought a 5% stake in Beats (at the time, Iovine and Dr. Dre each had a 15% stake, according to Monster). That same year, Monster amended its licensing agreement to stipulate that Beats could terminate its licensing agreement with Monster if there was a transaction that resulted in a “bona fide change in control,” such as someone buying a majority stake in Beats.
An HTC Investment Ends Monster-Beats Partnership
In August 2011, phone manufacturer HTC bought a 51% controlling stake in Beats Electronics. According to Monster, this sale was the “bona fide change in control” that Beats needed to terminate its licensing agreement with Monster. The end of the Monster-Beats partnership was formally announced in January 2012, and Monster says it was “strong-armed” into providing information about its retailer and logistics networks to Beats quickly in exchange for getting to sell Beats-branded products for a slightly longer period.
Iovine and Dr. Dre Buy Beats Right Back
Less than a year after the HTC investment, Beats Electronics bought back half of HTC’s shares in the company, granting Iovine and Dr. Dre a 75% controlling stake in Beats. HTC had also provided Beats with a $225 million loan before the Beats founders bought back a portion of the company. At the time, HTC said the financial decisions were meant to give Beats “more flexibility for global expansion while maintaining HTC’s major stake and commercial exclusivity in mobile.” Monster, meanwhile, believes the entire HTC investment was a “sham” aimed at giving complete control of Beats to Dr. Dre and Iovine. “If the contractual arrangements between Beats and Monster terminated without a change of control, Beats would not have gained control of Monster’s pioneering engineering efforts, as well as Monster’s distribution and sales networks,” Monster wrote in its complaint. Beats bought out the rest of HTC’s stake in the company in 2013.
Monster Misses the Apple Payday
Monster’s Lee had reduced his stake in Beats from 5% to 1.25% following the end of the Monster-Beats partnership. As he was deciding whether to offload his Beats stake entirely in September 2013, Lee claims that he talked to multiple Beats officials who told him that Beats had no liquidity event coming “in the next year or two.” Lee sold his stake back to Beats at a price of $5.5 million. Eight months later, Apple bought Beats for $3 billion. Lee’s stake would have been worth about $100 million.
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Monster Beats by Dr. Dre, the definitive review
It’s not hard to design headphones that win raves from bloggers and customers. Just give people a big, fat bass line and you can expect to be showered with praise for “phenomenal” beats, “exceptional sound quality”, and “blissful, skull-vibrating pure bass”. It’s a much trickier proposition, though, to design headphones that give you all of the above, deservedly winning plaudits for the booming basement – while sounding just as good in every other department: Rocking the house and stomping the beats one moment, bringing out the best in fragile folk and spine-tingling sonatas the next, that’s the real trick that few headphones manage to perform.
Producer Dr. Dre either felt the same way or was persuaded by a sufficiently sweet pay package to lend his name to a new contender in the high-end headphones category. Beats by Dr. Dre Headphones are made by premium audio brand Monster, which has so far specialized in offering oversized cables for hi-fi enthusiasts – making people believe, some critics say, that the sound must be better simply because the cables are bigger and every inch or centimeter of cord costs a relative fortune.
The “Beats” are far from a bargain either, selling for around $350 in the U.S. But if you have discerning ears they may well be worth the money. Once you get past the Ubersized price and the awkward, marketing-inspired name, you’re free to enjoy the music – and I generally found the good doctor’s hearing aid to provide plenty of listening pleasure. There are some minor glitches, which we’ll get to in a moment, but overall the “Beats” deliver a sound experience that many people may find positively ear-opening.
Here’s what you get for your money: First off, the “Beats” are actually more than just a pair of headphones. Thanks to a built-in microphone in one of the two provided cables, they also double as a headset for musical mobile phones, such as certain Blackberry models and Apple’s iPhone (the plug fits first-generation iPhones, too). Secondly, the “Beats” offer a certain amount of noise isolation and are clearly intended to compete with Bose’s Quiet Comfort models, which are particularly popular with travelers and command an equally high-flying price. Consequently, Monster provided its new kid on the block with everything it needs to have a fighting chance. So you get a travel case, a couple of adapters that let the “Beats” play on planes, and even a cleaning cloth – which, mind you, is not just any sort of cloth, but a “Monster Clean Cloth with Aegis Microbe Shield”. Shure, whatever. (Oh, sorry, that’s a different brand.)
Out of the box, the “Beats” didn’t wow me at all. In fact, we were off to a bad start. The “iSoniTalk” cable with its built-in microphone has a button that lets you answer phone calls – basically, it’s a little plastic box with a clicker, and it’s not sealed. At first, I thought this was a manufacturing defect, and when I lightly pulled on the cover to inspect this “defect” more closely, the cover immediately came off. Monster says there was an issue with the glue in the initial production run that has since been fixed. And sure enough, a few drops of extra glue quickly reversed the damage to my review unit, too, but you have to wonder why the designers decided to leave the talk button contacts open to moisture and other outside influences.
Next step: power up. Two AAA batteries are included – this isn’t some cheap China toy, after all – but I wish Monster had gone with a rechargeable solution, like Bose did. The battery compartment’s cover feels cheaply made for a high-end headset, and putting it back in place was more fidgety than it should have been. However, once you get past the preliminaries the “Beats” become a much more pleasant proposition. I found them comfortable to wear for hours, even though at 270 grams – roughly half a pound – they’re not exactly featherweights.
The earcups are nicely cushioned and completely enclose the ear – a design that helps to lock out ambient noise. In addition, the “Beats” come with “active noise reduction”, which is just another word for noise canceling and requires enough power that there’s no music unless the headphones are switched on; in other words, if you run out of batteries you’re out of luck. This is similar to Boses’s Quiet Comfort models, but different from certain other noise-canceling headphones, for example Sennheiser’s PXC 250, which can be used without batteries as well. (Naturally, in that case there’s no noise-cancellation effect; you need power for the electronic circuits that do the heavy lifting.)
To test the noise-blocking effect, which Monster puts at a maximum reduction of 14 decibels, I took the “Beats” to a busy intersection where a construction crew was at work. The headphones did an admirable job of shielding me from the ruckus – a slightly better job, actually, than Bose’s Quiet Comfort 3, which may be due to the fact that the QC3 sit on top of the ears rather than encasing them (as their sister model Quiet Comfort 2 does). By comparison, Sennheiser’s PXC 250 barely managed to provide any insulation from the commotion at all – not surprising, actually, as they are a compromise between basic noise cancellation and compact size. The “Beats”, in fact, are so effective at isolating you from your environment that you may find the mute button in the right earcup very helpful – once pressed, it allows you to hear what’s going on in the outside world without taking off the headphones.
Still, it was at home, under more relaxed listening conditions, that the “Beats” truly started to shine. Their balanced sound and broad spectrum of musical talents quickly won me over. New Order’s “Blue Monday” sounded appropriately energetic, almost metallic, while the Thievery Corporation’s “Un simple histoire” floated by as calmly and smoothly as a cocktail hour on the Copacabana. On Jack Johnson’s “What You Thought You Need”, the Monster headphones plunged deep into the cellar the moment the bass drum kicked in, but at the same time never threatened to overwhelm Johnson’s subtle acoustic guitar strumming. The Last Shadow Puppet’s “My Mistakes Were Made For You” bathed in full symphonic glory, and trance classic “3rd Earth” by Scott Bond and Solarstone exploded into pure thomping energy after a very calm, casually playful piano intro – once again showing that the “Beats” are the rare breed of headphones that manage to handle various musical styles equally well.
By comparison, my Sennheiser PXC 250 sounded thin and nasal (while still being better than a number of other headphones I’ve tried), and the Bose Quiet Comfort 3 often seemed to lack in transparency. Listening to the same song, instruments felt crammed together when I was wearing the QC3 but distinctly separated when I picked up the “Beats”. It’s the difference between walking through a narrow corridor or over a wide open field – suddenly you feel the air. And while it’s a bit like comparing apples and peas, I also gave my Bang & Olufsen A8 earbuds a try. They held up surprisingly well, considering their design puts them at a natural disadvantage in bass reproduction – as expected, their greatest weakness compared to the “Beats”.
The only headphones in my collection that truly gave the Monster pair a run for their money were Denon’s AH-D1001, which sell for abou
t $200 less. On the “Locust Mix” of Phillip Boa’s “Deep in Velvet” they dived right down into the same depths of bass as Dr. Dre’s creation (some 20,000 leagues under the sea), and the next moment they treated Yann Tiersen’s delicate “Goodbye Lenin” score with equal caution as Monster’s, careful not to break anything. Only in direct comparison did the “Beats” manage to nudge ahead from time to time – not by much, but overall they just sounded a bit roomier and more natural.
Whether that – and the better sound insulation – are worth the extra money you’ll have to decide for yourself. Much of this is a matter of taste anyway, so be sure to listen before you buy, for example at an Apple store or Best Buy outlet (Monster’s official retail partners).
The one troubling issue I found was that the “Beats” seemed to have a tendency to create interference noise, similar to what you sometimes hear when you place a mobile phone near a loudspeaker. Initially I thought the problem was related to using the Monster headphones with my iPhone, but the issue occurred with several iPods as well. It was enough of a concern that I contacted Monster. The company sent a second review unit for comparison. This one showed similar symptoms but much more more rarely – once or twice a week at most during many hours of listening – so the initial pair of “Beats” may have been defective.
If you mostly listen to classical music you might also find the faint background hiss distracting – it’s no more than a slightly elevated level of white noise related to the noise-reduction electronics, typical of this kind of headphones. Still, sensitive ears may notice it in quiet passages.
None of this, however, is to take away from the fact that Dr. Dre and Monster have managed to design a truly impressive set of headphones – one that kicks bass without neglecting the rest of whatever music you’ll let it play with. The raves are already pouring in, and this time they are justified.
From the same author: V-Moda Vibe Duo Review and Google’s First Steps
Publisher’s note: Karstern Lemm is also a photographer. Here are his original photos for this review, check his photo site.
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IndiaMART >Speakers,Earphones and Accessories >Headphone >Beats Headphone
- High performance on-ear headphones
- Over-ear design keeps the music in and the surrounding noise out
- Wired with tangle free Monster Cable
- Folding design; includes touring case, cleaning cloth
- Beats By Dr.Dre Headphone
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Year of Establishment2014
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Nature of BusinessWholesale Supplier
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