Monster Cable Beats by Dr. Dre Studio Headphones Reviewed

Monster Cable Beats by Dr. Dre Studio Headphones Reviewed

Monster provides these isolating headphones that have a "Push to Listen" button which is a risky way to listen to headphones but people still like them. With bass and dynamics to spare - the Beats by Dre headphones have become more of a hip-hop status symbol than an audio statement.

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Monster many things, but subtle they are not. They are arguably the most successful "garage brand" in the consumer electronics industry and, while Monster may have started from humble beginnings, their presence in the AV business is anything but shy. You can't throw a rock or a Wii controller, for that matter, in a Best Buy or any other big box store without hitting something with a Monster label on it. From batteries to amplifiers, Monster is everywhere. So it should come as no surprise when Monster decided to stick their toes into the headphone business, as the iPod marketis brimming with consumer demand these days.

Additional Resources
Read dozens more high end headphone reviews from the likes of Sennheiser, STAX, Etymotic Research, Ultimate Ears, Grado and others.
Monster Cable Partners with Basketball Star Yao Ming for Yao Monster products in China.
• Learn more about the brand Monster Cable here.
Read a review of the Bowers & Wilkins P5 headphones by Andrew Robinson here on HomeTheaterReview.com...

Typically, when Monster launches a product, they tend to do two things: partner up with a high-profile event and/or celebrity and proclaim the product's brilliance at every turn. To put this in perspective, allow me an analogy. Sony is to Peyton Manning what Terrell Owens is to Monster Cable. The question is, with so much brouhaha over everything, the Beats by Dr. Dre headphones being no different, where does the marketing end and the performance begin? Are they any good? The answer ... not really.

Retailing for $349, Beats by Dre headphones are among the more expensive electronic ear warmers money can buy. They are rather stylish, if you're into that look the runway attendants at LAX have, with a high gloss black finish, accented by spots of red and silver capped off by a large lower case "b," symbolizing the product's name. I must say, for headphones as large and bulky as the Beats by Dre are, they are very lightweight, weighing a spry 270 grams with batteries installed. Surprisingly and rather tastefully done, the Monster logo is small and silk-screened in silver along the headphone's arch. Monster claims that the Beats by Dre headphones will bring you closer to the recorded event, the way the artist intended, than any other headphone money can buy. However the "artists" Monster is using in their testimonials for the headphones do little make this seem like something you would want.

Beats by Dre are isolating headphones, using a powered system not unlike other brands that require two AAA batteries that install in the headphone cups themselves. Along with active isolation, the Beats by Dre phones feature a mute or "Push to Listen" button, which effectively cuts the music and isolation to let you hear what is going on in the outside world. Between you and me, this may be the product's greatest feature, but more on that later. The Beats by Dre feature Monster's own Advanced Driver Design (whatever that means) and use extra-large speaker drivers for superb bass response in a headphone design. The headphones themselves are wired entirely with Monster Cable, including the Quadripole cable that is terminated with a Micro Mini jack that, unlike other Monster Cable connectors, is said to put less strain on connected audio components. The Beats by Dre headphones come packaged with one-eighth-inch and one-quarter-inch adaptors to allow for a variety of connection options with other components beyond an iPod or iPhone. The Beats by Dre headphones are collapsible and can be easily stowed in their included Touring Case and come with a Anti-Microbial Cleaning cloth to help keep them shiny and new all the time.

Read the High Points, Low Points and Conclusion on the next page

Comparison and Competition
Compare the Beats by Dr. Dre against its competition by reading our reviews for the
Bower & Wilkins P5 mobile hi-fi headphones and the Bang & Olufsen Form 2 headphones. You can read all of our headphones reviews by visiting our All Things Headphones section.

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High Points
• The Monster Beats by Dre headphones are surprisingly comfortable and lightweight, making long periods of use, ahem, wear rather pedestrian and non-fatiguing.

• The Beats by Dre headphones are fairly attractive-looking, I must admit; they are clearly designed to speak to a young, hip audience and, to that extent, they succeed. While my father would probably never buy or wear a pair, my two younger brothers will eat up the visual style.
• The Beats by Dre headphones have impressive levels of bass output and are among the most truly full-range headphones I've ever listened to, at any price.
• The active isolation works very well with the Beats, arguably better than that of the reigning king of isolating headwear, Bose. The mute button is a nice touch and a welcome and useful addition. I also quite like that the battery unit to power the Beat's isolation is housed in the ear cups themselves, as opposed to a dongle located somewhere on the cable.

Low Points
• I did my evaluation of the Beat by Dre headphones at a Monster Cable-sponsored event, so if they were going to sound their best, I have to imagine it was going to be in Monster's own house. This said, the Beats are atrocious. Because of their isolation, you have no escape from the ice-pick-to-the-ear drum effect the Beats are so good at reproducing.
• The high frequencies are so glaring and harsh at moderate, never mind stupid, volume levels I didn't last but 30 seconds in my listening test before tearing the Beats from my head. I literally couldn't stand to listen much longer than that, although I went back repeatedly to prove I wasn't being a baby about auditioning these headphones.
• The midrange, normally a headphone's strong suit, is flat, lifeless and rather digital-sounding, reminding me more of a boom box's output than audiophile fare.
• The bass output from the Beats is impressive, I won't lie. However, like everything Monster does, it is so overpowering in a "look at me" way that it becomes more a distraction and a nuisance then an attribute. Then again, the Beats' bass does mask a fair bit of its overall sonic shortcomings.
Monster will have you believe, if you believe anything advertising says, that the Beats will play loud (remember, like the artist intended) without distortion, which just isn't true. In fact, if you listen to the Beats at an authorized store kiosk, there is no volume adjustment other than LOUDER available to you, just to make their point. Problem is, the starting volume at those displays is already brain-busting. Hitting the LOUDER button results in almost assured and potentially immediate hearing loss. Consider yourself warned.

Conclusion
To sum the experience of listening to the Beats by Dr. Dre headphones from Monster Cable: they're a bit like getting punched directly in the ear canal by a very attractive woman bejeweled in Cartier. The Beats by Dre headphones are ungodly expensive and, while stylish, do not appear nor feel solidly built. While the Beats by Dre possess good sound isolation, you never want to use it in conjunction with listening to music, turning the headphones into earmuffs more than listening devices. Would I recommend them? It all depends on how much I hate you. Seriously, look elsewhere for your iPod and beyond.

Additional Resources
Read dozens more high end headphone reviews from the likes of Sennheiser, STAX, Etymotic Research, Ultimate Ears, Grado and others.
Monster Cable Partners with Basketball Star Yao Ming for Yao Monster products in China.
• Learn more about the brand Monster Cable here.
Read a review of the Bowers & Wilkins P5 headphones by Andrew Robinson here on HomeTheaterReview.com...

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