Big Name, Little Sound
Beats by Dre headphones are just about everywhere. They are mass marketed, professional athletes wear them, and they are of course endorsed by Dr. Dre. They’re stylish and people wear them as a fashion accessory, but many audiophiles will tell you to stay away and spend your hard earned money elsewhere.
Beats are also notoriously known to have poor build and sound quality and I know this from experience when I tried out Monster Beats Solo a year ago. Earlier this year, Beats no longer carry the “Monster” branding and are now distributed under its own label. Beats Wireless, like the rest of the Beats line up is stylish and as trendy looking but is most special offering stereo Bluetooth capability. Lets take a look at how these cans fare…
Before we actually start, I’d like to say that unboxing a pair of Beats is equally exciting as unboxing an Apple product. They have really good packaging and come with some nice accessories in the box. Beats come in a premium packaging that opens up magnetically (wow). Inside you get a good quality red and black Micro USB charger, a 3.5 standard connector, and another 3.5 connector with mic and remote for passive usage. This is a nice touch if you don’t want to use Bluetooth or want to use it with a non Bluetooth device.
Beats are widely popular for a reason. They are very well marketed and the design of these headphones really stands out. The Beats Wireless is no different. Made from really shiny plastic with the shiny “b” logo on the band is eye catching, especially the white version of the headphones with red highlights. The black ones are just as shiny but not as flashy as the white ones, however its more obvious that it is a fingerprint magnet. The buttons on the side of the headphones are well laid out, but it make take a little time to get used to. On the right earcup, there’s Power/Pair, Play/Pause, volume controls and you can Go Forward and Go Backwards on playing your tracks.
Some people may not like the plastic feel but I was quite surprised on how sturdy and well built these were when compared to the Beats Solo HD. I know it may be an oxy moron to say this but it actually feels like good quality plastic. This is where my positives end with the design of these headphones…
Usually headphones provide well-padded headbands but the rubber on the Beats Wireless is too thin and is too tight on my head, especially on my ears. I have an ear-piercing on my left ear and after using this for about half an hour, it started to hurt. Taking it off seemed to help a little bit but it was really uncomfortable using these that I could stand it. I’ve used Beats Studios before as well as other brands such as the Klipsch One and Sony’s and there is a night and day difference in comfort. I got a headache after using these for an hour.
When plugging these straight to my iPhone or PC, I was surprised on how good these sound even though I had low expectations on the sound quality. These work great if you listen to a lot of hip hop or other songs that emphasize a lot on bass and low ends. Rock and pop on the other hand can sound muffled where the bass is too exaggerated to the point where it will drown out some of the lyrics. Watching movies was a decent experience as dialog can be heard fairly clear and explosions on action scenes had a kick to them.
As for the wireless part of the device (these are Beats Wireless, remember?), the experience was just about equivalent to wired usage, when it works. These easily pair with just about anything in a matter of seconds even though you can only pair one device at a time. When playing music, they sound just as equally great (or as bad depending on the type of music), when being plugged straight to the device with the 3.5. On multiple devices such as the Galaxy S3, iPhone 4S, and iPhone 5, I had issues with the Bluetooth popping and skipping every now and then. I also noticed that the music stutters when skipping to the next track. I’m not sure if my unit is defective or not but that is pretty subpar quality control if that’s the case. I also had experiences with the headset just stopped working completely and I had to power off and power on again to get the music to start playing again.
Call quality on the headset was decent as people could hear me clearly and I could hear the other side just as well. Be careful on windy days as there’s no noise cancelation on the mic.
If all you care about is style and image, you won’t be disappointed with the Beats Wireless. Although the sound quality is decent when hardwired into your device, this is just too uncomfortable to wear after a short period of time. Bass is great but can be too strong and Bluetooth is unreliable. Your $280 can be invested on less costly headphones with better sound quality