Up for review are the Beats Studio by Dr. Dre. These are headphones that many people are familiar with because they show up in ads on TV, they’re all over the internet, and if you go on Amazon.com and search for headphones, invariably these will show up in the search results. A friend of mine lent me these for the review so a huge thank you is in order for that. If you happen to know anyone who needs ideas for a baby shower gifts go over there and check their site out. To get my thought on these headphone/fashion accessories, read on.
Dr. Dre Beats Studio Packaging
Being that I didn’t receive these brand new, I didn’t have a box or anything to check out to let you know if the packaging would make you drool. What I did receive though was the carrying case that comes with the Beats Studio and I do like the accessory. The case is stylish and rugged. It doesn’t take up too much room considering these are a decent size of over the ear headphones. Inside the case is a pouch for holding extra batteries (more on that later) and the inline microphone adapter that ships with the headphones. At the price point that these headphones occupy, it’s definitely appreciated to have a case that will actually protect your investments.
Beats Studio Accessories
As far as I know, the only accessory that ships with the Beats Studio is an inline microphone cable that you can plug your phone into so you can take incoming calls without having to take off your headphones. I didn’t have the opportunity to try this out as the guy who lent me the headphones indicated that it stopped working about a month into owning it. So that being said, I can’t really give you my personal opinion on it, but he didn’t seem to miss this feature all that much. Also the beats came with a cleaning cloth that is a necessity for these headphones. You’ll see in several of my pictures that there was lint on them even as I wiped them off several times while repositioning the headphones.
Headphone Comfort – 9
This is one area where these headphones really stood out. These have to be some of the most comfortable over the ear headphones I’ve ever worn. I know at times I kept these on for a couple hours at a time and not once did they feel burdensome. The only negative side on the comfort is that they can cause your ears to get hot and sweat a bit. It wasn’t as bad as I would have thought for having leather pads on your head, but it’s worth mentioning for those who can’t tolerate that.
Beats Studio Microphonics – 7
The microphonics, or noise you hear when the cord on your headphones rubs against your clothing or bounces around, wasn’t terrible with the Beats. There was definitely some noise transferred up the cord and into the headphones if you were moving around a lot but due to the size of these headphones, it wasn’t like I was going out and exercising with these things on. So for me, the microphonics wasn’t really a factor when listening to the Beats Studios. If you plan to be moving around a lot with these on, you might find that they can be a bit loud but then again, you could always turn up the volume to alleviate the noise.
If you work in an office with cubicles or you’re in a room and you’re wanting to jam to your tunes without bothering others, you might need to look a bit further. The Beats weren’t bad if you kept the volume at fairly reasonable levels, but sound does leak from the headphones and people around you can hear the music. Now, these are nowhere as bad as the Grado SR80’s that I have and love, but they’re not silent either. If you’re listening at moderate volumes, the music coming out of them would probably sound like someone speaking quietly to people around you. If you crank them up to rocking volumes, then you may be disturbing the people around as they will be able to hear everything fairly clearly.
The Beats Studio Sound Quality
Like with all headphones I review, I like to break this up into three sections to detail as much as possible: bass, mids, highs
Bass – 7
This is the portion of the Beats that I was most looking forward to, considering the nature of the music that Dr. Dre creates, and yet it was also the part of the headphones that I was most let down with. The headphones didn’t lack in the presence of bass. If you turned up the volume on a hip hop track or rock, there was definitely some impact and the feeling of being in the bass. The problem wasn’t with the quantity as much as the quality of the bass. In tracks If I had a Million Dollars by the Barenaked Ladies, and Jack Johnson’s Taylor, the guitar play goes low and has a feel on a quality set of headphones. These tracks were very disappointing with the Beats Studios. The amount of bass was there and felt nicely balanced, not too loud and not too low, but when the guitars would change notes, the change wasn’t discernible without really concentrating to pick up on the changes in the frequency. The best way I know how to describe it is you would feel the guitar string being plucked (and I do mean feel it, these headphones give a great sense of impact on bass notes), but every note sounded almost exactly the same as the music dipped much below the 80-100Hz frequency. This bothered me so much that I actually tried out dozens of songs with these to see if it was the same everywhere, and indeed it was. I found myself constantly taking these off and comparing them to my Hippo VB’s (see the review by clicking the link), which I have found to have some of the most incredibly accurate bass for headphones at any price level. Switching over to the Hippos would reveal the true pitch of each note and switching back over to the Dre’s would leave me wanting for more accuracy. If they had gotten this part right, they would have had a real sweat deal with these babies. Other than the tonal problems with the low end frequencies, the bass was actually enjoyable and well balanced with the rest of the frequencies coming from the headphones – they never overpowered the midrange and treble frequencies in any of the music I tested.
Mids – 7
The mids were another area where I found myself testing out a number of tracks because it either sounded perfect, or sounded like something was missing. In my extensive listening tests, I found that male vocals were always lacking that bit of depth that makes the male vocalist so powerful. It was like the lower end of the midrange had a dip in volume that would make the vocals feel a bit empty and unfulfilling. Listening to Taylor by Jack Johnson and Everyday by the Dave Matthews Band were both prime examples of their voices not sounding like they should. There was just a void in the vocals that bothered me. On the other hand, female vocals sounded pretty fantastic for women who had naturally higher pitched voices. Janet Jackson’s Black Cat was rockin’ in these headphones. Her voice was strong and well defined and the electric guitars felt like they might burn me. I just kept turning the volume up and the Dre’s seemed to dare me to go louder. Although this song sounded pretty fantastic, it still suffered from the previously mentioned bass identity problems. In general, guitars, horned instruments and in general anything that had more of a true mid to upper range frequency sounded splendid, but the lower end of the midrange suffered from a pit that was impossible to overlook.
Highs – 9
The treble in the Beats Studio’s were absolute butter. I cranked these things up on several occasions and the treble never felt harsh or sparkly. Trying out some Schism by Tool, the triangle hits in the background were crisp and distinguishable and not lost in the song once it got busy. Snare drums, symbols, etc all sounded very good with these. If there was one part of the sound of the Beats that I loved it is hands down the treble.
Beats Studio Soundstage – 6
The soundstage of the Studio’s were nothing exceptional. The soundstage wasn’t bad, but never did I feel that I was sitting in front of a stage listening to a band in a concert hall. Rather, similar to my Hippo VB’s, I felt like I strapped a set of speakers on my head. These were just average in the soundstage department.
Noise Cancellation – ?
The noise cancellation was actually a bit odd to me. I tried a number of times to see if it was actually doing anything and to my ears I could detect no more difference from just putting on a sealed set of headphones to what the active noise cancellation in the Beats provided. I didn’t have any test equipment to give this a shot with so I had to rely on my ears, and really I cannot offer any type of opinion on this. The one thing I can say is it didn’t seem as though any noise cancellation affected the sound quality of the headphones so that’s a plus.
Beats Studio by Dr. Dre Additional Notes
Something I need to point out is that the Beats Studio’s require batteries to work. No, you didn’t read that wrong. The batteries, which should be just for the noise cancellation were actually to power the headphones themselves. If your battery dies, so does your music. That is a fact about the Studios which I truly hated and would really consider if you listen to a lot of music. If you are a heavy listener, either invest in a set of rechargeable batteries, or look elsewhere. There was another feature of the headphones that I found to be a bit odd and I suppose some would use, and that’s the “mute” function. If you hit the right ear pad location on the outside of the headphones, it will actually mute your music so you can hear someone talking to you. Being that this doesn’t pause your music and is really inconvenient if you need to hold it down for more than 20 seconds or so, I found this to be a trivial feature and one that I didn’t use at all, even in the office environment I work in. Lastly, these things are dust and fingerprint magnets. They are a beautiful set of headphones, but it doesn’t take long for the lint bunnies to cling tightly to them. I recommend using the provided cloth frequently to keep these things looking as nice as possible.
Beats Studio by Dr. Dre Overall Impressions
Did I like the Studios? Yes. Would I buy the Beats Studios myself? No. For the price that these things demand, there are a number of headphones available that sound better and don’t require batteries to run. I do understand that the Studios are more than just a set of headphones, they’re also a fashion accessory. For those looking to impress the public with their ability to spend money on a set of headphones, the Studios do sound pretty good and if the Beats icon is what you want, then these might be for you. With the right kind of music (women’s rock, jazz, big band) these sound absolutely amazing. However, for less than half the price you can find sets of headphones that will bring a smile to your face every time you turn on your music.
Who should buy these:
- You want the “b” logo to be visible on the side of your head and you’re okay with tonal inaccuracies in the bass and midrange
- You mostly listen to female vocals and music that general strays away from the bass to low mid range frequencies
Look further if:
- You care more about how your music sounds than what your headphones look like on your head
- You crave accuracy in all frequency bands (predominantly bass and the lower mid-range frequencies)
- You value male vocals
- You want the best you can buy for your hard-earned dollar
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how do you know when the battery is going to die on them
As far as I could tell, you don’t. You should just carry spare batteries with you.