Review: Beats Studio by Dr. Dre and Monster (Noise Canceling Headphones)
In preparation for my move to San Francisco I have started selling many of my electronics and sundry possessions. Unfortunately, this included my absolute favorite technology purchase in recent years — the KRK Rokit RP5G2 studio monitors I discussed at length in my How To: Upgrade to Studio Monitor Speakers post. After selling the Rokits I began considering headphones as a replacement for my audio consuming needs. Investing in high quality headphones started to make sense for a few reasons:
- 1) I will likely have roommates at some point during my life in San Francisco and I can’t blast music all day and night
- 2) My roommates might blast music all day and night so I will need some good noise canceling headphones to concentrate while I work
- 3) Headphones will easily fit in my Timbuk2 Commute 2.0 bag along with my trusty 17-inch MacBook Pro for various Caltrain trips to South Bay
Monster also has a cheaper offering called the Beats Solo; they are smaller and lightweight but lack noise canceling functionality. The Beats Solo (MSRP 199.95 USD) are — according to a Monster representative on their page — geared towards bass while the Beats Studio were designed for all-around flat response. I would have thought it was the other way around with the powered Beats Studio being meant for bass. I say this because the Beats Studio have excellent bass, which I will discuss in the performance section of this review. The only Monster headphones product priced above the Beats Studio is a DJ-oriented pair, called Beats Spin, slated for a June 2010 release.
Beats Studio circumaural (also known as full-size) headphones as modeled by yours truly.
Let me start this review off by making it clear that I am an extreme critic of all things Monster Cable and feel they only sell over-marketed and overpriced crap aimed at taking advantage of not-quite-tech-savvy consumers unaware of facts like how HDMI is a digital signal and there is no difference in signal and thus video quality between a 10 Monoprice cable and a 250 Monster cable.
Unboxing and Setup
The Beats Studio unboxed. They come with a touring case they fold nicely into.
The Beats Studio box was a little larger and heavier than I expected. The box sleeve slides off to uncover a nice unfolding box displaying the Beats already folded inside of their own cheap carrying case. Glancing at the other side of the box reveals cables, adapters, batteries and promotional material. There are two adapters provided — one for converting the 3.5mm mini-jack to a 1/4-inch TRS connector as well as a dual-prong airplane audio adapter. Two male-to-male mini-jack cables (a red and black one) are included; both 4.26 feet (1.3m) long. The Beats Studio headphones do not have any audio cables permanently attached and have a female mini-jack port built-in — a very handy feature for a number of reasons. I like that I am not tied down to using the provided cables. If I wanted a different length or style of cable, such as a coiled cable, or if I just need to replace a damaged cable, I do not have to replace the headphones too. That being said, I think the included cables are the perfect length. Some people have complained that they are too short but they are perfect for my typical use — using them with my MacBook Pro on my desk or lap as well as using them with my iPhone in my
One small nitpick. I would have liked a right angle connector for when using the Beats on a laptop. For example on a plane or when computing on your lap it is annoying to have cables sticking straight out.
The black cable, dubbed the iSoniTalk cable for its handy compatibility with iPhones, includes an inline microphone and button. When connected to my MacBook Pro the button on the iSoniTalk cable can pause/play iTunes music and when connected to my iPhone can do the same as well as accept incoming calls and end them. It’s regrettable that using the Beats Studio as a headset does not workout well; it’s hard to hear yourself talk and the microphone is placed a little too far back to get clear sound without holding it closer to your mouth.
Beats Studio Headphones with Monster iSoniTalk cable and iPhone
Those unfamiliar with the Beats Studio will be taken aback by the included batteries. Why do headphones need batteries? Well the Beats Studio use the batteries for both amplification purposes and to power the integrated noise canceling circuitry. on how this all works later on. Installing the batteries was a trivial process that required unscrewing a panel on the left ear cup. The right ear cup houses the power switch and indicator LED.
A panel on the left ear cup unscrews to show the required 2 AAA batteries. When these die, I’ll replace them with lightweight lithiums.
Unfortunately — and this is a huge downside for the Beats Studio — the headphones only work with batteries installed and the noise canceling switch flipped on. There is no passive setting devoid of noise canceling that does not need battery power. You cannot use them at all without batteries.
The red LED means the Beats are on with noise canceling engaged. The LED turns orange when battery power is low.
The case is likely that the 40mm drivers used are too large to be powered without the aid of batteries. You will need to keep a drawer full of AAA batteries on hand. Okay I am exaggerating a bit, but an active user will need to replace batteries every 2 weeks with a moderate user replacing them every month. Of course, if you forget to turn off the headphones one night the batteries will need replacing much sooner. I have not owned the Beats long enough to test battery life claims but Jake Jarvis provided me with the aforementioned data from his own Beats Studio experience.
Fit, Finish and Feel
Everything about the Beats draws attention, for better or for worse. The outer facing construction is glossy plastic, which while looks nice at first I can imagine it will quickly become scratched and show regular wear and tear more so than if it had a matte finish. Monster claims the finish is scratch-resistant and I have only had the Beats for a week so I can’t comment on that yet. One thing is for sure though, the exterior is a fingerprint magnet. That explains the included microfiber cloth.
The inner plastic of the headband has a matte finish that I like considerably more. Moving up the inside of the headband there are two small aluminum pieces neatly engraved with “studio” on one side and the Monster logo on the other side. The entire headphones assembly weighs in at just under 0.6 pounds. Compared to professional studio reference headphones weighing in around 0.7 pounds that are classified as mid-weight, the Beats are on the lighter side. While I personally prefer heavier headphones, the lightweight Beats Studio are ideal for travel.
In the event the color black is not your style, Monster also sells white and Boston Red Sox themed versions (at a 50 premium). Alternatively, you may opt to send in your Beats to ColorWare and have them drop some Candy paint all over your ‘phones however you like for 250.
It’s hard to find a side of these headphones that isn’t branded or marked in some way; something that might deter potential owners.
Okay so that’s a description of the headphones, but how do they really feel? Honestly, they seem flimsy and very plastic-y. While holding or putting them on there is a bit of a “plastic on plastic” dissonance. There are small fitment details that annoy me too. For example, the joints can extend slightly backwards past their stopping point. Another annoyance is that the ear cups freely move about and have no resistance, making for a plastic clank whenever you take off or move the headphones and the ear cups immediately drop.
Sign of a cheap paint job lacking uniformity. the clearcoat/paint beads up next to edges. It should be pristine for the price Monster is asking.
Everything thus far in this section has more or less been nitpicking. What about the comfort? I can’t knock off any points there; the Beats Studio feel great. Despite the ear cups and headband being wrapped in some sort of cheap vinyl/leatherette they never became too hot and remained dry.
As with all quality audio devices, best testing practices include listening to uncompressed (WAV), lossless (FLAC) or high bit-rate audio (256 kbps MP3). In addition, it would be wise to test these headphones with a quality standalone audio output device like the PreSonus AudioBox USB I used in my Rokit studio monitor setup. However, I opted to test without an external audio output device as most people reading this review wouldn’t use one; more importantly these headphones are meant to be mobile; used with iPhones and so on, but I digress. I listened to a plethora of FLAC and high bit-rate MP3 files with the equalizer off and OS volume at varying levels between 5% and 60% (Pro Tip: hold option and shift in OS X while adjusting volume to increase/decrease in tiny increments).
Before I dive into details, I will talk about the noise canceling feature of these headphones. Despite being called “isolation” headphones, the Beats are powered, active noise canceling headphones. This can be tested by simply turning them on and wearing them; no audio source or input cable necessary. My unscientific decibel meter (iPhone app) tests showed a max reduction of 4-5 dB. That is to say the average ambient noise level with the headphones worn but switched off was 44 dB and with them switched on it was 40 dB. I tried this in a number of scenarios with differing ambient noise levels. With the air conditioning on, the average ambient noise level was 53 dB and with the Beats Studio switched on it dropped to 48 dB. Monster claims a maximum actual noise reduction of up to.14 dB. However, it is important to note that the Beats Studio seem to do a better job at canceling out lower frequency sounds like air conditioning and refrigerator noise as well as some high frequency fluorescent lamp ballast hum than mid-range frequency sounds like people talking. Is a 4 or 5 dB reduction in noise level noticeable? Definitely. I would rate the noise canceling functionality in the Beats Studio as above average. Part of the secret behind this could be that Monster placed the microphones necessary for noise canceling on the inside of the ear cups, more accurate to what your ears hear, than on the outside of the ear cups. I have yet to take these on a flight with me but I imagine they will be a welcomed traveling companion.
Do they sound any good? While Monster claims these headphones are more about all-around flat response than being bass biased, my first impressions were along the lines of “Whoa, these things can make some great bass.” For the most part bass is punchy with a response that is much closer to tight than boomy. Most rap songs tend to have a continuous boomy bass line — for example “Coca Coca” on Gucci Mane’s The Burrrprint 2 HD album — and while the Beats perform well with those types of songs, the bass tends to overpower the weak midtones. Examples of punchy bass are found in any track on the new Gorillaz album, Plastic Beach. That is the type of music that shows where the Beats excel, without any overpowering bass. Treble with the Beats Studio is clear and succinct. Any of DJ Tiësto’s albums bring this out — in particular listen to “Sweet Mysery” on the Just Be album. It is the midtone reproduction with the Beats that I take issue with; it is a bit muffled. Bumping up the 250. 2k range a tad makes midtones sound much more reasonable.
One particular measurement metric for audio quality is instrument separation, whether you can hear individual instruments in the music as if they are on their own rather than mixed and coming out as just one sound. This is an area where studio reference headphones and monitors must perform well so producers and studio boffins can accurately know what each change in their mixing sounds like. Unfortunately, this was a bit of a hit or miss with the Beats. At times I was able to detect a slight sense of instrument separation but most of the time, and this was throughout many of the tracks I listened to, it all just sounded mashed together. An example of a song where I was able to hear this favored instrument separation was in the song “Reckoner’s Encore” on the Jaydiohead: Encore mix album.
Overall, the Beats perform well and I was most impressed with their ability to create bass like I’ve never heard on headphones before. I enjoy it so much I often adjust my equalizer settings to emphasize bass, such as when I’m watching Live Free or Die Hard and want to feel the movie, so to speak. If you don’t consider yourself an audiophile (I don’t) I think you will be happy with the Beats.
Below is a quick video of me showing off one particular issue with the Beats Studio; sound leak. Of course this happens with most headphones but it feels much more apparent with these headphones. Even at a comfortable 25% volume, I think they might be too loud in a library setting. I think it will be pretty easy to tell what song I’m listening to in this video.
While reviewing the Beats Studio I did notice one interesting quirk. I was watching an HD movie on my laptop streamed over Wi-Fi from my NAS across the room. I was wearing the Beats and noticed that in certain positions, notably when I pointed my head in the direction of the router, a prevalent static entered the headphones. I paused the movie stream and the static went away. I pressed play and the static came back.
I was about 10 feet away from my router — a typical distance for any apartment dweller. Given this experience I can only surmise that the Beats Studio are susceptible to radio interference and could use some shielding.
This is the part of the review where I mention how these headphones are expensive and then try to decide if their features, quality and performance can justify the cost. I purchased my Beats Studios for 229 USD from some random e-tailer I found on Froogle. Most retailers like Amazon charge around 299 while Monster sells them for a whopping 350. If I had no idea how much the Beats Studio cost and someone asked me to price them, I would say 199 would be a good price; nowhere near 300. The headphones feel like a toy with flimsy construction and cheap materials. Looking around online I have found several reports of ear cushions separating from the ear cups, among other build quality issues.
Another sizable downside to the Beats is their battery requirement. The option to have a non-amplified, passive setting lacking noise-canceling — even at the expense of degraded audio quality — would be a huge boon. I would hate to be traveling and risk carrying around useless headphones for the rest of my trip unless I kept extra AAA batteries handy.
The Beats do have one thing going for them over their more expensive professional counterparts; they are mobile. They are lightweight and fold compact with ease. In addition, you don’t have to deal with some ridiculous 10 foot cord. The included 1.3 meter mini-jack cable is the perfect length for tasks like plugging into your laptop on a flight. The mute button on the Beats is ideal for one particular scenario that keeps coming to mind — ordering your drink or snack on a flight. I always have to take out one ear bud and pause my music or movie.
That brings me to one point about flying with headphones or ear buds. From moving about in my seat or leaning over to grab something I always manage knock out my ear buds, which is fine as I would rather that happen than break the headphones port in my laptop. With the Beats though, they are firmly planted on my head and the same action would stress the mini-jacks. That’s not a big deal for the cable in the headphones, it would just unplug itself. However, depending on where the force is coming from, it could damage the laptop jack. It would be safer if one end of the cable employed a right-angle connector or magsafe-inspired technology from Replug.
I give the Beats by Dr. Dre Studio headphones by Monster 6 out of 10 Stammy’s. If they were 199 I would rate them closer to an 8.
Disclaimer: I am not an audiophile.
What do you think of the Beats Studio? What headphones or ear buds do you use? Any of them with noise canceling?
To read the full detailed review see: Monster Beats Pro Review
Thanks to its partnership with Dr Dre, Monster’s Beats Pro have become a grand success. But are we really talking about a new reference product here or just a fad? That’s the question…
There’s nothing strange in an audio and hi-fi cable manufacturer launching a range of headphones, that’s what you usually call diversification. But what’s really surprising is that the manufacturer’s most expensive headphones are endorsed by famous hip-hop producer Dr Dre and that they are a smash hit in spite of their 400 price tag! Within a few months, the Beats Pro and their less expensive variations have become a popular reference: you can see them on many heads on the street, despite their price and their “pro” flair. We must admit that the Beats have that something extra: they are lookers! Compared to the old-school designs from the 80’s that still influence some AKG, Sennheiser and BeyerDynamic headphones, Monster tried to create a pair of headphones with a different look (available in black or white with a small, red “b” on each ear cup) and different high-quality materials, like brushed aluminum for the headband and real leather for the earcup cushions.
The beauty and the beast inside
It seems Monster has learned a lot from Apple’s marketing strategies: the Beats Pro come in a nice-looking, heavy box with all the necessary accessories. Besides small guides, the package includes a soft cover and even a small antibacterial cloth for cleaning the headphones. All details of the packaging and the accessories have been painstakingly considered and the same applies to the headphones themselves. Among the good ideas introduced with the headphones is the locking system of the red cable, which enables you to plug it either to the right or the left earcup. The other end of the cable features an angled minijack and even a small rubber holder for the 1/4″ jack adapter. A very good idea, considering how easy it is to forget where you put it…
The headphones are quite heavy, which will please some and displease the rest, but they feel pretty comfortable on my head and give an impression of roughness with their thick brushed aluminum parts. Both earcups can be folded, which is convenient for transportation and for DJ-style listening. The adjustable headband and earcups allow the headphones to fit every head.
In short, they look great, are well manufactured, well thought-out, and sold in a beautiful package (following Apple’s footsteps). The only negative thing is that Monster doesn’t include spare earcup cushions, probably because the cushions of the Beats Pro are washable… Time will tell if this strategy is right!
Now let’s take a closer look and a listen…
The Beats look great and even if the bling-bling of its white leather won’t be to everyone’s taste (a black version is also available), the high quality materials, the listening comfort, the provided accessories, and the packaging justify the 400 price tag. But when it comes to the sound, the conclusion isn’t as easy. The overemphasized lows and tiny highs make the Beats quite pleasant to the ears, but they also make them an aberration for your wallet, at least for studio applications. In fact, they can hardly compete with similar products from AKG, Beyerdynamic or Ultrasone. Monster applied a successful marketing strategy consisting in making headphones fashionable, while implying that the sound is good because the price is high thanks to a cleaver endorsement strategy…
In this regard, Dr. Dre is certainly one of the best hip-hop producers ever. I have a huge respect for the man and his work, but I would like to know for what kind of professional applications is he using these “professional” headphones that neglect so many nuances and details of the audio signal due to an overemphasized low-end. In the end it all comes down to marketing, which makes me wonder if Bon Jovi ever drove the Volkswagen Golf that holds his name…
- Original look compared to competitors
- Well thought-out headphones, good manufacturing quality
Monster‘s The Beats by Dr. Dre Headphones
Monster is known for doing things big. Love ’em or hate ’em, they don’t mess around when it comes to their product line. Think big and bold, not to mention pricey, and you get the idea. They like to make a statement with their products and company image. The Beats by Dr. Dre headphones from Monster claim to be designed for today’s digital music. And you know that product with Grammy Award- winning artist and producer Dr. Dre should handle Hip Hop and RB with aplomb. These headphones make a statement with their styling, features, and Monster price tag.
The Beats by Dr. Dre are a product that will undoubtably have mixed reviews. The combination of styling, design, sound quality and price of these headphones contributes to a product that some people will love, and others will hate. The Beats carry a MSRP of 349.95 and provide plenty of bang for your buck if the styling, features and sonic signature fits your needs.
Monster set out to create a reference headphone that would provide a full, studio experience that is impossible with today’s cheap earbuds that so many people seem to settle for with their digital music. Dr. Dre partnered with the Monster design team to engineer a headphone that can handle the bass and dynamics that artists and producers work so hard in the studio to capture on their recordings. In addition, Monster added a powered isolation technology to actively reduce environmental noise.
The Beats by Dr. Dre are full sized, over the ear-style headphones. They include an Active Noise Reduction circuit that provides as much as.14dB isolation. The headphones ship with two removable 1.3 meter cables. both a standard (red) cable and a special (black) iSoniTalk cable with a built-in answer button and microphone for iPhone, Blackberry, and other music-enabled phones. Also included is a large hardshell touring case with an interior pouch to hold the provided airplane audio adapter and Monster 1/8″ to 1/4″ adapter with 24k gold contacts. Plus, you get a nice cloth to keep the glossy finish on the Beats smudge free. but it’s not just any cloth, it’s a Monster Clean Cloth with Aegis Microbe Shield!
Taking a cue from Apple, Monster has spared no expense in the elaborate packaging, which makes for tons of fun unboxing. There is a sturdy, matte black finished outer slip cover for the actual box, which is sturdy bright red cardboard that opens like a book, with the Beats in their touring case on the right, and the cables, adapters and instruction booklet and cleaning cloth under a flap on the left.
The black touring case is a zippered clamshell design, shaped like a big oval. The headphones fold above each ear, allowing for a nice snug fit in the case. The case has a black carabiner attached to the top via a cloth loop, I guess so you can clip it to your belt as you walk down the street.
The Beats themselves are primarily black, with soft, plush black ear cushions that are said to be breathable. There are silver and red highlights around the earpieces, and a “b” silver and red logo about the size of a quarter on each ear. On the right earpiece, this logo doubles as a mute button so can easily listen to what’s going on around you without removing the headphones. It only mutes while you have it pressed in. it is not a mute on/off button, which seems a little odd to me. I think it would be weird to stand there talking to someone with your hand on your ear (“ladies and gentlemen, this just in. “). Just below this button is a tiny on-off switch that glows red when the Beats are powered on. The cord jack is located on the bottom of the left earpiece. Twisting the outer panel of the left earpiece reveals the battery compartment, which requires 2 AAA batteries (included).
The build quality is solid, and is what I would expect from Monster. The 40 mm drivers are (of course) wired with Monster Cable, and both included cables are also high-quality Monsters. They are considerably more substantial than comparable headphone cables, and are quite flexible. The skinny plugs at each end are compatible with first-gen iPhones.
I found the Beats to be very comfortable for a full-sized headphone. They weigh 270 grams with batteries (about 9.5 oz), and did not slide around on my head (as long as I didn’t begin to bang my head). At just over 4ft, the cables seemed just about right too. The headband is an inch and a quarter thick, and has good cushioning.
One immediate negative I found with the Beats is that you must power them on in order to listen to them. Some noise-cancelling headphones still work even with the circuit turned off, but the Beats do not. So before I even began listening to them, I put them on without even plugging in a cable and turned them on. While I was met with effective noise-cancelling, I was also met with a slight hiss, and even worse, that annoying buzz that you get when you have your wireless phone too close to your desktop speakers. Of course, if I moved away from my iPhone, this problem went away, but most of the time my iPhone is on my desk or on the couch next to me. While the cell phone noise is a problem with most any active speaker product, the hiss from the active noise reduction circuit was troubling, and immediately landed on my CONS list for the Beats. In a headphone this expensive, I do not want hiss added to my music. While this might be a by-product of the noise reduction technology, I would prefer to have the option to turn it off for a clean musical signal.
Another problem with the Beats is the amount of leakage for those around you. One night while sitting on the couch with my wife, I was testing the Beats with a variety of material. Dina couldn’t believe how loud the music was for her, sitting at the other end of the couch. While the Beats isolate noise from outside coming in, they do not do any favors for those sitting around you who might not want to hear Wolfmother on a redeye.
The Beats by Dr. Dre provide a lush, rich listening experience. It should come as no surprise that headphones with Dr. Dre’s name on it have a big and beefy bottom end. The bass is huge. Hip hop and rap music (yes, I subjected myself to some rap in the name of. something. reviewing?) had a springy, deep bass line that reminded me of that sound you hear when some kid in a tuner pulls up next to and your Windows start rattling.
Even though the bass is pronounced (and maybe even exaggerated), I enjoyed the sweetened sound of the Beats. The highs and mids are crispy and detailed, and the sound is big. Although I usually do not like speakers or headphones that color the sound of music, I really enjoyed listening to the Beats. They certainly have a sonic signature and do not provide what I consider a raw sound or neutral sound, but rather they subtly enhance music in a way that I found appealing.
The Band of Heathens Going decidedly against the grain, I started off listening to a new record I recently picked up, The Band of Heathens. I can’t even remember how I heard about these guys, but it ended up in my Amazon wish list and as a result was given to me for my birthday. Apparently these guys formed in Austin over the past few years and have gained quite a following. The Band features three front men, each of whom sings, writes and plays guitar. Their bio classifies them as country-soul-rock-and-roll, but I would call them Americana (which, I guess, is country-soul-rock-and-roll).
The record is filled with quality songs and musicianship. Patty Griffin lends her gorgeous vocal to the Heathens on a few tracks, and 40 Days is one of my favorites. It starts with a nice acoustic guitar and builds with warm vocals bass that anchor the song, providing an incredibly full and balanced soundstage. The Beats immersed me in the sonic landscape of the song, allowing me to get lost in the lyric while enjoying the tasty guitar and dobro licks.
Maple Tears is a bit more uptempo, with plenty of slide guitar, and a twangy chorus of male and female (again, Patty Griffin) vocals that presented more of a challenge to the Beats. The prominent high-mids of this song did not convey as well on Dr. Dre’s cans. At times the vibrating twang of the guitar strings and even the vocal blend was borderline distorted sounding. I just didn’t particularly like what the Beats did with this song. I did not experience the same issues on the other songs. To compare, I tried Creative’s Aurvana X-Fi headphones on this song, and there was no comparison. The Beats blew them away, even considering the handling of the high-mids. The Beats have a much richer and full quality, and for whatever reason that one track was just a bad (sonic) fit.
Christina Aguilera. Back To Basics In an effort to bond with one of Dr. Dre’s genres, I dug deep into my musical library and pulled out some Christina Aguilera. I actually really like the Back To Basics record. I cued up Makes Me Wanna Pray, which features Steve Winwood (I assume contributing the slammin’ B3 licks). This record is cool in that it is a mixture of high tech, modern studio fidelity which throughout the project is combined with the scratchy sound of an old LP, or the low-fi of old mono recordings. This song has static/scratch throughout, with a rich, thumpin’ bottom end. The gospel choir BGV’s sound amazing, and Christina wails like nobody’s business. The Beats were made for this stuff.
I moved on to disc 2 and the track Nasty Naughty Boy. Christina is in full raunchy mode here, with this throwback song that evokes a smoky burlesque club from the 20’s, complete with crowd noises and groaning horn section. I loved the texture of the horns on this track. The time and effort put into this recording pays off, and the Beats bring it to life. While I think she is incredibly talented and made a great record here, I felt like I needed to go take shower after listening to her filthy lyrics. Geez. somebody get that woman a husband. (Oh wait, they did!)
Evanescence. Fallen I went back a few years to the first record from Evanescence. I wanted to see how the Beats would handle some dark hard rock. Going Under has a decidedly dark foundation of power chords throughout the song, with Amy Lee’s haunting vocal sitting perfectly on top of the track, pulling you down with her. The deep bass response of the Beats brought the thick power of the track home for me in a very pleasing, punchy way.
Bring Me To Life has a similar tone, but begins with a haunting string pad and piano melody with subsonic booms quietly expanding underneath before the guitars come in and the song takes off. I liked the way the Beats allowed the cymbals and screams to cut through the crunching guitars throughout the song. The house loop and string pad at the end of the song is a great juxtaposition to the heavy guitars, and the Beats felt good for this genre of music.
At the risk of bothering some of you purists out there, I can honestly say that I like Monster’s Beats by Dr. Dre. They sound detailed and clean, and enhanced most recordings in way that was pleasing to my ears. They have great isolation qualities that are helped by their design and the built-in active noise reduction feature. For large headphones, they are very comfortable. The build quality is very good, and they look cool.
The Beats are priced to compete against the most expensive noise-cancelling headphones out there, but are not very portable. Although they do fold, they do not fold flat, so the travel case is larger than that of most noise-cancelling headsets in the marketplace. I also found the noise-cancelling circuit to be, well, noisy! For a headphone that is geared towards music lovers looking for a studio-quality headphone, I find it odd that there is no way to turn off this “feature.” I would not consider these a “studio” headphone at all.
Monster is selling the Beats by Dr. Dre exclusively through Apple retail and online stores, Best Buy and BestBuy.com, and the official website www.beatsbydre.com. I suggest you get out and listen to them. They will be loved by many, hated by some. I have enjoyed them. Take a listen and decide for yourself.
The Score Card
At Audioholics Gear Corner we give you a quick but comprehensive look at consumer electronics from several different categories. All products in the Gear Corner have been individually evaluated through hands-on testing by our reviewers in order to give you a quick but detailed overview that we hope will help you in your purchasing decisions.
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Over the years J. has constantly found himself to be an “early-adopter,” spending way too much money on “new” technologies such as Compact Disc, LaserDisc, and DVD. He is one of the few people who actually purchased (and still owns) a CORE programmable remote control (bonus points if you remember this product).
The history of Beats
So we know now that Beats is one of the more popular audio companies in the world, but how did that come to be? How did they get to the point where in order to buy them Apple had to drop an obscene amount of money? And why was Monster trying to sue them back in 2015? This is the history of Beats.
Editor’s note: This article was updated on August 31, 2020, to include the Beats Powerbeats, Beats Powerbeats Pro, and Beats Solo Pro.
Who the heck is Jimmy Iovine and this Dr. Dre guy?
So we might as well cover the basics. Chances are you already know Dr. Dre, but do you know Jimmy Iovine? If you don’t know Jimmy Iovine, he’s an audio engineer/producer/everything else who’s basically a living legend at this point. Listing his resume here would be a very long process, so we’re just going to skip it. Then you’ve got Dr. Dre who’s probably the most successful artist/businessman to ever come out of hip-hop. He’s been directly involved in every great era of hip-hop since N.W.A. Afterwards he found Eminem and now he’s backing Kendrick Lamar, so it’s safe to say the guy knows what he’s doing when it comes to music.
Now that we know who they are, we can talk about how they teamed up with Monster Cable in 2007 to make their first pair of headphones. Which led to the first pair of Monster Beats by Dr. Dre Studio headphones a year later in 2008. And no I’m not making that up. This was before the days of Sound Guys so I’ll have to link you to the CNET article where they literally called it “The Monster Beats by Dr. Dre” in their full review. Oh yeah, and the price tag was only 350. Super affordable (not).
Now we fast forward a bit to 2011. Beats was a household name making tons of money thanks to a great marketing department that spent tons of money on product placement, for example with diamond studded headphones worn by Lil’ Wayne. It was at this time that HTC bought a majority 50.1% of the company for 309 million.
About a year later in 2012, Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre bought 25% of the company back from HTC for 150 million. It was also in that year that we saw the release of the first non-Monster branded products: the Beats Executive headphones and the Beats Pill.
Monster sues Beats
Let’s put a pin in this and fast forward real quick to 2015 because Monster eventually tried to sue Beats based on the events of this time period. There’s a lot to it but the Sparknotes version is this. Monster claims that they essentially made the Beats brand. They prototyped the headphones, manufactured, and then distributed them in exchange for the branding that Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine could provide. But there was a section of the agreement that said Beats could end the licensing agreement with Monster if, and I’m quoting from the Time article now: “There was a transaction that resulted in a “bona fide change in control.”
You know, like someone buying a majority of the company. How convenient that HTC purchased 50.1% of the company, right? They were then able to end their licensing agreement with Monster Cables before Jimmy and Dre bought back 25% of the company, effectively regaining ownership. Monster says this entire period was a sham to get them out of the picture and tried to sue based on this time period. They did eventually lose the case as a judge said that technically Beats did nothing wrong.
And maybe they didn’t, but the conspiracy theorist in me thinks the lesson here is to not get in the way of Iovine and Dr. Dre or you may end up missing out millions when the company gets bought by Apple. Which brings us back to 2012.
Beats Music Apple
Headphones and speakers weren’t the only thing Beats was working on in 2012. They also bought a music streaming company called MOG Inc. for about 10 million which resulted in everyone’s favorite music streaming service – Beats Music.
Then in 2014 Apple bought the company for a ridiculous 3.2 billion. When this happened, not only did they make Dr. Dre a billionaire, but they also acquired the streaming service which, after some re-working, eventually became Apple Music. The brand then became the name of the flagship radio station Beats1 Music when it launched in June of 2015.
This brings us to the present day. Apple is continuing to releasing new Beats products on stage next to Tim Cook, such as the Beats Powerbeats Pro, Beats Solo Pro, and Beats Powerbeats, all of which are wireless headsets. Each of these newer releases contains Apple’s H1 chip, which allows for easy Bluetooth connection, improved battery life, and voice-activated Siri. The H1 chip only benefits iOS users and doesn’t offer anything to Android users.
Beats continues to be one of the most popular audio companies in the world, so much to the point that many other companies are copying Beats’ style and sound signature. And, thanks to Beats1 Radio, the brand has expanded to include more than just products, but who knows what else Apple has in store for Beats. Now that they have Apple’s seemingly limitless supply of money and marketing, we might’ve only seen the beginning of Beats so far.
What to Do When Bluetooth Headphones Won’t Charge [Ultimate Guide]
Check out these top tips and fixes to get your Bluetooth headphones charging again in no time.
The portability of Bluetooth headphones has made listening to music and podcasts much easier all-day, even while on the go.
However, problems with charging and batteries, usually from damaged cables and charging ports, can render wireless headphones useless. Ultimately, this can put a damper on your listening experience.
Luckily, fixing your Bluetooth headphones can be as easy as removing debris from the charging port, or replacing your battery or charging cable. Keep reading to learn the common fixes to headphones that won’t charge, plus other solutions based on your headphones’ brand.
Bluetooth Headphones Won’t Charge: 7 General Solutions
When Bluetooth headphones won’t charge, it’s mostly due to problems with the port, charging cable, or batteries. So, regardless of brand, there are universal solutions you can try to get your Bluetooth headphones charging again.
Here are some general fixes for Bluetooth headphones that won’t charge:
Charge directly via a power outlet and not a USB hub
Make sure to try plugging your headphone charger directly into a power outlet, instead of USB hubs.
USB hubs, while useful, can often be insufficient for charging your headphones. This can be the result of a faulty USB hub or because the USB hub can’t provide enough power to charge the headphones.
Although USB hubs meet the minimum voltage required to charge headphones, which is around 5V, the problem lies in the electric current they supply. Most USB hubs can only output 0.5A or 2.5W at a time, which corresponds to only 1/2 to 1/3 of the output of charging bricks directly connected to a power outlet.
See if there is any debris in the port
Debris in the charging port can hinder your device from receiving power properly from your charger. In most cases, cleaning the port is enough to get your headphones charging again.
This method is super easy and can be done in no time. All you’ll need is a can of compressed air and a toothpick or any thin, non-metallic object.
Here’s how you can clean your headphones’ charging port:
Start by firing compressed air into the port to drive out debris.
When spraying your can of compressed air, make sure to hold the can upright to avoid spraying water into the port.
Check the port to ensure all debris has been cleared. If there is any dirt remaining, carefully use a toothpick or a thin, nonmetallic object to remove it. Gently scrape the port from wall to wall, while avoiding the pins inside.
Be careful when cleaning the interior of the charging port, as the electrical connectors inside are delicate and can be broken if too much force is applied.
Try a different charging cable
Charging cables house delicate wires that can break with too much tension. That said, it’s hard to tell if a cable is broken, as the damage is internal most of the time. To rule out whether the charging cable is the problem, try charging the headphones with a different cable.
If there is visual damage to the cable, like exposed wires, you can try repairing the cable yourself. These solutions are super easy, and they can save you a few bucks.
Check if the charging port is loose or damaged
Much like the case of a loose headphone jack, a loose charging port can also result in many frustrating issues.
Inspect the charging port of your headphones for any damage like bent connectors or bent metal. Also, make sure that the port itself isn’t loose when you touch it, as this could be a sign that the connectors have detached from the headset.
Keep the headphones connected to the charger for a few hours
Your headphones’ batteries can become over-discharged if they haven’t been used for a while. This means they will need to be plugged in for longer before the battery can begin to charge again.
Make sure they’re properly seated on the charging stand or case
Some headphones aren’t charged directly through a cable but instead through a stand or case that has a cable connected to it. If this is the case for you, make sure your headphones are positioned properly so that they can accept a proper charge.
Do a hard reset
Doing a hard reset can solve many problems, including headphones that aren’t charging. The actual process for performing a hard reset can vary from model to model, but you can check out our full guide on how to reset your headphones to get it done without much fuss.
How to Fix Bluetooth Headphones Charging Issues According to Brand
As each pair of headphones is different based on the brand, solutions for each brand will also differ. If you didn’t have any luck with the previous solutions, let’s move on to more targeted solutions depending on your headphone brand.
Before continuing, check if your headphones are still under warranty. If they are, it’s best to use your warranty first to repair or replace your headphones. Some solutions outlined below are invasive and may void your warranty, so we recommend utilizing your warranty if it’s available.
There’s no other way to charge Airpods, except via the charging case. So, if there is debris blocking the Airpods from making contact with the charging pins inside the case, they won’t charge. There are also cases when only one AirPod would charge, but the other one won’t.
To remedy this, you must clean your Airpods and charging case regularly. Here’s how:
- Start by soaking the tips of a cotton swab in alcohol. Use this to gently clear away any debris from the charging pins found at the bottom of the case.
- Consider using a toothpick to remove dirt from spots inside the case that are harder to reach.
You can also use a soft-bristled toothbrush to clean the case’s charging port to ensure the case itself can be charged. If your Airpods still don’t charge after trying all these steps, consider performing a factory reset of the Airpods.
Beats headphones use lithium-ion batteries. These batteries are popular for their high energy density, which means that, although they’re small, they can hold a large amount of charge.
However, lithium-ion batteries have a limited number of times they can be charged. Over the years, as they get charged, their battery capacity decreases.
This means that older headphones are more susceptible to a burned-out battery, which results in the headphones either not holding a charge or not charging at all.
To fix this, you can replace the battery inside your Beats headphones. To do so, follow these steps:
Remove the casing outside of the speaker to expose the battery.
If your Bose headphones are having some difficulty charging, there are different solutions you can try to resolve the issue.
These solutions must be followed in order. Make sure to only try the last one if the first two have not worked for you.
To begin, try the following steps:
- Before charging, turn your headphones off by holding the power button for around 30 seconds.
- Charge your headphones using the USB charging cable.
- After 5 seconds, unplug the charger. Then, wait for 1 minute before turning the headphones back on.
- Plug the headphones back in and see if they start to charge.
If the above steps didn’t work for you, try updating the firmware of the headphones:
- Download the Bose Software Updater to your PC.
- Plug your headphones into the PC and follow the prompts given by the Bose Software Updater.
If neither of the above solutions fixed your problem, it’s time to take a more hands-on approach and replace the charging port on the headphones. This solution will require some technical skills, and may require the assistance of a professional in order to be performed correctly.
If you want to give this a try, follow this video guide for an in-depth walkthrough.
If your Jabra earbuds either won’t charge or cannot hold a charge, it can be due to an issue with your charging case. Resetting the case can resolve this issue.
Here’s what you need to do:
- Put the earbuds in the case and plug the case in to charge completely. This can take up to two and a half hours for them to charge completely.
- Once the case is completely charged, remove the earbuds and then insert them back into the case. Make sure that each earbud flashes red when inserted.
- With the lid open, plug the case into a power source.
- After the battery level LED light shows after 3 to 5 seconds, close the lid and allow the earbuds and the case to charge for another to 2 hours.
Logitech charging issues are commonly caused by a faulty micro-USB connector. Over time, the action of plugging in the charging cable and removing it will gradually weaken the 5-pins inside the charging port.
Fixing this problem at home can be challenging as it requires the speaker piece to be removed and dismantled. Because of this, we recommend that you seek out the services of a professional to avoid further damage. But, if you are confident in fixing the problem yourself, simply follow these steps:
- Remove the left ear pad to expose the left ear cup.
- Remove each screw, then carefully pry the headphones open.
- Carefully put the microphone to the side to avoid damaging it. Then, look closely at the charging port to identify the issue. Use a microscope if available.
- If the pins in the charging port are moving, solder them back into the board to keep them in place.
- Return the mic and the left ear cup back to their original position, then secure them with the screws. Put back the ear pad and check if the headphones are charging.
For in-depth instructions and a visual guide to these steps, take a look at this video on repairing your Logitech headphones’ charging port.
Sennheiser headphones can occasionally experience a glitch where the LED indicator light may flash or remain on, even after charging. This issue usually subsides over time with multiple charging cycles, so it’s recommended to use your headphones regularly until the light synchronizes with the battery.
If the headphones don’t work and will not accept a charge, you can try changing the battery inside the headphones. However, be warned that this is a technical process. If you’d like to give it a try, here’s what you need to do:
- The headphones’ battery is found in the left ear cup. Open this by removing the ear pad and the four screws on the cup.
- Carefully remove the top part of the ear cup, making sure that you don’t pull the attached wires.
- Using a tweezer, gently disconnect the battery clips from the board.
- Then, with a flat, sturdy object, carefully lift the battery out of its position. Completely remove the battery and the disconnected wire.
- Put in the new battery exactly where the old battery was, then clip the battery wires onto the board.
- Close the ear cup and secure it into place with the screws. Then, place the ear pad back before checking if the headphones are now charging.
You can also take a look at this video guide for a more detailed explanation of the abovementioned steps.
To fix an issue with your Bluetooth wireless Sony headphones, you can remove the battery and plug it back in. If this doesn’t work, you can move on to replacing the battery entirely.
To troubleshoot the battery inside your Sony headphones, try following these steps:
Carefully remove the earpad from the right side. Then, remove the small cover that’s sitting on top of the speaker.
If you don’t want to do this or if this hasn’t fixed your problem, proceed to the next step to replace the battery.