Between taking his time to perfect a beat, Dr Dre spends working hours with Monster’s audio engineers. The fruits of their labours are, so far, two pairs of heasdphones: the excellent Beats By Dre over-ear noise-cancellers and, now, the Beats Tour in-ear sound isolators.
His aim is to bring the quality of studio sound to everyday listening. A fine aim from one so famous for his immaculate hip-hop production values – can the Beats Tours deliver?
Big, bad beats
It’s clear from the off that the Beats Tours are no shrinking violets. Compare them to the diminutive Klipsch Image X5 or Ultimate Ears 700 and they’re something of a brute, with their metallic slab backs emblazoned with a red ‘b’, ball-like mid-section and sound-isolating ear plug.
This impression is redoubled by the red, tangle-proof, elastic band-like cable. It does exactly what it says on the tin, preventing annoying cable tangles. It also feels remarkably tough, and the metal-clad 3.5mm jack should stay put, too.
Select the correct fitting from the four ear plug sizes available and the outside world is immediately shut out. Despite their proportions the buds are light and comfortable in the ear, and depending on the depth of your lugs, don’t stick out much.
When you’ve got the seal right you can get a good idea of what Dre’s studio sounds like. It’s a brash, exciting delivery with bags of energy that makes music invigorating and dramatic. With beat-heavy music they really rock.
Midrange is well resolved but treble is a little ragged compared with the best. This raw quality may appeal, just as the punchiness may. The trouble is, it’s not necessarily the most honest mix.
Hi-fi is supposed to aim for accuracy and the Beats Tours don’t trouble themselves too much with that stuffy old notion. As a result they’re not particularly suited to subtle classical or acoustic music.
They never sound poor, it’s simply that rivals such as the Klipsch Image X5s are more even-handed while maintaining most of the excitement.
Nevertheless, fans of hip-hop, dance and bassy rock should check them out. If you crave fun over fact, the Beats Tours will not disappoint.