The Beats – developed by US accessories giant Monster with the aid of N.W.A’s most famous graduate – are pitched firmly at the premium end of the headphone market.
Hefty pricetag apart, it’s the quality of their packaging that really gives the game away: every aspect, from the fit and finish of the presentation box to the attention to detail that pervades every aspect of its contents, screams quality.
And the Beats themselves are superb. They’re beautifully finished, their folding, lavishly padded earpieces wrapping over your ears to produce a very comfortable fit (so much so that their considerable weight isn’t an issue).
They’re iPhone-friendly too, thanks to an additional ‘iSoniTalk’ headphone cable that includes an integrated microphone and answer button. Since the side-mounted plug-in cables are interchangeable, if you don’t need this feature, you don’t have to use it – just pull out the iSoniTalk cable and use the supplied conventional wire instead.
The Beats also feature battery-powered active noise-cancellation circuitry, and it’s formidably effective, cutting out a phenomenal amount of background noise (although interestingly, they also allow out more sound to the outside world than some rivals).
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It’s also worth pointing out that unlike their Sennheiser PXC 450 rivals, the Beats won’t function unless noise-cancellation is switched on – so if you’re planning a long flight, check that battery, and pack a spare just in case.
Energy and drive
As you’d expect from a pair of headphones developed in association with a noted producer, the Beats have an ultra-dynamic and energetic sound.
They’re not necessarily soothing, but they produce impressively full and articulate bass, strong imaging and considerable detail, plus plenty of punch when called for.
For the kind of music most will want to play on them – and especially given their listening-on-the-go aims – they work a treat.