Few things are as polarizing to the headphone community as Beats. People either love or hate them. Critics see them as a fashion headphone brand; one that puts aesthetics and celebrity endorsements over build and audio quality. But despite its detractors, Beats continues to appeal to a wide market and Apple even paid $3 billion for them back in 2014. Beats don’t target audiophiles. It’s one thing that Jimmy Iovine, the company’s co-creator, made clear during an interview with Inc.
So, are Beats actually worth it? Or should we all avoid the hype and pick a better brand next time we’re shopping?
Yes, Beats are actually worth it.
- Some people want fashion headphones. It’s not always about chasing that illusive recording-quality audio. Beats are both distinctive and attractive They also come in a wide range of colours which makes them stand out and which makes them more fun and creative looking. Other manufacturers tend to stick to more muted colour pallets that include gray, silver, black and white. Being able to buy headphones in bright red or yellow is an attractive feature for some people.And that’s fine. Sometimes we are motivated to buy things that look good. If the appearance of the headphones matters more to you than sound quality, then Beats are worth buying.
Beats are known for being bass-heavy. This style of audio suits some people more than others; it also suits different musical styles more than others, too. In the same way that some people like adding filters to photographs, some people enjoy enhanced bass. So, it makes sense that audiophiles will hate-on Beats. Audiophiles are always looking to recreate the recording experience, and anything that distorts the original recording will be frowned on.
Beats headphones have a strong clamping effect on the head. This makes them more suitable for exercise than other brands. It also keeps them secured. Just remember to add moisture-proof covers if you’re exercising, Beats aren’t sweat-proof.
Apple is the parent company of Beats. This means that if you’re an Apple customer it’s easier to pair devices and take advantage of Apple’s W1 and H1 chips. Not only do they make it easier to pair devices, but it also increases Bluetooth connection and battery life. Fast Fuel is Beat’s quick-charge function that allows users to charge the headphones in a short period. 5-minutes charge can give enough power for 3-hours of playback. Although other headphone brands have this, too.
Beats Solo headphones are known for being made from dense foam. This makes them more comfortable on the ears. Comfort is something that you should consider when buying headphones especially if you’re wearing them during gaming sessions or for extended periods
No, Beats Aren’t Worth It
- Two of the biggest criticisms of Beats headphones are its sound quality and the quality of its parts. Think about it. Those are two elements of headphone manufacturing that we shouldn’t be looking to cut corners on. It’s not difficult to understand why Beats has been so heavily criticised.
Several bloggers and tech journalists have written teardowns for Beats headphones. This means that they’ve opened them up to see what’s on the insides and, more importantly, whether the internal components are of reasonable quality or not. You can open up a link and read more about it here.
It makes for interesting reading. One of the key criticisms is that it’s difficult to tell the difference between a genuine pair of Beats and a fake one. This raises a significant red-flag about build quality. It should be easier to spot when a manufacturer is using sub-prime tech. There’s also evidence that Beats has added metal parts to make the headphones feel heavier (and therefore more expensive) than they actually are.
Engineer Ben Einstein took a pair of Beats apart back in 2015 and estimated that whilst Beats were retailing headphones at $199+ they actually only cost $16.19.
The sound quality of Beats has always been in question. Whilst they might suit urban music (which is bass heavy), there’s always been the criticism that they’re less suitable for other types of music. For some people, the louder the bass the bigger the song and that is why Beats may sound better to some people (at least initially). Audiophiles want to hear tracks sounding a close to the original recording as possible. Adding or emphasizing sound or audio after the fact is always going to create criticism. Going big on the bass will not suite all musical styles.
- The cushions on Beats headphones are prone to peeling and cracking. This is because moisture has started degrading the material. This happens to other premium branded headphones, too, but it does seem common with Beats. Adding a pair of moisture-proof covers to the cushions of your Beats will help prevent this from happening.
Everything that we buy comes down to personal choice from the food we eat to the cars we drive. What one person loves and lives by, another person will loathe and detest. Beats remain a popular brand of headphone. They’re obviously doing something right. They’re worth buying if you’re big into the brand. They’re worth buying if you want fashionable headphones. If you’re looking for audio quality and build quality, then it’s worth looking elsewhere. Do your research and where possible try before you buy and test a range of your favourite songs to measure up how they sound.
Whatever you're looking to buy, remember to protect your headphones with covers. They'll keep your Beats (or your Bose or your Sonys) smelling and looking fresh for longer.