Thursday December 16, 2010 3:35 pm
Monster Beats Pro by Dr. Dre review
The Beats Pro by Dr. Dre. at $399.95 (direct) is a serious pair of headphones designed for the modern DJ. The ear cups flip backwards to free one ear, the cable is detachable, and jacks on both ear cups act not only as inputs, but as outputs to send audio to a friend's headphones. The Beats Pro sounds excellent—there's plenty of bass, but the high frequencies are accurately reproduced, as well. The potential deal breaker for standard users and DJs alike: they're heavy and not comfortable when worn for long periods.
Weighing in at nearly a pound (15.2 ounces), the Beats Pro comes in black or white models that each feature healthy doses of brushed metal on the ear cups and headband. The lowercase Beats logo is emblazoned in red on each ear, and the interior of the headband and ear cups is a cushioned black material. There's a 3.5mm jack at the bottom of each ear cup—it doubles as both an input (from your sound source) or an output to send audio to another pair of headphones. The connection for other headphones, however, is loose and could easily detach if you move around (this is because the jacks both have a twist-to-secure feature that only seems to work with the included cable). The cable itself is the signature Beats red, thick, and coiled at the bottom. Not only is a ¼-inch adapter included, but it comes fastened to the coil so you never have to go looking for it; just snap it on to the 3.5mm tip whenever you need it. Also included with the headphones: a protective pouch and a cleaning cloth with "advanced Aegis Microbe Shield technology" so microbes will never come between you and your music.
Another advantage of the detachable cable is the long-term economic benefit. The first thing to suffer wear and tear on an otherwise functional headphone pair is the cord, so when this cable eventually goes, you're looking at having to replace a cable versus an entire pair of (expensive) headphones. The Beats Pro comes with a one year warranty.
As our Head Acoustics frequency response tests indicate, the Beats Pro packs a powerful low frequency response. Interestingly, compared with the Editors' Choice Denon AH-D1100 ($134.99, 4.5 stars), the Beats Pro is not quite as bass-heavy. This is interesting for a couple reasons: I actually prefer the sonic performance of the Denon headphones (and usually I am not a fan of extremely bass-heavy options) and Monster Beats headphones are typically known for their heavy bass. Regardless, the Beats Pro is still heavier on low-end than, say, the Editors' Choice B&W P5 Mobile Hi-Fi Headphones ($299.95, 4.5 stars) from earlier this year. The P5, like the Beats Pro, offers an excellent sound signature, but is quite different, with a more subtle approach to low-end, especially sub-bass frequencies.
It should come as no surprise that the music I found most suited for the Beats Pro was modern pop—whether I was listening to Kanye West or Animal Collective, the crispness of the mixes stood out, as did the deeper bass lines and drum hits. Orchestral music was also pleasant on the Beats Pro, though sometimes things felt overly bright on higher register strings and percussion—not in an way that was overly problematic, it was simply noticeable. It's hard to argue with the overall sonic performance—the Beats Pro does justice to the entire frequency range, boosting the bass without letting it take over the show.
Unfortunately, the thing that stood out most for me, aside from the excellent sound quality, was the uncomfortable fit. Now, I could have a head that simply isn't ideally shaped for this particular set of headphones, but I doubt it. I wear plenty of different pairs on a regular basis, and the Beats Pro is definitely a trip down memory lane to my dad's ancient Koss stereo headphones that felt just slightly better than a vice clamp on your skull. Monster could use a lesson from competitors like Denon and Bose when it comes to making headphones that offer comfort over long periods. Even short sessions didn't feel great—the headband applied more pressure on the top of my head than I enjoy, and the ear cups, though they are large, felt like they were compressing my ears to fit them inside the seal. Again, I could just have big ears, but this is not a problem I regularly face in headphone testing.
If you are a DJ looking for a top-notch, professional-level pair of headphones with all the extra features a DJ might want, the Beats Pro is definitely worth checking out. The extra jacks, flip-up ears, and high quality audio output all add up to justify the admittedly high price. If you don't need these flourishes, however, I might skip the Beats Pro in favor of a lighter-weight or more comfortable option. The far less expensive Denon AHD-1100 is a similar-sounding competitor that just happens to be comfortable, and our Editors Choice in its price range.
This article, written by Tim Gideon, originally appeared on PCMag.com, and has been syndicated to Gear Live with permission from Ziff Davis, Inc..
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