Monster Beats Pro
These bad boys are all the rage at the moment, and are more than just a pair of headphones – they're also a fashion statement. Walking down the street with these has heads turning and eyebrows raised. Those with inferior pairs of Beats are the biggest perpetrators though and gave envious looks as I trotted past, smug as Chuck.
Available in two colours, black and white, the Beats Pros are made from a thick aluminium body, which means they're seriously heavy on the head. Durable, but hardly endurable for long periods of time. Developed with hiphop maestro Dr Dre, you can see where his huge WWE-style neck muscles come from. They're cozy for a while, but quite tight too and push on the ears a fair bit - although this does isolate a lot of background noise.
The Beats Pro have two separate sockets, so the rubber coated cable can connect to either cup. While it's possible to connect two inputs and have two sources layered (rather than one source in each ear), the real impressive thing is connecting a second set of headphones. No need for a double jack adaptor - two people can listen to the same source by daisy chaining the headphones. Schweet.
The sound is bass-heavy and it comes as no surprise that they make hiphop listening extremely enjoyable. There's great prominence with snare drums too, something I believe extremely vital in a good hiphop beat. Upbeat rap fusion newcomers Super Soul Soldiers sound particularly majestic and I haven't been able to put their new album down, especially through these beauties. Other music such as Drum 'n' Bass was equally awesome though, and the sound is really thumping, perfect for dance music.
They're overpriced, but so are Armani shirts and people buy the brand for a reason. My first impressions were: how am I gonna enjoy headphones this heavy? But after a few days using them, I didn't want to take them off. Dre, you are a Monster.
Reg Rating 85%
More info Monster
Philips O'Neill The Stretch
Philips says these were tested on animals, apparently the company means surfers and snowboarders though - wild cats of the sport world. Made from TR55LX plastic makes them very stretchable and you can bend them in all sorts of positions without the worry they'll snap. Therefore, if you're replacing a set because you've broken several pairs in the past, look no further – these are seriously durable and quite inexpensive too.
The fibre weave cable is great for avoiding tangles, and although it doesn't plug directly into the cup – there's a short connecting cable dangling from here – it is detachable nevertheless. Aesthetically pleasing, they fit comfortably, fully enclosing the ears almost in a vacuum. This does isolate outside noise, but picks up a lot of sound when touched. Tapping the surface hurt my ears and rattling around my head with a metallic ping.
Sonically, these are very warm, but do lack high-end presence, which leaves the audio feeling muffled and lacking in clarity. For over-ear headphones, these won't stretch your budget, but compared to the others on test you soon realise you get what you pay for. If crisp sound quality is what you desire, then you're probably looking at a three figure sum.
Reg Rating 70%
More info Philips
Next page: Sennheiser HD598
THREE FIGURES for FUCKING HEADPHONES? Are you having a laugh?
In the real world, <£20 is cheap and nasty, £30-£50 is decent quality, but you're paying for it, >£50 is very good, but pricier than I'm generally willing to go. £330? £550??!!??!! You'd have to so rich that price tags have literally no meaning to you or stark raving insanse!
It's all a con
There was a story recently about someone disassembling Sennheiser HD 555 (about 70 quid) and finding the working parts were identical to the 595 (about 140 quid) except they jammed a bit of foam in to muffle the sound slightly. So if you have access to a screwdriver you can double the value of your headphones by removing it.
One thing that really really gets me is the crappy quality earphones that you get with apple products and other pmps and the amount of people that happily use them..
They sound terrible! Even a £10 pair of buds from HMV is a 10x improvement over the crappy free ipod earphones..
When commuting in london I regularly see obviously well off people well dressed with ipads and so on, and they're using the shitty free apple earbuds to listen to their music.. They've spent 500 quid on kit to listen to music on and have crap earbuds.
After all when buying hi-fi the recommendation typically is you spend 50% of your budget on amp and sources, and 50% on speakers.. these people have spent 100% on source..
Its almost like spending £500 on a decent blu-ray player and then hooking it up to a 14" black and white crt TV.
Personally due to the amount of background noise while commuting and the fact I'm not loaded I have spent around £60-70 on a half decent set of in ear buds. I would probably only spend the money on the ones listed above for home listening which I don't do much of.
Even so when friends see them and ask how much they cost the reaction is usually "£60 for earphones?!!"
I just don't get it.. I spend more time (1 or 2 hours a day) listening to these earphones than I do my home hi-fi setup, in terms of £s per hour of usage my earphones cost a fraction of a penny per hour..
sorry, rant over.. bloody apple consumers, all style over functionality...
Not even on old MP's expenses
would I pay those prices - and I've got Quad speakers!
What's it worth to you?
If all you listen to is the highly compressed and low dynamic range stuff in noisy environments and/or are only interested in making you ears bleed then I'd agree with you. I use a 4 year old 2nd gen Nano and a pair of ~£40 Sennheiser iems on the train quite happily (though not at eardrum bursting levels).
On the other hand when I'm listening to high quality flac at home with other good quality hi-fi gear I'm not going to use a cheapo pair of headphones just to save a couple of quid. I'm no rabid audiophile but if you would spend £2-300 on speakers why not £1-200 on headphones? I use mine (Grado, why were they overlooked?) for extended periods while photo editing in the evening so as not to disturb the neighbours and the level of detail expressed rivals that of my speakers. They are still the cheapest part of my hi-fi rig too.