With a star-status rapper as its front man, Beats By Dre has always been known as a celebrity-studded brand of headphones that are worn more to be seen than to listen to music.
But for all the criticism thrown at it, Beats has gained its own following of fans that would not have been there if the company's headphones sounded like a pair of tin cans held together. Apple itself has marked its stamp of approval on Beats, displaying the headphones on their own revered corner in the Apple Store.
Beats By Dre has always been about the bass, and for audiophiles, that could either be a huge hit or miss, depending on your listening preferences. If you love to listen to music with the head-thumping, heart-pounding bass thuds that take the center stage on a Beats headphone, check out the latest Beats models available.
Beats Studio ($349)
Comfortable, stylish and one of the better-sounding Beats headphones out there, although for the $350 price, the Beats Studio are not exactly made for the studio. Instead, they make perfect commuter headphones with pretty good active noise cancelling features and a comfortable build that lets the synthetic leather on the ear pads cup your ears softly and the rubber headband stay snugly on your head. Sound quality is better than Beats' other models. The trademark skew on the bass is tellingly there and can affect sound separation, preventing the sound from expanding. Still, for an over-ear pair of closed headphones, the Beats Studio does well enough.
Beats Solo 2 ($259)
Beats has been criticized for selling overpriced headphones, and if you can't afford the higher-than-average prices of some of its best models, the Beats Solo 2 is for you. Styled like a smaller Beats Studio, this pair features the same sleek design as other Beats headphones but with a more reasonable price and a foldable figure for better portability. For its price of $260, the Beats Solo 2 features some of the best noise cancellation in its price range, even better than the Sennheiser Momentum On-Ear. It still features the same focus on bass, but that is paired with clear, smooth treble, allowing for a bit more spacious sound.
Beats Mixr ($224)
Design has always been one of Beats' strengths, and it proves its eye for good-looking headphones by making Beats Mixr, a good-looking pair of headphones that the younger crowd will likely gravitate toward. However, to achieve its good looks, Beats makes some trade-offs in the comfort department with ear pads that place more pressure over your ears and a slim headband without much padding. As usual, bass gets blown up a little bit too artificially, but this is compensated for by good sound width and smooth treble and mid-range frequencies.
Beats Pro ($359)
If you're intent on getting the best-sounding Beats headphones possible, the Beats Pro is your No. 1 choice. This pair handles mid and high-range frequencies with startling accuracy, and if there was a pair of headphones that makes good on Beats' claim that you'll listen to music the way it was done in the studio, the Beats Pro is it. Perfectly mastered music sounds fantastic, while poorly done mixes give themselves away. There is no escaping Beats' obsession with bass though, and the headphones aren't exactly a slim, lightweight pair you can wear for hours on end.
Photo: Garry Knight | Flickr