Monster goes for the audiophile and pro crowd with its top headphones. (January 30th, 2011)
Most of the Beats by Dr. Dre line is high end but always targeted at the mainstream: it's the upgrade to your iPod's stock earbuds or the basic headphones you bought for your notebook. The Beats Pro, however, is billed as a professional headphone set for anyone from high-end home listeners to DJs and even audio engineers. With a price tag larger than many computers, we have high hopes for these reportedly audiophile quality earpieces; read on to our Beats Pro review for our take.
Product Manufacturer: Monster Cable
- Powerful but not overwhelming bass.
- Distinct, clean high-range sounds.
- High quality construction.
- Tasteful but unique design.
- Flip-up cups, daisy-chain audio.
- Detachable cord.
- Expensive for casual listeners.
- Lack of internal amp may affect some output.
- No mic or remote.
Design and extras
Whatever you think of its cabling, Monster Cable has built its brand reputation on insane quality construction, and the Beats by Dr. Dre line has been no exception to this. The Beats Pro, however, may take build quality and finish to a new level. The structure of the headphones is based on a heavy duty aluminum design, and both the headband and ear padding are at once very sturdy and plush at the same time.
The look is eye-catching as well. The white and silver headphones are contrasted with the signature lower case letter b in red on both earphones. Black padding is also available as an alternative; either way, the style is attention-getting but tasteful. As is the case on some of the lineup, the audio cable connecting the headphones to a source locks into the headphones and features a threaded one-eighth inch jack with a one-eighth inch to quarter-inch converter tethered to the end of the cable with a plastic connector. We appreciated that the headphones don't have to be sent in if the cable ever breaks. To connect the cable to the larger gauge audio cable is slightly elaborate, as the connector has to be threaded together with the gold-plated one-eighth inch audio jack. We much appreciated the durability of the cabling: he Monster has used a heavy gauge, bright red cable that's coiled at the source to allow stretching. Included with the headphones are a toughened, matching carrying pouch and a cleaning cloth. Some of this might not be absolutely necessary, but for the $450 asking price, they're certainly appropriate.
Two other uncommon additions in this class are the flip-up ear cups and the audio-out jack for daisy chaining other headphones. The ear cups are tailored to DJs and give them a quicker way to expose one ear to the outside world in mid-mix. We're not sure of the utility of sharing audio to others -- many studios have speakers -- but friends who regularly want to sample each other's music at the same time might have an edge case for it. Either way, we like the sound isolation. Although there's no active noise cancelling hardware, the large ear cups block almost all of the ambient noise.
Our biggest complaint about the design of the Beats Pro is simply the weight. At nearly a pound (15.2oz), the Beats Pro can become cumbersome when worn for long periods of time despite Monster's claims of aluminum improving the portability. Along with the weight comes the issue of heat; as with most enclosed headphones, the Beats Pro can make your ears quite warm, but this is to be expected with any closed ear headphone design. We'd also note that there's no iPhone- or iPod-compatible remotes included, but ˙hands-free use isn't really the focus here.
The Beats Pro were designed for studio use, and as such have no built-in amplification or noise-cancelation. This allows for a very clean and natural sound from the drivers, but it does mean you may need a headphone amp for maximum effect. Monster doesn't advertise the type of speaker technology or construction for the drivers.
The most stand-out tonal range on the Beats Pro is certainly (if unsurprisingly) the bass, which is thunderous, deep, loud, and crystal clear. We were able to hear bass details on well-loved tracks that we had never heard before listening with the Beats Pro. The mid and high tones didn't suffer from the dominance of the bass, either; they remained distinct and clearly separated, even during the widest ranging tracks.
Our test content for the Beats Pro was some of the most varied we've used yet. At one end of the spectrum we listened to the house-laced tracks of the Tron: Legacy soundtrack by Daft Punk and the classic club track "Sandstorm" by Darude. The lighter content we tested included Josh Groban, Enya, and George Winston, all of whom depended on higher frequencies. In between both extremes were tracks from country, rock, pop, classic rock and reggae genres. The louder, harder, bass-driven tracks left us with ringing ears rivalled only by those we've gotten from live concerts. Again, the clarity, detail, and forcefulness of the sound were undeniable. Everything we listened to had a natural, well defined quality; this high definition tonality transcended the styles and genres we listened to.
The Beats Pro isn't the highest-end over-ear headphone set available, but it's certainly targeted at the musical elite, and that may be their only major barrier. Many can't imagine spending $100 on a pair of headphones, let alone $450. To some extent, though, that's the point. If you listen to private audio for hours every day, especially if you make a living from it, the investment in the audio upgrade will pay itself back soon enough. If the weight doesn't burden you over long periods, the clean yet forceful sound is more than worth the cost. However much Dr. Dre was personally involved in making the Beats Pro, the attention to detail in the design and the sound is definitely in evidence.