Monster, a highly regarded manufacturer of cables and interconnects have recently brought in their 'beats by dre' series of headphones to Indian market. These headphones are made in partnership with Dr, Dre a renowned music producer, and here is our take on the Beats by Dr. Dre Solo, a lightweight on-ear headphones that is designed to work with iPhone, iPod and most music phones.
Design and Features
The Beats Solo is a lightweight on-ear headphones that came in black and white color options. It has a foldable design and a size that is portable enough for outdoor use. It comes with Monster’s ControlTalk feature which enables the Beat Solo to be used as a headset for iPhone or iPod including some Blackberry phones. It has a built-in microphone for handsfree calling and on-cable controls for music playback.
Sure, the bass impact was impressive with good details and depth, but the amount of details that we heard from the middle and upper range of frequencies just does not justify its high price tag.
The black color variant we got for review has a good build quality though it is not sure how the three-fold design with the plastic headband will pass the test of time. The matte black plastic headband has metallic hinge on both sides and its interior lighter grey color which offset the darker exteriors. The top of the headband has a ‘beats by dr. dre’ logo written on it while the resting part for the head is softly padded. Both the earcups have soft leather pad and both have the red color letter’ b’ stamped on the earcup cover. Each earcup has a thin red ring running around it which accentuates the aesthetic. The flexible hinges made the headphones to suit different head sizes.
The detachable red color cable is of good quality and it is not too tangle-prone. One end of the cable has a gold plated 3.5mm stereo jack that plugs into the left side of the headphones and here it has the ControlTalk controls and a built-in mic. The other end of the cable has a L-shape gold plated 3.5mm stereo jack. The cable measures about one meter which is fairly long enough. When not in use, the Beat Solo can be easily folded and stowed in the included compact carrying case. The package also included the red cleaning cloth.
The Beats Solo has a closed back design which makes listening to music at loud volume less annoying to others as the sound leakage is much lesser than headphones with open-back design. The earcups sit on the ear other than covering the ears. It is comfortable to use and even after long hours of usage we did not feel any discomfort . The headphone works well with our iPod Touch, iPhone 3GS, iPod Shuffle and Blackberry Bold 9000. For a list of supported phones and iPod check out this link . If you want to use the Beat Solo with your standard music phone or MP3 player including a PC/ laptop then it would be wise to get a regular stereo cable with a stereo mini plug: as using the Monster's bundled cable with ControlTalk module on those devices requires holding down the play/pause button to get the full sound which seems pointless. The headphone is easy to drive but if you intend to use it with apart from the device supported list mentioned above, you would need to invest in a normal stereo cable with 3.5mm jack plug.
We expected the Beat Solo to work amazingly well for Hip Hop, Rap and other bass oriented music, and it sure did. While listening to tracks from Lil Wayne and Kanye West using the iPod Touch 64GB as a source, the Beat Solo delivered a nice low end punch and at loud volumes the earcups vibrated literally which makes the impact more realistic. While the bass reproduction was impressively huge and deep, it also overpowered the rest of the frequencies. Mids and highs were too delicate and subtle while we expected them to sound sharper and crispier. For a product in this price range, we expected much better defined and more detailed sound across all the frequency ranges not just the bass. Sure, the bass impact was impressive with good details and depth, but the amount of details that we heard from the middle and upper range of frequencies just does not justify its high price tag. Even after burned them-in for over 100 hours, the Beat Solo still lacked clear and prominent mids . Diana Krall’s voice on track like ‘Temptation’ or Ronny Jordan’s guitar tone on ‘After 8’ sounded overwhelmingly warm but the much needed crispy vocals and rich sounding guitar licks were missing. Switch over to Jay Z ‘Empire State Of Mind’, the Beat Solo delivered punchy and warm bass but as usual, the dull and muffled mids just could not make up for the sound we’ve been looking for.
On the positive side, the Beat Solo has good stereo separation and offered acceptable soundstage. The headphones can go really loud with our iPod and iPhone, so investing in a dedicated amp would not be necessary if you use one of these. Even though, they are not of noise cancelling headphones, the noise isolation is quite good for on-the-ear headphones and this would save you from pumping up the volume on your iPod to an insane level.
The Beat Solo costs Rs. 16,500 and it has a beautiful design and good build quality. However, the overwhelming bass with subtle mids and highs for its price do not justify its price tag.