The Beats by Dr. Dre Solo Headphones from Monster offer a killer, travel-friendly design that's sure to turn heads, but the audio quality fails to live up to the price tag.
The latest offering from Monster is the Beats by Dr. Dre Solo, an on-ear model that features ControlTalk, which is essentially fancy terminology for an inline mic and integrated controls for the iPod. This $200 set offers all the bass we expected from the first two Dr. Dre headphones in a slick, compact package.
The Beats Solo headphones follow in the tradition of Monster's other Dr. Dre-branded earphones, right down to the black and white color options. This set looks very similar to the original model with the full-size earcups, except the overall size of everything is noticeably smaller because of the on-ear design. The earpieces, which feature the customary red lowercase b logo stamped in a fashionable brushed-chrome circle, are circular and measure just 2.2 inches across.
From the earcups to the headband, the Beats Solo headphones have a nice, quality feel to them. The adjustable band is metal coated in a soft, matte plastic and features a bit of padding on the top as well as the Dr. Dre logo stamped on the outside.
A single, removable cable in the Beats' signature thick, red coating attaches to the left earcup via a gold-plated straight plug. Following this 50 inches to the other end brings you to an uber-reinforced gold-plated L-plug that attaches to your audio source. The cable appears to be exceptionally durable and is not at all tangle-prone, a definite plus in our book.
The Beats Solo headphones have a couple of additional features that are worth mentioning. Foremost is that they include ControlTalk, which refers to a small square module a few inches down the cable that has an integrated mic and call-answer button for use with music phones. This button also doubles as playback controls for the iPod or iPhone. There's a volume rocker as well.
Though the original Dr. Dre Beats headphones rather underwhelmed us in the bass department, the Beats Solo set takes things in the complete opposite direction. Indeed, the low end can be quite overwhelming, especially on first use. We'd expect more of a genre-friendly pair of headphones given the $200 price tag. The design alone may be enough of a convincer for some, however.