It's not always easy to get excited about a pair of headphones on first glance. Generally, the listening experience, which is gathered only after putting a set on and sitting down with some favorite music, is what draws people in. Not so with the Monster Beats by Dr. Dre headphones, a sweet-looking set that will relieve you of $350. While their sound quality is nothing to scoff at, their appeal as eye-candy is undeniable. For audio enthusiasts who are tired of the same old look, the Beats are a must.
The Monster Beats may not be all about style, but you wouldn't know that just by looking at them. If you wear these headphones in public, you will turn heads. The thick and padded glossy black headband descends seemingly seamlessly into the circles that hold each earcup, which are oblong and padded in a cushy leatherette material. (They also swivel slightly in their supports in order to provide a comfortable fit.) Closer inspection of the headband discloses a seam on each side where it expands, revealing the metal support band within. This same metal accents the inside of the headband and rings thinly around each earpiece, which also features rings of deep red accenting. The outside of the earcups also feature a metallic disc containing a red "b" (the one on the right will mute your music when pressed). The overall effect is a sleek and stylish design that is not ostentatious.
In addition to the Beats by Dr. Dre headphones, Monster includes a variety of accessories in the slick, red packaging. There are two, thick 3.5mm audio cables--one red for standard MP3 players and one black with a built-in mic for music phones--each measuring 4 feet long. You also get a dual-pronged airplane adapter and a quarter-inch adapter for use with your home audio system, as well as a hardshell carrying case with a carabiner attached. In addition, the Beats come with a cleaning cloth, and you'll need it--these headphones are highly smudge-prone. Also necessary are the included AAA batteries; the headphones are noise-canceling (activated via a switch on the right earcup) and need power to work.
Of course, a pair of headphones may be the most gorgeous thing you've ever seen, but if they don't hold water when it comes to audio quality, the shine is quickly diminished. Luckily, this is not an issue with the Monster Beats, which offered an exceptionally--one might say shockingly--crisp response. Maybe we're pigeonholing here, but we expected Dr. Dre's headphones to be excessively heavy on the low-end. That's not to say there's no bass--it does thump--but these 'phones are nicely warm and balanced in the mids and truly impressive in their delivery of high-end detail. At no point did we suffer through the muddiness that can ail bass-heavy headphones.
If anything, some songs were a bit bright for our tastes and a few (but very few) tracks sounded harsh. More irritating is that the right earcup tends to rattle while you walk, so the Beats are probably best for stationary use. The genres that really shine are electronic, hard rock, and midtempo hip-hop, although other genres are also very good for the most part. No matter what the music, be forewarned that these headphones have a fair amount of sound leakage, so you're listening experience won't be entirely private.