Beats Executive review: Beats Executive

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Beats Executive - headset

(Part #: 900-00047-01)
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2.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars 10 user reviews

The Good Punchy bass; Balanced sound even at high volume; Attractive style.

The Bad Audible, ever-present hiss; Sound-cancellation is non-optional; Very expensive.

The Bottom Line The Beats Executive combine boisterous bass with noise-cancellation tech, but the latter proves to be the undoing of these boardroom-based cans. An irritating, audible hiss and the fact that these headphones only work with the noise-cancelling tech turned on put the dampers on an otherwise entertaining set of headphones.

5.5 Overall

Just because you're sat in the boardroom battling to win the big Henderson account doesn't mean you can't wear big, boisterous headphones. The Beats Executive aim to please the jet-set business crowd with noise-cancellation tech, while maintaining the ostentatious style and sound that's made the brand popular. At £270 they're the opposite of cheap however, so are they worth considering?

Style and features

The Executives are recognisably Beats cans, as the gigantic lowercase 'b' on the sides will testify. The construction is weighty, solid, and involves dollops of aluminium and stainless steel. 'Classy' might be a bridge too far, but these are some good-looking headphones that feel well put-together.

That's on the outside at least. I noticed that I couldn't get the right sound levels out of the right earcup unless I pressed the speaker toward my head for a moment. Doing so did fix the sound, but I had to do this a few times during my testing. That could be an isolated problem with my review unit, but doesn't make me feel immensely positive about the build quality of the Executives' insides.

There's a hinge above each earcup, which lets you fold the Executives up to a more portable size. Atop the right cup is a power switch that turns on the noise-cancelling tech (more on that below), while the 'b' on the left side conceals a magnetically attached battery compartment. To power these metallic monsters you'll need two AAA batteries.

Beats Executive
Nifty hinges allow you to fold up these cans and slip them into your briefcase between meetings.

If you press the 'b' on the right earcup it kills the sound -- for as long as you keep the button depressed -- but doesn't pause your music. Presumably this is a feature for listening in on train, plane or airport tannoy announcements for a few seconds at a time.

In the box you get two bright-red cables, one of which has a microphone-remote to control music playback or take calls on your iPhone. Android phone owners may find their luck varies -- on the Nexus 4 for example I was able to use the built-in microphone and press the central button to play and pause music, but the volume keys didn't work.

You also get a 3.5mm to 6.3mm adaptor, and an airplane jack as well -- a nod to the Executives' business-class ethos. A carry case completes the list of in-the-box goodies.


The Executives are comfortable to wear -- a pleasant surprise considering the Beats Pro over-ear cans were not at all comfortable, crushing your ears in a way that rapidly becomes intolerable. By contrast these cans feel soft around your lugs, while being secure enough that you'd have to really shake your head to dislodge them. Each earcup can be extended by about two centimetres if you feel the need to adjust them.

Noise cancellation

Unfortunately it's the Executives' headline feature that lets them down, for two reasons.

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