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The four bits of metal that make Beats headphones feel less flimsy

Technically Incorrect: A teardown suggests that a third of the whole weight of Beats headphones is made up of pieces of metal that are there merely to make the 'phones feel sturdier.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


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A trick of the heavy? Hifiguy528/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

You might feel fooled on hearing about this.

Or you might merely marvel at the ingenuity offered by designers and marketers to give you what makes you feel good.

You may well be one of the millions who love their Beats headphones. This may be because LeBron James tells you to. Or it may be because Dr. Dre does.

When you put them on, they look just so and every so often you get admiring glances as you walk through an airport with them hanging around your neck like a recent romantic conquest.

However, a new teardown of the headphones, performed by Avery Louis and his staff at Bolt and published in Medium, suggests that there's a startling crudeness to the apparent sturdiness of Beats headphones.

Quite simply, four pieces of otherwise useless metal are inserted into the phones to make them feel heavier.

The Bolt team declared that a third of the total weight of the phones is made up of these four bits of metal.

The teardown goes into minute detail about how the phones are constructed and how each piece of them is manufactured.

Louis writes that, in his estimation, the phones cost $16.89 to make. They retail at, oh, $199. This is what is called a tidy profit.

He explains: "This is the power of brand; Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine have leveraged their personal backgrounds and a sleek design to launch a remarkable brand that's become fundamental to music pop culture."

The power of the brand lies in the marriage between the strong, dramatic design and the feel when you actually put them on.

The mere idea that this is achieved in such an apparently simplistic manner might make for gasps and chortles.

The mere thought that the sound quality -- which to the ears of some serious audiophiles is akin to that of a cavernous bar on a Friday night -- may not be as important as the look and feel, will surely sadden more than few.

I have contacted Beats to ask for their confirmation that these pieces of metal have no hidden role, such as tuning your ear to the noises that come through the phones. I will update, should I hear.

We spend our lives being fooled by so many things around us, whether it be salespeople or our own emotions. It's instructive that some engineer somewhere may have had a simple thought that turned something potentially flimsy into an object that's valued by many. However irrationally.