It's been three years since the world was first introduced to the Beats by Dr. Dre headphone line, and it's definitely grown to become a Monster of a business (pun intended). From earbuds to portable speakers to iPod docks to laptops, Dr. Dre and Monster have hit every market imaginable.
This time around their sights are set on the DJs and producers of the world, with a bigger and badder (and pricier) pair of headphones--the Beats Pro by Dr. Dre from Monster Headphones. At $450 (you can find it for a bit less at retailers), you're not paying solely for the performance of the headphones but more for the combination of durability, build, style, and name.
The first impression is of the sheer size and heft of the headphones. They feel quite heavy on the head, and may not be ideal for the casual user. The oversize look will certainly turn a few heads, and note that indulging in too much head-bopping will give the Pros enough momentum to slide off your ears.
The build quality is solid--these will stand up to a few knocks and tosses on the couch, or on the floor, and they feel extremely durable. The large padded headband attaches to adjustable brushed aluminum sides, ending with full-size earcups that rotate upward for storage. Each earcup is rounded and padded in a leatherlike material that is exceptionally cushy, and each includes an input/output port. The ear cushions can be removed for washing.
The Beats Pro uses a single red audio-cord cable with a secured connector that locks into place on the bottom of each earcup and can be swapped to either side of the earcups. The unused port then becomes a second output for hooking up another set of headphones and "daisy-chaining" the sound from the Pros to the second set of headphones for communal listening. We found daisy-chaining other headphones to the Beats Pro decreased the sound level quite a bit on the Pros themselves, but not to the point of dramatically hindering performance. Two sound sources besides headphones can also be plugged into the Pros--one into each earcup--if, for whatever reason, the need to listen to two songs simultaneously comes up. The possibility for amateur mixing may fit somewhere in there, but most DJs use mixers with cue channels for this.
The cable cord is thick and rubberized with a coiled section, giving some extra extension if you need to be an extra foot, or two, away from your music source for a moment. It does take some conditioning to get the headphones to stretch further out, without stopping short, when you first get them out of the box, as the cable is initially coiled very tightly.
Even with an adjustable headband, the Beats Pro are a tight fit on the ears and can cause some discomfort after an hour or so of continuous use. It may not be the same for everyone, but it was a problem for us at the time.
There has been concern that some MP3 players cannot power these headphones. Unlike the original Beats, the Pros are not battery-powered, which means the power consumption involved in powering the large speakers is pretty high. While the Pros will work just fine with the majority of the players we've used--iPod Touch, iPod Classic, Nano, Zune HD, and Creative Zen: Vision M--the Shuffle wasn't as successful, as it didn't output enough power for the headphones and hampered the audibility.