Headphones - High Definition Powered Isolation Headphones
High end headphones developed by hip hop artist Dr. Dre, Monster cables and Ammunition Group. Priced at $350 when first released in August, 2008 and available the Apple Store and Best Buy. … see full wiki
I first heard about these headphones from the design firm, Ammunition Group, because they help to design the Beats by Dr. Dre and they also did some design work for us here at Lunch. So i was very curious (but skeptical) to try these "super-bitchen" headphones. I must admit that i'm not a huge audiophile, so my only comparison is my set of Bose Quiet Comfort 2 Acoustic Noise Cancelling®, which i use primarily while traveling/flying and i really enjoy.
First off, i felt pretty hip and cool going into the Apple store and asking for headphones because they didn't even have them on the floor... they had to get them special out of the back. Also, i kind of felt like a big baller when I rolled in and threw down $350 for a set of headphones that most of the kids working in the store would love to own... it made me feel like i really knew my music and took huge pride in how i listened to it... neither of which is true... but felt good for a second... i'm such a poser and i'm fine with it.
I took them on a 4 hour flight to Chicago and A/B tested them against the my Bose QC2... here are my findings.
Coolness: Winner Beats. Hands down. These things are cool and people can't miss them... they look really cool first of all (please see pic below to see how cool i look wearing them. for the sake of juxtaposition, i have alos included a pic of my in my Bose headphones reading the WSJ) and secondly they are huge!
Sound Quality: Winner Beats. Again hands down. I tried a few different types of music, hip hop, classical, Michael Jackson, and even a little Jimmy Buffet. In each case there was a REMARKABLE difference in sound quality between the two. I was actually shocked because until then, i thought my Bose headphones were awesome. Now i know better. The bass was way better... richer, deeper and bigger, but not overwhelming like when one of those kids pulls up next to you at a stop light and you can feel your fillings rattle... it was just really good. Also the treble was letting me hear things that i didn't know were in the songs before.
Physical Quality: Winner Bose. This was a close one, but the thing that really threw me off here is the battery installation. The first thing you have to do when you buy the Beats is put the batteries in. The cover that is on the batteries feels so cheap... it's plastic. It felt like a tinny hub cap when i was looking for some solid 24" wheels. (hip hop reference intentional). Also, the mechanics of the on/off switch felt cheap too especially compared to Bose.
Noise Canceling: Winner Bose. The Bose just keeps out more noise when you aren't listening to anything. I don't think that the Beats are trying to compete at this, (ie being the headphones that people where when the fly to cancel background noise) and they clearly don't. This is something else that i was actually shocked about because i assumed that they would have canceled noise as good or better than the Bose. Additionally,when you turn on the Bose, the noise canceling feature has a slight delay which feels like you are getting sucked into this quiet/peaceful realm where the transition in the Beats is immediate and harsh... not as cool.
Size: Winner Bose. The Beats are just much larger and both on the head and in the case. This will make it much harder to travel with the Beats. The Beats case has a nice carabiner that can be attached to the outside of luggage so they just kind of hang there, but it's really too big to fit in carry on bag unless you have a lot of extra room. See the pics below for a size comparison. In the pics, the size of the case is a little misleading because when you are traveling, it is much easier to fit the Bose in a carry on bag because they are flatter... almost like a book.
Price: Push. The Beats are $350 and the Bose are $300 (although they are currently on sale for 10% off on the Bose Website for xmas 2008 so that brings them to $269 Bose Quiet Comfort 2 Website). If you are into music the extra $50 is probably worth it for you.
Conclusion: If you are really into music and sound quality get the Beats. If you are into wearing your headphones while traveling to cancel out noise while reading your Wall Street Journal or Economist... stick with the Bose.
Author's Update: (12/16/08) Okay... i've been traveling with my Bose and leaving the Beats at home because the Bose are easier to pack. But every time i put them on and press play... i'm let down and i start missing my Beats. Damn!!! I think i'm going to start traveling with my Beats. More updates to come. Oh yeah... Did you see the Beats on Entourage? Turtle had a pair that he was listening to on a plane... i guess if they made on Entourage they must be cool.
Author's Update: (5/21/09) I was watching the Laker playoffs and they showed the Kobe Bryant walking into the Staples Center wearing some purple and gold Beats by Dr. Dre. I was kind of bummed i didn't have Kobe Beats... While watching the game at home, during time outs, i could just crank Randy Newman's "I Love LA" with my Laker Beats. How sweet would that be? You just wouldn't do that in the Bose Quiet Comforts. To be impartial, i noticed that Lebron James has his own custom Beats as well. I have pictures of both posted in the data point.