It's not always easy to get excited about a pair of headphones at first glance. Generally, it is the listening experience that draws people in. But with its sweet-looking and sleek design, the AU$499 Monster Beats by Dr Dre Studio headphones is both a treat for the eyes and the ears. For audio enthusiasts who are tired of the same old look, the Beats Studio headphones 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 seamlessly into the circles that hold each ear-cup, which are oblong and padded in a leatherette material that is obscenely cushy. 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 deep red accents. The outside of the ear-cups also have 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. However, the padding on the band is a bit stiff and may take some breaking in to be truly comfy.
In addition to the Beats Studio by Dr Dre headphones, Monster includes a variety of accessories in the slick, red packaging. There are two ultra-thick 3.5mm audio cables — one red for standard MP3 players and one black with a built-in mic and ControlTalk remote for iPhones and iPods — each measuring 4 feet long. You also get a dual-pronged aeroplane adapter and a quarter-inch adapter for use with your home audio system, as well as a hard-shell carrying case with a carabiner attached. In addition, the Beats Studio come with a cleaning cloth, and you'll need it: these headphones are highly smudge-prone. Since the headphones are noise-cancelling (activated via a switch on the right earcup) and need power to work, it is a good thing that AAA batteries are included in the set.
But beyond eye-catching appearance, a good pair of headphones should also shine when it comes to its audio quality. Offering an exceptionally crisp response, we can honestly say that the Beats Studio nicely passes the "good headphone" test. Maybe we're pigeon-holing 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 headphones 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.
The genres that really shine are electronic, dance, pop, hard rock and hip-hop. But for the most part, the headphones enhance the listening experience of other genres as well. No matter what the music, be forewarned that these headphones have a fair amount of sound leakage, so your listening experience won't be entirely private. We are happy to report, however, that the Beats Studio headphones don't suffer from the noise cancellation module rattle of their predecessors. Overall, these provide a fantastically comfortable and enjoyable listening experience.