Because I've read a thread recently where 2 people were arguing about whether Beats by Dre is a bad headphone or not, I've decided to get the Beats Studio just for the sake of reviewing. Still, this will be my first review and I am still a noob at headfi, but I have used plenty of headphones before. Everything in this review is purely just my opinion. I tried to be as open minded and unbiased as possible.
For the review, I used some pop songs in either 320kbps or FLAC, Open Your Ears, The Ultimate Test Disc for Headphones, as well as some classical, the latter 2 in FLAC. My personal rig that I am using for these tests are an Audio-gd NFB3 DAC going into a Lovely Cube Premium (Lehmann BCL clone). They have a slight hiss with my setup, something that's not present with my other headphones. I've also tested them straight out of my iPhone 4.
Everything NOT Sound
Comfort: The Studios start off being comfortable headphones, but because of their almost on-ear nature, they started to feel uncomfortable after about 1 hour of listening. The earcups , being extremely soft, help, but they do get warm, especially in the summer. They are, I would say, medium weight; heavier than my HD555, lighter than HD800.
Accessories: They come with 2 cables; both are short, but understandable because they are targeted to portable users. The mic on one of the cable supports this. There's also a 1/4" adapter and an airplane adapter included. Batteries are included; Duracell too. The case that comes with it is probably one of the best things Monster could've included, since Studios are so shiny, you would want to protect them from any scratches. Also comes with a microfiber cloth so you can wipe them every 10 minutes because they're fingerprint magnets.
Build Quality: I don't know about long time durability, but they seem to be flimsy right now. When they're on my head, sometimes the left earcup would creak when I move my head a certain way. They're also not symmetrical, but that's just nit-picking.
Active Noise Cancelling: They work. Not the best, but they work. I actually took the Studios into a Futureshop and compared the noise cancelling to Bose noise cancelling headphones at the Bose station. The Bose win hands down in terms of cancellation. When I took them outside and on transit, they were also ok and are better than a lot of IEMs in isolation, but I still feel that Etymotics isolate noise better than the Studio cancel.
Overall, the sound of the Beats Studios is warm and bassy. They are a little muddy and sound slightly muffled and veiled. A lot of low level detail can't be heard using the Studios, and for good reason. The Studios are a more fun headphone than analytical (hurr durr), so you shouldn't expect it to be detailed anyways. The whole sound signature sounds very forward.
Soundstage and Imaging: Pretty average. Not much depth to the soundstage. They do sound out of your head, but it's not nearly as wide as my HD555, and they can't even compare to my HD800s (obviously lol). Imaging too is pretty average; it is blurry. Instrument separation is not bad though.
Bass: The bass on the Beats Studios are good, but not excellent. It is somewhat between punchy and boomy, closer to the punchy side, and decently detailed. To me, the Beats Studio offer musical bass, and is not a one note bass like others have stated. That being said, the Beats Studio's bass is lacking in texture. I would also like to mention that although the bass is emphasized, the Beats are not bass monsters, just a bit on the heavy side. The bass also creep up into the mids, JUST a little bit. Overall, I feel that the bass in the Studios are ok and clear, but not super detailed and it's far from the best I've heard.
Mids: The mids to me feel muddy and veiled. Tonally, the mids are not weak or recessed, but the mids do not sound realistic. They remind of the cheap PC speakers I used to own. The mids sound slow and coloured to me. Vocals do sound full, but again, not as realistic as it should be.
Highs: They are rolled off pretty early, and are too "noisy". Not clear at all, and not detailed. Highs are very forward in the Studios, which combined with their muddyness, create something I can't really describe. All I know is I don't like it.
Conclusion and Additional Comments
So the Studios do lows well, but not so much for mids and highs. Overall balance of these cans isn't too bad. Certainly not overwhelmingly bassy. I feel that at the price point of $350, there are A LOT of other options that sound A LOT better. To me, for the sound and the sound alone, I would pay nothing more than $100. When you factor in the semi-working noise cancellation, then maybe it's worth $160. Now when you factor in the looks, well, it gets hard to decide how much it's worth. As a fashion accessory, some people might find that at the $350, it's absolutely worth it; others on the other hand may not. When you wear the Studios on the street, it says that you're trendy and to some people, that's all that matters. Personally, if I wanted to look cool and had the money, I would use my RE0 IEMs, and wear the Beats over them.
Edited by Wingstrike - 7/19/11 at 5:51pm