I started working at my local Best Buy in the Home Theater department in 2008. Not long after I started, Beats by Dre became a thing. First, they showed up in the headphone section, innocently enough. Then they had their own endcap. Best Buy, naturally, being Monster's, well, bitch circa 2008, let them run rampant with training and marketing in the stores. They trained all the media associates to refer to them as "studio headphones" and spent millions of dollars to allot ridiculous amounts of hours worth of training to these associates in which they flat out lied to them. "Universally respected and studio-used headphones," and, my personal favorite, "the most natural and neutral sounding headphones on the market." Whether or not you like Beats or not, you can't tell me that a) Beats are used in studio nor universally respected and b) that they are natural and neutral sounding.
They then touted their noise canceling as the best in class, obliterating Bose's noise canceling. Which wasn't true. The noise floor was absurd and they had a ridiculous level of static that degraded the sound. Not to mention the noise canceling ran through batteries at a ridiculous pace; and due to this replacement, the battery doors were flimsy and broke off easily on our store display. We quickly also found out they leaked an absurd amount of sound, so when kids would go to the display to crank them, you could hear them playing them at ear-bleeding levels. I then listened to a pair, and what I found out is that they sound not half bad for what they are focusing in on; electronic, rap and hip hop. They have overemphasized bass which is good for people who want that sound and to feel their music, whether you agree with that or not. But they have no outside isolation, and as we would come to find out, are ridiculously terribly made. The markup was absurd, Best Buy paid $80 for each pair of Studios.
Monster continued to tout these as studio level headphones and funnel absurd amounts of money into trainings, which resulted in employees pretty much being forced to wear them around their necks. Their demo was so loud that we could hear the Black Eyed Peas across the aisle in Home Theater at our desk, and since the headband broke, they just hung from their wires blasting awful music that you couldn't turn down or off. But because of what they did with Best Buy, rich kids wanting to listen to Lil Wayne gobbled these things up, and then at this point it became a fashion accessory; which I have NO problem with.
Somewhere along the line though, "tech-saavy" people and parents developed the idea, due to Monster's marketing, that the Beats were the BEST headphones on the market because that sound quality is the BEST, that the build quality was incredible and thus they were worth the money. This blended well with kids who wanted Beats as a fashion accessory. So suddenly, people were telling people who had been listening to headphones for years and "good" audio that they had crap headphones and that I needed to spend my money on Beats.
From here, the celebrity endorsement fad grew ridiculously, creating dozens of knock-off terrible headphones charging $300 and overall giving over-the-ear headphones a bad name and further boning customers. These headphones weren't even fashion statements because these kids were still being made fun of. THEN once a brand like SOL Republic comes out and actually makes a trendy looking pair of good sounding headphones, they get trashed for catering to the Beats marketing, even though they tried to actually bring good sound to the Beats market by "audiophiles" on places like this place. The SOL released their graphs and they had a great curve for popular music, but neckbeards still trashed them. So, suddenly, there became a huge gap in between good looking headphones and good SOUNDING headphones because brands knew that if they weren't Beats, they wouldn't sell, so what was the point in actually SPENDING money to make a good sounding headphone in a nice case when you could half ass a driver and throw it in the same housing?
Fortunately, Beats has come to their senses. First off, they released the Beats Pro a few years ago which sound excellent for their market (DJ, electronica, dub, house, etc) and then dumbing them down to cater to the DJ market with the Mixr. The new headphone lines like the "Studio" no longer outwardly advertise being the most neutral natural headphones on the market; even though they're still called Studio, Beats actively market that their headphones make poorly encoded MP3s sound better (because they do.) Do Beats "Studio" sound good on 320 kbps rock? Hell no. But do they sound good on 128 kbps hip hop? Absolutely. That's because once Monster left they tried to run a smart business plan. And Beats Audio as well as their Streaming service are actually good. Sure, Beats Audio is nothing more than an EQ, but it demands that people want better audio than tin cans on all their products even if it's not good on our standards.
I can't forgive Beats for what they did from 2008-2013, so if they want to ever have me *not* hate them, they need probably another 5 years. But the way they went on the market was pure predatory marketing genius. Capitalism gone wrong, plain and simple.
Edited by tribestros - 5/19/14 at 10:27pm