To kick off this review, I’ll preface it with this: I started a thread, on this site, that notoriously became the “Beats hate thread” everyone is familiar with. At that point in my life, I hated everything that had the Beats branding on it (and still do, for the most part). That being said, here I am with a pair of Pros on my head and I couldn’t be happier. And in this review, I will tell you why.
I’ll start with the build quality and comfort. So far, I have no faults with their build. They feel very solid; very sturdy. The aluminium make of the headphone is very nice, and the overall look is striking [if you’re into looking like a ****]. However, there are some things that could be improved. The comfort is abysmal. If worn incorrectly, your ears will grow tired after a few minutes. This is because of how ******* heavy the headphones are. Grado headphones are more comfortable if you are wearing the Pros improperly. I have fixed my comfort problems by resting my ears slightly outside the inlay, so they aren’t in the cups. Oh, and isolation is great! In a busy city like Montreal, I couldn’t hear a lot of outside noise.
Right, now for sound. I can expect to get some flak for this, but I think they sound great. Granted, these things are roughly two years old so they have plenty of burn-in (if you believe in that sort of thing). If you aren’t in love with bass, run. Run as fast as you can away from these headphones as bass is their specialty. Oh, do these headphones ever represent bass well. For the most part, it is there when it needs to be. On some hip-hop songs, the bass does bleed into the mids, but I haven’t heard it on songs that don’t need a lot of bass.
The mids on the Pros are decent. They certainly aren’t the best, but the mids aren’t the worst I’ve ever heard. Detailing and texturing is done well enough. A phenomenon I have been having with the mids on these is this: they seem to adapt to songs that have more vocals than others. Take metal for instance: guitar and drums are usually more prominent than the vocals, so the Pros have a V-shaped sound signature. This isn’t the case if I were to listen to some hip-hop or pop: in those genres the vocals are pushed to the front, almost as if they are bleeding into the highs. It was a shocking discovery. The only other time I can remember this happening is with the Earsonic SM3.
For the treble heads out there, you will be disappointed: this is the Pros weak spot. They draw the line between sibilant and bright, with a dash of sparkle here and there. I certainly wouldn’t say they are the worse, but to say they are the best is laughable. I have had IEMs that outperform the treble on these by a mile (EX600 and e-Q5 come to mind).
Soundstage… hm. It’s good. It isn’t spectacular. Trying to describe it is hard as it changes with what I’m listening to. When I’m listening to metal, it’s in your face and quite small, but when I switch to some dream pop it’s very spacious and 3D. It’s different, to say the least. A lot like the SM3 in a lot of ways, where you are put in the middle of it all, with the instruments orbiting your head. That might sound odd, but anyone that has ever listened to the SM3 should know what I’m talking about.
So, would I buy these if I hadn’t purchased them for a reasonable price? Hell no. $400 is absolutely ridiculous for these. Sure, they are great for $250 or less, but in the $400 range you are looking at the likes of the HE-400 and Pro 900. But that isn’t what these are intended for. The Pros can be driven out of an iPod. Driven spectacularly, I might add. Their impedance is quite low, so most portable devices can drive them without fault. And that’s really the beauty of these headphones. External amps aren’t needed, so you don’t have to look like a terrorist when you pull a brick of electronics out of your pocket.