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Beats Are Magical! And Other Nearly-Criminal Marketing Schemes - Page 7

post #91 of 436
Quote:
Originally Posted by CashNotCredit View Post

The Beats marketing is atrocious. 'Nuff said.
 

 

The beats marketing was born from the monster cables marketing. Enough said.

 

And they don't even deserve a capital letter in their names. The propaganda and astroturfing surrounding monster cables and beats headphones put hitler's nazis to shame.

post #92 of 436

Lol, I'm glad someone else noticed. I saw that last one on their site about a week ago, the one about the Pros used in every major studio, and I thought it was absurd. I actually giggled a bit when I first read that.

post #93 of 436
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by BrownBear View Post

Lol, I'm glad someone else noticed. I saw that last one on their site about a week ago, the one about the Pros used in every major studio, and I thought it was absurd. I actually giggled a bit when I first read that.


Good job getting the thread back on track (albeit unintentionally). We had just hit the point of no return (Nazi references).

post #94 of 436
Quote:
Originally Posted by driver 8 View Post

 

Also, any of Beats competitors could call them out on their BS if they wanted to.  Sennheiser knows almost anyone whose job requires them to wear headphones is probably rocking some HD25's anyways.

They also know that they are losing out bad in the consumer market. But things are coming...

 

Oh and one word about the marketing stuff "loopholes", nuff said.

post #95 of 436
Thread Starter 

I'm going to get started typing the packet up again today. I may have a few formatting issues converting it over to .doc form (I use LibreOffice on Ubuntu), but it'll probably work out fine.

post #96 of 436

just thought I'd throw this in here

 

1000

post #97 of 436
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Supertoaster View Post

just thought I'd throw this in here

 

1000


This is when you wish people just went to RadioShack and checked out Auvio.

post #98 of 436
Thread Starter 

Okay, somebody check this all over before I make a new thread about it. Don't need to make a spelling fool out of myself.

 


Anything But Beats

 

You've most likely just been handed this packet by [the crazy headphone guy/a naked stranger]. You know, the one who has owned more than [3/600] pairs of headphones and walks around with an electronic [the word “Altoids” is optional] box attached to his his [mp3 player/iPod/other box] for better sound. The one obsessive enough about headphones to predict your interest in Beats and print whole packet to answer it. If you're reading this, you probably asked about a “fad” headphone like Beats by Dr. Dre, and [he/she/gender-neutral pronoun] has gone into a fit of mental rage...again. However strange these circumstances, that person has a point to make, and you may find yourself agreeing. Read on.

 

 

Stage One: They Sound Amazing!

 

You believe that Beats sound good for a variety of reasons, some of which are unavoidable. The first factor is the placebo effect. Most people who buy Beats have never heard what a good headphone sounds like, and have come directly from iBuds, Skullcandy, and any number of other cheap and basic earphones and headphones. Starting with that point of reference, almost anything will sound amazing. That's where Monster Cable, the original developer of Beats Electronics (the two companies separated in 2011) was smart in marketing. Monster (and now Beats Electronics) uses extreme product placement and sometimes outright lies to exploit their key market: you. They claim their headphones play music as it sounds in the studio (this is an obvious lie to anyone who knows anything about mixing or recording and will be discussed later) and are the absolute best of headphone sound quality (ever heard of a Stax SR009? You won't from Monster), both of which are bold and easy-to-spot lies. Since the vast majority of the public has never heard anything truly high-end, they all just start drinking the Kool-Aid. Soon everyone is telling you that Beats are amazing, despite the fact that nobody in the picture has ever heard a Grado, Audio-Technica, or Beyerdynamic. But what about the actual sound? Here's a breakdown of all the Beats models:

 

Bass: The most emphasized feature of headphones like Beats is, obviously, the bass. However, it's not actually any good, and it's even lacking in certain respects on some models. The Beats have what is called a mid-bass hump. The tones where bass guitar and most bass that you can determine a note from are emphasized, while the mids and sub-bass are quieter. While there's nothing wrong with a bassy sound (the Audio-Technica ATH-PRO700MK2 and Audez'e LCD-2 are very well-regarded bassy headphones), it's the quality of the mid-bass that ruins the Beats. Within the mid-bass, signals are wildly distorted on these fad headphones, and a tone at 250 Hz sounds exactly the same as one at 200 Hz. This may seem like useless tech talk, but what it means is that a bassline will sound flat, playing on a lower note than it should. If they're the wrong notes, who cares how loud they are?

 

As if that wasn't enough, two Beats models (the Mixr and Studio) actually lack sub-bass, which is what gives deep bass its thump and rumble. The Studios are particularly nasty in this respect, and watching an action movie or listening to a hearing range test will prove that they literally have NO sound below 35 Hz. Compared to a similar headphone liike the Ultrasone HFI-580 (Fig. 1), this drop is horrible, especially considering the Studio model costs two and a half times the Ultrasone. You can literally see the volume of the sound slope down to nothing below 20 Hz on the Beats, whereas the cheaper (and better-sounding) HFI-580 has no such problems.

 

1000

 

 

The inadequacy is also proven by listening through a headphone amplifier with a sub-bass boost function, such as the JDS Labs CmoyBB. Since the Studios have no sub-bass, the change in sound will be minimal at best because the headphone literally can't produce sub-bass, let alone make existing sub-bass louder. The bass of all Beats models is easily and extremely outmatched in quality and quantity by a $120 M-Audio Studiophile Q40, or replicated by a cheap Sony XB500 or XB700. Beats, especially at their price range, are simply no match for real bass-heavy headphones. This is because the others actually do it well.

 

Midrange: Due to the overwhelming (and overwhelmingly bad) mid-bass, the midrange (where most of the guitar, singing, and other major parts lie) is very recessed on the Beats and other fad headphones. This means that the majority of the music is kept quite quiet, leaving you wondering where half the band went. What midrange response there is generally tends to be extremely laid-back, with no real detial. In fact, across every spectrum of sound the detail of the Beats is easily bested by a Superlux HD668B ($40) or a Sony MDR-V6 ($70). The only Beats model with significant detail retrieval is the Pro, but at $400 it's still beaten by $150 competitiors like the Shure SRH840 and Fischer Audio FA-003.

 

Treble: The highs on Beats and similar celebrity-endorsed headphones is spiked to gibe a sense that there is something more than loud, unrefined bass to their sound signature. However, with the notable exception of the Pro, this accentuated treble is very bad by headphone standards. It lacks spacial definition, is harsh and fatiguing to listen to, and doesn't have the “sparkle” of a great treble sound. The Pro model actually has a decent treble, but again it's $130 decent, not $400 decent. In fact, the Beats Pro sounds remarkably like the Ultrasone HFI-780, which goes for well under $200.

 

Knowing all of this, why did you think that Beats sounded good when you tested them at Best Buy or on a friend's iPod? For the former situation there is a definite answer. Any store that has the full Beats listening station setup (Best Buy, Futureshop, etc.) cannot give you a real impression of the headphones. It is a well-known fact in the headphone community that Monster Cable's listening stations were designed and amped specifically to make the headphones sound more balanced and less harsh. The pre-set music is chosen and EQ'd by Beats Electronics's engineers to hide the faults of the headphones, a practice pioneered by Bose and their listening stations years back.

 

As for a personal audition through an iPod, there are a few factors that combine to make sure you believe you're getting the best. First and foremost, you've most likely never heard another headphone but Beats at or near their price range and have no previous reference to (Bose doesn't count, as Bose has many of the same quality-to-dollar issues as Beats). If you've never heard exceptional bass from a $200 headphone, sub-par bass from a $350 set will sound amazing. If you don't know mids or highs like an audiophile like me does, even relatively horrid sound will seem great. Also, a scary part of the Monster/Beats Elec.-engineered hype is how it takes advantage of your brain's malleability. If you believe beforehand that something is amazing, your brain will release positive signals when you try it, no matter how bad it really is. There is significant research to back this up, and Monster and Beats Electronics knew how to use it. Your brain is actively deceiving you while you listen, and Beats Electronics profits!

 

 

Stage Two: Producers and DJ's Use Them, So They Can't Be Bad

 

You've doubtlessly seen PR photos and product-placement music videos in which Beats are worn during music production of DJ'ing. However, this in no way means that Beats are used in a real studio anywhere, because they're not. Before I get to why they can't be used in this situation, I'll prove that they aren't in the first place.

 

Music recording professionals and big-time DJ's, while being paid to promote Beats publicly, go out of their way to avoid using them at work and on music production. Many popular DJ's like Skrillex, Girl Talk, and Infected Mushroom have been known to wear Beats on-stage as a crowd-pleaser. What you don't know about this phenomenon is that oftentimes those Beats aren't exactly purebred. Large-Audience DJ's have been known to transplant drivers from Shure or Panasonic DJ headphones into Beats shells. When they don't, they use Beats-lookalikes such as the Fanny Wang 2001 or the Shure SRH240. In fact, during the promo for Skrillex's Re:Generation project (after the obvious Beats and Audio-Technica product placement at the video's start), you can see one of the artists involved in the project sporting some Fanny Wangs. From the distance of the video, only a true headphone lover could tell them apart from Beats. As for professional recording sessions, no real producer uses beats. Ever Dr. Dre himself uses Audio-Technica headphones for mixing and recording, as you can see below:

 

1000

 

 

So why do they avoid Beats to much? It is a pure and unbiased fact that Beats and similarly mid-bassy fad headphones are useless for mixing and music production. To know this required only a little bit of basic thought. When in a recording studio, the speakers or headphones used must be “flat”, with no range of sound accented. Since beats have such prominent bass, if recorded music sounded nice on the during mixing the final recoding would have almost no bass. The same goes for DJ's. If Beats were used in clubs to monitor, the actual sound through the club speakers would have little to no bass, which is important to clubs. It'd sound balanced to the DJ, but would have no bass in the final output, ruining the atmosphere.

 

 

Stage Three: All The Celebrities And Sports Stars Use Them...

 

A lot of where Monster Cable (and now Beats Electronics) has been smart with Beats marketing is in giving them away to athletes and celebrities. Whenever photographed or interviewed, the stars have free Beats around their necks. When such celebrities and sports stars start wearing them, they also immediately become cool. After this happens, a new argument supporting the product forms: “If [insert famous person] is rich enough to buy anything, why would they get a crappy headphone?” This argument has been used to defend Beats to many a headphone enthusiast, but it's extremely flawed. Here's why:

 

First of all, as has already been covered, many celebrities are literally paid to listen to Beats when in public. This is common with any type of product. That said, many basketball stars and celebrities also claim to like Beats. There's nothing wrong with that. If the Pros were $100 to $150, I'd probably like them, too. The exact point that there celebrities have the money for the best also means they have no worried spending it over overpriced crap for the style. In addition, asking a basketball star for headphone advice is like asking a hairdresser to take out a molar. It simply doesn't add up in the world of logic.

 

Many music artists who wear Beats in public do so because they it's cool and they have the money to waste (if they weren't paid to wear them anyways). On stage and at home, many use better setups. Dr. Dre has been documented as a user of AKG headphones at home, John Mayer uses Alessandros, and most artists use JH Audio or Ultimate Ears monitors when on-stage. Music producers, those involved in the actual quality of the sound, almost universally swear by the likes of KRK, Fostex, and Grado, but not by Beats unless they've taken money from the company that makes them. No decent producer lets Beats anywhere near their studio, either, because they know how the sound of the Beats will mess up their production as covered earlier in the packet.

 

 

I'll Pay A Premium Because It's An Image Product

 

At this point, there is no sound-related justification for buying Beats or other similar style headphones. If you're still convinced that they're amazing, you either ignored the preceding five pages or you literally do not care about sound quality. If you're the latter and still want Beats, you probably see them simply as a “luxury” item, like a Gucci purse. If that's the case, why not save some money and get branded knockoffs? I don't advocated buying fakes, which is illegal, but companies like Dealextreme which don't claim their Beats are fakes can be a perfect solution. They don't use copyrighted logos or phrases online, but the product they ship you has all the branding and its own fake case on some models. They start at only $10.

 

If you simply like the Beats style but don't care about sound or image, there are many less expensive options (and they sound better, too). AS mentioned before, Shure makes a headphone called the SRH240 that looks very similar to the Beats Solo or Studio and sells for around $50. In fact, Monster Cable stole the Solo's design from the SRH240, released in 2005. Also mentioned before, Fanny Wang headphones are similar to Beats but arguably are even more modern and stylish, and they have a similar sound, too.

 

1000

 

Fanny Wang 2001

 

 

1000

 

Shure SRH240

 

Interested in alternatives to Beats in any price range? You can find help and reviews of thousands of headphones at the community of Head-Fi.org, or you can simply ask whoever gave you this packet if they're not invisible. For now, enjoy the hundreds of dollars you just saved.


 

Any comments before the new thread is made?

post #99 of 436

nt


Edited by sfoclt - 7/23/12 at 6:40pm
post #100 of 436

This is pretty ridiculously awesome magicali...... but I do and will give Dre some minor props for bringing headphones in, and he also wanted and was working with another producer and steve jobs to make lossles 192/24 recordings on itunes.

post #101 of 436

I don't really care for Beats headphones, but am I the only one that feels that this pic looks incredibly photoshopped?

1000

 

 

 

post #102 of 436
Quote:
Originally Posted by steven_1026 View Post

I don't really care for Beats headphones, but am I the only one that feels that this pic looks incredibly photoshopped?

Now that you mention it......you are right, it does look a bit shopped, the quality of the photo may play into it looking artificial, but I can't tell with accuracy if it is or not though

post #103 of 436
Quote:
Originally Posted by ssrock64 View Post

Okay, somebody check this all over before I make a new thread about it. Don't need to make a spelling fool out of myself.

Anything But Beats



 



You've most likely just been handed this packet by [the crazy headphone guy/a naked stranger]. You know, the one who has owned more than [3/600] pairs of headphones and walks around with an electronic [the word “Altoids” is optional] box attached to his his [mp3 player/iPod/other box] for better sound. The one obsessive enough about headphones to predict your interest in Beats and print whole packet to answer it. If you're reading this, you probably asked about a “fad” headphone like Beats by Dr. Dre, and [he/she/gender-neutral pronoun] has gone into a fit of mental rage...again. However strange these circumstances, that person has a point to make, and you may find yourself agreeing. Read on.



 



 



Stage One: They Sound Amazing!



 



You believe that Beats sound good for a variety of reasons, some of which are unavoidable. The first factor is the placebo effect. Most people who buy Beats have never heard what a good headphone sounds like, and have come directly from iBuds, Skullcandy, and any number of other cheap and basic earphones and headphones. Starting with that point of reference, almost anything will sound amazing. That's where Monster Cable, the original developer of Beats Electronics (the two companies separated in 2011) was smart in marketing. Monster (and now Beats Electronics) uses extreme product placement and sometimes outright lies to exploit their key market: you. They claim their headphones play music as it sounds in the studio (this is an obvious lie to anyone who knows anything about mixing or recording and will be discussed later) and are the absolute best of headphone sound quality (ever heard of a Stax SR009? You won't from Monster), both of which are bold and easy-to-spot lies. Since the vast majority of the public has never heard anything truly high-end, they all just start drinking the Kool-Aid. Soon everyone is telling you that Beats are amazing, despite the fact that nobody in the picture has ever heard a Grado, Audio-Technica, or Beyerdynamic. But what about the actual sound? Here's a breakdown of all the Beats models:



 



Bass: The most emphasized feature of headphones like Beats is, obviously, the bass. However, it's not actually any good, and it's even lacking in certain respects on some models. The Beats have what is called a mid-bass hump. The tones where bass guitar and most bass that you can determine a note from are emphasized, while the mids and sub-bass are quieter. While there's nothing wrong with a bassy sound (the Audio-Technica ATH-PRO700MK2 and Audez'e LCD-2 are very well-regarded bassy headphones), it's the quality of the mid-bass that ruins the Beats. Within the mid-bass, signals are wildly distorted on these fad headphones, and a tone at 250 Hz sounds exactly the same as one at 200 Hz. This may seem like useless tech talk, but what it means is that a bassline will sound flat, playing on a lower note than it should. If they're the wrong notes, who cares how loud they are?



 



As if that wasn't enough, two Beats models (the Mixr and Studio) actually lack sub-bass, which is what gives deep bass its thump and rumble. The Studios are particularly nasty in this respect, and watching an action movie or listening to a hearing range test will prove that they literally have NO sound below 35 Hz. Compared to a similar headphone liike the Ultrasone HFI-580 (Fig. 1), this drop is horrible, especially considering the Studio model costs two and a half times the Ultrasone. You can literally see the volume of the sound slope down to nothing below 20 Hz on the Beats, whereas the cheaper (and better-sounding) HFI-580 has no such problems.



 


1000

 



The inadequacy is also proven by listening through a headphone amplifier with a sub-bass boost function, such as the JDS Labs CmoyBB. Since the Studios have no sub-bass, the change in sound will be minimal at best because the headphone literally can't produce sub-bass, let alone make existing sub-bass louder. The bass of all Beats models is easily and extremely outmatched in quality and quantity by a $120 M-Audio Studiophile Q40, or replicated by a cheap Sony XB500 or XB700. Beats, especially at their price range, are simply no match for real bass-heavy headphones. This is because the others actually do it well.



 



Midrange: Due to the overwhelming (and overwhelmingly bad) mid-bass, the midrange (where most of the guitar, singing, and other major parts lie) is very recessed on the Beats and other fad headphones. This means that the majority of the music is kept quite quiet, leaving you wondering where half the band went. What midrange response there is generally tends to be extremely laid-back, with no real detial. In fact, across every spectrum of sound the detail of the Beats is easily bested by a Superlux HD668B ($40) or a Sony MDR-V6 ($70). The only Beats model with significant detail retrieval is the Pro, but at $400 it's still beaten by $150 competitiors like the Shure SRH840 and Fischer Audio FA-003.



 



Treble: The highs on Beats and similar celebrity-endorsed headphones is spiked to gibe a sense that there is something more than loud, unrefined bass to their sound signature. However, with the notable exception of the Pro, this accentuated treble is very bad by headphone standards. It lacks spacial definition, is harsh and fatiguing to listen to, and doesn't have the “sparkle” of a great treble sound. The Pro model actually has a decent treble, but again it's $130 decent, not $400 decent. In fact, the Beats Pro sounds remarkably like the Ultrasone HFI-780, which goes for well under $200.



 



Knowing all of this, why did you think that Beats sounded good when you tested them at Best Buy or on a friend's iPod? For the former situation there is a definite answer. Any store that has the full Beats listening station setup (Best Buy, Futureshop, etc.) cannot give you a real impression of the headphones. It is a well-known fact in the headphone community that Monster Cable's listening stations were designed and amped specifically to make the headphones sound more balanced and less harsh. The pre-set music is chosen and EQ'd by Beats Electronics's engineers to hide the faults of the headphones, a practice pioneered by Bose and their listening stations years back.



 



As for a personal audition through an iPod, there are a few factors that combine to make sure you believe you're getting the best. First and foremost, you've most likely never heard another headphone but Beats at or near their price range and have no previous reference to (Bose doesn't count, as Bose has many of the same quality-to-dollar issues as Beats). If you've never heard exceptional bass from a $200 headphone, sub-par bass from a $350 set will sound amazing. If you don't know mids or highs like an audiophile like me does, even relatively horrid sound will seem great. Also, a scary part of the Monster/Beats Elec.-engineered hype is how it takes advantage of your brain's malleability. If you believe beforehand that something is amazing, your brain will release positive signals when you try it, no matter how bad it really is. There is significant research to back this up, and Monster and Beats Electronics knew how to use it. Your brain is actively deceiving you while you listen, and Beats Electronics profits!



 



 



Stage Two: Producers and DJ's Use Them, So They Can't Be Bad



 



You've doubtlessly seen PR photos and product-placement music videos in which Beats are worn during music production of DJ'ing. However, this in no way means that Beats are used in a real studio anywhere, because they're not. Before I get to why they can't be used in this situation, I'll prove that they aren't in the first place.



 



Music recording professionals and big-time DJ's, while being paid to promote Beats publicly, go out of their way to avoid using them at work and on music production. Many popular DJ's like Skrillex, Girl Talk, and Infected Mushroom have been known to wear Beats on-stage as a crowd-pleaser. What you don't know about this phenomenon is that oftentimes those Beats aren't exactly purebred. Large-Audience DJ's have been known to transplant drivers from Shure or Panasonic DJ headphones into Beats shells. When they don't, they use Beats-lookalikes such as the Fanny Wang 2001 or the Shure SRH240. In fact, during the promo for Skrillex's Re:Generation project (after the obvious Beats and Audio-Technica product placement at the video's start), you can see one of the artists involved in the project sporting some Fanny Wangs. From the distance of the video, only a true headphone lover could tell them apart from Beats. As for professional recording sessions, no real producer uses beats. Ever Dr. Dre himself uses Audio-Technica headphones for mixing and recording, as you can see below:



 


1000

 



So why do they avoid Beats to much? It is a pure and unbiased fact that Beats and similarly mid-bassy fad headphones are useless for mixing and music production. To know this required only a little bit of basic thought. When in a recording studio, the speakers or headphones used must be “flat”, with no range of sound accented. Since beats have such prominent bass, if recorded music sounded nice on the during mixing the final recoding would have almost no bass. The same goes for DJ's. If Beats were used in clubs to monitor, the actual sound through the club speakers would have little to no bass, which is important to clubs. It'd sound balanced to the DJ, but would have no bass in the final output, ruining the atmosphere.



 



 



Stage Three: All The Celebrities And Sports Stars Use Them...



 



A lot of where Monster Cable (and now Beats Electronics) has been smart with Beats marketing is in giving them away to athletes and celebrities. Whenever photographed or interviewed, the stars have free Beats around their necks. When such celebrities and sports stars start wearing them, they also immediately become cool. After this happens, a new argument supporting the product forms: “If [insert famous person] is rich enough to buy anything, why would they get a crappy headphone?” This argument has been used to defend Beats to many a headphone enthusiast, but it's extremely flawed. Here's why:



 



First of all, as has already been covered, many celebrities are literally paid to listen to Beats when in public. This is common with any type of product. That said, many basketball stars and celebrities also claim to like Beats. There's nothing wrong with that. If the Pros were $100 to $150, I'd probably like them, too. The exact point that there celebrities have the money for the best also means they have no worried spending it over overpriced crap for the style. In addition, asking a basketball star for headphone advice is like asking a hairdresser to take out a molar. It simply doesn't add up in the world of logic.



 



Many music artists who wear Beats in public do so because they it's cool and they have the money to waste (if they weren't paid to wear them anyways). On stage and at home, many use better setups. Dr. Dre has been documented as a user of AKG headphones at home, John Mayer uses Alessandros, and most artists use JH Audio or Ultimate Ears monitors when on-stage. Music producers, those involved in the actual quality of the sound, almost universally swear by the likes of KRK, Fostex, and Grado, but not by Beats unless they've taken money from the company that makes them. No decent producer lets Beats anywhere near their studio, either, because they know how the sound of the Beats will mess up their production as covered earlier in the packet.



 



 



I'll Pay A Premium Because It's An Image Product



 



At this point, there is no sound-related justification for buying Beats or other similar style headphones. If you're still convinced that they're amazing, you either ignored the preceding five pages or you literally do not care about sound quality. If you're the latter and still want Beats, you probably see them simply as a “luxury” item, like a Gucci purse. If that's the case, why not save some money and get branded knockoffs? I don't advocated buying fakes, which is illegal, but companies like Dealextreme which don't claim their Beats are fakes can be a perfect solution. They don't use copyrighted logos or phrases online, but the product they ship you has all the branding and its own fake case on some models. They start at only $10.



 



If you simply like the Beats style but don't care about sound or image, there are many less expensive options (and they sound better, too). AS mentioned before, Shure makes a headphone called the SRH240 that looks very similar to the Beats Solo or Studio and sells for around $50. In fact, Monster Cable stole the Solo's design from the SRH240, released in 2005. Also mentioned before, Fanny Wang headphones are similar to Beats but arguably are even more modern and stylish, and they have a similar sound, too.



 


1000

Fanny Wang 2001



 



 


1000

Shure SRH240



 



Interested in alternatives to Beats in any price range? You can find help and reviews of thousands of headphones at the community of Head-Fi.org, or you can simply ask whoever gave you this packet if they're not invisible. For now, enjoy the hundreds of dollars you just saved.



Any comments before the new thread is made?

Would be nice to have it in .doc or .pdf format but looks good so far! (I didn't go picking through spelling either though)
post #104 of 436

Wow that was an awesome read(skim) but yeah, I agree! :)

post #105 of 436
Quote:
Originally Posted by ssrock64 View Post

Okay, somebody check this all over before I make a new thread about it. Don't need to make a spelling fool out of myself.

 


Anything But Beats

 

You've most likely just been handed this packet by [the crazy headphone guy/a naked stranger]. You know, the one who has owned more than [3/600] pairs of headphones and walks around with an electronic [the word “Altoids” is optional] box attached to his his [mp3 player/iPod/other box] for better sound. The one obsessive enough about headphones to predict your interest in Beats and print whole packet to answer it. If you're reading this, you probably asked about a “fad” headphone like Beats by Dr. Dre, and [he/she/gender-neutral pronoun] has gone into a fit of mental rage...again. However strange these circumstances, that person has a point to make, and you may find yourself agreeing. Read on.

 

 

Stage One: They Sound Amazing!

 

You believe that Beats sound good for a variety of reasons, some of which are unavoidable. The first factor is the placebo effect. Most people who buy Beats have never heard what a good headphone sounds like, and have come directly from iBuds, Skullcandy, and any number of other cheap and basic earphones and headphones. Starting with that point of reference, almost anything will sound amazing. That's where Monster Cable, the original developer of Beats Electronics (the two companies separated in 2011) was smart in marketing. Monster (and now Beats Electronics) uses extreme product placement and sometimes outright lies to exploit their key market: you. They claim their headphones play music as it sounds in the studio (this is an obvious lie to anyone who knows anything about mixing or recording and will be discussed later) and are the absolute best of headphone sound quality (ever heard of a Stax SR009? You won't from Monster), both of which are bold and easy-to-spot lies. Since the vast majority of the public has never heard anything truly high-end, they all just start drinking the Kool-Aid. Soon everyone is telling you that Beats are amazing, despite the fact that nobody in the picture has ever heard a Grado, Audio-Technica, or Beyerdynamic. But what about the actual sound? Here's a breakdown of all the Beats models:

 

Bass: The most emphasized feature of headphones like Beats is, obviously, the bass. However, it's not actually any good, and it's even lacking in certain respects on some models. The Beats have what is called a mid-bass hump. The tones where bass guitar and most bass that you can determine a note from are emphasized, while the mids and sub-bass are quieter. While there's nothing wrong with a bassy sound (the Audio-Technica ATH-PRO700MK2 and Audez'e LCD-2 are very well-regarded bassy headphones), it's the quality of the mid-bass that ruins the Beats. Within the mid-bass, signals are wildly distorted on these fad headphones, and a tone at 250 Hz sounds exactly the same as one at 200 Hz. This may seem like useless tech talk, but what it means is that a bassline will sound flat, playing on a lower note than it should. If they're the wrong notes, who cares how loud they are?

 

As if that wasn't enough, two Beats models (the Mixr and Studio) actually lack sub-bass, which is what gives deep bass its thump and rumble. The Studios are particularly nasty in this respect, and watching an action movie or listening to a hearing range test will prove that they literally have NO sound below 35 Hz. Compared to a similar headphone liike the Ultrasone HFI-580 (Fig. 1), this drop is horrible, especially considering the Studio model costs two and a half times the Ultrasone. You can literally see the volume of the sound slope down to nothing below 20 Hz on the Beats, whereas the cheaper (and better-sounding) HFI-580 has no such problems.

 

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The inadequacy is also proven by listening through a headphone amplifier with a sub-bass boost function, such as the JDS Labs CmoyBB. Since the Studios have no sub-bass, the change in sound will be minimal at best because the headphone literally can't produce sub-bass, let alone make existing sub-bass louder. The bass of all Beats models is easily and extremely outmatched in quality and quantity by a $120 M-Audio Studiophile Q40, or replicated by a cheap Sony XB500 or XB700. Beats, especially at their price range, are simply no match for real bass-heavy headphones. This is because the others actually do it well.

 

Midrange: Due to the overwhelming (and overwhelmingly bad) mid-bass, the midrange (where most of the guitar, singing, and other major parts lie) is very recessed on the Beats and other fad headphones. This means that the majority of the music is kept quite quiet, leaving you wondering where half the band went. What midrange response there is generally tends to be extremely laid-back, with no real detial. In fact, across every spectrum of sound the detail of the Beats is easily bested by a Superlux HD668B ($40) or a Sony MDR-V6 ($70). The only Beats model with significant detail retrieval is the Pro, but at $400 it's still beaten by $150 competitiors like the Shure SRH840 and Fischer Audio FA-003.

 

Treble: The highs on Beats and similar celebrity-endorsed headphones is spiked to gibe a sense that there is something more than loud, unrefined bass to their sound signature. However, with the notable exception of the Pro, this accentuated treble is very bad by headphone standards. It lacks spacial definition, is harsh and fatiguing to listen to, and doesn't have the “sparkle” of a great treble sound. The Pro model actually has a decent treble, but again it's $130 decent, not $400 decent. In fact, the Beats Pro sounds remarkably like the Ultrasone HFI-780, which goes for well under $200.

 

Knowing all of this, why did you think that Beats sounded good when you tested them at Best Buy or on a friend's iPod? For the former situation there is a definite answer. Any store that has the full Beats listening station setup (Best Buy, Futureshop, etc.) cannot give you a real impression of the headphones. It is a well-known fact in the headphone community that Monster Cable's listening stations were designed and amped specifically to make the headphones sound more balanced and less harsh. The pre-set music is chosen and EQ'd by Beats Electronics's engineers to hide the faults of the headphones, a practice pioneered by Bose and their listening stations years back.

 

As for a personal audition through an iPod, there are a few factors that combine to make sure you believe you're getting the best. First and foremost, you've most likely never heard another headphone but Beats at or near their price range and have no previous reference to (Bose doesn't count, as Bose has many of the same quality-to-dollar issues as Beats). If you've never heard exceptional bass from a $200 headphone, sub-par bass from a $350 set will sound amazing. If you don't know mids or highs like an audiophile like me does, even relatively horrid sound will seem great. Also, a scary part of the Monster/Beats Elec.-engineered hype is how it takes advantage of your brain's malleability. If you believe beforehand that something is amazing, your brain will release positive signals when you try it, no matter how bad it really is. There is significant research to back this up, and Monster and Beats Electronics knew how to use it. Your brain is actively deceiving you while you listen, and Beats Electronics profits!

 

 

Stage Two: Producers and DJ's Use Them, So They Can't Be Bad

 

You've doubtlessly seen PR photos and product-placement music videos in which Beats are worn during music production of DJ'ing. However, this in no way means that Beats are used in a real studio anywhere, because they're not. Before I get to why they can't be used in this situation, I'll prove that they aren't in the first place.

 

Music recording professionals and big-time DJ's, while being paid to promote Beats publicly, go out of their way to avoid using them at work and on music production. Many popular DJ's like Skrillex, Girl Talk, and Infected Mushroom have been known to wear Beats on-stage as a crowd-pleaser. What you don't know about this phenomenon is that oftentimes those Beats aren't exactly purebred. Large-Audience DJ's have been known to transplant drivers from Shure or Panasonic DJ headphones into Beats shells. When they don't, they use Beats-lookalikes such as the Fanny Wang 2001 or the Shure SRH240. In fact, during the promo for Skrillex's Re:Generation project (after the obvious Beats and Audio-Technica product placement at the video's start), you can see one of the artists involved in the project sporting some Fanny Wangs. From the distance of the video, only a true headphone lover could tell them apart from Beats. As for professional recording sessions, no real producer uses beats. Ever Dr. Dre himself uses Audio-Technica headphones for mixing and recording, as you can see below:

 

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So why do they avoid Beats to much? It is a pure and unbiased fact that Beats and similarly mid-bassy fad headphones are useless for mixing and music production. To know this required only a little bit of basic thought. When in a recording studio, the speakers or headphones used must be “flat”, with no range of sound accented. Since beats have such prominent bass, if recorded music sounded nice on the during mixing the final recoding would have almost no bass. The same goes for DJ's. If Beats were used in clubs to monitor, the actual sound through the club speakers would have little to no bass, which is important to clubs. It'd sound balanced to the DJ, but would have no bass in the final output, ruining the atmosphere.

 

 

Stage Three: All The Celebrities And Sports Stars Use Them...

 

A lot of where Monster Cable (and now Beats Electronics) has been smart with Beats marketing is in giving them away to athletes and celebrities. Whenever photographed or interviewed, the stars have free Beats around their necks. When such celebrities and sports stars start wearing them, they also immediately become cool. After this happens, a new argument supporting the product forms: “If [insert famous person] is rich enough to buy anything, why would they get a crappy headphone?” This argument has been used to defend Beats to many a headphone enthusiast, but it's extremely flawed. Here's why:

 

First of all, as has already been covered, many celebrities are literally paid to listen to Beats when in public. This is common with any type of product. That said, many basketball stars and celebrities also claim to like Beats. There's nothing wrong with that. If the Pros were $100 to $150, I'd probably like them, too. The exact point that there celebrities have the money for the best also means they have no worried spending it over overpriced crap for the style. In addition, asking a basketball star for headphone advice is like asking a hairdresser to take out a molar. It simply doesn't add up in the world of logic.

 

Many music artists who wear Beats in public do so because they it's cool and they have the money to waste (if they weren't paid to wear them anyways). On stage and at home, many use better setups. Dr. Dre has been documented as a user of AKG headphones at home, John Mayer uses Alessandros, and most artists use JH Audio or Ultimate Ears monitors when on-stage. Music producers, those involved in the actual quality of the sound, almost universally swear by the likes of KRK, Fostex, and Grado, but not by Beats unless they've taken money from the company that makes them. No decent producer lets Beats anywhere near their studio, either, because they know how the sound of the Beats will mess up their production as covered earlier in the packet.

 

 

I'll Pay A Premium Because It's An Image Product

 

At this point, there is no sound-related justification for buying Beats or other similar style headphones. If you're still convinced that they're amazing, you either ignored the preceding five pages or you literally do not care about sound quality. If you're the latter and still want Beats, you probably see them simply as a “luxury” item, like a Gucci purse. If that's the case, why not save some money and get branded knockoffs? I don't advocated buying fakes, which is illegal, but companies like Dealextreme which don't claim their Beats are fakes can be a perfect solution. They don't use copyrighted logos or phrases online, but the product they ship you has all the branding and its own fake case on some models. They start at only $10.

 

If you simply like the Beats style but don't care about sound or image, there are many less expensive options (and they sound better, too). AS mentioned before, Shure makes a headphone called the SRH240 that looks very similar to the Beats Solo or Studio and sells for around $50. In fact, Monster Cable stole the Solo's design from the SRH240, released in 2005. Also mentioned before, Fanny Wang headphones are similar to Beats but arguably are even more modern and stylish, and they have a similar sound, too.

 

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Fanny Wang 2001

 

 

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Shure SRH240

 

Interested in alternatives to Beats in any price range? You can find help and reviews of thousands of headphones at the community of Head-Fi.org, or you can simply ask whoever gave you this packet if they're not invisible. For now, enjoy the hundreds of dollars you just saved.


 

Any comments before the new thread is made?


great, but monster stole the design for the studios from shure, not the solos

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