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Battle of the super-marketed brands: BEATS Solo HD vs. BOSE OE vs. SENNHEISER HD218

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

So having had all 3 for the purpose of study, I can give an average consumer's thoughts on these. Borrowed a pair of Beats Solo HDs from a friend (and he bets his life that they're not fake) with about 50 hours of burn in. I also already owned the Sennheiser Hd218, and recently got the Bose OE as a gift. (I'm not really an audiophile, although good sound is still nice) I'll be reviewing the categories on a scale of 1 to 5; durability, comfort, isolation, bass, mids, and treble. 1 is bad, 3 is neutral, 5 is good.

 

NOTE: When I analyze the sounds, my standards aren't as high as the people that own the AKGs, Grados, or high end Sennheisers. Like I said, this is a non-audiophile's review.

 

 

Durability

Beats Solo HD: (2/5) If you've ever held one of these in your hands, you'll realize that not only are the hinges thin, but the plastic is brittle and doesn't bend easily. That said, these really feel like they'll snap if you're not super careful. If you paid $200 for these and they snap just because you stretched them a little bit TOO far, imagine how pissed you'd be. I didn't bother actually testing how they stand up to dropping, because I'm almost sure they'll break and my friend won't be happy if I broke these for the purposes of studying them.

 

Bose OE: (4/5) The plastic headband here is thinner than that of the Beats but much more flexible. The hinges are also thicker. I don't get the feeling of fragility with these at all; in fact, these seem pretty toughly built. They can also handle being dropped on the floor, but I wouldn't throw these around like cheap disposable Skullcandies.

 

Sennheiser HD218: (5/5) A slightly thick (although thinner than the Beats's headband) but still flexible headband and the lack of any folding hinges at all pretty much guarantees that these can take a beating. I've dropped them several times before and they haven't taken any damage from it.

 

 

Comfort - NOTE: This is very subjective. This category only pertains to my personal comfort with the headphones.

Beats Solo HD: (2.5/5) Snug and comfortable for about 15 minutes. Then, I started to feel a little pressure build up on my ears. It's uncomfortable, and I gotta take them off for a few seconds before the pressure goes away, and I can put them back on. Just keep taking them off and putting them on again roughly every 15 minutes to keep the pressing feeling on my ears away.

 

Bose OE: (5/5) These are actually really comfortable. The pads are really soft and the headphone itself is pretty light, with just enough clamping force to keep them on your head without causing any discomfort. I didn't get any of the ear pressing feeling I got with the Beats. I can wear these for hours at a time without any noticeable discomfort.

 

Sennheiser HD218: (4.75/5) Similar in feeling to the Bose although the pads aren't as soft (but only by a VERY small difference). I can also wear these for long periods of time without any noticeable discomfort.

 

 

Isolation

Beats Solo HD: (3.75/5) Does a good job keeping the noise out, but seems to have trouble keeping the music in. How is this possible? I have no idea. Maybe one of you guys know.

 

Bose OE: (5/5) Does a good job keeping both the noise out and the music in

 

Sennheiser HD218: (5/5) Same as above

 

 

Bass

Beats Solo HD: (3.75/5) FINALLY we found something the Beats are good at compared to the other headphones. Bass is big; I like big bass and I cannot lie. The problem: I don't know if it's just me, but although the bass is big it sometimes sound slightly "mushy," like it gives more of a boom than a punch. That's not as enjoyable for me.

 

Bose OE: (3.5/5) Bass is nowhere near as big as the Beats but there's no problem with any "mushiness" with these.

 

Sennheiser HD218: (3.5/5) Bass comes through crystal clear; very punchy. The problem: the bass is nowhere near as big as the Beats. Well, it's not a perfect world, I guess.

 

 

Mids

Beats Solo HD: (2/5) With the great bass came a price; some of the details in the mids were overshadowed by the bass. These are not headphones for recording studio work (which I do, seeing as I'm the sound engineer for one of my friend's band).

 

Bose OE: (5/5) Clear and detailed. No problems from overpowering bass here! Mids progress smoothly and are pleasant to listen to.

 

Sennheiser HD218: (4.5/5) These were the first hi-fi headphones I'd ever owned, so when I heard the clarity on these I was like "wow!" They still don't cease to amaze me.

 

 

Treble

Beats Solo GD: (2.5/5) Somewhat veiled treble. I personally don't really mind this either, but some people probably would. At least it's not harsh.

 

Bose OE: (5/5) Crystal clear and not harsh

 

Sennheiser HD218: (5/5) Crystal clear and not harsh

 

 

Conclusions

Beats Solo HD: For someone that doesn't need sound that's very accurate, these can actually be quite fun. The big bass definitely brings life into hip hop and techno. Still, as a sound engineer, I'd stay clear of this when I'm working with sound files and editing, because the sound this headphone puts out is nowhere close to the original sound. Plus, if you REALLY wanted a headphone that could deliver big bass, I'm pretty sure there're cheaper alternatives out there that can do the job just as well.

 

Bose OE: The sound signature of these are similar to the HD218s, if not slightly better. I'd say they pack a good $15 worth of sound over the Sennheisers. But wait a minute! Let's do the math here, shall we? The Sennheisers here cost $50. These Bose cost $150. Something is wrong with this picture. I just can't put my hand on it.

 

Sennheiser HD218: These are the headphones I go to when I do my sound engineering work. They remain very faithful to the original sound and deliver excellent clarity. They're also comfortable enough to wear for the time it takes to perfect an audio file (and sometimes it takes up to an hour). If you need a pair of budget on-ear headphones, I highly recommend these.


Edited by Mister A - 12/21/12 at 4:14am
post #2 of 5

what about the HD 25?

 

since they're closer in price to the bose and beats wink.gif

post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dubstep Girl View Post

what about the HD 25?

 

since they're closer in price to the bose and beats wink.gif

lol thanks for bringing that up, it's a very good point.

If I had a pair of HD25s, I would have used those in the comparison.

 

The prices of the headphones are:

Beats Solo HD: $200

Bose OE: $150

Sennheiser HD218: $50

 

So yeah I'm aware that Sennheiser's not getting a fair fight here, but the fact that they were able to beat the Beats by a long shot and were only beaten slightly by the Bose, even though they didn't get a fair fight, says something about them.

post #4 of 5
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mister A View Post

Bose OE: The sound signature of these are similar to the HD218s, if not slightly better. I'd say they pack a good $15 worth of sound over the Sennheisers. But wait a minute! Let's do the math here, shall we? The Sennheisers here cost $50. These Bose cost $150. Something is wrong with this picture. I just can't put my hand on it.

 

They are Bose, thus the inflated price.

post #5 of 5
Thread Starter 

I'd like to update this comparison because some new information came in.

 

After roughly 25 hours of burn-in, the Bose OE actually seems to give MUCH better bass than it did at first. While still not nearly as voluminous as the Beats Solo HD, the bass has started to come out more while still staying very tight and punchy.

 

Now that all my information's in order, I feel like I can post what is (in MY opinion) a cost-to-worth ratio, and the reason for why I think the cost-to-worth ratio is like so.

 

 

Beats Solo HD

What it costs (retail price): $200

What it's worth: $35-$40

Why: For something they call "premium headphones," the durability is ridiculously bad. It feels like a cheap toy that's just waiting to snap when you hold it in your hands; my $20 Coby headphones are FAR stronger than these. The sound is very bass heavy but the bass doesn't even sound like the satisfying bass that "kicks." It just sounds mushy and somewhat wrong. Although the one upside to these is that they look cool.

 

Bose OE

What it costs (retail price): $150

What it's worth: $115

Why: Highs are clear, mids are full sounding, and the bass truly starts sounding satisfying after a good burn-in. Construction is sturdy and they're very comfortable to wear. I can actually wear these on my head for hours without feeling any discomfort. These headphones pack good sound and sport a good construction while still looking nice; I'd say all this adds up to be worth around $115, even though they're still retailed for $150.

 

Sennheiser HD218

What it costs (retail price): $50

What it's worth: $75

Why: I'll admit that Sennheiser didn't get a fair fight in this review. For their price though, they are extremely good. I had no idea I was going to get that level of sound, construction, and comfort when I paid the $50 for them. They're still not as good as the Bose, but that makes perfect sense because they're in a different price range altogether. If it makes you guys feel any better, they're still worth almost double of what the Beats could ever hope to be worth.

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