Monster aims and succeeds at catering to a wider range of listeners. (March 14th, 2010)
On the Beats by Dre Solo box, Monster is keen to drum in a quote by Dr. Dre saying that "people aren’t hearing all the music" -- that typical headphones are giving up details, and Dre feels it his mission to get those details back. That he largely achieved that goal with the high end models is generally accepted, but how does the Beats line fare with a middle of the road offering? Are listeners really missing details in their music with other headphones? Our Beats Solo review finds out.
Product Manufacturer: Monster Cable
- Deep bass with good high-range response.
- Solid build quality, including cables.
- Comfortable, adjustable fit.
- In-line remote and mic for iPhones and iPods.
- Still expensive for some.
- Mic quality strictly average.
build quality, design and functionality
The Solo set may be less ambitious than the original, but there's little doubt that much of the attention to detail has carried over. The audio cable isn't the anti-tangle ribbon design we've seen before, but it's certainly up to par with the quality of other Monster cables, having gold tips and a heavy duty sheath around it. Whatever you may think about Monster's claims about the effect of audio quality, these at least won't break. More importantly for owners of iPhones and newer iPods, the top of the cable holds a small control pod for pausing and starting tracks, changing volume, and answering phone calls.
The headphones themselves fold and extend, and every material used in the construction of the headphones is top notch. The top of the band is padded and the ear phones are heavily cushioned. The plastics and metal construction of the headphones make them feel very solid. The hinges on the earphones make it extremely easy to fit the headphones to your ears. As such, if construction alone could win listeners over, the Solo would be a strong lock.
Audio quality on the Solos is superb for the price. As you might expect given the Dre influence, the bass response on heavy tracks rivals that of a live concert or night club, but without the excessive volume. Mids and highs are still clear, though, and we truly did hear details in familiar tracks that we never heard before. There was not a single track that we tested where we weren’t impressed with the difference in sound quality and audio dynamics. We tested everything from dance to rock to softer and more detailed pop tracks, making sure we didn't just play into the hip-hop and rap that you'd think would be favored by a Beats set.
Microphone quality was more difficult to gauge due to the low bitrate nature of phone service. Call quality was decent and no better or worse than anything else we’ve used before. That it manages this, however, may be all iPhone buyers need to know. We just wish there was broader phone support.
We are absolutely certain that headphone users will notice a dramatic difference between the Solo and at least most models below it in price. In audio quality, the Solos more than rival the offerings of Bose (which, no matter what you think of its speakers, sets a high bar for headphones); there are higher-end alternatives, including Monster's own, but many listeners really will get the best headphone audio they've heard so far. Add in that the set is very well built and quite comfortable and you'll get a set that should last a long time without straining your head. If you have an ample but still realistic budget for high quality headphones, you could be quite happing ending your search here.