We're oddly enamoured with the Beats line of audacious audio products -- Dr Dre and chums have churned out some endearing, bass-heavy headphones in the last few years. The Beats Tour earphones are the latest on the chopping block -- are they worth the £100 they'll set you back?
Playing all the tangles
In terms of styling, the Tours are recognisably of the Beats stable. The distinctive red cable is broad and flat, like a ribbon, which in our experience cuts down on tangling. So if -- like us -- you tend to screw your earphones into a ball before stuffing them into your pockets, they won't take so long to unwind once it's time to put them out again. The cable feels quite sturdy, so we're hopeful that they'll hold up to wear and tear in the long run.
Dangling partway down the cable for the right earbud, you'll find a Beats ControlTalk remote. Ignore the fancy name, this is the same kind of in-line remote we've seen on lots of other in-ear headphones, though we still appreciate it.
If you're using an iPod, you can use the remote to control music playback, pausing or skipping track back and forth, and if you're using the Tours with an iPhone you can use the remote's built-in microphone to take calls.
The earbuds themselves boast a striking design, with the signature Beats lower-case 'b' against an aluminium circle, but these are some of the weirdest shaped 'buds we've ever encountered. They're extremely long, which means that once you've stuck them into your lugholes, you might struggle to keep them stable in your ear canal.
For that reason, we'd recommend trying these headphones out before you buy them. We didn't have too many issues keeping them in our ears, but we imagine others might, so make sure you can get a tight, comfortable fit before throwing down your hard-earned dosh.
Because the Tours are quite long, they'll stick out of your ears a way (unless you have incredibly deep earholes), so the chances of them getting bashed out your ears on a crowded commute are increased.
Ace of bass
Press 'play' and you'll quickly identify the signature Beats sound -- incredibly deep and powerful bass. The Tours ladle oodles of low-end into your lugs, delivering a rich, thumping sound. Listening to Lady Gaga's Bloody Mary we felt our brains turning to jelly with each powerful bass kick.
Unlike some Beats kit, the Tours are no one-trick pony, and there's an impressive level of detail at the opposite end of the spectrum too -- losing our dignity to Katy Perry's California Gurls we noticed the cymbals sizzling quite clearly, and the subtle, high-pitched guitar sound wasn't lost in the mix.
This is full, bassy sound. Audiophiles won't be satisfied, but the Tours offer great, accessible sound that plays best with hip-hop and pop.
The Beats by Dr Dre Tours offer great sound quality for the price, and are definitely worth a look if you're a fan of bassy sound. In many ways the design is excellent -- the ribboned cable and remote are thoughtful additions, and aesthetically we're fans of the bold, bright style. Still, the curiously long earbuds mean you should definitely try before you buy.
Similarly great-sounding yet slightly oddly shaped are the Diddybeats, which are also worth a butcher's. If you want something that definitely won't slip from your noggin, examine the Sennheiser OCX 880s.
Edited by Nick Hide