That Dr Dre is putting his PhD to good use -- the Beats headphone line has proved incredibly popular, and since we reviewed the Beats Solos back in January, we've been spotting the bass-thumping bad boys destroying the eardrums of trendy teens the nation over. Building on that success, Monster is releasing a set of new Beats by Dr Dre headphones, including these -- the Beats Pro, which will set you back a monstrous £330.
Grabbing these cans, the first thing that'll strike you is the sheer size of the things -- the massive earcups will easily eclipse even the most prominent of lugs. They're not light, either. Constructed mostly of aluminium, the Beats Pros feel very substantial. The good news is, we reckon the hefty metal frame will stand up to a few knocks. The not-so-good news is that they feel really heavy on your head.
It's not necessarily a dealbreaker, though -- we never found them uncomfortably weighty. More of an issue is if you're walking around, or indeed indulging in a spot of headbanging, you might find the Pros gaining momentum and sliding off your ears. That heavy look does give the Pros a very definite style, though, and the sheer size of them will ensure they turn a few heads.
Listening for extended periods of time was comfortable enough, though because the earcups themselves are quite shallow, we did notice a little pain setting in after a few hours due to our ears pressing against the inside of the cups themselves, so that's something to watch for.
Each earcup swivels up for easy storage inside the headband, which cuts down their size if you're carting these 'phones around with you. The cable is thick and rubberised with a coiled section, which should give you a little extra freedom if you need to be further from your music source for a moment.
Chainin' and coilin'
Another neat feature is that there's a cable socket on each earcup, with the unused socket serving as an output, so you can hook up another set of headphones and 'daisy-chain' the sound from the Pros to the attached set of 'phones. We imagine this would come in handy for communal listening, or professional deejaying. We don't think it's the intended purpose, but you can also plug in two sound sources to the Pros -- one to each earcup -- if, for whatever reason, you want to listen to two songs at the same time. Cool for amateur mixing, perhaps.
Since these sound-muffs have a closed-back design, you get a good deal of sound isolation with these on your head. We tested them on the London Tube and found they did a reasonable job of blocking out the horrifying sound of our fellow man. It's still not as much sound isolation as you'd get with a set of inner-ear headphones, but it's a pretty good showing.
These are quite leaky, however. It's not so bad when you've got them attached to your head, but if you break that seal, expect everyone else on the bus to be hearing your thumping choons. Admittedly, that's not a problem for you, but if you're planning on using these in a quiet office, it's something to bear in mind.
So, in terms of design, the Pros are a little rough around the edges. But these little niggles will melt into delightful quirks when you actually pump some music through these beasts.
A shotgun of sound to the face
Let's preface the sound-quality section by saying that despite the price tag, these headphones probably won't satisfy hardcore audiophiles. If you want faithful, accurate, natural tone in your headphones, stop reading now, because these cans don't offer that kind of precise audio reproduction. What they do offer, however, is a massive amount of fun. We see these headphones satisfying aspiring DJs, or anyone with a good deal of spare cash who really enjoys blasting a few beats.
As you'd imagine, the Pros are bass-heavy. That's possibly the biggest understatement you'll read this year -- the kind of aggressive, head-pounding, eyeball-rattling low-end thump these cans deliver is a rare thing indeed.
Anyone can create really bass-heavy headphones, but what the Pros do well is deliver that bass without letting it balloon out of control and obscure the rest of the mix. The bass through these cans is monumental, but always feels contained -- like a rabid pitbull kept on a tight leash. Listening to Skee-Lo's I Wish, for example, the strong kick drum and wandering bassline were always prominent, and delivered a proper thump, but we could still hear the delicate piano trills that lurk in the mid frequencies. The result is a low end that will liquify your brain at high volumes, but doesn't interfere with your enjoyment of the song as a whole.
There's a great deal of clarity in the high end, too. Cymbals and hi-hats, for instance, came through very clearly on every track we tested. We did notice that, at higher volumes, some high tones became hot and edged into distortion territory. We noticed this on the lead guitars during the chorus of Puddle of Mudd's She Hates Me. Even though sound quality fades at higher volumes, we can forgive the Pros because rocking out with these 'phones is buckets of fun.
The Pros don't offer a particularly wide sound stage, but that's not totally surprising considering the tight-around-the-ears fit.
If you're a fan of accoustic or folk music, it goes without saying that you won't get the most out of these cans, which are very much tailored toward hip-hop, rock or dance music. Anything with a prominent bassline will sound great, and this is the core of the Pros' appeal. When the kick drum and bass hit simultaneously on The Tempest by Pendulum, you'll feel as if a bomb has exploded inside your head, and you'll actually feel the bones in your skull shaking loose from their tendinous constraints.
If you want your music reproduced as exactly, precisely and carefully as possible, opt for a different set of cans. If, however, you want headphones that will compromise the structural integrity of your face, the Monster Beats by Dr Dre Pro deliver. A few design quirks stop them from being truly brilliant, and they're exceedingly expensive, but we cannot deny that the Pros rock us to our very core.
If you want the same 'bass over accuracy' approach but for half the price, check out the V-Moda Crossfade LPs.
Edited by Emma Bayly