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A Monster Beat By Dr. Dre
February 7, 2013 1:17 PM   Subscribe

The fascinating story of the origins of those high priced headphones all the kids are wearing these days.
posted by COD (114 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

 
Ugh, this is so annoyingly written.
posted by Napierzaza at 1:25 PM on February 7, 2013 [17 favorites]


It looks like your link got mangled, first one should be:

http://gizmodo.com/5981823/beat-by-dre-the-inside-story-of-how-monster-lost-the-world

I probably am capable of feeling bad for a company collectively, but Monster is not that company. They're a bunch of scammers.

"The truth is, audio cable is a lot like expensive basketball shoes: There are a couple hundred people in the world who really need the best, and the rest of us probably can't tell the difference."

This is bullshit.
posted by selfnoise at 1:26 PM on February 7, 2013 [18 favorites]


I like how they desperately try to drum up some respectability for Monster--a company that sells an almost entirely fraudulent product--in order to make us care at all about them getting screwed over.

I also like how completely they failed.
posted by yoink at 1:28 PM on February 7, 2013 [42 favorites]


The ubiquity of these on teenagers is utterly mind-boggling. I walk around with my Senn 280s thinking, 'wow. I paid half as much as your parents did for these and they sound three times better.'

It's like, man Dre, I didn't forget about you, but now I kinda want to.

Ah, the weltschmerz, it hurts.
posted by Lutoslawski at 1:31 PM on February 7, 2013 [13 favorites]


Not sure what is up with the link -http://gizmodo.com/5981823/ - get you to the story just fine too. Looks like the rest of it is just for SEO / source tracking purposes.

Even after that story I can't gin up any sympathy for Monster.
posted by COD at 1:32 PM on February 7, 2013


Yeah, not getting the sympathy angle at all.
posted by odinsdream at 1:34 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Did this save Dre's financial bacon? Because when that soda commercial came on a while back, my wife said what I was thinking; "Dr. Pepper? He must be having money trouble."
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:37 PM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


The ubiquity of these on teenagers is utterly mind-boggling. I walk around with my Senn 280s thinking, 'wow. I paid half as much as your parents did for these and they sound three times better.'

Yup. I use a set of HD 518s at home and swapped for a friends set of Beats during a LAN party a few weeks back.

After a few rounds he returned my Sennheisers with a bewildered look on his face and asked, "How much did you say these were again?"
posted by WinnipegDragon at 1:38 PM on February 7, 2013 [10 favorites]


My personal (uncharitable) theory is that Monster can't sell endpoint gear because they have nothing to offer. It's more trouble to set up an A/B comparison between cables than between speakers, so people don't do it. They pick the speakers that sound nice and never test the cables. So Monster can create a phantom upmarket for cables, but they can't do it for output devices because any consumer can test those.

They could probably go the other way - convince makers of blu-ray players to license Monster-Grade Connectors or some crap like that. Not that they need more ideas on how to rip people off.

They didn't bring any specific audio expertise to the deal with Dre that he couldn't get somewhere else for half the cost. They didn't write a contract that locked them in, so they got tossed aside for a bigger margin. Not really a surprise. Funny to hear the story, though.
posted by echo target at 1:39 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Proprietors of 200 dollar lamp cord got swindled? I'm shedding a single tear.
posted by stenseng at 1:43 PM on February 7, 2013 [10 favorites]


Not that anyone cares, but the stuff at the end of the URL got inserted when the OP clicked on the link about Swizz Beatz at the end of the story. Gizmodo didn't put http:// at the front of their link to the article, so instead it got tacked onto the end of the original URL.

Anyway, that's funny; I still thought Monster made the Beats stuff.
posted by zsazsa at 1:46 PM on February 7, 2013


Yeah, no sympathy for Monster.

I do have sympathy for everyone who can tell the difference between Beats and, you know, good headphones, because with Beats' ubiquity, those people are becoming a smaller and smaller minority. (World's tiniest violin. I count myself in that group.) It's funny that Dre is doing the same thing as Monster: convincing people that $$ = quality, all evidence to the contrary.
posted by supercres at 1:46 PM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


<3 Sennheiser. It's a shame that kids think some funky fly stylish earbuds would even come close to matching quality ear-goggles.

Sound is nothing, Image is everything: Monster
posted by symbioid at 1:47 PM on February 7, 2013


So it's SUCH a small company that he didn't have any lawyers when making a deal with Interscope? But it's somehow the biggest contract that INTERSCOPE has ever signed! This is the most aggravating article. Crappy bias all over the place. And boo hoo he risked his DAD getting mad at him? Please.
posted by Napierzaza at 1:48 PM on February 7, 2013 [11 favorites]


This is kid stuff. I know a couple audiophiles who will happily pay thousands for a power cord.
posted by davebush at 1:49 PM on February 7, 2013


Why is the author of this piece so astounded that Kevin Lee had "nothing but a bachelors degree"?
"[He] faced it by himself, with his BA[...]"
Are we surprised that Sam Biddle earned a BA in philosophy from Johns Hopkins in 2010?
posted by deathpanels at 1:50 PM on February 7, 2013


And the notion that Monster has no lawyers is laughable. They're famous for suing any other company with Monster in their name.
posted by zsazsa at 1:50 PM on February 7, 2013 [12 favorites]


At Christmas I noticed my 10 year old nephew wearing Beats when playing on his iPad. I asked my sister how the hell she afforded them and she told me they were fake.

I hear that fake Beats are very popular. I imagine they sound like crap.
posted by gnuhavenpier at 1:52 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have this vision of Dre and Jimmy realizing Kevin is in way over his head and meeting up with him in a dark restaurant somewhere, where they slide the contact across the table and tell him he has 5 minutes to sign it or they walk.

At least I really hope it happened that way.
posted by COD at 1:54 PM on February 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Proprietors of 200 dollar lamp cord got swindled? I'm shedding a single tear.

Is it... a diamond tear? WARNING: AUTOPLAY AUDIO
posted by axiom at 1:55 PM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's funny that Dre is doing the same thing as Monster:

Licensing his well-known brand to brand conscious consumers? What's wrong with that?

I mean people pay way too much money for the Sennheiser brand when you can buy a Korean knock-off that sounds every bit as good for half the price, but brand-conscious suckers are born every minute.
posted by three blind mice at 1:55 PM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


I hear that fake Beats are very popular. I imagine they sound like crap.

I bet nobody knows the difference.
posted by slogger at 1:56 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


<3 Sennheiser. It's a shame that kids think some funky fly stylish earbuds would even come close to matching quality ear-goggles.

This. Sennheiser, Sony, even Skullcandy are better than Beats.

I have shiny purple Skullcandy cans at home that, while obviously flawed, are comfortable and reasonable listenable. But trying Beats on at the store sounds like shoving my head into a bucket of concrete.
posted by Foosnark at 1:56 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I hear that fake Beats are very popular. I imagine they sound like crap.

I had a pair of fake Beats earbuds. The sound quality was pretty comparable to any other earbuds. The problem is that they broke after just a couple months (but then again, most earbuds seem to).

So yeah, if you want a pair of cheap, fashionable earbuds, get some fake Beats ones.
posted by muddgirl at 2:01 PM on February 7, 2013


I have some Sennheiser 555s that I use at home (which are truly, truly excellent), but most of the time I use cheapo in ear vModas or Skullcandy ear buds. I'd definitely take my Skullcandys over Beats.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 2:02 PM on February 7, 2013


So yeah, if you want a pair of cheap, fashionable earbuds, get some fake Beats ones.

Annnnd if you don't care if they look kinda goofy, grab the dirt-cheap, insanely good Monoprice 8320's - I ordered them maybe a month ago and am just consistently astounded. Amazing sound quality for under $10 - Monoprice might actually be the alternate-universe Monster.
posted by 235w103 at 2:04 PM on February 7, 2013 [21 favorites]


I like how Monster is described as a "boutique audio company" when they made the deal with Dre in 2008. Candlestick Park was renamed "Monster Park" in 2004, which meant that they had stopped being "boutique" years before that. So, yeah, this article is an utter waste of time.
posted by artichoke_enthusiast at 2:05 PM on February 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


Headphones have become one of those things where no matter what you buy there's someone on the internet telling you you're an idiot and/or a sucker.
posted by The Card Cheat at 2:06 PM on February 7, 2013 [22 favorites]


I've gone through plenty of headphones and earbuds and maybe I just have shitty hearing, but I've noticed much greater differences in comfort and parts quality (i.e., wire insulation coming off, jack falling off, headband breaking) than in sound quality, which seems to range from good to really good no matter what brand or price.
posted by theodolite at 2:07 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've literally never bought a pair of earbuds (they come free with lots of different products - the fake Beats were a dubious gift), so even $10 seems a bit expensive to me.

And I think this is the heart of the issue - most people don't buy headphones/earbuds based on how they sound, because most people don't care about sound quality in their portable music devices. Shocking, I know.
posted by muddgirl at 2:07 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


It might be time to call for a moritorium on posts about gizmodo articles. Utter bush league nonsense.
posted by basicchannel at 2:07 PM on February 7, 2013 [10 favorites]


I suppose this is as good a time as any to talk about how much I love my Koss PortaPro headphones. I picked them up three years ago because they reminded me of Tron, and because they looked odd enough that no one else would wear them. I have only ever seen one other person wearing them - a guy about my age at an airport.

I really like how they sound. They collapse - not super compact, but nice enough. The most interesting feature is that they have little feet that touch your temples, and switches that allow you to change the amount of pressure placed on the ears or temples - which greatly diminishes the pinching of ears.

So, yeah. "Unique," "retro," dope beats, very comfortable, and pretty cheap too.
posted by rebent at 2:09 PM on February 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


I have no complaints about the monoprice 8320s, other than that Amazon jacked the price up due to demand and that Monoprice still has em slightly cheaper. I knew from reviews that you had to fit them in well, with the cord going over and behind your ear. They sound great.

What also sounds great are my ten year old Sennheiser 280s, though the ear cups are fraying.

I wish that the subject of this article had been covered by Wired or Ars Technica, because there's this odd air of smarminess to it that makes me not root for anyone. (But that's true of most anything from the entire gawker network. Even IO9 spoils my love of sci-fi at every turn.)
posted by Catblack at 2:10 PM on February 7, 2013


I have always thought a better name for this technology would be "Hype by Dre." This story confirms it.
posted by Perko at 2:14 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


if you don't care if they look kinda goofy, grab the dirt-cheap, insanely good Monoprice 8320's

Yes, these! I never thought of them as looking goofy, but who cares they're covered by my hair anyway. They actually stay in my ear when I'm running, which is somehow a novel concept for earbuds.
posted by troika at 2:14 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am uncool and just checked Amazon. $200 !?!
posted by benito.strauss at 2:18 PM on February 7, 2013


Sennheiser 555 all the way, baby!

Ahem, sorry. There really is a big difference between headphones. A long time ago (when I was new to the ways of audiophilia) I was watching Return of The Jedi with a cheap fifty dollar pair of Sonys. Jabba's barge blew up in a tremendous fireball and it sounded... flat. Clipped. The whole movie was less exciting then it used to be. That started me on the path that led towards more expensive, but well made headphones like Sennheiser, and it's been worthwhile. They really do reproduce the sound more accurately.

Don't know about Beats headphones, though. Never tried them. The marketing emphasizes bass more than accurate sound, which makes me think they're mostly meant for modern music.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:18 PM on February 7, 2013


Also, Grado Labs makes a damned nice headphone, if you want to look at the "boutique" market...
posted by stenseng at 2:23 PM on February 7, 2013 [10 favorites]


I love my Grados.
posted by Windigo at 2:28 PM on February 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


About 7 years ago I saw a site catering to a fetish for women with headphones on. I assume it is still there......or maybe moved to Tumblr by now
posted by thelonius at 2:30 PM on February 7, 2013


most people don't buy headphones/earbuds based on how they sound, because most people don't care about sound quality in their portable music devices. Shocking, I know.

But what will I have to feel superior to other people about, on the internet?
posted by downing street memo at 2:30 PM on February 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


Love to read about con men getting conned.
posted by seanmpuckett at 2:31 PM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


You guys with your Sennheisers. No love for the AKG K240? I have a pair of Sennheiser HD280 and they're nice headphones and good to have around to a/b mixes, but if you want to hear what the music sounded like to the artist in the studio making it, it's all about the K240.
posted by The World Famous at 2:34 PM on February 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


I have almost all of the headphones you guys are talking about. I didn't mean to become a headphone nerd. It sorta snuck up on me.

I've listend to the Beats Studio in a Best Buy, and they really didn't sound bad to me, but for the price you can get some seriously badass Sennheisers, like my HD 598s, which sound fantastic and are extremely comfortable. And I didn't mind dropping all that money on the 598s because my previous pair of headphones were HD570s that I bought in 1998 and used daily for more than a decade.

I also have the HD 280 Pros that I use for recording. Next to the 595s, they don't even rate, but they're closed, so they're good if you don't want to leak sound. I also have a pair of Koss PortaPros that I use when I'm out and about, and they're great! Comfortable and, while they look fragile, I've had mine for years mostly crumpled up in the bottom of my backpack and they've held up fine.

So, that's my whole life story.

Really, I think the Beats by Dre line is pretty stylish and the earbuds in particular have some nice features, like the cord that doesn't tangle, but it's hard to justify the price.
posted by chrchr at 2:36 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I often wax romantic for my beloved AKGs. I've got my original 1978 K240 Sextettes, complete with the super cool original 1978 box, though the phones are on their third set of pads, their fourth cables, and are about to get a cool custom-made replacement headband sewn out of the extra leather I had left when I hemmed my testicle-ruining motorcycle pants (internal homophobia stopped me from getting chaps instead). My gigantic K340 electrostatic/dynamic headphones, which I inherited from my father, are the essence of clear, open, luxurious space. I'm a longtime fan of largeish, conspicuousish headphones, and as much as I'd like to like the minimalist thing of decent earbuds, it is actually impossible to truly shake my tailfeathers to the deedly song of lima beans in my ears.

This whole lurid mess of headphones, though? They're just AXE Body Spray for the ears. Tried 'em out, and they don't sound good. "Wipe That Sound" on K240s in a room lit solely by the Christmas lights you're wearing like a mink stole as you rehash those old, forgotten moves you learned as a stripper back in the eighties in your favorite plaid drawers is a celestial, soul-stirring thing. Same thing on stylish headphones? I dunno. We went from teenyboppers in the sixties holding their little plastic transistor radios to hear bassless renditions of largely bassless music to the murky seventies and the big gay bass of the eighties and now the next generation thinks nothing of listening to the music they "love" zipping buggishly out of the microscopic speakers on their smartphones like cicada jam sessions.

Beyond the fashion thing, I just don't get it. A pair of Grado SR-60s run you less than a hundred bucks and sound leagues better than Beats. The aforementioned Koss cans sound good, look retro cool, fold up, and are nicely affordable. Hell—if you're like teenage me and are a design junkie, you can get a pair of Bang & Olufsen Form 2 phones in garish colors and at least be connected with a company with a defensible interest in decent sound.

I am very often at odds with audiophiles and the nitpicky mania that comes with that aesthetic, but I feel like loving music should incorporate at least some instinct for wanting to hear it in a reasonably high fidelity environment. After listening to Bach and Parliament on a piano key portable tape deck in my wayward youth, hearing it on K240s for the first time was a revelation. There's so much going on in the Beatles, in Stravinsky, in Kate Bush and Holger Czukay and oh my Eno—as if those worlds weren't already enough.

I saw a kid on the train the other day with a pair of Grados on, and I made sure to make eye contact, touch my ears, and give enough of a nod as to say "nice cans."

These kids, though. Sheesh.
posted by sonascope at 2:38 PM on February 7, 2013 [11 favorites]


I asked my sister how the hell she afforded them and she told me they were fake.

I was in Malaysia last year and you could hardly move for all the $10 Beats for sale.

Personally, I've found my headphones. They cost $6.75, from Woolworths. In-ear bud headphones. Kinda anodized aluminium with black cables. They last me a couple of months they I go back and get some more. But man if they aren't the best sounding things I've ever put into my ears.
posted by Jimbob at 2:39 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Annnnd if you don't care if they look kinda goofy, grab the dirt-cheap, insanely good Monoprice 8320's - I ordered them maybe a month ago and am just consistently astounded. Amazing sound quality for under $10 - Monoprice might actually be the alternate-universe Monster.

Except don't actually buy, say, RCA cables from monoprice, unless you only want them to work for hours before they disintegrate and force you to use pliers to get the remains out of your stereo.

The $9 earbuds are decent, they are a little tinny but have decent bass and nice accuracy probably because they leak a fair amount of sound for earbuds but for the price....
posted by ennui.bz at 2:43 PM on February 7, 2013


Beyond the fashion thing, I just don't get it.

Because it's a fashion thing?

but I feel like loving music should incorporate at least some instinct for wanting to hear it in a reasonably high fidelity environment.

Maybe I don't want to 'love music' all the time. Maybe I just want to listen to it. Or heck, maybe I'm not listening to music at all, and just wearing headphones/earbuds to discourage strangers from talking to me in public.

I saw a kid on the train the other day with a pair of Grados on, and I made sure to make eye contact, touch my ears, and give enough of a nod as to say "nice cans."

Yeah, I wear headphones to prevent this sort of thing, not encourage it.
posted by muddgirl at 2:43 PM on February 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


No love for the AKG K240?

Would you recommend them for me? I’m using a 10+ year old pair of Sony V6’s and I’d like something else but there’s two things I don’t want to do; spend a ton of money or spend hours researching headphones. I want something flat and honest that I can work on, check mixes etc.
posted by bongo_x at 2:48 PM on February 7, 2013


"I mean people pay way too much money for the Sennheiser brand when you can buy a Korean knock-off that sounds every bit as good for half the price, but brand-conscious suckers are born every minute."

Which are these Korean knock-offs that sound just as good?
posted by klangklangston at 2:49 PM on February 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


bongo_x: Grado SR 80.
posted by professor plum with a rope at 2:51 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I need good, cheap earbuds for classical music. I have a pair that claim to be "bass boosting" and just make the music sound like it's playing at the bottom of a plastic bucket.
posted by KathrynT at 2:53 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I like those monoprice buds a lot.
posted by muckster at 2:54 PM on February 7, 2013


I don't know if this helps or just further muddies the waters but witness a pair being smashed at 2:05 in the video for Die Antwoord's I Fink U Freeky.
posted by komara at 2:55 PM on February 7, 2013


bongo_x: Grado SR 80.

Thanks, I’ll check it out. To clarify, I want less Genelec and more KRK.

This should be an AskMe, maybe when I’m not too lazy.
posted by bongo_x at 3:04 PM on February 7, 2013


My partner and step-son really like the Monoprice 8230s also.

I am an unabashed snob for my Etymotics.
posted by seanmpuckett at 3:05 PM on February 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


Koss PortaPros are all the rage in Scandinavia, for some reason. They're super comfortable and sound pretty good too.
posted by palbo at 3:05 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Would you recommend them for me? I’m using a 10+ year old pair of Sony V6’s and I’d like something else but there’s two things I don’t want to do; spend a ton of money or spend hours researching headphones. I want something flat and honest that I can work on, check mixes etc.

AKG K240 is a long-time industry standard recording studio reference headphone that is very flat and very honest and, most important, very consistent. They are also under $100 and their cord is detatchable and replaceable, so that's nice. I have the old ones that were made in Austria, but I've used the newer ones quite a bit, as well, and they are also very nice. There are better headphones than the K240, but they are literally the headphones used in every recording studio and they sound fantastic. For a bigger, better sound from headphones that do color the sound but have higher quality drivers, etc., I like the Pioneer HDJ-2000. I don't think there's a pair of headphones on the market anywhere near the quality of those Pioneers for anywhere near the price. But they do cost at least twice as much as AKG K240s.
posted by The World Famous at 3:06 PM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


I hear that fake Beats are very popular.

If you bought your Beats for $20 on kijiji, they're probably fake.
posted by asnider at 3:12 PM on February 7, 2013


Whoa. Just googled Beats by Dre and added Amazon to check the price. $199.00.

Hellooo. Expect the next thread to be about some middle aged father of two IT guy who has been out of his $80,000 a year job for 10 months and is worried about his future. Of course his 12 year old kid will be wearing his Beats. -- Strange society I'm living in.
posted by notreally at 3:13 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've bought $500 Sennheisers (for my late wife); I preferred my <$100 Grado SR60s at the time (running through a headphone amp I built myself), but lately I too have been really impressed with the stuff Monoprice is selling.
posted by mrbill at 3:14 PM on February 7, 2013


AKG K240 is a long-time industry standard recording studio reference headphone that is very flat and very honest and, most important, very consistent.

Oh duh, now that I actually looked them up I realize I’ve used them a million times, I just never paid attention. Must. Pay. More. Attention.

Beyond the fashion thing, I just don't get it.

Oh, I get it.
1. It’s a fashion thing.
2. People don’t want to research headphones. I don’t. I'm so freakin’ sick of researching every thing I buy. I long for the days of less choice.
3. They sound OK, they have a big smiley curve, they’re comfortable, they look good, they’re cool. For most people that spells WINNER.
posted by bongo_x at 3:19 PM on February 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


Candlestick Park was renamed "Monster Park" in 2004...

I always thought it was for Monster.com: Wikipedia has my back in saying its apparently a common mistake.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 3:22 PM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Strange society I'm living in.

I don't really like the idea that financially struggling people don't deserve nice things from time to time. Like we should expect working class folks to lead the way to a less consumeristic society, while well-off people can feel free to keep buying $500 headphones (as long as they Sennheiser on them instead of Monster).
posted by muddgirl at 3:26 PM on February 7, 2013 [8 favorites]


I switch between Senns and Sonys, depending on my budget when my headphones inevitably break every year. Do Beats By Dre not break every year?

2. People don’t want to research headphones. I don’t. I'm so freakin’ sick of researching every thing I buy. I long for the days of less choice.

Right, which is why you buy Sennheiser if you've got the cash or Sony if you don't.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 3:39 PM on February 7, 2013


How dumb do you have to be to not bring high priced lawyers with you when negotiating with a record company? They are pretty much the #1 experts at screwing people out of money. It not bode well for Monster if Kevin Lee ever takes over the company from his father.
posted by gyc at 3:40 PM on February 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


"Dre put the headphones on, played In Da Club, and said "That's the shit." That's all anyone needed. Beats By Dre was greenlit."

So what's why they're awful. They were tested by one person, and that person's name was on it. He was really saying, "I'm the shit." People love themselves.
posted by DGCA at 3:45 PM on February 7, 2013


*points, does Nelson laugh*
posted by empath at 3:53 PM on February 7, 2013


Do Beats By Dre not break every year?

My Sony MDR-V6es haven't broken in the 10 years I've had them, with near daily, but not portable use. Some people have had theirs for twice as long without breaking. The pads do wear out, but the velour replacements don't wear out and are more comfortable.
posted by zsazsa at 4:00 PM on February 7, 2013


People love themselves.

Hey, now. Some of us hate ourselves.
posted by The World Famous at 4:15 PM on February 7, 2013 [12 favorites]


I switch between Senns and Sonys, depending on my budget when my headphones inevitably break every year. Do Beats By Dre not break every year?

I beat the hell out of headphones in the course of DJing, and when my last pair of swivel types broke I got a pair of AiAiAi TMA-1s. Definitely not cheap (~$200), but they meet my DJ headphone needs very well - nearly indestructible, replaceable cord, replaceable earpads, very good signal response. They're not the cleanest/least colored sound I've heard (especially compared to, say, my etymotic ER4s), but they sound good and deal well with high volumes.
posted by flaterik at 4:30 PM on February 7, 2013


I don't fault kids for being unsophisticated. It's part of being young. I remember in High School my dad trying to convince me that the off brand discount sneakers were better than the $100 dollar Air Jordans. He was technically right, but at the same time, oh so wrong. Easy for him to try and save a buck, he was already getting laid.
posted by billyfleetwood at 4:34 PM on February 7, 2013 [13 favorites]


My AKG K240DF are about 15 years old and still going strong, despite having been dropped, kicked and/or stepped on so many times I've lost count. They're also 600ohms, and like all high-impedance headphones, not very useful with portable devices. Regular K240 are 55ohm, which is much better for generic use. The expensive Sennheisers are around 300ohm, so that's one thing to consider: you will need an actual amplifier to drive high-impedance headphones.

Beats are secretive about their specs, but apparently the Solo are 32ohm, which makes them a good match for ipods. They must also be the only manufacturer in the world who make active noise-canceling studio headphones with unspecified impedance. I would not have guessed there's a market segment for that.
posted by ikalliom at 4:40 PM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Monster is notorious in the industry for astonishingly huge mark-ups and for barratry. No surprise that they're actually crappy businesspeople on top of it...
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 4:43 PM on February 7, 2013


I mean, if there's distracting noise in your studio, you really need to do something about that.
posted by ikalliom at 4:45 PM on February 7, 2013


What I didn't like about Beats when briefly entertaining the idea to see if they were worthwhile and not over marketed crap; is you can't find any actual audio specs on them.
I had so much trouble finding simple info like frequency range or sensitivity, it would expect expensive headphones to tout some good specs with a wide range and super sensitive so your could get good punch sound without needing to crank the audio player to max.
Turns out the B was more important than sound values.
I guess they sit in the market where they are aimed, in the "hey look at me, I have beats" opposed to the "I care about audio and want really good sound".
posted by Merlin The Happy Pig at 4:47 PM on February 7, 2013


Both Sennheiser and Sony have entered the "lifestyle" headphone market to compete with Beats. Sennheiser has the new Momentum headphones which are getting great reviews and Sony has the MDR-1Rs which I understand are also pretty good. As someone who doesn't like IEMs and earbuds, I'm glad Beats exist just so other manufacturers can enter the market with their own line of portable full sized headphones that don't require headphone amps to power them.
posted by cazoo at 4:51 PM on February 7, 2013


i have a pair of audio techinica ath-m30s that i picked up on special at guitar center for 40 bucks - i won't claim they're the best - but they're better than beats
posted by pyramid termite at 4:56 PM on February 7, 2013


I dearly love my Sony MDR7506's - speaking as the owner of some pointy ears, I can wear them for several hours without pain developing (which is near instantaneous for most other over-the-ear headphones, for me). I remember trying on some Beats in a BestBuy and noticing how uncomfortable they felt and how 'meh' they sounded. They seem to be a remarkable triumph of advertising over quality. Still, there is a bit of delight in knowing that Monster got the wrong end of the deal...
posted by combinatorial explosion at 5:08 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I picked up a couple of pairs of AKG K66's from guitar center a few years ago. For the price I paid they're pretty outstanding. I wouldn't wear them out and about but for sound quality I'd still put them head to head with beats any day.
posted by TwoWordReview at 5:13 PM on February 7, 2013


Sony 7506 for me too. I have a work pair that's twelve years old. A colleague uses Sennheisers that cost three times as much and he pays a hundred bucks for replacement cables at least once a year.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 5:21 PM on February 7, 2013


What's hard to comrehend is that a guy from a company that does nothing but make deals with retail chains to secure absurd mark-ups walked into a negotiation with a record company exec (a record company exec! the sharkiest of sharks!) without a serious legal team. Alllllmost makes me feel bad for him. Almost.

And... Etymotics Research E6i ftw! They're no good for jogging---the earplug design means every big step thuds right in your ear---but for subways/planes, they're the best thing in the whole entire world.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 5:36 PM on February 7, 2013


Why wouldn't the build and design quality of speaker cables have the same general requirements to that of speakers?
posted by Brocktoon at 5:57 PM on February 7, 2013


a record company exec! the sharkiest of sharks!

Hey, now. Credit where credit's due. The record company exec brought lawyers to the meeting, so he's clearly not the sharkiest. He wasn't even the sharkiest shark at that table.
posted by The World Famous at 5:59 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sony 7506 for me too.

Thirded. I have a pair I wear at the gym. Some yellow gaff still on the side with my name on it from an old tour even. They LOOK LIKE hell. I have no fears of anyone walking off with them when I finish up on the arctrainer and leave them on the filing cabinet while I go do my lifting.

I credit them fully 50% for the flashbacks I have while running...
posted by mikelieman at 6:23 PM on February 7, 2013


over-ear: Sennheiser HD 25 1-II
in-ear: Shure SE 535
posted by gen at 6:33 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sennheiser has the new Momentum headphones which are getting great reviews and Sony has the MDR-1Rs which I understand are also pretty good.

Check head-fi.org. The Momentums are not nearly as good as other Sennheisers in the same price range. They may look good but the SQ just is not there.

The MDR-1R series are amazingly comfortable. The MDR 1R NC is, I think, better than the Bose QC-15, for noise cancellation.
posted by gen at 6:38 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm a fan of the AKG K240s and the Sony 7506/V6 headphones as well. What really impresses me is the ~$20 Monoprice 8323s.
posted by b1tr0t at 6:41 PM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


"What's hard to comrehend is that a guy from a company that does nothing but make deals with retail chains to secure absurd mark-ups walked into a negotiation with a record company exec (a record company exec! the sharkiest of sharks!) without a serious legal team. Alllllmost makes me feel bad for him. Almost."

Yeah, they still made millions. They got screwed out of the chance to make more millions - but the way that article is written, it sounds like the Lees are lucky they got out of that deal with anything but their underwear.
posted by Kevin Street at 6:57 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Funny, I just tried some youngster's pair of these on the other day. I was like 'meh'.

But seriously, your music and your headphones suck.
posted by nowhere man at 7:38 PM on February 7, 2013


They must also be the only manufacturer in the world who make active noise-canceling studio headphones with unspecified impedance. I would not have guessed there's a market segment for that.

It's because their target audience thinks "impedance" is what your legs do after half an hour of standing in line for the toilets at the club. HEYOOOOOH

(I quite like my MDRV6's, for whatever that's worth.)
posted by Lazlo Nibble at 7:45 PM on February 7, 2013


I went through three pairs of these when I was DJing. One lost after a gig, one just beaten to death after years of abuse, and the one pair that I still have. I adore them.
posted by empath at 7:54 PM on February 7, 2013


Why wouldn't the build and design quality of speaker cables have the same general requirements to that of speakers?

Because speakers are moving parts, contained in a box with all kinds of acoustical characteristics.

Wires just carry electrons. There's a minimum set of requirements for carrying those electrons, and pretty much every copper wire of an appropriate size meets them.
posted by RustyBrooks at 8:23 PM on February 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Wires just carry electrons. There's a minimum set of requirements for carrying those electrons, and pretty much every copper wire of an appropriate size meets them.

Except silver is a better conductor. Any other reasons?
posted by Brocktoon at 8:26 PM on February 7, 2013


Anyone got a recommendation for good earbuds? That is headphones that just sit in your ears without putting a plug into your ear canal (I find those too uncomfortable to use).

The standard ones that came with my Sansa Clip are some of the best I've found, but they keep breaking (and my source for replacements dried up).

I made the mistake of following some links to an audiophile forum and found myself surrounded by people insisting that I play pink noise through my headphones for 30 hours to properly "burn them in," and others concurring that using white/pink noise to "burn in" your cables is also a good idea. So I ran screaming back to MetaFilter.
posted by straight at 8:53 PM on February 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


An earlier, better Gizmodo piece: http://gizmodo.com/5617200/the-secret-scam-of-cheap-earbuds
posted by reiichiroh at 9:06 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Reading that article, I was reminded of the audio commentary from the Simpsons episode where Homer designs the car that puts his brother out of business. The writers keep pointing out how even though we're supposed to feel sorry for Homer's ruined brother, there's no good reason for us to feel that way. He delegated a ridiculous amount of authority to Homer Simpson, eggs him on to exert that authority, and refuses to even look at the product under development. He makes no good decisions.

The Monster thing is the same way. The company founder dispatched his BA-having son to negotiate alone against a team of lawyers from an industry renowned for negotiating one-sided, artist-screwing contracts. The son was "completely over his head, forging the future of his father's company without oversight, and really, without a sturdy clue."

Of course it turned out poorly for them; it's a real-life version of a Simpsons parable about nepotism.
posted by compartment at 9:51 PM on February 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


The thing is that Monster wasn't really bringing anything to the table that couldn't have been done with one of a dozen chinese manufacturers. They didn't have anything but a brand, and they weren't using it to sell headphones, they were using Dre's brand.
posted by empath at 9:56 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I went through three pairs of these when I was DJing.

Ha! Those are the same headphones I used when I was DJing. They're great - good sound reproduction and they still grip well when you have one ear open to listen to the room.

At work I have Sennheiser 280s like everyone else here.... I originally bought a pair for mixing, back when I did that, but now I'm on my second pair after years of coding wore the first one out.
posted by Mars Saxman at 10:02 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


On the other end of the spectrum from Monster, Monoprice is now moving in the audio recording market.
posted by thecjm at 12:14 AM on February 8, 2013


Make your own Dr Dre Beat NHeadphones.
posted by sneebler at 5:21 AM on February 8, 2013


I'm just glad when people wear headphones to listen to music in public. I really don't care if they got ripped off or if they have an awesome listening experience. Just for the love of dog do not listen to music on your mobile phone speaker and you are cool in my book.
posted by srboisvert at 7:59 AM on February 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Another vote for Sony MDR7506 here. I got them after they got recommended by mefites in a previous thread and 2 years later I'm still happy with them. Great sound, they look like new despite daily use and they go for $90.
posted by ersatz at 8:04 AM on February 8, 2013


Monster Cable got ripped off? Karma is a bitch, huh?

(Comment written while wearing my ATH-M50s)
posted by madajb at 8:45 AM on February 8, 2013


Monoprice is now moving in the audio recording market

Damn you. As if I didn't already have too many guitars due to Rondo Music existing, I just *had* to order a Gold Top from Monoprice last night to compare after seeing that link.
posted by mrbill at 9:41 AM on February 8, 2013


Discloser: I work for a direct competitor to Beats which many accusations by folks here have been leveled against us as well - overpriced / paying for marketing / not worth the hype. In specific, I work in the part that most of that complaint is levied against. As such, it is part of my job to understand Beats and how their business model differs from ours. I am about to defend them... which is sort of crazy, but hey that's life.

Some of the things that allowed beats to get to where it is, include the rise of cheap electronics driven by industrial automation, and the advent of iPod marketing. Beats are not, nor should they ever be considered cheap electronics. They make an excellent product, add a significant amount of individual style (personalization), and market the complete package aggressively to their demographic. You prefer the acoustics of your Sennheiser's or your Sony's or even another company which I won't mention - but as a flat out reality - you have to admire that Beats has been able to find their niche.

Much like the iPod, which I'd imagine I'm in the significant minority of never having owned, Beats worked to tailor their message to people who would appreciate both style and music. They knew their audience, they had a solid understanding of the competition (*cough*), and they set their price points accordingly.

As a company, they are lean, are willing to take risks in advertising, and pit retailers against each other by letting them determine how much they want to kill their margin. Generally beats sell at holiday with anywhere from a $20 to a $80 gift card from the store of purchase being accompanied with it. The gift card value is largely determined by the model sold, as well as how much margin the store is willing to give up. This pretty much signals that the store is not receiving margin relief on the whole value of the gift card, meaning the stores possibly broke even/lost money on the sale of the headphones, but made their money back at the time of the gift card usage. In essence the store maintains the loyalty of the customer, and beats gets their (??)sixty(??) cents on the dollar. Beats also doesn't look to care about how stores compete against each other. This is a good thing for customers who want to buy their product, it means that you can actually shop around and get a better deal. (As a note, their black Friday sale looks to be their biggest, with the week before Christmas almost being as good. Otherwise, you're probably not getting as good a deal as you could be getting. With the size of their business now, their black Friday sale may soon be "last year's model" though, so keep that in mind).

Beats SKUs heavy - meaning they have a lot of small distinct product lines with almost minimal variation (color offerings, limited editions, model varieties) which they separate between retailers so everyone is a little less on top of each other in the marketplace, but if you are just looking for a headset - you can look at the deal - not the style.

Beats is willing to take risks. They recognize that their image can be bad boy - that an image as such works for them to some extent. Hell, we're talking about them in February. If you go to their web page - you'll see they are willing to message that the gift is so good that your significant other will think you are cheating... That wouldn't fly for 95% of electronics manufacturers. Not even Apple, the Andy Warhol of electronics design, can get away with implying that their product is not only customizable, but scandalous.

As to their product. They hired some folks that understood frequency response and noise canceling. They had a long history using headphones and probably knew a thing or two about what they would want - and they made something that they like. They worked with a company which over-specified RCA cables for a living. If Monster can't make something tougher than most competitors - well then - they'll make something as tough. (Monster is what I would consider the DeWalt of cables - your drill has 16Amps? We'll make one with 18!). Anyway, they got what they needed out of monster - unquestionable durability, and the rights to command the price that they charge. Their price might grate you the wrong way, but I'd bet that there is a significant portion being reinvested in other product lines like the Pill, or other to-be-released products on the horizon. Are you paying for Dre's lifestyle? Hell yes - but he's a smart shrewd businessman. You're paying for their future as well.
posted by Nanukthedog at 10:31 AM on February 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


I saw a kid on the train the other day with a pair of Grados on, and I made sure to make eye contact, touch my ears, and give enough of a nod as to say "nice cans."

You probably heard him before you saw him, since Grados are open-backed. They're not the most considerate headphones to wear in public.
posted by jessssse at 11:01 AM on February 8, 2013


Nanukthedog, we believe that you work in the industry. You don't have to prove it by using "message" as a verb.
posted by straight at 2:42 PM on February 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


These have been my go-to headphones for running. They sound pretty good for what they cost, and if you lose a pair, you can pick up another at K-Mart on the way to the gym.

This thread is giving me the shopping bug something fierce though, and I'm trying to resist, because I need a new set of DJ cans, and I just paid a bunch of bills...
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 3:06 PM on February 8, 2013


Except silver is a better conductor. Any other reasons?

How well a conductor carries electrons is not really the issue. There are a few primary issues:

* frequency response - that is, does the conductor carry signal evenly for all frequencies in the audio range. If it carries low frequences better than high, or vice versa, the music won't sound the way it's supposed to. Pretty much every copper wire bigger than a given gauge is fine at this

* power loss - a better conductor can theoretically deliver more of the applied power to the speakers. A worse one will lose power. This isn't really a sound quality issue, but if you're paying for a 200 watt amp, and only 100 watts get to the speakers, that wouldn't be good. Except even though silver or gold is a better conductor than copper, the difference between them is completely neglible.

For example the resistivity of copper is 1.68 x 10^-8 and silver is 1.59 x 10^-8. And anyway, there aren't really a lot of high-dollar speaker wires made of silver. High end speaker wires are made of copper, just like cheap ones. Resistive losses at common speaker lengths are basically barely measurable.


It is relatively difficult to make a speaker and enclosure that deliver a flat frequency response. It is completely easy to make speaker cable that does. Anyone who thinks differently is welcome to meet me and do blind listening tests. I'd wager a pretty large amount of money that you can't distinguish the highest-end speaker cable there is from plain old electrical lamp cord in a blind test. You can pick every component of the system, and the music, I'll bring a selection of speaker cables.
posted by RustyBrooks at 4:41 PM on February 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


Those silver swivel Sony MDRs were pretty much the ONLY dj headphones for a while, it seemed. And the swiveling is great, until the plastic cracks. Which it inevitably did. I'm surprised you only went through three, empath!
posted by flaterik at 5:17 PM on February 8, 2013


Nanukthedog, we believe that you work in the industry. You don't have to prove it by using "message" as a verb.

I can't tell whether your comment was sincere joke-with or sort of a smarmy-snotty joke-at. I've read it about six times and in multiple ways. If I offended you by telling you something about the industry you didn't like or already knew, then I wholeheartedly apologize. As it is, yes, folks in marketing do indeed talk like that - and those of us who work to understand and measure the effectiveness do indeed talk like that as well. Marketers do actually work hard to avoid offending folks - even if they are not or will never want to be customers.

And if it was a joke-with, yeah - the language makes me cringe when it invades my speech outside of work. This was a subject that teetered on the line, and I felt it was appropriate place for its usage, even if understandably groan-worthy.
posted by Nanukthedog at 6:25 PM on February 8, 2013


I am deaf in one ear but have been a DJ and radio presenter so headphones are important to me. YES to the Sony MDR7506. Yes to the Koss portapro - had mine for a decade. Sort of yes to the sennheiser pxc-250 for long flights, they can get a bit pinchy but are compact. I had some open sennheiser headphones for the radio studio but they weren't that great anywhere else.

Have never found in ears that I like though, mostly because I can only use one side.
posted by wingless_angel at 2:22 AM on February 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Joke with, Nanukthedog! Your comment was very interesting. Sorry, my tone is less ambiguous if you listen to my comment through a pair of high-quality headphones.
posted by straight at 6:50 AM on February 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


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