Beats’ finally hits the right beat

After years of producing headphones that are overpriced, poorly made, along with their signature “bassy” sound quality, Beats has finally created a pair of wireless headphones that are worthy of one’s consideration.

But first, how do these earbuds compare with other headphones? To find out, I compared them with the AKG N20U, with the unique feature of being able to have iOS and Android music control; along with the EarPods with the lightning adapter. I couldn’t compare them to the AirPods as Apple won’t deliver a unit until May.

For the test of sound quality, I played 3 tracks that I thought had a good mixture of clarity, bass and overall sound quality. The first track was “Secrets” by The Weeknd, the second was a rendition of “Feeling good” by Michael Buble, the third track was “Epilogue” of La La Land. Throughout the three tracks, the Beats were mediocre at best, I liked that it had a much more balanced amount of bass when compared with my experience with previous Beats, but clarity was lacking when compared with the AKGs. The sound quality of the AKGs felt much more balanced overall compared to the Beats and the EarPods. The EarPods was definitely the weakest one out of the group, it lacked clarity, lacked bass and it had the signature “tinny” sound quality that we know from previous EarPods.

When asked about his opinion on the headphones, Harsant Sidhv, a Junior at DVHS, had the same thought as well; he described the sound quality as “relatively okay to good for a wireless earphone. Sound isn’t super crisp or clear, feels a little muffled.”

From a usability standpoint, the Beats take the win easily. Apart from being wireless (compared to using a Lightning to 3.5mm adapter), they also fit in my ears more snugly than the AKGs do. The eartips on my AKGs fell off a couple times when I took the earbuds out of my ears, which is irritating to say the least. While the EarPods fit my ears just fine, I always get the sense that they might fall off if I engage in any activity that requires me to do even just the slightest amount of running; the EarPods also don’t do a good job on isolating background noise, I find myself often having to turn up the volume above 50 percent in order to hear the music clearly, contrast to the Beats and the AKGs, above 50 percent would completely isolate any background noise.

There’s also the issue of quality, the Beats feel well made compared both the AKGs and the Earpods; the cover for the volume control on my AKGs fell off after just three months of usage, while the EarPods just feel very cheap in general.

When it comes down to affordability, the EarPods are, obviously, the most affordable option as they come with your iPhone right out of the box; the AKGs retail for $129, $149 for the Beats.

Even if I only had the EarPods, I would still invest in a new pair of earbuds/headphones as they do a mediocre job of providing music content to your ears; the AKGs would be my second choice, the sound quality and isolation you get from them are pretty remarkable for a pair of earbuds; but at the same time, I would expect that earbuds would and should be well-built for $129, hopefully with ear tips that will stay on the earbuds after each listening session. That leaves us with the Beats, for $20 more you get wireless compatibility along with the latest W1 chip that allows easy pairing with Apple devices, eliminating the need of carrying or the worry of losing the lightning to 3.5mm headphone jack adapter. Which is why, the Beats is my winner in this comparison.

Abhiram J. Manda, a Junior at DVHS, agrees; he has “tried many different types of earbuds, but these are one of the best one I’ve ever tried,” also stating that he would definitely consider these earbuds if he had the money to purchase one.

So what do you get for $149? You get a simple yet elegant packaging from Beats; the headphones are clearly displayed behind the clear plastic cover. Inside you’ll find 3 different sets of ear tips and 2 different sets of wingtips, along with a lightning charging cable and a silicone case for the headphones in the back. In the middle of the packaging you’ll find paperwork that includes the instructions about the headphones, a manual for the headphones, a Beats sticker, and a $30 gift card that allows you to either purchase a 3 month Apple Music subscription or media content from iTunes.

The headphones have a neckband that houses the battery and Apple’s W1 chip that allows fast pairings with Apple devices; the back of the earbuds have magnets to secure them in place when you’re not listening to music, making sure that they won’t fall off your neck. The earbuds provide a very comfortable fit while doing a very good job of isolating background noise.

After using them for a week or so, I find them to be very comfortable and the neckband doesn’t feel intrusive to the whole listening experience. Beats claims that the battery life for the headphones is eight hours per charge, but even if the headphones do run out of power, they have a quick charge feature named “fast fuel”; where five minutes of charging can give you two hours of charging. The charging convenience is further aided with the switch from micro-usb to lightning, as an iPhone user, I do appreciate the convenience of not having to carry a different cable than the one that I use to charge my smartphone.

Overall, the Beats X are a pair of headphones that I can comfortably recommend to anyone who owns the latest iteration of any Apple device. Yes, they do have their drawbacks, they are not sweat-proof, you can’t find them when you’ve lost them like you can with the AirPods, and with a price tag of $149, these are by no means the cheapest headphones nor are they the best sounding headphones on the market either. If you’re deeply integrated into the Apple ecosystem however, you should definitely consider these wireless headphones; they are comfortable, stylish, and for once, don’t sound like traditional Beats.