Headphones Wars features two popular models of headphones being compared side-by-side with a set of controlled elements. We picked ten songs, all streaming at 320kbps from Spotify, from a variety of genres and decades, and spent some time listening with both devices. Feel free to conduct your own trials with these tracks, great for testing any audio component. Today we’re comparing the popular Beats Solo HD with the more modest (and more modestly priced) Bose Around-Ear basic model. Let’s meet our test tracks!
Ten Tracks For Testing
Beats Solo HD ($199.99)
Key Features: Power, Style
The main problem with Beats is the inability to shake the feeling you are listening to a really stellar pair of headphones underwater. The bass frequencies are noticeably boosted and this makes listening to vocal and guitar heavy rock feel kind of washed out, especially when compared to any other set of phones sporting a better balance. The Strokes especially tune sounds pretty bad and off kilter. Nirvana sounded like it had a constantly garbled rumble in the background. But just using the Beats for an extended listening session, you tend to forget this flaw, especially in the older recordings.
Beats can get very loud and very soft while maintaining a good balance of frequencies (minus that one gaping flaw). They actually tend to sound more balanced when cranked up to 11, especially with more recent recordings.
Beats perform surprisingly well with the softer genres like jazz and classical, where feeling the timbre of the instruments is paramount to the perception of quality. You can taste the trumpet like you’re the one blowing the notes. But the imbalanced frequencies makes this another losing category.
They look very, very cool, even if they aren’t the most comfortable over-the-ear set in the world. The aesthetic is clearly branded and chic. You’ve probably seen them everywhere from public transportation to that music video you just watched. With a colorful red wire, super portability, and an extra cable for talking on your phone (think Apple’s earbud/mic combo), Beats definitely fit well into your life if you’re using your phone to listen to music while traveling/commuting.
Beats were built for pop, that much is clear. Nothing sounded as good, or as punchy, or as loud as the Katy Perry tune, with all the close seconds being older pop numbers like Destiny’s Child and D’Angelo. If you’re religiously top 40 or anything hip-hop/R&B, these might be the phones for you.
Musical Versatility: 3