Just “Beat” It – The Truth About Beats Headphones by Dr. Dre

6 Beats headphones in multiple colors from the Studio 3 Beats Wireless headphones collection.
Beats Headphones may be popular, but is it all just hype? Here’s why they suck.

I’m sure there are tons of die-hard Dr. Dre fans out there who love their Beats headphones. So let’s rip this off like a band-aid before I start throwing some hard facts.

Beats by Dr. Dre are terrible. They suck. They are pure garbage. Considering them “quality” headphones is an absolute joke. In fact, they are overpriced vomit for fanboys who don’t know how to spend their money wisely. And above all else, if I see you wearing a pair of these atrocious, ear-raping headphones, I will and I do silently judge you. There. Go ahead and give yourself five minutes to let that simmer in your head before continuing.

I’ve never been a big fan of products that are trendy because a celebrity was seen using them. Dre and his marketing team sure know how to make a piece of crap seem desirable, I’ll give them that. But you can’t polish a turd.

The thing that upsets me the most is that the average listener doesn’t even seem to mind, or aren’t even aware to why these headphones are terrible. Even worse, I’ve seen fellow audio engineers wear these, and not in a ironic way. They genuinely believe these are good headphones. That breaks my heart.

Why They Suck

Let’s talk about the problems with these headphones before getting into the tech stuff.

For starters, they are highly overpriced. These are not $300 worth of headphones. It probably costs around $150 to make a pair (probably less if we’re being honest.) Of course they are allowed to jack up the price to whatever they want it to because they know people will start saying “Did you see [insert celebrity name] wearing Beats in that music video?! I need them! $300 must mean they are good headphones!”

Well, guess what, buddy:

If you want to spend $300 on headphones, do a little research first. If you want to spend around $150 on headphones, go out and buy a pair that is actually worth $150. I guarantee anything else will sound better than Beats.

Another reason why Beats are terrible is that they focus more on advertising and presentation than quality (I’ll talk about the quality later.). As mentioned, I will shamefully admit that they know how to advertise.

  1. Step 1.  Get a couple of well known artists.
  2. Step 2.  Get the artists to show off the headphones.
  3. Step 3.  Profit.

If only they could do this with a good pair of headphones.

As for presentation, they have fallen under the bandwagon of making unboxing a new product a fun experience. Look, I get it. A flashy product needs a big bright bow on top for Cindy Lou Who to open on Christmas day. By putting these headphones in a fun box for everyone to open up, the experience suddenly feels personal. “Wow, these are my headphones.” When you get everyone excited in opening boxes (think about how dumb this concept is for a minute), they will begin creating these unboxing videos for the world to see. Then, it gets viewers to see how fun it was to tear open that box and realize they want to do it themselves. And so the cycle continues.

Here is the final nail in the coffin before we move onto tech talk; they are fragile. My goodness, how can something that pricey fall apart so easily? Plastic?! Are you serious? If you’re going to wear $300 around your ears, they better be able to take a hit every once in awhile. Obviously you shouldn’t play frisbee with them, but if you drop them on the ground and it shatters (looking at you, iPhones) then maybe you should reconsider. I’ll never forget the day I walked into Best Buy and passed the Beats section, only to find the left side had broken off and was literally hanging on by a few wires. Now that’s good marketing. Show the world exactly how good these headphones are.

The Tech

If I haven’t lost you yet, I might lose you here. But I will do my best to explain why these headphones are a mistake in audio terms.

View the graph below to see the Beats frequency response.

Beats frequency response chart
Beats Frequency Response

In short, this is what you hear when wearing Beats. The X axis is showing the frequencies, from 20Hz to 20kHz (which is what the human range is.) The idea is that the line in this graph for all headphones and speakers should be as flat as possible. Do you see the problem here?

For one, this is not flat. The mid range (1kHz – 5kHz) is concerningly low, and everything above 5kHz is a hot mess. Why do those frequencies matter? Well, the human voice is within that range. Why mess around with the frequencies that involve one of the most important instruments in music?

Finally, have you noticed that everything from 50Hz – 700Hz is consistent and the loudest part? Take a wild guess what instruments sit around there. Yup. ALL ABOUT THAT BASS, ‘BOUT THAT BASS. NO TREBLE.

While I hate myself for quoting a Meghan Trainor song, it’s entirely accurate. These headphones are nothing more than a jizz stain to all musicians and listeners because all they are doing is boosting the bass. And let me tell you something, music is not all about bass. The bass is almost always the root note of all chords. It keeps a song moving without becoming too dominant.

There is a reason why that graph should be flat, and that’s because everything needs balance. These headphones would be like applying a black and white filter to every movie you watch, or putting ketchup on every meal you’ll ever eat. You can like black and white filters on your selfies and put ketchup on your fries all you want, but wearing Beats means you are not listening to music the way it was meant to be heard. You are not listening to the song the way the engineers and musicians want you to hear it.

Finding the Best Headphones

Dr. Dre with Beats Headphones inside of a Polaroid picture reminiscent of the movie "Momento." At the bottom, someone is writing "Don't believe his lies."

At the end of the day, you can just ignore everything I’ve said and buy whatever headphones you’d like. It’s all subjective. Just like with iPhones or Androids, chocolate or vanilla, Marvel or DC, it all comes down to what you like. But buyer beware, don’t believe every positive thing they say about Beats. I’ve seen articles say that every major studio uses them. Lies.

Beats Pro Headphones screenshot
Beats Pro Headphones – Used to Mix in Every Major Studio (Lie)

I’ve heard people say that Dr. Dre uses these himself. I would bet money that Dr. Dre doesn’t even use his own headphones because he’s fully aware how inaccurate and wrong they are. But who would lie on the internet? Right?

So when it comes to finding the right pair of headphones, figure out what your budget is and do some research. Use a few reference songs that you know really well and take a listen using the headphones you are interested in. If the song sounds accurate, they might be the one. If something sounds wrong or unbalanced, keep looking.

Some brands to look into include Sennheiser, AKG, Beyerdynamic, Audio-Technica, Grado, Sony, and Bose. But these are just my opinions. I know there are many people who would disagree with this list, and might even disagree about my comments towards Beats. If so, enjoy the trash headphones!