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The ubiquitous Beats By Dre headphones look stunning, but critics say they're all style, no substance. We review some of the most popular over-the-ear pairs, inside and out
Most eye-catching Skullcandy Roc Nation Aviators ($199.99) More about style than music – much like Jay-Z himself lately. Sound: Bright and robust on louder things, a tad bland on quieter ones. Tunes: For best results, break out something punchy, whether it’s Mobb Deep or Megadeth. Looks: Their sunglasses-inspired design is so fresh that the nice sound is merely a bonus.
Audiophile’s choice: Audio-Technica ATH-M50 ($179.99) Like being in a recording studio, in the dark. Sound: Easily the best value for money. Crisp highs, warm mids, clear bass. Tunes: Everything sounds good on them, though bass addicts may miss the over-the-top thump of less precise units. Looks: Dull as dishwater. But if all you care about is audio, search no further.
Biggest bass Pioneer HDJ-1000 ($168.99) For real DJs, and those who wish they were. Sound: If bass is the first thing you listen for, you’ll love them. Otherwise, they’re a bit muffled. Tunes: Anything that you’d hear in a nightclub with subwoofers you can feel in your ribcage. Looks: Less boring than most, though that’s not saying much.
Best celeb-endorsed pair: AKG Q701 Quincy Jones Signature Line ($399.95) An old-school pro endorses headphones for old-school pros. Sound: Well balanced over all, but particularly shines in the warm, rich mids. Tunes: Great with anything, though they impress most with (surprise!) jazz and soul. Looks: Trendy? Nah, but they’re not bad for a man his age.
Most colourful Urbanears Plattan ($69.99) They go with your outfit. Bonus: they also make noises. Sound: Better than your iPod earbuds, but only just. The highs can be gratingly tinny. Tunes: You and your BFF’s karaoke jam – they come with an extra jack so you can both listen at once. Looks: With 11 styles, these are fashion accessories first and audio gear second.