Thursday, July 12, 2012

HTC UrBeats / iBeats review by Dr Dre for Android

Hello, today I'll be doing a review of HTC's famed 'Beats by Dr Dre' iBeats! Before I start the review, I'll admit that though I'm no audiophile, I've actually tested and owned enough headphones and earphones from most famous brands, to be able to differentiate from 'good', 'bad' and 'poor' headphones or earphones. (For the record, I've owned Bose IE2, Sennheiser HD203, Sennheiser CX280, Audio Technica CKL303, JVC Sports HA-EB75 and many others...)

Product Overview: 

These are the HTC or Google's Android compatible Monster Beats by Dr Dre UrBeats, or more commonly known or referred to as the 'iBeats', as the design and drivers are almost exactly identical to Monster Beats by Dr Dre's other pair of in-ear earphones, the iBeats.

These pair of earphones were manufactured especially for HTC's phones, and ships with many HTC phone models such as the HTC Rezound (Verizon), HTC Beats Sensation XL, HTC Beats Sensation XE and a few others where only the first batches received the earphones, such as the HTC One X and One XL. Also, for optimized performance, the user is required to turn on the 'Beats Audio' software integrated into the mentioned HTC phones, which in layman terms is just equalizer settings, in the form of a setting close to bass boost.

Design: 8/10

First off, since the image is just right above, lets talk about the design. These little pair of earbuds definitely look extremely aesthetically pleasing, and looks premium right out of the box! Even the carrying pouch has an extremely nice feel to it, except for the fact that the pouch snaps together too tightly, making it hard when you try to open the pouch to take out the earphones. The design of the UrBeats or iBeats is very nice to behold, and also extremely visually appealing. In fact its one of the most visually appealing in-ear earphones I have ever seen!

The casing of the drivers for the earphones, or the main components are housed in a metallic light silvery circular container, with Dr Dre's instantly identifiable 'b' logo at the sides of course. The casing for the drivers felt extremely premium and strong, and I doubt these will easily be damaged in normal everyday use. The cables for the earphones has a nice, rubbery and slightly smooth exterior, and were colored in Dr Dre's iconic bright red colours of course. The control talk button was made of plastic, with a metallic coating given, and also felt quite premium. Overall, I must say these pair of earphones were designed really well. 

Quality: 1/10

Since these earphones were made to be bundled with phones, naturally I suspect the manufacturer would want to cut costs as much as possible, thus compromising on the quality of the earphones. The cable housings disconnected from the control talk section right from the moment I started using it.

Quality is one thing these earphones are seriously lacking in, and also quality control. With reference to my inferred statement above, I would like to say that right from the very first day I started using these pair of earphones (Fresh from a HTC Sensation XL), the cables at the Control Talk section disconnected right away. The housing of the cable housing disconnected from the Control Talk, revealing the wiring. Upon closer inspection, what was holding these two components together was cheap glue. So right from the very first day I received these pair of earphones brand new, even with the cable ties, it was already a defect. This is clearly unacceptable for a pair of earbuds thats marketed with a thousand dollar contract phone, or sold at a retail price of approximately a 100 dollars, where most people would buy the phone with consideration of the earphones included (Really, fooled into thinking the audio and quality is good, read on for my review on the audio)

Sound Quality: 3/10

On a fair test as a normal earphone without Beats Audio, all I got was acceptable bass, enhanced trebles, and piercing vocals.

Believe me, if you're buying these earphones solely for the purpose of not displaying them in your glass cabinet, I would highly recommend you not to buy these pair of earphones. After doing a burn-in of more than 12 hours, the eq I got, instead of having great bass like most people said, the bass was pretty normal, or maybe even slightly lesser than normal bass. Instead, what was overpowering was actually the treble and the vocals. The vocals were even somewhat slightly piercing. Do note that all these was tested without the famed 'Beats Audio' bass boost software. I tested the earphones on an Apple iPhone, an Apple iPad, a HTC ChaCha and a Walkman player. On all these devices, they sounded equally sharp and horrible, with less than decent bass.

Even to my audiophile friends, the vocals sounded slightly if not very piercing. Audio quality was just horrible. Many details were lost, and the sound stage was small. There was no depth in my songs at all, and I didn't get the feeling of 'wow', and also didn't have the urge to listen to more songs, because the audio quality is really average if not horrible thanks to the piercing vocals.

So don't be fooled, these pair of earphones will only work with HTC phones that COMES with Beats Audio, so if you have neither, you are probably out of luck. I find this an extremely smart marketing strategy, making the earphones sound noticeably better on HTC phones with Beats Audio.

Usability: 1/10

With its cheap construction, extremely poor audio, bad design and extreme uncomfort, I could have given it a 0/10. Well, not only did it broke right away on day one, had surprisingly poor audio quality, theres actually more in store for you. These earphones are only meant to look good, and are not practical, it just looks cool in my opinion. The design of the earphones was such that it actually weighs down on one end when inserted in the ear, as its extremely heavy, thus it doesn't fit properly and noise isn't isolated, not to mention that it makes music sound more horrible. Also, the earphones were extremely uncomfortable, and my ears seriously hurt and were sore after using them. I couldn't find the right fit with all of the earbuds provided, as its either too big (to make music sound decent, and not fall out), or its too small (using it becomes extremely painful, it inserts too deep into the ears)

Durability: 1/10

Trust me, these cheaply constructed pair of earphones won't last, just like Dr Dre's Beats Solo, which only lasted about 2 months for me, snapping at the headband just by normal usage.

Overall: 1/10

These pair of lousy earphones couldn't possibly have asked for more stars. With HTC claiming their retail to be about 100 dollars, yet are shipped free with their smartphones, I simply think that its not worth going the extra mile, buying that HTC phone just for the earpiece. The quality is extremely and cheap, and the rubber housing also dirties very quickly if you own the white version. Sound quality was just not my cup of tea, with vocals sounding quite piercing (even to my audiophile friends), and the bass was less than spectacular, which was supposed to be its selling point. Also, using it is extremely painful, as the earphones insert too deep into your ear canal when fitted properly, thus giving me a headache and sore ears. The earphones also tends to keep coming out of your ears, as its very heavy on a single side, thus making music sound horrible, and not isolating a lot of noise. These earphones are only meant to look good, and will probably be worthless. The sound wasn't what I expected it to be, so don't get these. You can definitely get much better earphones for less than half the price, these currently retail online at Amazon for approximately 60USD, so I would recommend you to check out either JVC's lines of earphones, Sennheiser's CX series or Audio Technica instead.