If you don't mind brain-battering bass, you'll love how these sound. The Heartbeats strike a balance that many mainstream listeners are sure to love, and extras that contribute to added comfort, convenience, and style. Yet for all that, the Heartbeats don't win my whole-hearted approval; the one-button remote will have you reaching in your pockets and purses to get a grip on volume, an oversight that many consumers just won't stand for.
Look closely and you'll notice a famous name engraved upon a metal plaque along the Heartbeats' cable: Lady Gaga. The pop star may know a good-looking set of gold studs when she sees one, but how could she be so monstrous as to leave her "little monsters" to suffer with a one-button remote? A one-button controller on a pair of $100 headphones is just silly. For that amount, users should be able to turn volume up and down without groping through purses and pockets for their music players. On top of that, the dinky thing rarely registers a double-click correctly, fast-forwarding music instead of skipping a song. This is the worst remote I've used in months.
But it's not all frownie faces and cuss words; the Heartbeats are an excellent choice for users who need a customized fit, for instance. Beats includes six different sizes of silicone speaker covers. Need a tiny cover? You're all set. Extra large? Done. Users also get a shirt clip and a convenient little carry case for on the run. You should use it, too, since the metal studs collect dings and scratches without it.
Purists: Run for cover. Everyone else: Get your dancing pants.
Though purists will want to shield their ears, others will opens their hearts to the boom-boom-boom of the Heartbeats—and I do mean boom. These studded in-ears will rattle your brains with low-end beats. Yet they emphasize mids and highs enough that bass doesn't just run the whole show. While music sounds much "bigger" and bass-heavy than refined tastes will tolerate, listeners can still make out the finer, higher-range details on instruments like strings, horns, percussion, vocals, and more. I spent time listening to everything from James Brown to Puccini, and while bass arguably lends a more, ahem, dramatic feel to your music, I could still distinguish each range of my music—from low to high. Just watch out for sub-bass... too much volume with that Deadmau5 might blast your socks right off. Then again, I guess that's what those listeners love so much.
Where the Heartbeats really impressed me the most was in distortion and tracking trials. Listeners won't find a drop of audible distortion with these in-ears. Even in the sub-bass range, where I often find huge amounts of distortion on even pricey headphones, the measurements are shockingly low. As for tracking, which notes the balance of volume between left and right speakers, those results are excellent as well. Users won't find any major differences in loudness between each earpiece.
That score at the top of the page looks good for a reason. The golden results just keep pouring in: If you want a set of in-ears to make the outside world go away, the Heartbeats are here for you: Mid- and high-range outside noises get beaten down considerably. But best of all, the seldom-blocked low-end noises get the silent treatment too: Passing cars or rumbling trains are reduced quite a bit, which isn't normally the case.
Sound to please the masses, design to please few
In the end, the Heartbeats in-ears by Beats satisfy a strong consumer thirst: These headphones serve up massive bass, but with mids and highs that don't fall to the wayside. Each area of the scale is emphasized enough that nothing truly gets trampled underfoot. Just beware: If the lack of a volume button is a deal breaker, steer clear. For many, in-ears are intended to be commuting companions, and without control over volume, these Heartbeats just aren't holding up their end of that bargain.
Even so, these things have no audible distortion whatsoever, and they ship with enough pairs of silicone speaker covers to suit most Goldilocks'. Yet perhaps the best selling point is the shiny outfit: The flashy golden studs lend a singularly hip look to any ensemble. If you can deal with the one-button remote and you love bass-heavy beats, give these Heartbeats a look.
It's time to see how the sausage is made: Behold, the data dump. The Science page gives you a look at the numbers behind the front-page claims. These Beats in-ears showed major heart in the lab, with a balanced frequency response, astoundingly low distortion, and excellent isolation.
Booming bass, balanced mids and highs
If you're on the hunt for the bassiest beast you can find, the Heartbeats are a solid bet. Like an equal loudness contour, these in-ears emphasize bass, big time. The great news for the everyday consumer is that mids and highs aren't left out of the picture. So while bass may be much louder than many refined ears prefer, middle and high notes on every instrument in the book—from tubas, to flutes, to violas, to snare drums—will ring out loud and clear, all the same.
Unlike the vast majority of consumer headphones that come through these doors, the Heartbeats do not spike or plummet so dramatically in volume as to spell the demise of the overall balance. As I said before, the audiophile will be anything but thrilled here—this response is as far away from flat as you can get. The only notable no-no here is that the sub-bass range is louder than it should be, venturing well above the point at which the ELC would put it.
How low can you go?
Geez. Gold stars and high-fives all around. The Heartbeats in-ears don't allow distortion to rain on your listening parade. There isn't a drop of audible distortion on this entire chart—from sub-bass all the way through highs. These results are absolutely stupendous.
Listeners won't hear more than 3% distortion until volume is above the 112.92dB mark, in fact. But please don't listen that loud, for safety's sake. And finish your vegetables.
This noise will not stand, man.
The Heartbeats are excellent isolators. Tests revealed that high frequency outside sounds like squawking birds, pesky little sisters, and so forth get reduced to nearly 1/32 their original loudness, while mid and low-end bothers like growling engines or low voices are reduced by as much as 1/4.
Meet the testers
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Virginia is a former Managing Editor at Reviewed.com. She has a background in English and journalism. Away from the office, Virginia passes time with dusty books & house cats.See all of Virginia Barry's reviews
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