Get to know the much-hyped Monster Beats Pro.
The speakers of the Monster Beats Pros are protected by a porous grey cloth and soft white faux leather ear cups that are not detachable. The padding on the ear cups is soft and thick.
The back of the headphones are detailed aluminum, with the Beats branding prominently displayed in the center of the housing.
The band of the Beats Pros is the same white faux leather that is found on the ear cups, and about twice as uncomfortable.
The cable included with the Monster Beats Pro is a beefy, well-insulated cord that has metal and rubber cord guards. Even if you manage to break this behemoth cable, it's not permanently attached to the headphones themselves, allowing you to swap it out.
The plug at the end of the cable is a standard 1/8th inch jack milled out of aluminum. It also prominently displays the Beats branding.
The cord guards on the Monster Beats Pro are somewhat ridiculously robust, as they're made from very thick rubber.
Included in the packaging is a 1/8th to 1/4th inch plug adapter.
In the box of the Monster Beats Pros, you will find your headphones, cable, carrying pouch, cleaning cloth, manual and advertisements for other headphones in the Beats line.
Included in the packaging you'll also notice a small packet of silica gel. While we wouldn't normally make note of something like this, the packaging proudly displays an unattributed quotation from an anonymous philosopher, musing on our materialistic consumerism by quipping: "DO NOT EAT."
The only durability issue we noticed came with the first set of headphones we received. When we opened the box, the aluminum of the earpieces were all scratched up, and the electronics were internally damaged, as all of our data made these headphones seem to be rather poor performers. Don't read into that too much: manufacturing defects and shipping accidents happen and it's not Monster's fault that one of their units was defective.
We retested and re-shot our product photography when we got newer, more pristine Beats Pros, and the results are what you see here. Beyond that, the headphones seem to be very rugged in design, with the very useful ability to swap cords should you somehow manage to cleave yours in twain.
Needless to say, these headphones are pretty. The white faux leather and the brushed aluminum design seems to turn heads, and we got several comments from others in the office wanting to take a closer look. If you take these out on the town, you will certainly be doing it in style.
As you can see from the graph we've so handily provided, the Beats didn't actually do too badly in terms of frequency response. What is worth noting, however, is the dramatically overemphasized bass and the erratic higher tones. While the Beats stay within our ideal dB range for a good stretch of frequencies, you may notice some weird volume boosts with sounds in the 2.5 to 5kHz range, and again in the 7 to 9kHz range. For those of you who aren't well-versed in kHz frequencies, the attack on a snare drum and sibilants like "s" and "sh" will seem louder than they normally should be. Or at least they may, if you can hear them over the bass.
The Monster Beats Pro have a relatively low level of distortion, but we've seen better from cheaper headphones, and certainly not this much from a pair of "studio" headphones. Audiophiles: prepare to upturn noses.
The Beats Pros were a little erratic in their tracking, but it's nothing that you'll probably notice in regular listening, as the shift in volume from each channel never really exceeded 3dB to either side.
The Monster Beats Pros are bad isolators. They don't have any active noise cancellation, which is fine, but you're not likely to block out the outside world with these headphones. As you can see in our chart, it blocks out almost no bass frequencies, and really doesn't start dampening sound from outside the headphones until about 900Hz. Even then, it never really blocks out much sound.
The Monster Beats Pro leak sound like a sieve, and consequently if you bring these to a library, tennis match or church, you are liable to be tossed out fairly quickly. Be very wary of your situation when you listen to these headphones, as you may end up offending someone with your music, or worse: revealing your predilection for the complete discography of Hannah Montana.
The Monster Beats Pro have a maximum usable volume of 118.395dB, which means that at this volume, distortion crosses the 3% threshold and makes your music (if it didn't already) sound terrible. This isn't a bad showing, and by all rights nobody should really be listening to their headphones at that level, as it's dangerously close to the 120dB threshold where you can start to get permanent hearing loss.
We're going to preface this section with a short disclaimer: Heads and ears come in all shapes and sizes, and are in all likelihood more suited to some pairs of headphones than others. Try before you buy, as what works for us may not work for you.
When we first put on the Monster Beats Pro, the first thought to run through our heads was a simple, eloquent: "Ow."
Not only did the band squeeze the ear cups very tightly to our ears, but the band itself is heavy and was next to impossible to get a good fit without digging into our scalp. This is really bizarre, as it's padded, but on the inside it has stiff plastic edges holding the stitching together.
Over time, the pressure subsided a bit as the foam formed to our ears, and having the band no longer snug against our craniums helped a bit. Not bad overall, but they do fall short of "comfortable."
There is virtually nothing you can do to customize your Monster Beats Pro, outside of deciding which ear cup you would like to plug your cable into.
The cable included with the Monster Beats Pros is about four feet long and comes with a 1/8th inch to 1/4 inch adapter. Outside of that, the other end can be plugged into either earpiece, depending on user preference.
Included with the Monster Beats Pro is a nifty white pouch to put your headphones into when you're not using them. Thankfully, the Beats Pro can fold up, but their profile after folding is still rather large, making them a bother to port around.
Despite the interchangeable cord, there's not much you can do to maintain your headphones. Thankfully, you probably won't run into many problems with durability, but be aware that should anything happen to the insides of the ear cups (like grime buildup) there isn't much you can do to clean it out.
The Sennheiser HD 800s are very differently-designed than the Monster Beats Pro, as you can see from our photos below. The Beats have a much cleaner, uniform color scheme and not many sharp angles, while the Sennheiser HD 800s look like they came out of a sci-fi movie.
Here is where we begin to dispel the marketing myth that the Monster Beats Pro are "studio quality" headphones. We realize that may sound like a good marketing technique, but it really isn't: the Sennheiser HD 800s are here for comparison because they are studio quality headphones, and what the Beats Pro would have to emulate in order to be considered as such.
As you can see, the frequency response of the Sennheiser HD 800s are nice and flat, don't overemphasize any range of frequencies, and maintain a good response throughout a larger range of sound frequency than the Beats Pro. Really, the only reason someone would prefer the performance of the Beats Pro over the HD 800s would be if they really care only about bass and nothing else.
Though neither the HD 800s or the Beats Pros have any appreciable distortion, the Beats Pros do have more distortion than the near-pristine sound quality of the Sennheiser HD 800s.
While the difference is small (and certainly short of audible), the tracking is better in the Sennheiser HD 800s.
Here we break from the norm in comparisons and value a bad score; in terms of isolation, the Monster Beats Pros' greater attenuation of sound is actually a detriment when considering a studio environment, as a more open and airy soundstage is typically better for people mixing tracks and recording. It should not surprise anyone at this point when we remind everyone that the Beats Pro were labelled studio quality as a marketing ploy, and not as an honest intention for their target audience.
This is another contest that the Sennheiser HD 800s win hands-down. Despite the giant pads on the Beats Pros, the HD 800s don't have a deathgrip on your skull, and are very light in comparison to the heavy Beats. In the short term and in the long haul, the HD 800s will be much more comfortable to wear.
This comparison simply stands as a way to measure the Beats Pros as "studio headphones," which as you can see, they are not. This isn't an inherently bad thing, though: unless you're going to be mixing music or spending a lot of time in a phonology lab, you're most likely going to want headphones with some character to them. You're certainly not going to plunk down $1400 for a pair of headphones to just walk around with, either. Not many people in their right minds would use studio headphones out in public unless they were actually mixing tracks on the subway, lest they risk damage from the environment around them.
The beats are more stylish, and definitely much more rugged than the no-frills Beyerdynamic DT 990 PROs, but they're built for two different consumers in mind: the beats are designed for people who like to take their heavy, high-quality closed-backed headphones around town, and the open-backed DT 990 PROs are designed with us pasty, soft nerds who stay glued to the computer or mixing board.
The Beyerdynamic DT 990 PROs absolutely leave the Monster Beats Pros in the dust; the flat response throughout the frequency spectrum and even a slight boost of bass makes the DT 990 PROs the far superior headphones in terms of sound quality. This is more what a frequency response chart should look like.
Although in all fairness, this is splitting hairs, the DT 990 PROs have almost no distortion, where the Beats Pros have an absolutely miniscule amount. You're probably not going to hear much of a difference in terms of distortion between the two, but in comparison analysis, only one pair of headphones can reign supreme!
Despite what it might look like, the DT 990 PROs actually have better tracking, regardless of that junk data at the end of their graph containing measurements of inaudible frequencies not even measured for the Beats Pros. Notice that the graph for the Beats stops at 7kHz, so if you stop looking at the DT 990 PROs' graph at the same point, you'll see that for the entirety of the important range the DT 990 PROs have a more even tracking response than the Beats Pro. Still, good tracking all around, and you really can't go wrong with either here.
Neither set of headphones isolate much, but depending on your use that may not be the worst thing in the world.
The Beyerdynamic DT 990 PROs are easily more comfortable than the Monster Beats Pro, both in the short term and over an extended period of time. The simple fact of the matter is: headphones with a deathgrip on your skull probably aren't going to be very comfortable. The plush padding also helps a bit here.
If you're planning on going outside with your headphones ever, the Beyerdynamic DT 990 PROs are not for you. Their open-backed design makes foreign-object damage almost a certainty if you take them outside, and a rain shower could destroy them. That being said, if you're comfortable only using them at your desk indoors, the Beats Pro cans will not perform as well as the DT 990 PROs, nor will they be as comfortable.
Taking a trip back down memory lane, we can't help but wonder how much of an improvement the Beats Pros are over their predecessors, the Beats. Both look somewhat similar in design, but the lack of cheap glossy plastic and a much, much more rugged design makes the Beats Pro clearly superior from a design standpoint. The metal speaker housings are also a nice touch, making the Beats Pros much more palatable to fashionistas.
The Monster Beats give us a frequency response more reminiscent of a seismograph than a frequency reading chart. In contrast, the Beats Pros stay within the ideal range, even if they themselves have comically overemphasized bass response.
It's no secret that the original Beats weren't designed with audiophiles in mind, but their level of distortion is large in comparison to that of the Beats Pros.
In yet another poor showing, the original Beats have wild swings in channel dominance over the entire range of frequencies recorded, where the Beats Pros have a relatively even response, with their most violent swing only being a difference of 3dB.
Surprisingly enough, the Beats beat out the Beats Pro in terms of isolation. While this isn't as important as the other measures discussed in this comparison so far, it is worthy of recognition, no matter how small an advantage it is.
Despite the original Beats not having as much padding on the band, they actually are a bit more comfortable to wear than the Beats Pros, as they are lighter and they don't have a vice-like grip on your head.
In terms of raw audio performance, the Beats Pros win the matchup hands-down. However if you want a little more comfort or isolation, the original Beats are probably easier to justify spending money on.
The Sennheiser HD 650s are a fair bit sexier and more revealing than the Beats Pros, but here's the catch: they are nowhere near as durable. The HD 650s lack a closed backing, which makes foreign-object damage to the innards a very real and very scary probability should you take your headphones outside. The Beats not only have a closed-back design, but an insanely robust cable. Both sets have replaceable cables, which is a very nice plus when you're looking for longevity from your set of high-priced cans.
This is going to be another one of those times when we have to take the audience into consideration when trying to say one pair of headphones is better than the other. The Beats overemphasize bass response and stay well within our limits for ideal sound, even if they're a bit erratic. The Sennheiser HD 650s have an almost flat frequency response, but they get quieter and quieter the higher the frequency goes. Bass isn't overemphasized in these headphones, but they were significantly less erratic towards the higher-end audible frequencies.
We realize it's splitting hairs, but the HD 650s had less distortion overall than the Beats Pros.
Among the data we actually used (frequencies actually audible to human beings), the HD 650s have slightly better tracking, keeping their channels even with a tolerance of less than 2dB where the Beats Pros strayed a tiny bit over 2dB in some places. Both sets of headphones do well in this area, and nobody really would be able to notice such a small difference.
Like the other studio headphones in this review, the HD 650s don't isolate well on purpose. The open backing of the HD 650s doesn't seem to block out or contain sound very well, which is hard-hitting analysis, we know. The Beats Pro have a closed backing, which affords it marginally better isolation.
They aren't the most comfortable things in the world to wear, but the HD 650s don't try to pop your cranium like a grape when you wear them. They are fairly light in comparison to the Beats Pros, and much more comfortable to wear.
Again, the Beats Pros are a better choice if you ever want to take your headphones outside, as they're ruggedly durable and stylish. True studio headphones typically have an open-backing which is awful for isolation and durability, but their audio performance leaves everything else in the dust. If you don't mind using them indoors exclusively, the Sennheiser HD 650s will not disappoint you.
Overall, the Monster Beats Pro are not a bad set of over-ear headphones. They have decent audio quality, extremely rugged design and are very stylish. They do have their share of drawbacks, but some of these (like comfort) are actually more or less subjective, so try before you buy. We would like to reiterate the fact that despite their marketing, these headphones are not studio headphones by any stretch of the imagination, and really that's not something you want to market to people who want to take their headphones outside. Still, the Beats Pros get high marks for low distortion, but their hilariously overemphasized bass response is something that you may or may not want to avoid in your listening experience (we've been spoiled with true studio headphones, so this is something we typically avoid for personal use, but you may feel differently). The pricetag is fairly hefty, but if you are willing to shell out the cash for a set of headphones that are stylish and have heavy bass, then by all means pick these up.
Meet the tester
Staff Writer, Imaging@cthomas8888
A seasoned writer and professional photographer, Chris reviews cameras, headphones, smartphones, laptops, and lenses. Educated in Political Science and Linguistics, Chris can often be found building a robot army, snowboarding, or getting ink.
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