Is Dr Dre right about headphones?

27 May 2011


Dr Dre doesn’t look like the sort of man you’d want to disappoint too often. He can appear pretty stern. But that’s what you’re doing every time you put on a pair of ‘inferior’ headphones.

Ryan Babel is among the footballers to use Beats by Dr Dre

“People aren’t hearing all the music,” the good doctor tells us in the promotional material for the Beats by Dre Dre range of headphones.

“Artists and producers work hard in the studio perfecting their sound. But people can’t really hear it with normal headphones. Most headphones can’t handle the bass, the detail, the dynamics. Bottom line, the music doesn’t move you.”

It’s a startling thought. After all those years of buying the latest CD, mini disc and mp3 players, have I actually been missing large chunks of the tracks because my headphones haven’t been up to scratch?

Many people have heeded Dre’s advice and picked up some headphones from his own range. Beats offers ear canal and ear clip headphones, but the ones with massive cans, sported by Premiership footballers everywhere, are doubtlessly the most recognisable.

The sizeable Beats Pro headphones are the signature models in the range and offer a very bassy sound. This comes as no surprise, considering Dre is a hip-hop artist so was understandably left frustrated by kids wearing headphones which couldn’t carry the amount of bass he had put into his tracks.

But not everybody listens to hip-hop, so folk or jazz fans might be better suited to canal models which seal your ears from noise from the outside world, rather than playing a phat bassline over it. If you’re wondering what sort of headphones best suit the Spice Girls’ greatest hits then you’re probably beyond help…

There remains a gap in the market for other artists to exploit by bringing out headphones to suit their own style of music. Tweeter @mightykotor suggested Metallica might want to bring out HeadMelters, while Audioslave could launch AudioShackles.

Other than looking good and matching up headphones to your favoured genre, practicality is a big concern.

Massive wrap-around headphones might look good while you’re sat on a bus, but they’re probably not much good for mountain bikers or cross-country runners.

What makes a set of headphones up to scratch is matching them to your usage. If you’re travelling on the tube, then you probably want something to cancel noise from the train tracks and your fellow commuters. But if you are kicking back at home, why not rock out those sizeable headphones?

As for what you choose to spend on a pair in a bid to “hear all the music”, that’s up to you. Generally professional grade headphones will set you back a lot more than your standard set. But if you’re an audiophile desperate to hear songs the way they were made in the studio, then maybe it’s time to treat yourself.

Do you think headphones are vital to the sound you hear? Comment below…