Sugar Ray Leonard
Care to venture a guess as to what the folks on this list all have in common?
Every one of them appeared at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) as a celebrity spokesperson for a pair of headphones. We’ve been known to use a pair of headphones or two here at our online mastering studio, so we certainly like paying attention to everything that’s happening in the audio industry concerning headphones. We’d be willing to bet that just about everybody has seen the influx of big, flashy headphones formerly hidden away in studios now appearing on sidewalks/trains/buses/everywhere people are.
When the iPod was first issued back in 2001, it seemed that in addition to changing how we carry our music with us, it would change how we listened to that music as well, as small ear buds became the norm because they were not only portable but also fashionable.
Dr. Dre changed this when he teamed up with record exec Jimmy Iovine and Monster Cables to produce his Beats by Dre headphones. They’ve obviously become extremely popular since their introduction in 2008, as it seems impossible to go anywhere without seeing that trademark “b” on the sides of headphones. And now it seems that headphones are the new fashionable product for celebrities to endorse, as evidenced by the 2013 CES.
Beats, the company that split from Monster late last year and now produces all Beats by Dre headphones and speakers along with all other products by the company, has seen its share of huge name endorsers over the past couple years. These include Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, LeBron James, and P. Diddy, the latter peddling his wonderfully named Diddybeats
While it may be strange that headphones have become the new “it” thing, apparently, we’re glad folks are paying attention to the quality of the audio they are consuming. Of course, it seems that much of this fad is focused on fashion more than audio quality -- for example, Snooki’s signature headphones look like they were accidentally dropped in a 50-gallon drum full of glitter and bling.
Could these headphones have a place in the studio? It depends on the model, but the Beats by Dre line have some pretty decent audio quality. Currently, Tim Tebow is hawking a noise-canceling model (So he can enjoy his music on the sidelines, perhaps?).
All the headphones in the Beats line focus on enhancing the bass, and while this accomplishes its goal, it often overrides the mids, though the highs are fairly clear. One of the biggest problems with using these in a studio, though it could be done, is that you could get better quality for less money, as the least expensive Beats by Dre model is $200.
Finally, it has to be remembered that most of these headphones are being used to listen to mp3 players. So even with decent audio quality, you’re hearing a compressed version of whatever you are listening to. But then again, we all do suffer for the sake of fashion from time to time.