Headphone Shootout: The Best and Worst Celebrity Cans Page 6

2nd Place: Beats Pro

With all the subtlety of a '88 Lamborghini Countach, and an abundance of white leather to match, the Pro is Beats' foray into the professional headphone business. They're heavy, and have "pro" features like metal-hinged flip-up ear cups, and the ability to jack the input cable into either cup. Guess they mean "pro" for DJs, not recording engineers.

These were the most polarizing headphones in our selection. Brent and I both rated them fourth, while Will and Lauren both ranked them first.

Lauren found them comfortable, with good isolation. She liked how she got actual pitch in the bass notes, instead of just a rumble, as well as how - unlike many of the others we listened to - they didn't sound muffled. Her radio background was evident in her praise for the Beats Pro's solid construction, mentioning how they didn't seem like they'd break if you dropped them. Her pick, she said, if she were to buy one of the pairs here with her own money.

Will also liked the rugged design, figuring "you could put a lot of miles on these." He found them comfortable and all-enveloping. The low frequency range impressed him, but he also enjoyed that the highs still popped despite the abundant bass. At high volumes he found a little distortion, but overall he liked them the best.

I found them to lack a very open sound, and felt they were a bit boomy in the low end, like a cheap subwoofer set too high. They did have the most bass of this lot, though, and had a decent attack. They're also lighter than they look.

Brent felt the Pros sounded somewhat dull, with a treble range that was a bit steely and a bass balance that was overwhelming, ruining the sound. The mids, he said, were "clear and natural" but the highs were "closed in and small." He felt they were a good quality product with a bad tonal balance. They fit very tightly, and the cushions mashed his ears (mine too).

In the love-em-or-hate-em category, I give you the Beats Pro. They're an overbuilt headphone with a distinctive tonal balance that some love, and some don't. Try before you buy, but if you get them, they sure seem built to last.

For the less overt, they're also available in black.

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