I associate hip hop, and heavy beats with large on-ear headphones. Now I sit here writing a review on the Beats by Dr Dre Tour that is a stylish set of in-ear headphones. The design is sleek with a definite urban feel to it. Black, red and metal makes for a cool combination of colours. The people at Monster Cable designing the Beats by Dr Dre line are definitely talented at keeping things minimal and classy while incorporating the cool vibes of the legendary Dr. Dre. The Tour can be worn by anyone without it feeling out of place. The flat cord also enhance the look as it is completely tangle free.
The sound is not what I expected from a product with the Beats by Dr Dre logo. It sounded weak, and lacked bass. That was until I changed to the smallest pair of ear tips the Tour ships with. The smallest managed to seal the ear canal properly, but sadly it also made them quite uncomfortable. The ear tips are made of flimsy plastic usually found in products from Sony Ericsson. The larger ear tips that I am usually able to use tend to just fall out of the ears, and the sound seal is near impossible to achieve. If you have any liquid in your ear canal, water, sweat or wax, the ear tips make squidgy noises. The Tour also ships with two pairs of flanged ear tips, but these are a mere afterthought. These flanged “airlocks” are made of the same flimsy material, and are impossible to get to work properly. After my experience with the Etymotic hf2™ I know that flanged ear tips can be superb additions.
Back to the sound of the Beats by Dr Dre Tour. Assuming that you can get one of the five pairs of ear tips to seal properly the sound is quite good. In my opinion it is comparable in quality to what the Apple In-ear headphones supply for the high and mid range. There is a difference in the bass provided though, and the Tour blows the Apples In-ear away completely. The deep bass never drowns the rest of the sound spectra, and all genres I have listened to have benefited from the Tour. Then again that is all about getting the ear tips to seal properly. If the seal is leaking the sound falls apart loosing both bass and clarity. This is the risk most users will have to live with. Getting proper noise isolation is also a matter of finding ear tips that suits your ears. If the ear canal is properly sealed the noise isolation is ok, but there are a lot of in-ear headphones with superior noise isolation such as the Etymotic hf2™ and the Apple In-ear.
The microphone placed in mouth height beneath the right earphone is superb. It is a newly launched technology called ControlTalk. The Tour headphones can be used as your primary means of communication. I have not had any complaints about sound quality, volume or ambient noise when using the ControlTalk. The large volume controls found next to the microphone are handy both when making calls, and listening to music. The ControlTalk is compatible with Voice Control.
The cord is quite unique in that it is flat, and after the Y-split it goes as two flat cords to the earphones. I can’t help but associate the design to a tapeworm crawling out of my pocket. The bright red colour definitely makes the cord the focal point of the Tour. It is near impossible to tangle the cord, and it seems durable when stretched. It comes at the expense of weight, and it feels like the cord itself is tugging at my ears trying to pull the ear tips out. When out walking it becomes an annoyance, and when running I have to wear the cord around my neck for support. The angled connector is good at hugging the iPhone tightly, but sadly it is not compatible with a lot of good cases. Cases from prominent designers such as OtterBox, Tech21 and Contour are impossible to use. To me this is a large drawback to the design of the Tour as there is no way to replace connector without voiding the warranty.
If sealed properly the Tour provides good sound with powerful bass.
If sealed properly the Tour provides decent noise isolation.
Unique tangle free flat cord.
Cool urban design.
Great microphone turning the Beats by Dr Dre Tour into a complete communications solution.
Hard to properly seal the ear canal due to flimsy ear tips.
Cheap feel to the ear tips, and the flanged ones are impossible to use.
The angled headphone connector makes the Tour incompatible with a lot of protective cases.
The cord feels heavy when moving due to being quite rigid.
I hated the Tour for the first couple of days testing them. I can usually use the medium or large ear tips, but with those I didn’t get a proper seal. Switching to the smallest ear tips the Tour changed completely, and turned into a bassy monster. The ear tips are still among the worst I have encountered in that they feel cheap and flimsy. I hope that Monster Cable ships better quality ear tips with future in-ear headphones. Combined with an excellent microphone the Beats by Dr Dre Tour is a competent headset capable of being your primary communications solution.