Gear

Beats by Dr. Dre Tour review

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.

tour1The 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.

meshThe 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.

tour2Of note is that this is a short one week test, and I can’t say anything about long time durability of the Tour.

Summary


Pros

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.

Cons
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.

tx120_av6I 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.

Final Rating

4-stars

Beats by Dr. Dre Tour ControlTalk In-Ear Headphones at the US Apple Store $169.95

Beats by Dr. Dre Tour ControlTalk In-Ear Headphones at the UK Apple Store £139.95

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  • legend.inc

    wow, i like this one a lot.

  • Stephen World

    I hope this rather extensive review helps. This is a real-world experience from a non-audiophile, non-expert and I think it covers all the elements that I COULD NOT find at all in the very many reviews I looked at on the web.

    After the RHS, i.e., the side with the controller, of my Apple iPhone’s shipped headset suddenly stopped working (in all fairness, I think I shoved them too carelessly into my bag), I needed to replace them. I heard a lot about these Dre’s and did quite a bit of research before getting them. At $150 Can pre-tax, $170 with taxes and a “Final Sale”, I thought they’d better be damn good! I am NOT disappointed!

    I’m no audiophile, made worse by standing too closely to those huge speaker boxes at parties as a teen! But, I know bass, heights and mid – and what I like. That said, these are fantastic!

    However, they must be properly seated in your ears to get the full benefit. I’ve tried the Apple in-ear and though good generally, the bass wasn’t. Their shipped set with the phone was actually very good, except in my case that design cause them to keep popping out. I bought a pair of in-ear Sennheisers and returned them too, because the noise isolation just wasn’t effective at all and the bass wasn’t good and they popped out too.

    I have big ears with deep/big ear canals and had to use the largest cones. I do really appreciate the length of the “tips”, i.e., the part you stick in your ears (hey, I am no expert reviewer or audiophile and I’ve got no idea what they’re called, so I’ll call them “tips”). With the biggest cones and angling the “tips” just right, I went from not much bass, to better bass to huge bass!

    The bass sounds a bit reverbed, i.e., not a thump, thump, thump, but a mellowed out one – if that makes sense. That leaves room for the highs and mids, which are excellent too. I listen to everything, from old Rockers (reggae type music form the 80′s) and Reggae, to Indian to Hip-Hop/Rap to Pop to Techno to Marilyn Manson to Inspirational, you get the picture – any thing that has a beat and (sometimes) lyrics that pretty much damn well pleases ME!
    I heard some things in some of the old Rockers that I never heard before; never! Cinderella Man (from Eminem’s newly released album, Recovery) sounded wonderful in my car; not too much on my Dre’s. That is until I changed the equalizer settings and positioned the “tips” properly in my ears. Wow!

    I thought the right-angled connector – and it IS right-angled here in Canada contrary to some posted pics – would have been inconvenient. It actually is more convenient for my pants pocket and on the laptop. And, the cable is super soft and flexible (but strong), so even with the right-angle you don’t feel as though it’s being pressured.
    NOTE: In the first week of using them, I have stepped on the RHS “tip” and also inadvertently tugged on the cable so the RHS popped out my ear – seems like I’m doing a loada shit with the RHS! – and it’s still going strong.

    That said, because of the cord design, it is a *bit* on the heavy side, but only a bit. AND, I thought the ControlTalk controller being on the RHS of the cord and so high would have pulled out the connector from my ear. I guess because it is buried so deep, that hasn’t happened. AND being buried so deep gives me almost total noise isolation, so when not in a totally safe environment I have to pull them out a bit so I am aware of my environment, which means I lose *some* bass, but it still sounds good overall.

    The ControlTalk works as advertised with my 3Gs (even when upgraded to iOS4) for music and phone control.

    “That’s all” I gotta say. An expensive leap of faith, but I’m really happy.
    However, I’ve been thinking: If other manufacturers like Sennheiser, etc., made longer “tips”, could I have paid much less for an equally good-sounding set of in-ear headphones? Hmmmm….. I don’t know, but I do know I needed a good pair of in-ear headphones that were durable, would stay in, give me good bass and other elements of any music genres I listen to, and these Dre’s have done an excellent job.

    Stephen

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  • michael

    I’m afraid to say that you have bought fake earphones, they look very similar to the real ones apart from some minor details.
    The area of the “b” logo on real ones is not silver, it is white.

  • Nicholas Bridgemohan

    sorry michael but original ones are silver not white on the logo

  • Chris

    I gotta say I love these earphones, bought em at Future Shop up in Canada, hopped on a bus, threw on some Devil Driver, and I swear you could actually pick out the words in their screaming vocals, they have good bass response, and they sound as good as they look. I had to fiddle through the ear tips and use the smallest ones to get the best fit and sound quality, my only complaint is that they do feel like they are going to pop out of my ears, the sound isolation is excellent on these, at one point I had to shut off my music when I got off the bus on my way home because a truck came up behind me without warning, yes do not use these while walking on the streets, can only use them while on or waiting for the bus, on a plane, train or ferry, speaking of planes, they will not only block out the noise from a jet plane but they might even block out noise from a propeller plane, they make great ear plugs too.

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