In 2008, ever-popular audio accessory giant Monster Cable announced a partnership with legendary hip-hop producer Dr. Dre aimed at delivering a new line of custom headphones designed to bring studio-quality audio to the masses. It would appear that the company’s goal to create a new breed of headphone listener has been successful, as today, the Beats by Dr. Dre brand is wildly popular and steadily putting the pressure on some of the other hip headphone makers like Skullcandy. With the Solo, we’re happy to report that Monster and Dre provide a high-quality set of headphones that sounds every bit as slick as it looks, and even offers iPod control and iPhone talking features that are oft-looked over by other headphone manufacturers. Though not without their glitches, the bottom line is as follows – the Solo’s benefits far outweigh their limitations and are a solid buy at the asking price of $199.00.
Out of the Box
The Solo headphones come attractively packaged in a high-gauge box that is as solid as the headphones themselves. Opening the bright red box like a book reveals the headphones folded and packed in a padded oval soft-case on the right side. The manual, a Monster-branded headphone cable and a micro-fiber cleaning cloth are seated on the left. There are no adapters or extension cables included with the Solo, so you’ll need to purchase them separately if you plan on using them with a home audio receiver, in a recording studio, or through an airline audio connection.
Our first impressions of the Solo are that they are very well-built and apparently well-conceived. The use of wide-banded, high impact plastic and metal along with solid hinges and fittings makes for a lightweight pair of cans that doesn’t feel cheap.
Features and Design
The Beats By Dr. Dre Solo headphones are available in two shades: Black and what we like to call “iPod white.” Our white pair sported light grey trim and subtle red accents along with a not-so-subtly-red Monster-branded headphone cable. These on-ear headphones feature extremely soft and breathable leather ear-pads, fully articulated earcups for flexible positioning and a lightly padded headband that, while seemingly skimpy, serves its purpose very well. The headband is also highly adjustable to accommodate a large range of head sizes.
The multipurpose headphone cable is about one meter (3.3 ft) long and connects to the left side by way of 1/8” mini-jack. The other end of the cable is a three-conductor 1/8” mini-jack that supports the cable’s built-in microphone and iPod control functions. On the microphone itself we find a single metallic “select” button along with a + and – key for volume adjustment and track advancement.