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Monster Beats by Dr. Dre Tour In-Ear Headphones Review

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beatstourAfter the highly successful release of Monster’s Beats by Dr. Dre, it seemed the writing was on the wall for a pair of earbuds to be released soon. Well just as expected, Monster did just that and released in conjunction with Dr. Dre again, a pair of earphones called Beats Tour high resolution in-ear headphones. The Beats are certainly a quality product and a pair of headphones that stand head above the rest in design and rich sound for the casual music consumer or even audiophile.  The Beats Tour is aiming to do just the same in the ‘earbuds’ marketplace.

Design:
Just like the Beats by Dr. Dre, the Tours are not only meant to impress with it’s sound quality but with their looks too. The packaging is the same as the original, just in a smaller box, but all the same details are there. The outside sleeve slips off and reveals a red box that opens with a pull of a black tab. When pulled, the box opens like a book to reveal the Tours nestled in a black plastic with felt material covering. Inside the box is also a mini round touring case for travel, five sets of silicone eartips (tree and mushroom shaped ones), and a manual for proper care and use.

If you are looking to make a fashion statement with a pair of earphones you may need not look any further. The Tours don’t stray from the Beats by Dr. Dre’s signature look and style. Monster basically brings it all together for a smaller package. Still here is the signature black/red colors and the ‘b’ logo on the earbud. The flat red wire is the epitome of cool and would make any white wired earbuds look away in shame.  You could easily color coordinate any outfit with these and not worry about sacrificing quality for looks.

Setup:
There are no batteries required with the Tours.  Just pop them in your ears and the audio jack into your MP3 player and you are pretty much done. However, if you want to change the eartip to one of the five included that is another story. You can choose from the included mushroom or tree shaped silicone eartips. Just select the right tip that fits your ear and you’re on your way. To remove the silicone eartip already on the Tours, you need to twist it off not pull. Pulling will get you no where and you may break the in-ear headphone. Once it’s off, the trying part is putting the new one on. It will take a few tries and concentration to get one on. It took me several tries and a few fits of frustration till it slipped on properly.

Sound Quality:
When you look at the Tours you just expect good quality sound. The little bud is extremely impressive and LONG! The arm of the bud is shaped to curve into your ear so you experience the best sound quality for an earphone. I tried all the tips but was happiest with sound quality when I used the smallest mushroom shaped eartip. When I tried on the other sizes/shapes all it did was water down the music and allowed in sounds from my environment and were extremely uncomfortable. However this is a personal opinion and others may not have this problem. However, don’t expect much noise cancellation with the Tours – you still tend to hear your surroundings pretty well. Which honestly I think is much healthier for your eardrums – especially with the Tours going so deep into your canal – they felt like they were right near my ear drum.

Overall, all music genres performed well with the Tours and the quality of the bass was rich and smooth. It did present just a slightly better sound quality than the recently released Turbines from Monster but not overwhelming so. All music was pretty balanced and I was impressed with how well orchestrations sounded on it. Wind instruments were extremely impressive; sounding crisp and clear. Sadly you don’t get that full bodied experience with either the Tours or Turbines, but the Tours does do a better job at least of trying too. One overwhelming difference between the two was how each played back music at the same volume level. Plugging in the Tours I would have to make the volume lower at lets say a volume decibel of 15. When I plugged in the Turbines at the same decibel,  I would have to make it louder to appreciate the music. So right there, is a blaring difference on how each in-ear speaker/in-ear headphone translates the volume level.

Conclusion:
I liked the sound quality and the overall presentation of the Beats Tours. They are an impressive looking set of earphones and certainly perform sound wise even if they edge out the Turbines even slightly. To a trained ear, you can hear a difference and appreciate it immediately. The in-ear headphones are very light in your hand and are not heavy weighing in your ears. The tangle free flat wire is an awesome “technology” that I wish all headphones/earphones would adapt too. No matter how I threw them in my bag or shoved them into my pockets, with a simple shake they untangled.  The one major disappointment I do have with them is that after a while they become increasingly uncomfortable to wear and start to make my ear canal throb. It’s possible I’m just more sensitive than others. But even so if you are a slave to fashion and looking for a pair of earphones that live up to quality and presentation the Tours are for you or if have super deep ear canals. The Beats Tour high resolution in-ear headphones retail for $149.95.

The Good: Great looking pair of in-ear headphones that also perform well too. Delivers rich sound and decent deep low levels of bass. Makes a nice compliment to it’s big brother Beats by Dr. Dre. Tangle free cable is very cool.

The Bad: Can become uncomfortable to wear after a while making it almost painful. Eartips are a pain to change.

Update 1/14/09: Monster was nice enough to send us new silicone eartips to test with to see if the comfort level improved. The new tips certainly helped make a tighter seal in my ear to allow for better noise reduction around me. It also was a bit more comfortable without causing my ear to throb. The Beats by Dr. Dre Tour earbuds are still incredibly long but atleast this small improvement will help improve the overall sound quality and comfort. These new eartips are now shipping with the headphones.