When Monster and beats by dr. dre first announced the Beatbox, we initially said it will probably sound like Dr. Dre is screaming in your face. Well from the time we have spent with the Beatbox, that is in fact what it sounds like. The Beatbox iPod dock blows away the competition when it comes to bass reproduction and lack of distortion when it comes to extremely high volumes. It also manages to leave a small foot print in your home and will fit into any office, dorm room, living room, or even club by blasting the walls off. In a nutshell, Monster and beats by dr. dre might have done to the iPod dock what they did for headphones.
The packaging itself is all black and only exemplifies what it is inside the box – a black Beatbox. Once you open it up you are greeted with the beats by dr. dre logo. Beneath that you will find an electrical cable, manuals, 5 cradles for different generations of the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPod Nano. There are also legs included for the base of the Beatbox that help tilt the device upwards. Lastly, a black remote is included for controlling your iPod/iPhone while it’s docked in the Beatbox.
The Beatbox is designed to leave a small footprint that will fit into any room or situation with its corner friendly design. It is all black with a grille face, and beneath the grille is the famous beats logo hiding in between the speakers. The top of the Beatbox has a power button to the left, and the volume control dial is located to the right and that’s it for controls – talk about minimalism. Smack in the middle is a grip handle so you can take this party anywhere. Then there is of course the dock to the left, near the power button. At the back of the system is where you plug in the power chord. There is also a wireless module on the backside which at the moment seems to be inactive. Is there a peripheral coming down the pipeline from Monster and beats by dr. dre that will utilize this feature? It sure seems so, because the manual states it is for a ‘Monster Streamcast Wireless System’. Finally, there is also a 3.5mm mini jack on the backside so you can use external music sources like non Apple MP3 players. Sadly there is no 3.5mm cable included to utilize this feature, so you will have to purchase this on your own.
The top of the Beatbox also has a large glaring sticker that does come off, but takes a bit of prying off. We recommend taking a letter opener and very gingerly peeling it away. We first thought it wouldn’t come off at all but it did and once it did – the system certainly looked a lot more subtle with just a ‘beats by dr. dre’ logo revealed underneath.
The Beatbox features a 5.25″ long throw bass driver driver along with two optimized 2″ concave high frequency drivers, which means it is designed to handle heavy low end hip-hop but that it can also handle the delicate tones of classical music too. There is also a left and right tweeter. In the end there is a total of 200 watts delivered.
The first thing you need to do with the Beatbox is determine where you plan on placing it, because that will greatly effect how this sounds. The Beatbox is designed to fit in corners for a reason – so that you can fill a whole room with its music and feel that bass. So we suggest moving it from place to place before you settle on a specific wall or area. When I placed it flat against a wall it definitely sounded different then when I let it float in the middle of a room. So yes, you will have to get Feng Shui with your Beatbox.
When I initially looked at the Beatbox, my first thought was this isn’t an iPod dock, but rather this is a speaker system that just happens to have an iPod dock feature. The Beatbox is designed to be a speaker sans frills so that it can focus on reproducing the best sound possible with its internal technology. To that effect, it will take any crappy MP3 bit rate and transform it into something glorious with its heavy bass output. The Beatbox brought me back to the days when I would sit in front of my dad’s Pioneer HPM-100 stereo speakers that were connected to his stereo rack system. I would sit there all day and listen to that music go through my blood, waiting for my hair to blow – which it did if I made it loud enough. The Beatbox gave me the same sort of exhilaration with its heavy bass output, and when I turned the volume way up (way past the legal rental tenancy limit) there was no feedback or static. This was exhibited on all genres of music ranging from Lady Gaga, to Henry Mancini, to Sarah McLachlan. I highly suggest also playing with the equalizer settings on your iPhone/iPod while listening to your Beatbox. This will only enhance your experience. Using the right equalizer settings will really make the Beatbox shine while using the wrong equalizer settings will leave the Beatbox sounding empty and lacking depth. When no equalizer setting was selected, the Beatbox exhibited overwhelming bass as well as midrange. However the warm, liquid feeling was missing – the music just felt empty. So definitely take that into consideration when listening to your tunes. It’s a Beatbox, not a magic box.
We are however disappointed that there is no iPhone or iPod app available for the Beatbox. There are many iPod docks released these days that also feature an app that extend your dock’s functionality into a clock or even a weather center. However I will excuse Monster and beats by dr. dre for this because they probably were more concerned with the construction of the unit, versus developing any software for it – which could obviously be always released at a later date. Also the included remote is lackluster. For such a pricey device, I would have expected something a bit more meaty then the kind of remote you could easily get with any $50 iPod dock.
Beatbox by beats by dr. dre and Monster is just another example of how seriously these companies are about improving the experience of listening to music. They have thought about all the important details while creating their first iPod dock – it sounds good, produces audio that fills a room, and they made sure that it looks good no matter where you put it. However the price is indeed a bit high for such a device, still, loyal beats by dr. dre and Monster fans will probably pony up the money anyway. For the price though, I think they should have included a mini to mini stereo cable for the 3.5 mini jack input and the grille is a bit on the chintzy side as it easily bends in when you push against it. Overall the Beatbox is a great addition to the beats by dr. dre family of audio products and only makes me curious to see what they have in store for that conspicuous wireless module. The other iPod Dock manufacturers certainly have a new contender in town. The Monster and beats by dr. dre Beatbox retails for $399.99 at Best Buy and Apple.
The Good: Excellent bass reproduction for any music genre. Designed to fit in any room with its corner design. Fills a room with music. Really shines when you play with your iPhone/iPod set to optimum equalizer settings. The active wireless module probably means future peripherals are coming.
The Bad: Pricey. Front grille easily bends when you push it. No mini to mini stereo cable included. No app. Remote control is less than impressive. Improper placement of the device in a room can hinder the sound experience coming from the Beatbox.