Beats-dr-dreYou can’t have failed to notice those striking red, white and black headphones everyone’s sporting these days. Really though, as stylish as they look, Beats headphones need to be heard to be believed.

But what is it that makes them so special? Here we look at how a rapper beat the giants of the audio world at their own game.

Audio pedigree
Beats by Dr Dre headphones is a new company, set up in just 2008. It was established by Dr Dre and Interscope record chief Jimmy Iovine, but they’re not doing it alone: its products are manufactured under license by Monster Cable, which has decades of experience in speaker and AV manufacturing.

That’s fused with the experience of someone making the music, as well as the devices that relay it – hip hop producer, rapper and legend Dre. He’s been in the game for more than twenty years, and helps give Beats engineers a fresh perspective on what’s required. He says he wants people to “hear what the artists hear and listen to the music the way they should – the way I do."

Secrets of sonics
That’s achieved by a mix of hardware wizardry and sound profiling. High efficiency drivers and magnetic technology ramp the volume up load without distortion or interference, leading to absolutely epic bass performance, where previously headphones didn’t bother rendering low frequency sounds at all. Reviewers have also lauded them for their impressive mid and treble performance too, and several of Beats’ over ear headphones sport noise cancellation, shutting down the sounds around you so you can savour the music.

Design flair
Sure, headphone sound quality is pretty pivotal, but something you’ll be using for much of the day has to be considered a fashion accessory too. And they surely are: where as audio rivals have focused on price and features, Beats heaphones are unabashedly hip-hop in that they’re all about style. Every model oozes class, from the black chrome bands of the over-ear models to the near-Ferrari red, tangle free cabling on the Tour in-ear buds. Talking about having your cake and eating it – or listening to it anyway.

Custom made for iPhone and Android
Using your smartphone as your music player? You’re not alone, and Beats has you covered here too, whether you’re listening to your own downloads or streaming through Spotify. Beats in-ear headphones come with an in-line remote that works perfectly with iPhones so you can skip tracks and use voice control.

Several of HTC’s new phones meanwhile, the Sensation XE and Sensation XL, both headed to O2, come with special software baked in, and custom headphones with a remote that play nice with Android, and automatically trigger a special Beats sound profile designed for headphone music playback. HTC now owns a majority stake in Beats, so expect even more from the company to come.

iBeats in-ear headphones with ControlTalk are available on the O2 Shop for £79.99. Beats Tour headphones are available in black or white for £139.99

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