There is a Headphone Wars: Beats vs. Bose, which is your choice?
Beats Solo HD ($199.99)
Key Features: Power, Style
The main problem with Beats is the inability to shake the feeling you are listening to a really stellar pair of headphones underwater. The bass frequencies are noticeably boosted and this makes listening to vocal and guitar heavy rock feel kind of washed out, especially when compared to any other set of phones sporting a better balance. The Strokes especially tune sounds pretty bad and off kilter. Nirvana sounded like it had a constantly garbled rumble in the background. But just using the Beats for an extended listening session, you tend to forget this flaw, especially in the older recordings.
Beats can get very loud and very soft while maintaining a good balance of frequencies (minus that one gaping flaw). They actually tend to sound more balanced when cranked up to 11, especially with more recent recordings.
Beats perform surprisingly well with the softer genres like jazz and classical, where feeling the timbre of the instruments is paramount to the perception of quality. You can taste the trumpet like you're the one blowing the notes. But the imbalanced frequencies makes this another losing category.
They look very, very cool, even if they aren't the most comfortable over-the-ear set in the world. The aesthetic is clearly branded and chic. You've probably seen them everywhere from public transportation to that music video you just watched. With a colorful red wire, super portability, and an extra cable for talking on your phone (think Apple's earbud/mic combo), Beats definitely fit well into your life if you're using your phone to listen to music while traveling/commuting.
Beats were built for pop, that much is clear. Nothing sounded as good, or as punchy, or as loud as the Katy Perry tune, with all the close seconds being older pop numbers like Destiny's Child and D'Angelo. If you're religiously top 40 or anything hip-hop/R&B;, these might be the phones for you.
Bose Around-Ear ($94.88)
Key features: Balance, Comfort
The Bose headphones achieve a much more pronounced balance of high and low frequency, making for a better instrumental blend. Although Bose can't maintain the punch of the Beats bass when turned low, do you really need them to?
Bose maintains most of the punch of Beats, but in a much more balanced fashion. You feel the kick, but there is no annoying rumble on distortion heavy tracks like The Strokes and Nirvana. We do have to admit, the trumpet on the Miles Davis track doesn't feel as crisp and organic for some reason. And the Bose phones may not be able to get quite as loud as Beats, but there aren't many situations where you need your headphones to get to near-deafening loudness.
The Bose phones aren't as portable or slick looking as Beats, but they feel more tenuous on your head (they don't push in as much). The cushions sit around your ears instead of on them, which is much more pleasant, and although they aren't the sports car of headphones, they still look pretty sleek.
For anything with distortion and plenty of crash cymbal, you'll be very sorry you went with Beats over Bose. But for certain aspects of pop tunes, especially heavily compressed ones, Beats definitely have a power edge.
Range: 8 Levels: 6 Balance: 9 Comfort: 7 Aesthetic: 4 Musical Versatility: 9
Bose wins on points, but perhaps you feel differently. Let us know how you feel if you own a pair, or which other headphones you'd like to see stacked up next to each other, in the comments.
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