Why Red Dog Music don’t sell Beats headphones

The last decade has seen an incredible audio revolution. In the space of 7 short years, one brand has single-handedly transformed the consumer headphone market more than at any other time in the history of electronic sound. I am of course talking about the phenomenal success of Beats headphones. Even though your average pair costs about the same as a games console, there are now more people who own a pair of Beats than there are people who speak English as a first language.

With figures like that, it’s easy to understand why you’d be a little confused when reading their reviews: A slew of controversial low ratings, build-quality complaints and outraged ‘audiophiles’ aplenty. While I can sympathise with their disappointment, I can’t help but feel they are missing the point, somehow. Before Beats changed the listening landscape of the world, the only people you’d see walking down the street wearing circumaural headphones were pensioners listening to tape players and sweaty ravers with throbbing eyes. Beats are a status symbol, and one of the ultimate realisations of “form over function.”

Beats: Pretty damn cool, really

Beats: Pretty damn cool, really

Professionals in the music industry often scoff at the promotional line that Beats bring you “closer to the studio”, listening “the way the artist intended.” What they forget is that – for a teenager exploring music – being closer to the studio doesn’t mean listening to music on precise, flat response and necessarily dull-sounding monitor headphones. Consider clothes for a moment: Wearing designer brands certainly brings you “closer to the fashion world” with all the association of glamour, but wearing Louis Vuitton doesn’t instantly bestow a deep understanding of the design process. However, an interesting trend I’ve noticed recently is that every day in the shop I see more and more gear-savvy youths wanting to distance themselves from Beats. One of my favourite moments while working in instrument/pro audio retail was when – prompted by her mother to ask for some good headphones, “you know, like the ones Dr Dre has?” – a schoolgirl quipped “Mum, I need professional headphones, not celebrity headphones!”

Given that Red Dog Music is staffed entirely by record producers, live sound engineers, DJ’s, solo artists and passionate musicians, you can guarantee you’ll never be short of a headphone recommendation if you get chatting with us. Our favourites include the Beyerdynamic DT250’s and Sennheiser HD280’s for analytical listening, Pioneer HDJ500’s and Beyerdynamic DT770’s  for an intensely enjoyable hi-fi experience and AKG K77’s and Roland RH5’s for being outstandingly good value for money.

That being said, the bottom line still remains: Beats are undeniably more stylish than any other premium headphones on the market, and I’m not just talking about their looks. You can’t go a day without seeing a model, a film star or an Olympic athlete wearing a pair of Beats, and the association with Dr Dre, Eminem, Lady Gaga and David Guetta gives your average listener an exciting and tangible link to the music industry. It goes without saying that there are hundreds of headphones that out-perform Beats for sound quality, but kiddies can’t spell Sennheiser in their letters to Santa. Besides which, they wouldn’t want to anyway. It sounds boring. Why would you want a pair of Sennsomething HD-25 C mkII’s when you can have BEATS STUDIO, ZOMFG!?

With all this in mind, it might surprise you to know that Red Dog Music have never stocked, and will never stock Beats headphones. Until Joe Bonamassa inevitably brings out his own range of ‘signature’ headphones (after his ‘signature’ underwear, and ‘signature’ bobblehead snowglobes), we don’t stock any endorsed headphones. We stock headphones that music industry professionals actually use, and – in some cases – have used for more than half a century. In short, if our staff aren’t confident in a product’s quality or reliability we simply don’t stock it. If we have repeated issues with certain items, we stop selling them. Sure, that might mean we have less money in the short-term, but it also means we have happy, returning customers who trust us and will feel safe buying from us in the future.

Red Dog Music is the UK’s friendliest musical instrument and pro-audio dealer. Between our 5000 square foot Edinburgh shop filled with an incredible range of products, and a London showroom in Clapham specialising in high-end instruments, dj and pro-audio, Red Dog Music has you covered from north to south and from performance to playback.

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Guy Perchard

Digital editor & recording specialist at Red Dog Music
As well as being the marketing man-about-town at Red Dog Music, Guy is a busy, award winning record producer and mixing engineer. He is also partial to a chorizo stromboli for elevenses.

16 Responses to “Why Red Dog Music don’t sell Beats headphones”

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  1. Shona MacMillan says:

    Well said! When I worked in a London Pro Audio store we had so many people coming in with a small budget for their studio but £400 put aside for a pair of Beats! Luckily I saved them a lot of regret and tears by selling them a pair of Beyerdynamic DT100's for tracking and Sennheiser HD600's for referencing! 🙂 Great article Guy!

  2. Guy Perchard says:

    Thanks for reading, Shona!I think the love I feel for my beyerdynamic DT250's has gone beyond 'healthy' 😉

  3. Derek Johnstone Macrae says:

    I laugh very hard when I see a pair of beats plugged into an ipod, yep a pair of beats is really gonna get the best out of those 128 aac rips….

  4. Shure e4c's for me. And AKG for recording. I wouldn't use any phones for mastering though.

  5. Kev Reilly says:

    Agreed, I've used Shure e4c's for years & I think they blow away Beats by Dre. They're nothing more than a fashion statement.

  6. Alex Fraser says:

    Headphones are just another reference point. Sure it's a bad idea to master solely in headphones but no reason to ban them from the process entirely.

  7. Alexandre Monnier says:

    I am about to slap myself for suggesting this, but if everyone on the planet listens to music on BEATS, wouldn't it make sense to use them in studio instead of using proper monitoring equipment?
    OUCH! I knew that would hurt -.-

  8. French speakers found that, as its name suggests, the BITES headphones work well as earplugs.

  9. Actually, whenever I see those headphones with the silly huge logo, my eyes see "Beats" but my filthy mind reads "Bites" and the remnants of my marketing education make me think "whoah, with that much investment in branding, the margins much be huuuge" !

  10. Alexandre Monnier says:

    Jean-Marc Liotier wow, expensive earplugs for sure! although that shed light on the origins of the locution "my ears are f*cked".

  11. A refreshing read! Check out the Audio Technica ATH-M50 headphones, if you like your studio monitoring headphones they are a steal, and look sweet too.

  12. Conrad Murray says:

    Nice article! Common sense really.

  13. Rupert Pfaff says:

    Or is it just because they have an incredibly restrictive dealer policy that keeps them out of the hands of anyone who might know what good sound is? Cynical, moi? 🙂

  14. Stuart Robertson says:

    What's your view on the AKG Q701 Quincy Jones Reference Class Headphones, seems like one endorsement that isn't just a gimmick?

  15. Ken Welsby says:

    That sounds like good sense. And good music. But are we surprised that people make a living selling ugy crap? Remember: Nobody ever went broke underestimating the taste of the public


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