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.”
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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