The Beats Executive models try to do away with the company’s image that was built on plastic, bulky, and gaudily designed headphones. The Executive range might not be aimed at real executives, but certainly at people who don’t wear jogging pants all day, or who want to avoid looking like a walking fashion victim.
Made from metal and more sculpted than the early Beats slabs, these are refined products that still produce a meaty sound while trying to compete with the wide range of higher-end headphones for audiophiles. Do they really compete, or are they a bass drum with inexpensive acoustic clothing? Find out in our review.
Key Features of the Beats
Beats has definitely set the design team to work with its Executive range, provide a decent overall package. The Executive range comes with a cleaning cloth to keep the inevitable fingerprints at bay, multiple leads, and plugs, plus batteries, and a manual. There’s also a stylish hard case to keep all the parts in.
These Beats are definitely on the attractive side, no matter what you think of their other products, Made from steel and aluminum, there’s an aerospace-grade feel to them, especially with the silver option, matte black being your other color choice. The cups have a soft leather covering that is highly comfortable and attractive, a shame the band is cheaper and obviously fake leather…
There is no wireless option, but the long removable wire does come with an inline mic and one-button control. It comes with an airline adapter, and it is easy to imagine an entire aircraft full of passengers sealed into their own little world of music, all looking rather like pre-complete Cybermen.
The Beats Executive models come with active noise cancellation to help keep you in your own little world, while the company claims a clean sound across high, mid-range, and low-end. That’s often down to personal preference and experience, but these products will have to go some to compete with the Sennheisers of this world.
A clever design helps them fold up neatly for travel and they run off two AAA batteries that are kept inside by a neat magnetic catch that does away with bending fingernails trying to get that annoying plastic catches open. On the headphones, the Beats logo acts like the mute button, with an on/off switch also present.
Pros of the Beats Executive
We guarantee you’ll look good wearing the Beats Executive models, and far less of a sheep than generic Beats, or their many clones, owners. And, if you’re a fan of the range, you’ll be right at home with the bass-heavy Beats sound. However, if you’re after more refined listening that may get a bit annoying and you might need to mess with the settings to counter the automatic equalization.
Their portability is a strong point and while they are a touch on the heavy side you’ll really only notice if you’re putting in a heavy shift with them. With most digital music collections hiding a lot of the clarity, you’ll also be pushed to discern if they’re really tested, especially when out and about, but if you do sit down and take the time to listen to music, most aural features seem present and correct, with plenty of distinction with a decent level of mid-range sounds.
Cons of the Beats Executive
At 340 grams, about the weight of a small tub of peanut butter, these aren’t exactly lightweight. That may be a concern if you’re a regular listener, and there are substantially lighter audiophile models out there. The cups can also leave your ears feeling cramped and sweaty after a while, which is never pleasant.
While the sound is fine, since these are aimed at the keen listener market, it is worth noting that there are less expensive models that sound a lot better, with greater spatial awareness and separation, with less thud in the bass. It also doesn’t perform as well at high volume, with a harshness to complex recordings.
Perhaps the biggest concern is that the active noise cancellation seems to demonstrate an annoying hiss, as mentioned in all reviews and by most users, so this isn’t something limited to a few duff units. That should put you off buying these if you plan on using the feature, and why wouldn’t you.
Final Recommendation – Are They Really Worth It?
It is hard to recommend a set of noise-canceling headphones when they hiss at you, especially when other models don’t. While the price of the Executive range has come down from its launch $299 to around $190 ($189), they are still pricey and there are other models that offer better sound for less, so it becomes increasingly difficult to recommend these.
We guess, if you see any at a bargain price and don’t plan on using the noise cancellation feature then they do look great and the sound is pretty decent, certainly superior to most Beats models, including the Studio range.
However, for every feature the Beats Executive model offers, there are other brands and models on the market that are more portable, better sounding, and with better design and features. So it has to be a no from this reviewer.
If Beats get their act together and use the same design, but modify the internal components for an Executive 2.0 range, they could be on to a winner. But, for now, there are too many compromises for the buyer to really make these a good, or sane, choice. Now the company is owned by Apple, perhaps that is a possibility, but we’ll have to wait and see.
An Alternate Recommendation: In lieu of the Beats Executive headphones, We’d actually recommend the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x headphones. You can read our full review right here.