The Challenge: urBeats vs. Beats Tour Headphones
Beats Electronics offers a wide range of headphones and speakers for those that enjoy high-quality audio and want premium sound, be it with their iPhone while talking on the Skype or for simply listening to their favorite music. Beats by Dr. Dre offers several models of headphones and earphones and two of their most popular products are urBeats and the Beats Tour Earphones.
Each model has its strong and weak points which may make one or the other a better overall value for your particular needs. They are offered at very different price points and even though it might be difficult for some tell them apart with a quick glance, there are important design differences between the two models.
Bottom Line up Front: If you are looking to make a quick decision, here’s my high level take…
- Get urBeats IF: I prefer the urBeats (you can see the latest prices here) slightly. They are a better value for the money and win my head-to-head category comparison, unless…
- Get Tour IF: You are an audio fanatic, you’ll appreciate the minor upgrade in sound quality of the Tour headphones (check the listing here for prices).
Let’s take a closer look at urBeats and the Beats Tour to find out how they compare to one another and what kind of value they might offer if you are in the market for a pair of quality earphones.
The urBeats and the Tour look similar in appearance at a glance but they offer several significant differences that are important. Each comes with a convenient carrying case although they have very different designs. The Tour comes in a hard-sided protective case with a zipper enclosure and the urBeats comes with a soft pouch that has a snap-like enclosure. While the hard-sided case of the Tour probably looks a little nicer it is not as user-friendly as the soft-sided case that comes with urBeats.
The earphones can be a bit difficult to put into and take out of the hard-sided case easily making what should be an easy process of storing earphones at times a bit tangled and awkward. The soft pouch allows an easier, no hassle process of simply dropping the earphones into the pouch with removal just as simple. A carrying case is typically not a focal point for earphones but if you travel or use earphones while on the move it can be an important aspect.
Another important design aspect of these earphones is the fit of the earbuds themselves. The Tour model offers an in-ear design that looks very similar to the urBeats but they are actually in-ear canal earbuds which fit deeper into the canal of the ear. This can provide some advantages as earphones of this type have a way naturally providing some level of noise cancellation and audio isolation due to the earbuds fitting inside the ear canal as opposed to only on the outer edge of the canal. The only downside to the in-ear canal style is some users may find them to be a bit uncomfortable if your ears happen to be a bit sensitive, although this will vary from person to person.
While the overall shape and styling of each model appear very similar, the Tour Earphones are a little larger in actual size. With electronics, smaller is almost always better. However, when it comes to in-ear earphones, a little bit of size can be an advantage as it makes the earphones seem a little more sturdy and easier to work with. Each pair comes with an in-line remote but they have two different styles. The urBeats model comes with the newer in-line remote version and the Tour has the older version.
The in-line remote for both operate as they should and there is not a big advantage or disadvantage to either one. However, the cables attached to the earbuds are quite different. Much like the larger earbuds of the Tour, the cables for the Tour are a bit bigger than the cables of the urBeats. At first, this can seem like an advantage as heavier and larger cables generally translate to a pair of earphones lasting longer and avoiding damage.
However, you may find that the weight of the Tour earbuds and cables combined can become a small issue if you use the earphones while moving around. The weight and larger size of the Tours can cause the earbuds to fall out of your ears, which is partly due to the weight of the cabling. This issue should not be considered a design flaw or a problem that occurs all the time, but it might become annoying for those who are extremely active. The light weight and smaller cables of the urBeats tend to help the earbuds stay fixed within your ears, where they should be.
Sound Quality and Performance
The bottom line for any pair of headphones or earphones is how they sound and perform while you are using them with your favorite app or listening to your music. Trying to decide which one of these earphones offer the best audio experience is a little difficult and it depends on what you will be using them for.
First, it should be said that both pairs offer bass lovers a heavy dose of bass and can handle delivering excellent pounding bass at the highest of volume levels without unnecessary distortion. The big difference in sound quality between the two models comes into play when using the earphones for listening to music that is not bass heavy.
The Tour Earphones offer a more well-rounded experience and deliver better clarity when it comes to vocals and other tones. The urBeats model tends to sound just a bit muffled in comparison and does not offer audio quality that is quite as consistent across all genres. If you will be using earphones for a wide variety of applications and for listening to music of many different types, then the Tour Earphones are probably a better match for your needs. If you are a die-hard hip-hop or rap fan that rarely listens to other types of music then either pair can deliver what you need. All things considered, the Tour Earphones are more versatile and have the advantage in this category.
We all know that sometimes small things can make a big difference, especially when it comes to a product that you will be using every day or quite frequently. The Tour Earphones have a price point of $150 as opposed to the urBeats which are priced at $100. A $50 price difference in this price range is fairly significant and a pair of earphones would really have to offer something special in order to justify paying almost 50% more.
Carrying Case- Advantage> urBeats
Style and Design-Advantage> urBeats
Sound Quality-Advantage> Toss Up
These two models are very close in many different qualities with the urBeats only slightly edging out the Tour model in a couple of categories. Deciding which one represents the best value is actually relatively easy only because of the large difference in price. The urBeats model wins for the overall best value due to its price as well as a better overall design and carrying case. However, there is one exception to this. If you listen to many different types of music and have a finely tuned ear for different tones then urBeats may not live up to your expectations.
For most users, the difference in sound quality will probably be very difficult to decipher and it makes sense to save a few extra dollars. You certainly won’t be making a bad choice by opting for either one of these models and they can both stand their own ground in their price categories, but as we said, sometimes small things can make a big difference in the overall user experience.