Beats EP Headphone Review: An easy recommendation

You want to know if these are worth the money, right? They are.

The Beats EP is the cheapest, newest Beats headphone. It’s $129 dollars. It’s the first Beats headphone designed solely under Apple’s guidance. It’s built really well. It sounds like a Beats headphone. The cable is decent quality, but stupidly non-detachable. It comes in black, red, blue, and white.

It’s the first time I’ve felt like a Beats product wasn’t overpriced.

Want more? Okay, if we must!

The Beats Branding is in full effect. I think it’s a nice looking headphone overall.

Sound

The Solo 2 had a fun sound with enough technical merit to please critical listeners. Tyll’s review of those at Innerfidelity convinced me to pay close attention to the world’s largest headphone brand in the first place, and it’s still worth a read.

Thankfully, the Beats EP carries on this audio tradition. The sound is very similar to the Solo 2. It’s a bass- forward, dark, fun sound signature, that still retains enough precision in the higher ranges to not sound muddy or indistinct. The mids are just a touch thicker and the overall presentation slightly softer and less in-your-face than on the Solo 2. Highs are strong without being fatiguing.

Soundstage is lacking, due to the on-ear design. Isolation is good enough for portable, noisy-environment use. The EP works best with modern pop music, and female vocals have a pleasant quality. On bass- heavy tracks it excels. Acoustic material sounds a touch thin thanks to the laid back treble, but still listenable.

Like the Solo 2, its sound is versatile enough to be most people’s only headphone. Which let’s face it, is a likely reality, with Beats still absolutely crushing the headphone market.

If you’re a music/audio producer looking to hear how your stuff will sound to a vast swathe of headphone listeners, this is the model to buy. It’s well-representative of the “Beats Sound.”

Design/Build/Comfort/Extras

The Beats EP sits nicely on the head. It’s the most subtle Beats headphone, while still totally screaming Beats.

I really like the design and build of these headphones. The headband is plastic, but it’s a much stronger, hardier-feeling plastic than other Beats models. The headband padding is rubbery just like the Solo 2, but it’s about twice as springy. Nice!

The ear cup supports are stainless steel, and they feel absurdly durable. When I first picked up the headphones, they instantly felt more premium than the shiny plastic of other Beats products. The ear cup slide adjustments are tremendously smooth and stay in place well.

Ear pads feel like they use the same high quality leatherette and padding as the Solo 2, though they’re a little smaller. The ear cups rotate on ball joints to allow extra adjustment. Fit takes a little work to dial in, but I find them slightly more comfy than the Solo 2. They’re still an on-ear with moderate clamping force, so they’re a little pinchy and not great for really long sessions, but they do okay. They’re wearable, but not the most comfy things in the world.

The EP is quite small and very portable. It comes with a soft cloth carrying bag. It doesn’t protect the headphones all that well but it looks nice and fits easily in a different, larger bag or backpack. I wouldn’t trust it out in the elements as much as the neoprene and hard cases other Beats products use.

The cord has a 3 button Apple remote (of course)…and it doesn’t detach. That’s a little tough to swallow for this price range… but the cord is very high quality and is flat for extra tangle resistance. The cord is reinforced on the ends and feels like it’d be hard to break.

Conclusion

When Apple first announced the Beats EP, it baffled me. They spent all their design effort on a new low-end product with a wire, in a time when their big push is toward wireless listening. Meanwhile, the new Solo 3 got ignored in the design department, recycling essentially everything from the old model. Why did the new low-end product get all the love while the expensive model got almost no improvements?

Turns out, the EP is a nice headphone. It’s the most solid-feeling of the Beats headphone line, and it retains their signature sound. It’s the first time I’ve purchased a Beats product without waiting for a discount. $129 dollars is a fully acceptable price for this headphone, and hopefully it informs the Beats line in the years to come. At the very least, I’d love to see the stainless steel parts incorporated into their other designs.

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