headphones
  • Best of Year 2013
  • Editors' Choice

Urbeats by Dr Dre Review

The Urbeats are a strong bet.

$99.95 MSRP
8.9 score Tested by Experts
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The Proof

It takes an impressive spin in the lab to earn a positive review, and the Urbeats did just that. Testing revealed incredibly low distortion across the spectrum, a healthy frequency response, and much more besides that.

Frequency Response

Big bass that doesn't bully the rest

A response like the one I found on the Urbeats by Dre is unsuitable for the studio, which requires a flatter curve, but average consumers are a different story. Like an equal loudness curve, the Urbeats produce frequencies in a manner that equalizes them in volume to the human ear. Thus, bass absolutely booms, but more delicate instruments aren't overcome.

UrbeatsByDrDre_freq.jpg

From sub-bass all the way to tip-top notes, sounds shadow the ELC curve very closely. The deviations I found are minor: At 3kHz, sound falls in volume so that certain upper notes on strings, woodwinds, and brass may lose proper emphasis—but we're only talking 5dB under where it ought to be. The same occurs right above 10kHz, so that the highest notes on the scale will suffer a similar underemphasis, from time to time. Honestly though, it would take the most practiced ear to hear such errors.

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Distortion

What distortion? Where?

Well, wow. I didn't uncover even one instance of audible distortion—not even in the oft-plagued sub-bass range. This is an unusual and wonderful result.

UrbeatsByDrDre_dist.jpg
No audible distortion to be found

Thus, Perceptual Harmonic Distortion doesn't warrant discussion. If your tunes rise above 95.82dB(SPL), all that changes—you'll get more than 3% distortion. This is a lower max SPL than what I usually find, but listening to music at 100dB isn't safe anyway, so just maintain an appropriate volume.

Comparable Products

Before you buy the Urbeats by Dr. Dre, take a look at these other headphones.

Tracking

I'll say it again: Wow.

Tracking refers to the balance of volume between left and right speakers. Frequently, this is a big problem area for headphones. Certain notes are often twice as loud in one ear as in the other, for example. But the Urbeats once again passed the test with flying colors.

UrbeatsByDrDre_track.jpg

From top to bottom, tracking errors are so minor as not to be heard. None of the imbalances even reach 2dB—a brilliant performance.

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