Don’t say it… I know.. I know “Beats suck” or at least that’s what most audiophiles or people that like really quality sound think. Normally I’d agree, however the Beats EP might be one of the rare exceptions. The Beasts EP headphones might just be the best Beats ever.
Important: My normal disclosure, different people hear sounds (music) differently. Always take reviews about audio products with a grain of salt. Always buy from places that allow easy exchanges or refunds if you don’t like the way they sound.
Let’s start as always with the packaging, that is what you see first. In my limited experience with products from Beats, the packaging is always high quality. It’s more than that though I’d say it is so good that it’s part of the overall experience. The boxes outer sleeve is high quality and displays the headphones and features in a full gloss print. Inside you’ll find a quality matte box that holds the headphones, they come in a microfiber drawstring pouch. Along with them you’ll also find a Beats sticker and lastly the instructions/ warranty info. There are no separate cables here ( more on that later).
Now onto the build of the headphones. The matte plastic used doesn’t gather fingerprints like the gloss plastic used in other Beats headphones. The Plastic also seems to be robust. I wouldn’t try to folding them in half but I have faith if I take care of them they wouldn’t just break. (My Monster N-tunes did they literally cracked at the connection above the ear cup slider while picking them up. It was a common issue with a lot of Monsters earlier designs.) The ear cups are made from that same robust plastic mounted in stainless steel hoops that slide up and down to adjust the fit. Overall construction seems solid.
First, a few things to note, the headphones don’t ship with the semi-hard zipper pouch that you get with the all the other headphones in the Beats headphone line. It kinds of sucks for protection if you are just throwing them in a bag, but it’s not a deal-breaker. The soft pouch seems quality and I’ve seen much worst soft pouches ship with other headphones in the same price range from the mother company (Monster). The microfiber finish would make it easy to wipe away fingerprints if the plastic on these headphones collected any. The plastic Beats used the on EP doesn’t which is a good thing.
Where these headphones are going to lose points is the cable. It’s fairly thin and flat. I have the same kind of cable on my Klipsch R6 earbuds and they have been going strong for years. However! I am extremely careful with them after breaking the cable on the pair of S4 that I had previously when I caught something and ripped it while working. This becomes more of a problem because the cable is not detachable and therefore not easily replaceable. For what its worth if you’re not afraid of tinkering it is possible to replace but its not as easy as unplugging the broken cable and plugging in another.
Why I Never Owned Beats Headphones
Lets get into the sound! The EP by Beats are easily one of the most balanced headphones in the Beats line up. I’d go as far as saying the EP are in fact the most balanced in the Beats line up. This change goes along way towards sound quality.
Before I go any further I feel like I need to give a little back ground. This is my feelings about Beats headphones. I was one of the people who listened to Beats line at release and thought what is this crap. The beats line was nothing but bass, the mid range and highs sounded muddied from crazy exaggerated bass. I for the life of me couldn’t figure why people were paying stupid amounts of money for sub-par sound. (The way I feel about air pods now) then I realized it was really about the brand name and style. The reality was most people that owned a pair of Beats treated them like a tech fashion accessory. I deiced they weren’t for me, and while I did appreciate all the cool colors the sound was abysmal …
However, one day I walked into Best Buy and tried the revised Beats line ,that was probably 8 years ago. I listened to the revised models. Those sounded like I was stuck in a trash can while someone sang and beat it with a tree branch…SMH. There was one pair however that sounded freaking amazing, they cost $399, “Because Beats”.
Now I’m a person that will spend money on quality products especially when it comes to sound quality and music. The $399 price tag would sting. The deal breaker was they were the most GOLD thing that I’ve ever seen. On top of the metallic gold color they were also the huge studio style over-ear headphones. There really was no way I would feel comfortable wearing or be seen wearing them. I’d feel like I’d be a walking target. I happily left them on the self. It seemed I’d never own a pair of beats. With the overly hyped bass sound profile I was fine with that conclusion… Until the Beats EP!
The Main Event
The reason I explained all of that is to show you that I was am critical of the Beats brand. The EP are in my opinion the best sounding Beats headphone in the current line up. What amazes me more than the sound is the fact they are the cheapest headphone in the beats line up. They have a retail price of $129 but you can usually find them cheaper. $69 for the black and $79 for the other colors (white, blue and red). I feel at the $129 price for the mix of sound and style they are a buy, for the lower price its a no brainer.
The EP are on ear headphones so they can take some getting used to for some. The ear cups are a leather(ish) material that is fairly soft, but it can become uncomfortable in warmer environments. They adjust by sliding the ear cups up or down with very minor tilt movement. All said they aren’t uncomfortable, but I find that I can only listen for about 3 hours before I feel the need to remove them. I’ve heard the ear cups break in and become more comfortable with use.
OK, so lets get into the sound. Beats EP are most certainly bumped in the bass department, they are still Beats at heart after all. The thing is they have enough that you can enjoy it without being slapped in the face by it. More importantly is the balanced nature that allows the mids and highs to shine without being harsh. In my test I found they sounded better than average on most genre of music. They shine in EDM, Hip-Hop, Rock and even classical. Most people that listen to them likely won’t find a problem with the sound.
When it comes to people like myself that prefer sound that is much better than average, I found the EP take well to some minor equalizer tweaks. I loaded up Equalizer APO for windows and made a few minor tweaks, I boosted the highs and the mids. I increased the gain at 1000Hz by 2, this brightens the vocals just a little bit. The next tweak happens in the 2000-16,000Hz ranges. This cleans the highs up slightly so they pop just that little bit to better match the bass.
These minor equalizer tweaks take the EP from above average to fantastic. Easily punching above the $69-79 price tag by leaps and bounds. I’ll even say with the tweaks they sound better than some headphones in the $200 price range. I want to mention the EP are only 32 Ohm so they can be pushed by phones, MP3 players etc, but if you own a small headphone amp they will sound just that much better.
As a person who isn’t a fan of headphones from Beats, like at all I’m shocked. Shocked to admit that I actually like a pair, shocked they are the cheapest and likely the most over looked headphones they sell. Shocked the sound is not only passable but pretty fantastic, on par with some of my headphones that cost much more than the $79 price tag.
So, yes. I’m obviously recommending them if you’re wanting to take the quality of your audio game to next level. If you want decent bass, and portability the Beats EP are a great start. Adjust your equalizer and you are golden. Plus unlike most of the “Audiophile” headphones these are easily portable and won’t leak much sound due to the close back design. If you want some headphones that sound even better but aren’t as portable check out our review of the Grado SR80e.
Use our links to grab find the lowest rate on amazon, if you can’t wait Target was selling them at the lower price and Best Buy will price match Amazon.