Monday, July 30, 2012

Beats by Dre Retail Store Visit Disappointment

A few days ago I was up in New York City, so I had to go check out the Beats store. I had seen pictures and heard about the design, but I knew that couldn't compare to to actually checking it out. After looking around, I noticed a few positives, but mostly felt pretty disappointed.

Let's start off with the positives. The best part about the store, hands down, is the location. Located in the bustling streets of lower Manhattan's SoHo district, the Beats store attracts a wide audience as it sits alongside trendy boutiques and upscale national chains. While I was there, there was a sizable amount of people in the store, always a good sign, and although the store is on the small side, it rocks a sleek and edgy look.

Right in the entrance of the store there are about three sets of each of Beats by Dre's Headphones on display for customers to test out. Each headphone is connected to an HTC tablet that has a pre-set list of about 20 songs, mainly being pop or hip-hop.  In addition to the headphones, the store sells a number of t-shirts which incorporate the signature Beats logo. This is a smark marketing staregy and overall nice touch since not only are they exclusive to the store, they also give customers the chance to purchase something even if they already have a Beats Headphone or don't want to shell out hundreds of dollars. At the back of the store, there is a little decked out lounge, complete with stylish chairs, couches and a massive flat screen television. This section of the store is closed off, which seems to me like a complete waste of space since it's only used for special events, which are not frequent. A few days prior to my visit, the store had rapper, Nas, come by for a meet and greet for the release of his new album.

But, like I mentioned at the beginning, despite some of the positive elements, I couldn't help but leave the store disappointed. By no means am I saying that the store has no positives. I simply feel that so much more could be done with the space.

Beats Audio is portrayed as an audio experience. Between the collaborations with HTC, HP, and Chrysler, Beats Audio is creating not only a headphone giant, but a music giant. If they are the music giant they say they are, why does the only Beats retail store in the world only have about 9 Headphones on display? Not only should they should have every Beats products on display, they should also have a number of each in the same way that Apple does it with their stores. I would think that it's just as important to showcase Beats Audio installed products as it is to promote their headphones. So much more could be done to a store that I had such high hopes for. That being the case, here are my ideas for bringing the Beats store from forgettable to unforgettable. 

In order to get the costumers interested from the get-go, I would have a fully-loaded Chrysler with Beats Audio right smack in the middle of the store. This would instantly generate a ton of buzz and excitement since c'mon, there's no way nearly each person that walks through the door won't want to sit inside the car. Next, I would have one section or wall of the store lined up with a variety of Beats Headphones connected to Beats Audio incorporated HP laptops. Lastly, I would have a separate section filled with HTC smart phones. For months now, HTC has spent a ton of money on advertising and marketing tying to make the public believe that Beats Audio makes a difference on a smart phone. Realistically, there's no way people are going to buy this premise if they've never experienced it for themselves. If this partnership wants to succeed, they need to do a better job showing off the Beats difference. It order to do this, I would have a few smart-phone competitors on display as well. By letting the customers compare the Beats phone versus other smart-phones, it would excite customers and could be a small first step in reviving the HTC and Beats by Dre partnership.

With all this said, I know the store was only supposed to be a pop up store for the 2011/2012 Holiday Season, but like I expected, the popularity and success of the store have made them continue to stay open over 6 months later. Now that this store will continue to be long-term fixture of the company, it's time for a major makeover.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Aerial7 Introduces the First Do-It-Yourself Headphones

Aerial7 has introduced the first Do-It-Yourself Headphone which allows people to put their artistic abilities on display by creating a one-of a kind custom headphone. Using Aerial7's Tank Headphones as a canvas, you become the headphone designer as you paint, draw or graffiti anything and everything. For those friends or family members who fancy themselves as artists, the Aerial7 Do-It-Yourself Tank Headphones are a unique gift idea that are sure to be a hit.

Price: $100
Available Now


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Beats Audio Buys Back Controlling Interest From HTC

It's been a crazy busy year for the headphone giant. In the past year alone, Beats by Dre has split ties with Monster Audio, opened its first flagship store in NYC and sold 51% controlling equity stake to HTC for $300 Million. Today, Beats by Dre has just announced that it has repurchased 26%  of the equity from HTC for $150 million.  When the $300 Million acquisition was made last year, there were many who thought the purchase price was ludicrous. These people were skeptical of how HTC would recoup it's money and how they would integrate a headphone company into their line of smart phones and tablets.

In September 2011, we saw the first collaboration between the two companies with the Beats Audio incorporated HTC Sensation XE. At first, the plan was to include Beats earbuds with the HTC smart phones. However, HTC quickly ended this approach as they decided to stop bundling the headphones and make it a paid option. Although the Beats technology was supposed to improve the quality of the playback, consumers haven't seemed to care. With the combination of HTC's recent slow phone sales and eroding profits, something needed to be done.

Beats Audio has agreed to buy back 26% of HTC's shares for $150 Million. Amazingly, HTC only expects to lose around $4.8 Million. It seems to me like HTC is getting off the hook easy for it's risky purchase. With 25% of Beats shares, HTC will remain the largest outside shareholder and will also have the exclusive rights to use Beats' technology in its phones.

Now that Beats Audio executives are back to having a controlling stake, I'm curious to see what approach they take in the next few months. I expect them to focus more on global sales and less on their partnership with HTC. However, with the kind of year that Beats Audio has had, nothing would surprise me.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Beats by Dre Mixr David Guetta Headphones

It comes as no surprise that the headphone giant, Beats by Dre, has developed a headphone with the biggest DJ in the world, David Guetta. With a compact on-ear size, the Mixr Headphones are a welcome addition to the growing Beats line.

Beats by Dre has done a fantastic job with the design. The headphones are compact, sturdy and stylish.  The first thing you're going to notice is that the headphones are much smaller than the Studio's. Secondly, the build quality is excellent which frankly, is shocking for a Beats by Dre product since they have had trouble in the past with durability. The unique part of the design is the way the headphones expand and collapse depending on your head's size. No matter how much adjusting you do, there's no tacky visible metal like with most other premium CelebHeadphones. Don't forget these are David Guetta headphones so he wanted to make sure DJ's could use them for mixing. Since being able to listen to the external environment is necessary for any DJ, Beats has made the ear cups adjustable up to 180 degrees.

There are a few more positives with the overall design. Both the DJ and standard cords that are included in the package can be plugged into either side ear-cup. As opposed to the glossy finish on the Studio's and Solo's, the headphones have a matte finish which helps limit fingerprints. They are also available in white as well. Beats by Dre has always done a fabulous job with packaging, but the Mixr's might just take the cake. The included stylish carrying case fits the headphones like a glove which helps protect your pricey investment. However, with all these positives, it doesn't mean I didn't have concerns.

My biggest issue is with the Mixr's comfort. Due to its extremely tight fit, prolonged use might cause discomfort. However, I found that over time, the headphones adjust and loosen up which do help out with comfort. With this said, I still would advise if you have a larger size dome, I would avoid the Mixr's. Another issue is with the padding on the ear-cups. There is a decent amount of padding on each ear cup, but I would have preferred more substantial and softer padding to help combat the tight fit.

No matter how great the design, comfort or style, it's all about the sound quality. The Beats by Dre Mixr's don't disappoint on this end either. With David Guetta's signature house music, it's no surprise the headphones are one of the loudest I've ever heard. Raising the volume level higher than medium is never necessary, and in fact, can almost cause temporary deafness. Like with all Beats by Dre Headphones, the Mixr's have more bass than its competitors. Music genres like hip-hop, electronic, pop and reggae sound great while country and classic music sounds distorted and unnatural.

The Mixr's are not only the best Beats by Dre's, but one of the best on-ear headphones out. If you can get over the tight fit and minimal ear padding, the Mixr's are a great option.

Price: $250
Available Now

  • Matte Finish
  • Premium Build Quality
  • Great for Fans of Electronic, Hip-Hop and Pop Music
  • Tight Fit
  • Not Much Ear Padding
  • Pricey

Overall Rating: 8.5/10

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Beats by Dre Solo HD Colors

Back in October, Beats by Dre announced they would be selling their Studio Headphones in a number of new colors for a limited time. They must have recognized the success of the Colors line because Beats continues to sell the colorful headphones over 10 months later. Beats by Dre has just announced that their second most popular headphones, the Solo HD's, will now be getting a colorful makeover as well. Now you will be able to buy the headphones in colorful "flavors" like Bubblegum, Sour Apple, Grape, and Smartie Blue. Unfortunately, the Wireless Solo's are still only available in a tame black and white.

Price: $199.95