Beats has long been seen for making stylish over-ear headphones but the company is rapidly making progress in the in-ear market as well.
Its latest work is the Powerbeats Pro headphones, which promises up to nine hours of listening time, as well as sweat and water resistance ideal for those engaged in sport. But does it deliver?
As with all Beats products, there is no escaping the iconic ‘b’ logo etched on the side of each Bluetooth ear piece.
The headphones are small and discreet, with the main button serving as the play/pause control, as well as next/previous with a double or triple tap. The tapping process can be confusing at times, especially with songs that start quietly, confusing you into thinking that you may not have pressed the button properly.
Along the top of each is a volume control too.
The Powerbeats Pro uses flexible plastic with a premium-feeling matt texture, which are also incredibly light.
An accompanying charging case looks nice on the surface but the top half is a little flimsy and it snaps shut noisily – a minor gripe considering it is just the case.
The Powerbeats Pro fit perfectly onto the ear and won’t be budged by sudden movements, making them perfect for a session at the gym or a run.
There are a choice of inner silicon ear tips, though after a good hour or so aching is possible.
The sound quality delivers the level of powerful playback one would expect for premium headphones.
Listening to Red Hot Chilli Peppers’ Californication, the guitar has a beautiful resonance and clarity without drowning the vocals. The sound is wholesome without needing to be turned up too high.
Onto something more pop with Ariana Grande’s 7 Rings and the bass kicks into action, sitting powerfully in the background.
However, expect some serious sound leakage that may annoy anyone nearby if the volume is cranked up – these headphones do not isolate sound well at all.
Likewise, on loud public transport and a flight you can sometimes hear background sounds.
Battery and connectivity
Battery is one of the Powerbeats Pro’s strengths, although it’s a pity they are not able to charge wirelessly considering their price.
For those using them sporadically through the day there is a good day’s worth of usage – Beats says it’s up to about nine hours without charging – plus the handy case refuels the headphones relatively fast.
There was one battery issue however, when one headphone stopped working and despite following instructions to reset it there was no way of understanding what went wrong. It was only when time was given to recharge it that it appeared that one headphone ran out of battery and needed a chance to get some power – a way to indicate this would have been helpful.
Generally, the headphones stayed connected to their audio source with very few hiccups, bar the very odd crackle when playing music from a smartphone kept in a pocket.
The Powerbeats Pro are an ideal evolution for Beats, sticking to its design and bass principles while levelling up to satisfy demand.
Remember, Apple owns Beats now and these headphones have been spared any influence from the AirPod design.
That said, at over €200, the Powerbeats Pro may be relying on their premium reputation too heavily when there are other quality headphones around for a fraction of the price.
- Press Association