Fashion-forward designs have recently been making quite a bit of headway in the headphone space. It doesn't take much effort to find a pair that matches your MP3 player or can be coordinated by outfit, although manufacturers with true eyes for design take things a step further. Take Monster Cable's Beats by Dr. Dre Headphones, a super stylish set of cans announced at CES 2008. The company is now adding to the fashionable line with the Tour In-Ear Headphones, an ultraportable set that sports the signature red and black coloring. This $150 pair once again proves that hip hop-branded headphones won't necessarily offer an overwhelming low-end response, and also leads us to believe Dr. Dre may have the deepest ear canals known to man.
The Monster Beats by Dr. Dre Tour In-Ear Headphones have perhaps the longest earpieces we've ever seen. The 'buds measure a full inch from end to end, and half of that length is made up of the arms that hold the eartips. Half an inch isn't that long for most gadgets, but the scale is considerably altered when you have to stick the gadget into your ear. As a result, fit can be an issue. Although Monster includes five sets of silicone eartips (three sizes of standard and two sizes of triple flange), we found the Tour earphones to be fairly uncomfortable and could never really get a secure fit. Plus, the ends of the 'buds tend to stick out pretty far from the head.
Of course, fit is highly personal. One could make that argument for style, too, but there's no denying that the Tour earphones will add quite a bit of flair to your listening setup. The entire design is unique, from the flattened, disc-shaped earbuds--decked out in the signature lowercase "b" logo--to the red ribbon of a cable. The cord, which terminates in a gold-plated straight plug, is like few we've seen; flat and thick, it appears to be more durable than most earbud cables--definitely a plus. Monster also includes a hard-sided zippered case for storing and protecting your investment when it's not in use.
The Beats by Dr. Dre Tour In-Ear Headphones may not present an overwhelming low-end, but bass is not lacking and it's nice and tight. As with their full-size siblings, these 'phones offer an impressively crisp high end with good detail. If anything, music tends to sound a bit cold for our liking, with the 'phones slightly lacking in the rich and buttery mids that add the desired warmth. However, we were generally impressed with the clear and balanced audio response during testing, though a few songs could sound harsh. Hip hop, electronic, and pop are genres that shine, and even classical sounds good. If you can get a good fit and want the most stylish earbuds you can get your hands on, the Tour In-Ear Headphones are a worthwhile option.