Dr. Dre's Beats: Hot Performance, High Fashion

Beats headphones lady gagaKevin Macdonald/Monster Cable
Beats headphones lady gaga

Here's the thing about music these days: You can have the hottest tracks of the moment on your iPod, on your Zune, on your 1985 Sony Walkman, on any device at all -- but if you can't rock out while strutting down the sidewalk, what's the point?

Thanks to headphones, tunes long ago transitioned from a treat only enjoyed in homes, cars, clubs and concerts to portable entertainment, consumable whenever and wherever you want it. The technology connecting ears to player is of supreme importance, but so is style -- white iPod earbuds scream minimalist conformist; ear-engulfing DJ pieces state "I want to hear my music, and I sure as hell don't want to hear you in the background."

Video: Lady Gaga releases designer headphones.Play

Enter Beats by Dr. Dre, a line of headphones from the iconic rapper-producer designed to transmit music as artists intend it to be heard and set the wearer apart from the pack.

"People aren't hearing all the music," Dre says on the Beats Web site. "Artists and producers work hard in the studio perfecting their sound. But people can't really hear it with normal headphones. Most headphones can't handle the bass, the detail, the dynamics. Bottom line, the music doesn't move you. With Beats, people are going to hear what the artists hear, and listen to the music the way they should: the way I do."

Word. Sounds like a winning proposition. ABCNews.com tested out three of the latest offering from Dre's line: Beats Tour, an in-ear model; Beats Solo, with padded ear cushions and a built-in headset for hands-free calling; and HeartBeats, fashion-forward earbuds stamped with a seal of approval from pop star Lady Gaga.

Video: Lady Gaga and Beyonce team up for new music video.Play

Manufactured by Monster Cable, all three headphones boast superior sound quality, just like Dre promised. At their prices, they ought to: The Tour retails for $179.95, the Solo for $199.95 and the HeartBeats for $119.95. Let's start with the in-ear models. As a girl who loves Lady Gaga and all things shiny, the chrome HeartBeats sent my heart aflutter as soon as I ripped open their pint-size silver carrying case.

Adorned with blinged-out prisms, the earbuds look more like jewelery than technology. And it follows that trumped function; while I just wanted to dance to Gaga's "Just Dance," the buds kept popping out of my ears, even after I put on the smallest of the three sizes of tips included with the HeartBeats.

VIDEO: The music video for Lady Gagas Bad Romance.Play

Dr. Dre bumping Beats Studio headphones.

Beyond that, the prisms that looked so pretty in their carrying case felt like they were cutting into my ears when put to the test. Maybe superstar Gaga can stand pain for fashion's sake -- have you seen the heels she rocked in the "Bad Romance" video? I, a mere mortal, cannot.

Your Ears Will Never Be the Same With Dre's Audio Upgrades

The Tour accomplished the task more effectively. Devoid of fancy accouterments, the buds slipped into my ears easily and blasted levels of bass I had never heard while on the run, which motivated me to crank up the treadmill to speeds my comparatively dinky iPod headphones failed to inspire.

But as easily as the Tour buds slipped in, when my run grew more intense, they slipped out. It's a perpetual problems with many earbuds and exercise: When the sweat starts pouring, they lose suction and pop out, creating a workout obstacle that's as much fun to deal with as a calf muscle cramp.

That said, under unsweaty circumstances, the Tour performed just fine. Their flat, ribbonlike cord, which the HeartBeats also sports, subtly differentiated them from the multitude of headphones on the street, and they thumped music loud enough to block out most of New York City's hustle and bustle.

But the piece de resistance of Dre's line is the Solo. Sure, you could spend $150 more and get the Beats Studio 'phones, but for the nonprofessional audiophile, the Solos more than satisfy. I never wanted to take these things off. Large cups and pillowy cushions massage the ear, even when the sound is off. And when it's on? Oh, it's on.

You can forget about the world around you when you're wearing Solos, so much so that it's probably not advisable to cross a crowded intersection with these babies bumping. With such high quality sound and eminently effective noise canceling capabilities, Solos possess the power to transport you to dimensions previously unheard.

Should you want to be brought back to reality, you can use the microphone and volume control-equipped Solos as a hands-free headset, and tell all the contacts in your cell phone how awesome these monsters are. Or you can continue to ignore your calls and, like Rihanna said, "keep on rockin' to it, please don't stop the, please don't stop the music."

It's the more likely scenario, trust me.