Monster's slapped the headphone world upside the head with its Beats by Dr Dre line. In fact, it's grabbed the headphone rulebook and thrown it gleefully out the window, giggling like a Fanta-addled infant.
The increasingly popular line of artist-endorsed cans is unashamedly bass-heavy, and features ostentatious, blinging designs that would make Mr T blush. The range is expanding rapidly, so join us as we rattle through some of our favourite Beats products.
Beats by Dr Dre Solo
Trading clinic hours for clinically sick beats, the world's most rhythmically proficient GP lent his finely tuned ear to the Solos, so it's no surprise that they're very bass-heavy cans, and liable to rattle your teeth right out of your skull.
The sound on offer is by no means perfect. Although the Solos pack a severe thump, audio reproduction in the high end is less impressive, and often lacks clarity, leaving you with a slightly muddy sound, which isn't great for pop music.
While the sound quality might be lacking, we've no complaints about the features and build quality. These headphones are ludicrously comfortable, perching atop your bonce with such a dainty grip that you might forget you're wearing them. They also fold up for travel, and pack a handy in-line microphone remote for controlling music playback if you're listening through an iPod, and taking calls if you're using an iPhone.
The sound quality doesn't justify the £150 price tag, but these are good-looking, well-built headphones nevertheless. The Solos come in black, white and Justin Bieber flavours. For the privilege of strapping the purple Bieber-inspired cans to your fizzog, you'll have to
give Justin a big, wet kiss shell out £170.
Beats by Dr Dre Pro
On-ear headphones are for wusses. If you've got brass cojones and a wallet dying to be emptied, you need to examine the Beats by Dre Pro headphones, which will swallow your King Lears in their chunky, metal embrace.
These heavy-duty headphones cost about £310, and weigh as much as a small island nation. They're touted as studio-grade headphones, but slap these on any audiophile and they'll recoil in horror -- these massive cans are aggressively tuned, bass-heavy monsters.
They're not especially comfortable, and they'll assault with your ears with a ferocity we've not experienced with any other headphones. The bassy punch will knock your jaw out of joint, while the pressing highs, although clear, ring in your ears like alarm bells at louder volumes. The Pros aren't subtle, delicate or particularly precise, but they are a great deal of fun.
Hip-hop, rock and dance tracks are blasted out with more than a trace of mania. If you enjoy these genres, you'll struggle to find headphones that deliver them so viciously. The sound won't be to everyone's tastes, though, so try before you buy.
It's also worth noting that, aesthetically, we've never seen such a striking set of headphones. If your aim is to show off, they're an obvious choice. Indeed, these are the cans of choice rocked by our very own Rory Reid during his rap breakdown -- emphasis on the 'breakdown' -- in our epic CNET UK Facebook music video.
The House of Beats has done a decent job of cramming the big, bassy sound you get with the on-ear and over-ear models into these teeny tiny earbuds, which will set you back about £80.
We're really impressed with the design of these earbuds -- each one looks like a little turbine engine, and the signature lower-case 'b', along with the bright red cable, will ensure that everyone knows exactly what you're listening through. There's an in-line remote to save you from fishing your iPod or iPhone out of your pockets to change track too.
We were impressed by the iBeats' ability to keep their cool at high volumes -- the whole mix stays well balanced, even when the earphones are really pumping out noise. But, while the sound quality is generally reasonable, the bass response isn't as clear and tight as it is on higher-end Beats models, and the audio can sound quite muddy.
Still, these are decent, stylish and functional step-up headphones from the default Apple set that come boxed with new iPods and iPhones, and would make a good first upgrade if you've just bought an iDevice.
Masterminded by Sean 'Diddy' Combs, the Diddybeats offer extremely impressive sound quality, although we've got a few gripes with the design. They'll set you back £120 or thereabouts.
Let's start with the positives. The sound you'll get from these leathery little luvvies is truly ace for a set of earphones under £150. We were knocked sideways by the powerful bass, which never sounds muddy or obscures the rest of the mix, as it sometimes does with other Beats products. These are marvellous earbuds if you like pop music, hip-hop or high-quality recordings of jet planes taking off.
High tones ring through, and you'll be able to pick out details like tinkling cymbals and singers drawing a deep breath. The Diddybeats don't offer audiophile-grade sound, but it's pretty excellent stuff nonetheless.
The bad news is that these earbuds are so big and heavy, you'll undoubtedly find them working their way out of your lugholes. It's not just the actual 'buds either -- there's a medley of weighty accessories down the thick, ribbon cable too, including an in-line remote (like that of the iBeats), a seemingly superfluous metal cylinder at the point where the cable splits, and a clip for holding the cable to your clothing.
You can use that clip to take some of the slack from the wiring, but we found the cable was so heavy that it slipped through the clasp on the back of the clip. We overcame that setback with some Sellotape, but you shouldn't have to resort to stationery when you're spending over £100.
You're a musically inclined, trendy young chap or chapette -- you need some headphones that'll see you through an intense workout session. The Powerbeats want to be your gym buddy and, while they can't scream inspiring Rocky quotes at you, they can grip the backs of your ears and blast motivating, fast-paced, exercise-friendly tunes down them.
The Powerbeats will certainly give you an edge in the gym when it comes to style -- these robotic 'buds look very distinctive, and the chunky rubber hoops will keep them affixed to your bonce even as you accidentally hit the treadmill's emergency-stop button and fly face-first into the wall.
Their sound quality is reasonable, although not as clear and powerful as that of other Beats headphones, because the Powerbeats don't isolate sound -- they let ambient noise bleed in, so you're aware of your surroundings while jogging or engaging in team-based sporting pursuits.
There's a remote part way down the cable, which is especially appreciated in this instance. We wouldn't advise fishing about in your pockets or gazing at your iPod's screen while cycling, running or shooting some b-ball outside of the school.
Beats by Dr Dre Beatbox
Alright, the Beatbox won't fit in your ears (seriously, it won't -- don't try), but we've chucked it in the roundup anyway because it's a rather nifty piece of kit. It's essentially a massive boom box, built to take noise from your iPhone or iPod and pump it into your swinging house party.
We're slightly disappointed with the styling -- we appreciate the demure matte black look, but a very small and ridiculous part of us wishes the Beatbox were as brash and bold as the rest of the line.
Still, as soon as you switch it on, your reservations will melt away, to be replaced by exploded eardrums and furious neighbours hammering on your door. The Beatbox offers the same bass-heavy, aggressive sound that you'll get from the Pros. Turn up the volume, hold your hands against the grille on the front and enjoy the pleasant vibrations.
The Beatbox is pricey at £350, and it's quite low on features. But the sound quality is great, and you're guaranteed to get room-filling noise from this audacious speaker. It's a great party starter.