In-depth analysis over on the website Medium has shed some light on why Beats Headphones that retail for $200 cost only $9.82 to manufacture (the case Beats come in costs only $7 to build). The long and short of it? Beats by Dre are tricking everyone into believing Beats are a high-quality device by stuffing their substandard headphones with frills. During the manufacturing process Beats Headphones are adding a few metal pieces into the headphones to give them the illusion of being heavier, and the consumer assumes that heavier means better quality.
First though, here’s the shocking breakdown of just how cheap Beats by Dre Headphones are to make, and how outrageous the markup is on these headphones with below-average sound quality:
It’s tough to call Beats by Dre the WORST headphones on the market, but once you take into consideration the ‘markup in cost vs. the manufacturing cost vs. sound quality’ they’re 100% in the running for the crappiest headphones ever produced. Here they are completely disassembled:
So what are those tiny metal parts that make Beats by Dre feel so substantial (and trick the consumer into purchasing)? Avery Louie, a Prototype Engineer at Bolt, reports on Medium.com:
One of the great things about the solo headphones is how substantial they feel. A little bit of weight makes the product feel solid, durable, and valuable. One way to do this cheaply is to make some components out of metal in order to add weight. In these headphones, 30% of the weight comes from four tiny metal parts that are there for the sole purpose of adding weight.
The two larger parts are cast zinc. Cast parts are similar to injection molded parts in that there is a tooling cost and a per-part cost. Compared to injection molding, the tool is marginally more expensive, but the per-part costs are higher, and the tools do not last as long.
The brilliant thing here is that the two large metal parts are not mirror images of each other- they are actually the same part! This means that only one tool would need to be made to produce both parts, which saves money in tool design and number of tools. It also makes the headphones easier to assemble, since there are fewer unique parts.
Sure, a lot of the reason that Beats by Dre cost $200 is all of the marketing $$$$$$ Dr. Dre and Beats have poured into the product over the year. But consumers shouldn’t be footing the cost for marketing, they shouldn’t be buying shitty headphones just because they see athletes wearing them.
If you want to buy headphones that are ACTUALLY GOOD, AND SOUND INCREDIBLE, here’s a few suggestions:
A-Audio A02 Legacy Over-Ear Headphones. I’ve been using these personally for about 2 years, they’re the best over-the-ear, noise-canceling headphones I’ve ever encountered)
Grain Audio IEHP.01 In Ear Headphones. As far as in-ear headphones go these absolutely blow away the Bose in-ear headphones I used to have:
Shout out to Lee Matthews of Geek.com and Avery Louie on Medium for their spectacular reporting on Beats by Dre!