Why are Beats headphones so popular

Beats by Dr. Dre Beats Flex

scope of delivery

In the small packaging, made entirely of cardboard, we find the headphones themselves, three pairs of silicone ear pieces in sizes S, M and L and a pair in the shape of a Christmas tree in size M. In addition, a 20 centimeter short USB-C to USB-C Charging cable, a quick guide, a warranty card and the obligatory Beats sticker.

processing

Again, there is nothing wrong with the workmanship, although it is noticeable that the Flex predecessor BeatsX look more valuable, especially on the earplugs. With this model, too, the so-called flex-form cable should be a bit shorter for my taste, with its total of almost 83 centimeters (earplug to earplug), there is still too much cable dangling around next to my face. Nevertheless, it makes a robust impression, this test model also survived nasty kinking exercises without complaint.

remote control

The remote with microphone on the left side of the cable doesn't offer much: a rocker switch to change the volume and a small round button that takes care of playback. A short press pauses or resumes the music, holding it down activates Siri. If you press it twice, on the other hand, the next track is played, a triple click jumps back one song. If you would like to fast-forward and rewind within a certain track, simply hold down the last click.

Pairing with the W1 bluetooth chip

The Beats Flex also relies on the W1 Bluetooth chip developed by Apple, which is no longer the youngest and was already used in the predecessor and in the first-generation Apple AirPods. However, the W1 chip is far from being old, because here, too, coupling with a mobile device is super fast and uncomplicated: Hold the headphones next to the smartphone, press and hold the on / off switch on the right-hand side, open the message Confirm with the iPhone / iPad and off you go.

So that Android users can also benefit from a similarly convenient facility, the manufacturer offers a suitable counterpart in the Google Play Store with the “Beats” app. Regardless of whether via app (Android) or iOS (Bluetooth menu) - the magnetic earphone recognition can be activated here, which starts the music automatically when the earphones that are attached to each other by magnets are separated, or pauses when the two plugs are "clipped together" again " become. Another setting option is the behavior of the call acceptance. Here it is now possible for a telephone call to be accepted automatically when the earphones are disconnected.

But that also has to be said: Due to its age, the W1 chip does not have the convenience functions that an H1 chip from Apple offers in the headphones AirPods 2nd Gen (for test), AirPods Pro (for test), Beats Solo Pro (for testing), Powerbeats Pro (for testing) and the Powerbeats (for testing) can be found. The Beats Flex do not support the new function in iOS 14, with which the headphones are automatically switched to another device when playback is started on it. Spatial audio and calling up the voice assistant via “Hey Siri” are also no longer necessary. As already mentioned above, this must be awakened from its deep sleep by pressing a button on the remote.

But what is also possible here is Apple's audio release, which synchronizes other Beats and Apple headphones in such a way that several listeners can enjoy the same musical source material.

Terms

The W1 chip is known for its frugality. In our tests, the headphones lasted an hour less than the specified 12 hours at moderate volume, but in contrast to its predecessor, which only played around seven to eight hours, these are more than decent values! Once fully charged, the Beats Flex can be charged in around 90 minutes via USB-C, and thanks to "Fast Fuel", ten minutes on a socket are enough for around 1.5 hours of music.

sound

The first hearing impression is surprising, because the Beats Flex sound surprisingly flat and quieter than the Apple AirPods or AirPods Pro, for example, at the same output volume. Here I miss depth and breadth, and the in-ears are clearly having a hard time depicting a three-dimensional space. Especially with pieces with a classical band line-up, it seems as if the instrumentalists have to share a damn small stage. This runs through many pieces and shows that the sound signature of these in-ears simply does not fit with a conspicuously large number of pieces of music.

This works better with modern, predominantly electronic genres or dead-compressed chart music, but anyone who hopes for goosebumps because they want to dive deeper into complex sound worlds is wrong here. My favorite tracks rarely sounded as lame and boring as they did with Beats Flex.

Interestingly, the manufacturer himself writes of exact bass and precision over the entire frequency response, but in my opinion these three frequency sections do not build on each other as harmoniously as Beats wants to sell us.

The bass range sounds quite sober for Beats standards, but of course has a modern tuning, so that everything from subbass to bass drums can be heard, even if not particularly precisely. The mid-range looks subdued and has a hard time asserting itself properly, so reverberation tails and other spatial effects that are so important for vivid and lively hearing naturally also decrease. Correspondingly, the highs lack gloss and crispness, the sound does not open upwards, which in many productions looks as if you still have cotton pads in your ears.

Where the Flex work well is with all spoken content, i.e. podcasts, audio books, video conferences or phone calls. The in-ears manage the latter quite well, our counterpart never had any problems understanding us, even in windy conditions.