What Hi Fi Sound and Vision Wed, 30 Mar 2011, 3:15pm

Beats by Dr. Dre Beatbox

Tested at £350
40100
2

We like some elements of the sound, but the treble is just so unlistenably nasty

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For

  • Expansive soundstage
  • big, ballsy midrange
  • hefty bass

Against

  • Bass doesn’t integrate particularly well
  • ridiculously brash and aggressive treble

Having done a fine job with its iPod-friendly headphones, it was only matter of time before Beats by Dr. Dre added a speaker dock to its arsenal.

The 200W Beatbox is a beefy system with serious desktop presence.

The top has a smooth matt-black finish and features a dock on the left-hand side and control dial on the right.

The unit comes with cradles for hooking up various models of iPod and iPhone, and will work with every version of every iPod made to date (Shuffles can be hooked up via a 3.5mm input on the rear).

Huge bass – but there’s a ‘but’…
Despite having a carry handle, the Beatbox is purely mains-powered.

Intriguingly, there’s also a wireless module socket which will be compatible with Streamcast, a wireless streaming technology designed by Monster, the company behind the Beats brand.

Contrasting with its sizeable frame, the Beatbox comes with a tiny remote with controls for volume and track-skipping.

Peer through the perforated grille and you’ll see the two 13cm long-throw mid/bass drivers and a pair of 50mm tweeters that provide the thrust.

They deliver a very dynamic, expansive sound, too: vocals sound spectacularly open and expressive, making something like B&W’s Zeppelin Mini sound a little closed-in.

Spin Eminem’s Not Afraid, and the speakers show good rhythm and a decent amount weight and power down in the basement, although the bass notes tend to stick out and sound detached from the rest of the tune.

Treble trouble
But, our misgivings over the bass are nothing compared to the issues we have with the treble.

Even after a couple of days of extensive running in, high frequencies sounded obscenely bright and aggressive.

This harshness makes the system virtually unlistenable, and gives vocals an uncomfortable-sounding sibilance and sharpness.

So, while the Beatbox excels in some areas, all that good work is undone by the horrific treble – and when you’d rather hit the ‘off’ button than listen even at low volumes, you know there’s a problem.

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