It's All About That Bass: The Beats Tour 2.0 IEM

Beats by Dre Tour 2.0 ($149)
Beats by Dre has the rather dubious distinction of being both the most recognizable name in headphones and the most maligned among headphone enthusiasts. As far as many are concerned, the best thing Beats has done for the headphone market is make the average consumer more open to spending over $50 on a set.

The bread and butter of the Beats brand have always been the on-ear and over-ear models—the Solo and Studio. They were also the ones most criticisms focused on, but for me the biggest disappointment was actually the original Beats Tour in-ear, which was too harsh for a basshead earphone, yet too boomy for fans of brighter sound. It was never quite sure what it wanted to be, which made the $150 price tag difficult to swallow.

This is not the case with the new Beats Tour 2.0—while it did not impress me quite as much as the new Solo2 impressed Tyll earlier this year, it is a much more focused and purposeful earphone than the original model. The focus just happens to be on bass.

Beats_Tour2_Photo_ProfileThe design of the new Beats Tour is—dare I say it—understated. Yes, the feature color scheme is still the trademark red and black, but there's also a gray-and-black combination that could pass for a Sennheiser or AKG product if not for the familiar "b" on the back.

The original Beats Tour used metal housings; the Tour 2.0 is all-plastic, but the plastic is a high-quality semi-translucent matte affair. The trademark flat cable is still present, along with a 3-button Apple iOS remote and small L-shaped plug. I generally like slim L-plugs, but this one might be too low profile for some thick phone cases.

Usually mainstream earphones stick to the basics when it comes to accessories; not so with the Beats Tour. The package contains 4 pairs of eartips, 3 pairs of "wingtips", and an oval-shaped protective zipper case. The "wingtips" are especially interesting—they are silicone sleeves that fit snugly over the housings and have a "fin" molded into them that nestles into the concha of the ear for a more secure fit. Three different sizes are included, and they do indeed help keep the earphones secure in the ear during activities when installed.


The flat cable carries some microphonic noise, but it isn't bothersome when music is playing. The passive noise isolation is above average and wearing comfort is quite good. The plastic housings are very lightweight and the nozzles are angled ergonomically, pointing up and toward the front of the head just as the ear canal does. At the front it's all smooth curves and rounded edges, and the shape works well even in smaller ears.

On the whole, the design of the Beats is lightweight, comfortable, and surprisingly understated, meshing well with the bassy but smooth sound.

Beats by Dre

Impulse's picture

Re: Ed Note - Does Tyll have site navigation statistics that tell him a lot of people never make it to the third page or is just a self deprecating gut feeling?

Joker, I'd be curious how you would compare these to the Fidelio S1/2... They seem like a closer competitor than the RHAs. Both have a warm tilt tho I imagine the Tours have much more mid bass emphasis, similar fit, flat cables etc.

Shoot even the color scheme is similar when looking at the lower end Fidelio. :p I wonder how much people cross shop cable up models vs cable down models (specially ones like these with flat cables the you can't wear either way).

I bought the S1 as a gift largely based on your review, they've been as low as $71 on Amazon, been tempted to rip the box open a few times to compare then with my Etys or Pistons but I'm waiting patiently until the recipient opens them. :p

Tyll Hertsens's picture
For example, my ATH-M50x review has 43k views on the first page, 30k on the second and 9k on the measurements page.
Impulse's picture

Kinda surprised it's so skewed, you would figure the typical IF reader is pretty interested in the measurements...

Maybe your readership is wider than I figure, at the same time I would've thought the measurement pages would have recurrent hits from enthusiasts referencing them way past the review date.

Although there's the PDFs too, I fully admit to saving those locally AND not looking at the measurements page for headphones I'd never buy... So I guess it all tracks pretty well actually. :p

I'm sure you KNOW plenty of us still appreciate the measurements AND your comments on them, personally I appreciate the latter even more.

ljokerl's picture
With how bassy the Beats are, the S1 is at least halfway between them and the Etymotics in sound sig and tonality. Balance, clarity, detail, soundstage width, treble energy, and bass tightness are all won by the S1. The Beats gives a lot more bass (mid-bass, as you said), and a warmer, darker sound. The S1 definitely falls among the sub-$150 earphones with better fidelity than the Tour, but it just isn't a competitor when it comes to bass. Admittedly, I like the snug fit of the Beats better than the somewhat large and shallow-fitting S1.
Valmanway's picture

Nice review, now with both the Solo 2 and Tour 2 reviews you should do the same with the Studio 2 please.

Tyll Hertsens's picture
It's taking a bit of time because I've had some oddities that need to be ironed out.
Seth195208's picture

Performance wise, I''d take the Xiaomi phones over these, and, as a bonus, wouldn't have to live with that darn "B" stigma.

Marcello's picture

It would be very interesting to compare these to the Sennheiser Momentum in-ears, which are also supposed to be quite bass heavy.

innerfidelityuser's picture

thanks for this review. i was surprised to see this review of these earphones considering there is only one review of these earphones on headfi with 2.5 star rating.
i have these earphones, and the only reason i am not selling them is because they have a very good microphone for calls.
here are mine reviews of them if you like to see them. first one being the most rescent after a few months of their use. they are definitelly bassy earphones but there are some comfort issues with them, come out of ears during exersise, so not for exersise. they are smooth sounding but the main reason i keep them is for microphone for phone calls. also rescent faivorable reviews of rescent beats headphones is suspicious that beats is paying money to tyll to say good things about them. or something. they are fun sounding but you get bored of them especially with comfort issues and things.

Akmax57's picture

what earphones/headphones would you recommend with enough power in the bass to articulate with high resolution the lower frequency instruments and drums in orchestral music, without being boomy ? Preferably with a smooth, or even slightly rolled back treble. Thanks,

ljokerl's picture
For me these Beats have about 2/3 more bass boost than necessary, but if you want a set that's got plenty of bass impact and depth and is almost smooth as the Beats - but not nearly as boomy - the best I've tried so far is the Yamaha EPH-100. The very inexpensive Sony MH1C is also very good.
OMGLadyGaga's picture

Joker, great review; certainly made me rethink some things. I'm looking for a bassy earphone and these measurements and your review seems to be the sound I like, warm, punchy as all heck and smooth rolled off treble. Sorta like my UE6000 and Sony 1R or even the new Urbanite. Anywho, I was looking into the RHA and currently have the Pistons, but both appear v shape, and treble bothers me, do you think these would be a worthy upgrade to the Pistons or would the RHA make more sense? The way you described these seem like they would hit the mark, they aren't cheap The Beats but do you think it's fair value? I'm guessing yes due to the "stuff we like" badge but just making sure.

ljokerl's picture
Yes, you are correct in thinking the Beats will be match for what you want on some level. That said, I have heard the UE6000 and really quite liked it, but it is brighter and not as bassy as the Beats Tour 2.0. To be honest, not being a basshead, I prefer the Pistons and RHAs to the Beats anyway. It doesn't sound like you're interested in the Beats as a basshead earphone (I'm assuming you don't find the Piston lacking in bass), just as a smooth one. Unless you're listening to something like Hip-Hop or EDM, you will notice that clarity of the Beats Tour is lower compared to the MA750 or similar, so with that said I would consider giving another shot to a more hi-fi set that just has less of a treble bump than the Pistons/MA750. The Yamaha EPH-100 I mentioned above is a good one, or even the Shure SE215 that used to be on our wall of fame. Even the Sony MH1C would be worth a try IF your priority is still overall fidelity over bass. However, the Beats is a safe choice if you want no harshness and tons of bass, and are willing to give up a chunk of clarity and overall refinement for those two things.
OMGLadyGaga's picture

UE6000 brighter?! Dang, the beats must be pretty dull then since I'm pretty treble averse and even I think the UE could use a bit more sparkle. So it looks like it's between the Yamaha and Shure(I've heard not so good things about the Sony cable) Between those two which would you recommend? To give a bit more context, the pistons gives me the warm thicker and fuller lower mids that I like but it's a little boomy and I do find the sub bass intrusive sometimes, so clearer and a tad more forward mids is what I'd like, and the treble brought down just a couple notches, although I do appreciate the soundstage of the Pistons. Oh and im concerned about the fit of the Shure, i used to have the Meelectronics M6 and the memory wire drove me nuts and i couldnt get identical seal in both ears, shure appear to look similar. Thanks a bunch

ljokerl's picture

The Shures are actually a little larger than the M6s and do use memory wire, so unfortunately it's possible that they won't work for you in terms of fit. They give up a bit of the thickness of the Pistons but otherwise fit your needs best with better bass-midrange balance and treble that is a little more smooth.

Another option is the SteelSeries Flux, which is not quite as smooth as the Shure and has just a bit less mids, but fits in the conventional manner. I compared it to the Piston2 a while ago as follows:

"The Piston 2 is warmer and has more powerful bass, but that bass is also boomier and more intrusive. The Flux has tighter bass with less impact but also less bloat. It is overall more balanced and accurate. The mids on the Flux are a little more prominent. Clarity is similar, but of course the Piston has a little more bass bloat. The treble of the Piston 2 is a little more energetic while the Flux is a touch more forgiving. The presentation of the Piston 2 is better and it remains more open-sounding, despite the bass boost."

There is one other radical solution - the Sony SBH80. It's the wireless version of the MH1C and sounds just as good given an aptX-enabled source, but does away with the cables.

OMGLadyGaga's picture

Had no idea those existed, and $100 on amazon seems to be a steal if they sound like the other sonys. Plus it'd be nice to not deal with cables and having a mic. Going with those! Thanks a gazillion

ljokerl's picture
Yep, they were designed and tuned by the same team as the MH1C. If you have a Sony Xperia phone there's some additional audio enhancements available for them including a preset that equalizes them to a flatter sound. With other devices they just sound like an MH1C. Watch out for them in the InnerFidelity Holiday Gift Guide 2014!
OMGLadyGaga's picture

Got these in, which was a nice surprise since I didn't think UPS would deliver on a holiday. My oh my, what a wonderful little package. Right out of the box these sound absolutely perfect. My HTC One M8 has aptxtm Bluetooth which I assume helps since Sony makes a point to mention it, but wow these definitely deliver. Strong subbass, warm mids, soft but surprisingly present highs, these are just smooth in every definition of the word. Compared to the pistons, the Sony just sound more refined, no edgyness to the uppermids/lower treble but not veiled either, just so coherent and all this from a Bluetooth set? It might be new toy syndrome but I think these deserve consideration for wall of fame in the wireless category, I tried the UE9000 and Sony 1RBT before settling on UE6000 and regular 1R, I think these little Sonys best the other Bluetooth cans I've tried like the blue buds x at like half the cost too. Plus I'd really like to see measurements of these and I think Tyll would love them signature wise.

The only con, is that in direct a/b comparison with the Pistons, I thought the Pistons had a faster, tighter, punchier bass and imaging might be slightly better on the Pistons as well, but for a Bluetooth set the Sony's have a black background that allows details to come through really well even just using Spotify. Build quality seems good and didn't have any trouble with fit. Haven't tested isolation or battery life yet. Thanks for the recommendation these definitely deserve more attention. $100 for wireless great sound is a steal

ljokerl's picture
Glad you're liking them so far. You want the aptX for a couple of reasons from lower compression to lower latency, though I think these still quite pretty good on a device that doesn't support it. Maybe my pair will find its way over to Tyll - the only problem is that I use it quite a bit as my primary phone headset. It happens to have the best mic quality of the 20 or so Bluetooth headsets I've tried.
tquickbrownfox's picture

How do these compare to the 100$ Shure Se215s?

The se215's have been out for a while, and I believe that they have a similarly bassy sound (?)

What iems outdo the se215 at the 100$ mark? (besides the rha ma750)

ljokerl's picture
The SE215 doesn't have as much bass as the Beats Tours by a good margin, but it sounds clearer and more detailed as a result. The Sonys I mentioned (MH1C and SBH80) are a good bet as a strong SE215 alternative with more reasonable bass levels than the Beats. Of course if you're okay with even flatter bass there are other options from VSonic, HiFiMan, etc. - from a strict fidelity standpoint these will definitely outdo the SE215.
Long time listener's picture

As someone who listens to a lot of classical music, I think there's a better choice than the Yamaha EPH-100 recommended by Ljokerl. The question was "what earphones/headphones would you recommend with enough power in the bass to articulate with high resolution the lower frequency instruments and drums in orchestral music, without being boomy?" I have the Yamahas, and haven't been satisfied with them for any music really, since their midrange and highs are just a bit hazy, and their bass foundation isn't really adequate either. Instead I'd recommend the Nuforce NE-700X (or "M") or maybe even the cheaper NE-600X. The 700 has been great for classical: it has much better bass support and clarity in the low end than the Yamaha, while high-frequency stuff such as triangles often come out more clearly as well. (My equipment is the CLAS Solo-r + Vorzamp Pure II, good enough to make distinctions between IEMs very clear.)

The Xiaomi has good clarity and depth in the bass, but seems just a bit grainy in the highs for orchestral music.

The SteelSeries Flux, on the other hand, has nice, airy highs, but it doesn't have the bass weight and depth you're looking for.

maiken zhang's picture

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Long time listener's picture

The question was asked about a comparison between these two. I have both, and so would like to comment. In keeping with the tone of the review here, ljokerl on his own site compares the Momentum in-ear and the Beats Tour 2.0 this way: “This comparison is made very simple by the fact that the Momentum In-Ear is miles ahead of the Beats Tour 2.0 in fidelity.”

But in my experience, with my high-end portable equipment, the Beats Tour 2.0 sounds much better.

I like to pair medium-priced dynamic IEMs with high end portable amps and DACs. I like the top-to-bottom coherence of a single-driver IEM, and a high-quality front end provides all the detail I need. My DAC is the Algorhythm SOLO -R (which has received uniformly excellent reviews) and my amp is the Vorzuge Pure II (which several headphone sites have labeled the best portable amp there is). These let me get an accurate picture of what an IEM really sounds like.

The Beats Tour 2.0 and the Momentum in-ear are actually very close in terms of fidelity. It’s true that the Momentum has marginally better resolution, which we usually think of as “fidelity,” but it also has one glaring flaw, which throws a serious wrench in the works. As a result, the Tour is the better performer overall. Quite a number of reviewers have commented that the Momentum in-ear seems “bright,” that it sounds harsh or metallic (members of Head-fi), or that its highs are bright, “zingy,” or “brash” (reviewers Steve Guttenberg and others at CNET). The fairly metallic and unpleasant quality of the Sennheiser's highs means that the highs of the Beats have greater fidelity. I also think the midrange of the Beats are better too (and less recessed, as ljokerl notes). I listen to everything from opera (occasionally) and classical to EDM and rock or pop. In opera, voices come across with much better realism on the Beats: female vocalists have a nice, sweet-toned clarity, but on the Sennheisers sound uncomfortably forward and screechy. In the bass, the Sennheiser wins by a hair in terms of being a touch more solid and dynamic. But the overly “hot” and treble-forward sound signature of the Sennheiser means that, even though it has some strengths that the Tour doesn’t, the overall listening experience just isn’t as good. YMMV, of course, but the fact that the Tour 2.0 pairs better with high-end portable equipment tells me that it’s simply a higher-end and more successful IEM. I never owned Beats before, and as I reviewer I therefore don't care what their images has been in the past. For me, the Tour 2.0 is simply a wonderful all-round performer that works beautifully with everything from classical to electronic and pop.