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 modelsthe 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 2.0while 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.
The design of the new Beats Tour isdare I say itunderstated. 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 interestingthey 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.