When Dr. Dre’s electronics company launched back in 2006, nobody could imagine that it would amass a worth of over one billion dollars.
The brand’s popularity soared when famous celebs started rocking the headphones, a development that made them become a necessity and also a fashion trend.
Even after Beats Electronics and Music was acquired on August 1, 2014, by Apple for $3.2 billion, their revenue never stopped growing. However, just like with every product that attains a certain level of notoriety, the Beats headphones began to get more expensive. Sometimes, some models are even priced much more than their real worth.
This makes buyers seek good alternatives to Beats headphones. If you’re one of such, no need to worry as in this review article, we’re looking at 5 headphones better than beats with a reasonable cost efficiency to buyers.
Top 5 Better-than-Beats Headphones
Sony is one of the big names in the world of electronics, especially in the headphone niche. For the past 3 years, they’ve put a lot of attention on the 1000X series, with the WH-1000XM3 being their latest addition.
These headphones’ stand-out features include their exceptional noise cancelation function, superb comfort, and powerful sound. The maker built the WH-1000XM3 with perfect cups padding and clamping force. Using the touchpads on the sides, you can adjust volume, skip songs, answer phone calls, and do other things.
You’d love the Quick Attention Mode that reduces volume on covering the right pad.
The noise cancelation tech in these cans easily outperforms that on Beats and on almost any other model. The Sony unit comes with a variety of noise cancelation modes that can be scaled up or down, and noises coming from whirring fans, train engines, etc. can be blocked out.
Also, the model’s app allows noise cancelation to be tweaked based on various altitudes and atmospheric pressures. Apart from that, the passive noise cancelation works excellently as well, with the headband and the cups offering more than enough suction force to block noise.
The sound quality is much more musical and crisp compared with their Beats counterparts. The Sony headphones make use of neodymium magnets that are lighter in weight and produce more bass and higher quality notes.
Even if you’re not an audiophile, you’ll be able to spot the wide variations in sound stages as well as the ripe sound that’s audible in the most non-friendly environments.
As for the battery life, the manufacturer hasn’t really left any room for competition here. There’s a USB Type-C port at the bottom of the right cup that allows for a faster charge. With just a charge of 20mins via the quick charge, your headphones can work for 5 hours non-stop.
One aspect that’s rather disappointing is that the unit can only be connected to one device using Bluetooth. If you want to switch over to another device, you’ve to disconnect the current one manually, and that’s quite tedious.
We noticed some instances of “phantom” touches getting applied on the touchpads in cold weather. This basically means automatic commands get registered at the touchpads in cold weather. Currently, it isn’t known whether this problem can be fixed with a firmware update.
Not only does the Sony WH-1000XM3 outperform Beats headphones, its arch-rival, but also lots of the other models, too. It comes with tons of customizations and features, making it perfect for travelers, music lovers, and office workers that love using their headphones for long hours.
While you may feel that the muffling of the mic is a drawback for call-oriented activities, it gets the job done most times.
- Adaptive sound control
- Features USB Type C charging cable for longer life
- Offers different sound cancelation and sound stage options
- Mic sounds muffled in calls
- Allows only one device to be paired at a time
The Sony WH-1000XM3 is one of the best headphones around with noise-cancelation tech. The model is equipped with lots of customizations and features, which make it perfect for travelers, music lovers, and office workers that have a knack for wearing headphones for long hours.
Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700
Being one of the world’s leading headphones manufacturers, Bose, at some point, needed to rejigger its line of wireless headphones. While the QC series was a force to reckon with in the competition, it was high time Bose took its game to the next level. And the maker achieved this with the Bose 700 noise-canceling headphones.
This model is built as the flagbearers of the top line of Bose headphones. They represent a significant improvement over the past releases and feature very high standards in their design. But they don’t merely dazzle design-wise, as the product has many other impeccable features, including superb sound quality.
The Bose 700 is sold in 2 colors: black and white. The headphones move a level up from the QC35s (their predecessors), representing a major upgrade when it comes to aesthetics and design.
They look a lot more modern and sleek, with their finish also fantastic. The headband’s covered with rubber-ish material that’s very comfortable, in place of the typical foam or leather.
In our opinion, the highlights of these headphones’ features are their touchpad and the conventional buttons that are offered for certain features. Using this touchpad, you’ll find it so easy to adjust the volume, play/pause & skip or recover your music tracks.
As for the buttons, those aren’t many. We’ve a button for Bluetooth pairing, Google Assistant or Alexa, on/off, and another for adjusting the amount of noise cancelation. The 700 lasts 20 hours when noise cancelation is on and around 40 hours when it’s off.
Their sound quality is dazzling, and this doesn’t come as a surprise since Bose has built a solid reputation for itself in this particular aspect.
The upper-mid-range is stronger compared with those that preceded it. This can be slightly difficult to deal with at higher volumes for certain listeners; however, for the majority, it’s a great aspect.
When it comes noise cancelation, Bose has always been famed as the best among the rest. The newer products released by Sony showed the efforts of the other rivals in catching up.
The Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 certainly beats the competition on the noise cancelation aspect, too. What’s more? Using the app, you’ll be able to access and track noise cancelation levels a lot easier and interact with them much better.
Still on the mobile app, you really need to make use of the headphones via the app to enjoy most of the features available.
The stand-out feature of the Bose 700 is the mic. The tech uses 4 mics for delivering incredibly stunning voice input results. With this option and result, the brand has achieved an unrivaled feat. Your calls will be crystal-clear even in the noisiest places.
We noticed one shortcoming with this model product. While the sound quality is commendable, it’s still not as good as the one coming from Sony’s competitor products. If you say the sound of these headphones is nearly the same as that of the QC 35 series, you’d be right.
No difference can be spotted in sound. And while that doesn’t mean they’re a bad product, this makes them a bit less spectacular than the Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones, which occupy the number 1 spot.
We noticed another major issue with the 700, and that was its app. The mobile app presented with lots of bugs and performance issues.
Some users even experienced issues opening the app, while others weren’t able to connect. Also, cases of disconnections and interruptions were common on both Android and Apple devices.
- Elegant design
- Noise-canceling mic
- Google Assistant and Alexa support for voice access
- Not a major upgrade as regards sound
- Buggy mobile app
The Bose 700 comes with an array of exciting specs and features, such as stunning design, a noise-canceling mic, fantastic sound quality, among others.
- Neodymium magnets and 40 millimeter drivers for powerful, detailed sound
- Closed ear design provides comfort and outstanding reduction of external noises
- 9.8 foot cord ends in gold plated plug and it is not detachable; 1/4 inch adapter included
- Folds up for storage or travel in provided soft case
- Frequency Response: 10 Hertz to 20 kilohertz
In some scenarios, wearing a pair of headphones isn’t a just necessity but a must, and one of such is travel. Traveling with a noise-canceling headset is essential if you want to enjoy peace and quiet. Apart from that, we’ve exercise and more casual use cases, in which the sound quality might not be important like the durability of the cans.
Also, there’s the audiophile that’s solely concerned about laying their hands on the best sound out there for their equipment. However, another use-case that users don’t often pay attention to is that on the production side of things. When we’re talking about audio production, a pair of headphones has become a staple in the industry, and that’s the Sony MDR-7506.
The headphones are designed almost entirely using plastic. This makes them lightweight, and they don’t weigh you down when you carry them around. However, it also means they’re not quite durable.
They’ve a soft carrying case, but that won’t be enough to protect them if thrown into your bag. On the upside, even if they do break, they can be easily replaced because they’re cheap.
Also, the headphones fold down into a more compact footprint. When you push the ear cups toward the headband, you get a satisfying click, which tells you that you’re good to go.
These headphones are considered industry standards for audio production, partly due to their compact build and mainly as a result of the sound coming out from the 40mm drivers.
As regards audio production, you’ll often hear terms such as “flat” and “neutral”. This means the headphones can reproduce each frequency in the frequency range, 10 – 20000 HZ, at the same sound-pressure level.
Though that’s what nearly all headphones meant for this type of use-case seek to achieve, the MDR-7506 does this so well.
However, they also put emphasis on a part of the frequency range, which only few consumer headphones do, and that’s the mids & highs.
- Great sound for mixing
- Cheap price
- Solid cable
- Plastic build
- Not the best for bassheads
- Coiled 9.8-ft long cable is heavy and also not quite portable
Starting at just $79, these Sony MDR-7506 headphones are perfect for any budding YouTuber on a budget or a larger organization, which needs to provide their whole team with a pair of cans. They’re also great for people that need to wear headphones at a desk. As a result of their long coiled cable and closed-back design, the headphones are cool as an office or studio buddy.
- 6 HOURS OF PLAYTIME: Rechargeable battery provides 6 hours of bluetooth wireless play time on a single charge. 10 minutes of fast charging provides a full hour of play time
- SWEAT & WATERPROOF: Sweatproof and waterproof (IPX7) protection for gym and fitness workouts and running in all weather conditions
- SPORT FIT: The Jaybird Tarah includes ultra-soft and flexible silicone ear gels, which provide incredible comfort and a secure fit, permitting you to enjoy your music without distractions from your earbuds
- PREMIUM SOUND WITH CUSTOM EQ: Uncompromising sound quality with customizable EQ through the Jaybird iOS and Android app (Google Fast Pair enabled)
- MUSIC & CALLS: Integrated microphone allows users to manage phone calls and control and listen to music, without interrupting gym workout or run
Though the mobile app for these headphones isn’t perfect, it comes with an inbuilt EQ, which lets you tune the headphones to sound any way you like. It’s limited by Jaybird Tarah’s physical hardware but works surprisingly well. If you find the emphasized bass of Beats fanciful, fortunately, you can achieve something similar with the Jaybird Tarah, simply by playing around with the app.
There’s no much sense in talking about the Jaybird Tarah earbuds without comparing with the slightly older X4, especially because the releases of both models were very close to each other.
As regards the differences between them, we start with the general look and feel of the headphones. The X4 looks more sleek and modern, while the Tarah seems almost whimsical.
Even the charging cradle the Tarah features has a more attractive look than the utilitarian design of the Jaybird X4’s. Though it’s still a charging cradle (and that’s annoying), we still think including the option is a step in the right direction.
As for sound quality, it’s just one more aspect of both models, which is roughly the same. There’s really no difference in sound quality between the two headphones, and even if there was one, you’d still be able to make use of the Jaybird app to EQ them to your taste, just like the Jaybird X4.
That might be due to the lack of memory foam tips. However, the low end seems slightly less strong in this case. Having said that, it isn’t quite different from the Jaybird X4 that you won’t be able to change it by simply selecting a different preset.
This becomes most noticeable when you listen to the song, Submission, by Gorillaz in which the thumping bass came out less strong than it did on the Jaybird X4. If the Jaybird X4 was provided with a slight emphasis in the lows, then the Jaybird Tarah was given a bit extra in the mids.
Bass kicks don’t have any bad effect on vocals in the X4 as much we’ve in the Tarah headphones. However, the Tarah is also slightly less clear, so you need to bear that in mind.
- Features playback buttons
- IPX7 build
- Offers the majority of what X4 features but for $30 less
- Less ear tip or wingtip options
- Battery life could be better
- No carrying case
True wireless earbuds are making waves on the market nowadays, and Beats boasts one of the best models out there, which is the Powerbeats Pro. But the headphones are pricey with their cost pegged at $250. Also, Apple’s other comparable true wireless models go for around the same price.
If you want to cut down on your budget for earbuds, you can opt for a unit that will serve as a better alternative to Beats, and that’s the Jaybird Tarah. These have a comfortable, lightweight design, impeccable sound quality, along with other goodies.
Sennheiser PXC 550
- Bluetooth 4.2 wireless technology in an ergonomically designed lightweight, comfortable and collapsible travel headset perfect for travel. Connectivity Technology: Wireless
- NoiseGard adaptive noise cancellation ensures superior sound quality in every environment. Impedance:Active 490 Ohm/ Passive 46 Ohm
- Intuitive user control and convenience thanks for voice prompts, touch controls, NFC pairing, smart pause and automatic on/off
- Triple microphone array delivers business class communications with exceptional vocal clarity. Sennheiser sound signature quality with selective sound modes to enhance the listening experience
- The PXC 550 wireless is fully compatible with CapTune, sennheiser's premium quality music player and powerful sound tuning app to perfectly adjust the feel of your music to your personal preference
Sennheiser is yet another big player in the headphone world. They’re widely respected for consistently releasing the most user-friendly and clear-sounding headphones out there. As active noise cancelation (ANC) is gaining more and more traction for wireless headphones, the manufacturer is also competing with other brands on the market focusing on this aspect. And the PXC 550 is one of such products from Sennheiser.
The headphones come with a robust design that strikes a good balance between durable plastic and solid metal. As for the headband, it’s cushioned and soft, featuring a black silicone finish that’s stretchable and offers just the right amount of stiff.
You’ll find the clamping force just right and the ear cups (with a more oval shape) fitting around your ears perfectly. The ear cups have to be twisted to power up the PXC 550. Twist these cups outwards to power them on and vice versa.
You may see this as quite troublesome since the headphones require to be twisted to switch them off. If not, the battery will keep getting wasted.
With the inbuilt voice assistant on the unit, you can know the battery level as well as the name of the device connected to your headphones on firing up.
On the right ear cup, there are touch-sensitive controls that work very responsively. A feature called Smart Pause will let you pause the audio being played on pulling one side of the headphones from your ears.
Also, some buttons are available for Bluetooth connectivity, active noise cancelation switching, and a button for cycling through sound profiles. The headphones have a micro USB port for charging and connectivity.
By double-tapping the pad, you can turn on Talk-Through to magnify the ambient noise instead, enabling you to listen to outside noises without the need to take off your headphones.
You’ll see two microphones on the outside and two others on the inside, which get rid of higher and lower frequencies that, when merged, bring about a balanced isolated environment. As for the passive noise cancelation, this option works seamlessly due to the cleverly manufactured ear cups.
The Sennheiser PXC 550 offers an audio range of 17Hz – 23kHz and sounds quite marvelous. The cans are audible over an extensive range, and they put more emphasis on a non-bloated output.
The sound does magnify the higher notes more than it makes the low notes. Most importantly, the sound doesn’t hurt your ears even after hours of use.
The battery life will provide you with an estimated usage of 20 hours with ANC on.
- EQ tuning with the mobile app offers many options
- Features a mode for cycling via levels of ANC
- Microphones are susceptible to wind noises during phone calls
- Touch is overly sensitive and cannot be turned down
- Miniature buttons are hard to identify and make use of
Overall, the Sennheiser PXC 550 Headphones are ideal for use as a travel companion, which is essential for users that have it. The model gets a very durable bag with pockets for housing cables and others. Its frequency range is impressive, providing just the right emphasis on the correct frequencies as well as notes.
For certain wearers, the twisting-to-switch power option can be a bit annoying when the audio device is in the off mode. Also, the folded PXC 550 uses more space. However, Sennheiser has put a huge emphasis on detail to craft a superb model, making the PXC 550 one of the headphones better than Beats.
In a Nutshell
Beats Electronics, also called Beats by Dr. Dre, was established in 2006 by music producer & rapper Dr. Dre and Interscope Records boss Jimmy Iovine. When the company launched then, nobody could imagine it would grow to be worth over $1 billion. The primary factor that contributed to the brand’s popularity was when famous celebs started rocking Beats headphones.
That was a development that made the headphones become both a necessity and a fashion trend. Even following the acquisition of Beats Electronics and Music by Apple for $3.2 billion on August 1, 2014, their revenue never stopped getting bigger.
However, just like with all products that get to a certain level of notoriety, the price tags on the headphones by Beats started becoming exorbitant. Certain models are sometimes even sold at a price much more than their real worth.
This makes people seek cool alternatives to Beats headphones. Above, we’ve reviewed the 5 headphones better than Beats from which you can make your choice.