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Beats by Dr. Dre Powerbeats Review

Editors' Choice Award
Price:   $200 List | $86.99 at Amazon
Pros:  Secure fit, great sound quality
Cons:  Expensive, can get in the way of sunglasses
Bottom line:  The best sounding earbuds around that can stand up to the most rigorous workouts
Editors' Rating:   
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Manufacturer:   Beats

Our Verdict

If you're looking for earbuds that can keep up with the most rigorous workout while still delivering the audio equivalent of fluffy cotton candy to your ear canals, the Powerbeats are for you. Their over ear hooks provide the most stable fit of any of the models we tested, so you can do as many jump squats as your legs will allow, these puppies aren't' falling off. They were also one of the best sounding pairs of earbuds we tested, so you can rest assured you'll hear every staccato note of Eye of the Tiger as you power through your last set of push-ups. Combine that with a solid 8 hours of battery life and you've got a near perfect pair of Bluetooth earbuds. Our only complaint: the over the ear hooks can get in the way of some wide-templed sunglasses, so you may have to adjust your shades a bit if you want to take them on a run.


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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
Max Mutter and Steven Tata

Last Updated:
Tuesday
August 22, 2017

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Whether you want something that can handle hard workouts, or just want the best sound quality possible, the Beats by Dr. Dre Powerbeats fit the bill.


Performance Comparison


The Beats by Dr. Dre Powerbeats really set the bar in our testing, scoring at or near the top of all five of our testing metrics, and thus earned the top overall score.

Sound Quality


The Powerbeats shared the top score of 8 out of 10 in our sound quality testing with two other models.


These earbuds pumped out surprisingly powerful bass in our testing, and generally sounded very crisp and well defined. This created a very full bodied sound that lent a heft and overall quality to every type of music. These earbuds are the perfect companions if you demand a high quality listening experience anywhere you go.

In terms of making phone calls the Powerbeats were serviceable but not incredible. You will be able to hear whoever calls you with perfect clarity. Whoever you're talking to will be able to hear you more than well enough to make out what you're saying, but we did find that the microphones on some other models were a bit clearer.

The Powerbeats' high quality sound is great for any situation.
The Powerbeats' high quality sound is great for any situation.

Comfort


The Powerbeats were just off the top score in our comfort testing.


These earbuds provide an impressive 4 different earpieces sizes, so it's very likely you're going to find a size that fits your ear. And even if you don't, the over ear hooks can be bent to contour to almost any ear and provide plenty of stability. The only reason these earbuds didn't get a top score is that those over ear hooks can't bend quite enough to accommodate smaller ears.

Athletic Performance


The Powerbeats again shared the top score in our athletic performance metric.


This high score in athletic performance largely comes from the over the ear hooks. These hooks provide the most stable fit of any of the earbuds we tested. This made the powerbeats the buds we reached for when doing things like mountain biking that demanded a very secure fit. The only downside of these hooks is that they don't accommodate sunglasses with wide temples very well, so they can be annoying if you like big shades. This somewhat limits their usefulness in outdoor sports. If you want something more glasses friendly the JBL Reflect Mini has no ear hooks, yet provides a more secure fit. Once you find a good fit these earbuds can also stay put during bumpy mountain bike rides, but it'll probably take a few rides before you feel confident that they won't fall out.

The Powerbeats' ear hooks provide an incredibly stable fit.
The Powerbeats' ear hooks provide an incredibly stable fit.

Battery Life


The Powerbeats lasted an impressive 10 hours in our battery life testing. While this was a bit short of the advertised 12 hour battery life, it still placed it amongst the top performers. It also means you could work out for 2 hours everyday after work and only have to charge these earbuds once a week.


Portability


The Powerbeats earned a fairly average score in our portability testing. We didn't run into any significant durability concerns, both in our own inspection and in reading many online user reviews. However, the large ear hooks do take away that roll-them-in-a-ball-and-they-disappear quality that you get with smaller earbuds.




Value


The Beats by Dr. Dre Powerbeats are a classic case of you get what you pay for. They do provide top shelf performance, but you also have to pay a top shelf price of $200. We feel that is a fair price given their relative quality to other Bluetooth earbuds, but you definitely have to be willing to pay for performance.

Conclusion


The Beats by Dr. Dre Powerbeats combine high end athletic performance with impressive sound quality to create a near perfect bundle of Bluetooth goodness, but that goodness does come with a correspondingly high price tag.
Max Mutter and Steven Tata

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