When it comes to headphones it is clear that not all are created equal, and one look at a pair of Apple’s earbuds will leave you running for better options. Two of the best on the market are Beats by Dre and Skullcandy’s Aviators, and I had the pleasure to use both for a couple of days.
First things first, the look. If you like the sleek style of Apple products the white body of Beats should seem familiar and match quite nicely with your Macbook and iPhone 4S. On the other hand, the Aviators have a metal band across the top and the actual speakers completely cover your ears, avoiding the suction that occurs with Beats. With a black and metal aesthetic, the Aviators will fit nicely with those douchey cop sunglasses.
All kidding aside, when it comes to sound quality there was no comparison.
The Beats handled the low range and a lot of the treble really well, only clipping when the volume was cranked on a treble-heavy song. The problem was the midtones. These got washed out on the two folk albums I played, losing a lot of the beautiful vocal harmonies. The Aviators packed a little less punch on the bass end, with just a little clipping when I cranked Childish Gambino, but the mids sounded gorgeous. For someone who listens to only the occasional hip-hop and a lot more rock or folk, the Aviators had the better sound quality.
As far as comfort the Beats got obnoxious after about 20 minutes. While it’s nice that they suction to your ears, blocking out a lot of outside noise and letting you keep the volume low (a godsend for those on their way to hearing damage), if your ears are that awkward in-between size they’ll get uncomfortable. The Aviators completely enveloped the ear, and while less sound proof, I still only needed 25 percent volume to hear well as I rode my bike to class. As far as the banding goes, both were fairly comfortable, but the Aviators felt much more secure, which, if I would deign to spend that much on a pair of cans, I’d like them to stay in place.
Last comes the price. For $200, the Beats completely underwhelmed me. Remember these are only the middle range Beats that I am reviewing, there is a more expensive step up, but for $200 I’d expect more out of these. The Aviators, however, are $150, and I must say I was impressed. Skullcandy never struck me as high quality, but I was pleasantly surprised by these headphones.
It really boils down to personal preference, as both have their positives. The Beats pack a good bass punch especially for the size, but they lose a lot of the mids. The Aviators don’t have as much moxie when it comes to the bass, but the mid range rings clear. If you want the sleek style and bass punch, go for the Beats, they are a nice set of headphones. If you’re proud to wear your aviator sunglasses every day and you don’t need to feel the kick drum in your music, go for the Aviators.