On Computers: It’s got the Beats, but not on your head

Jim Hillibish

You see it all over the place, Beats Audio, playing soon in Chryslers and on HTC cellphones, available now on HP computers.

Its ads, of course, claim a revolution surpassing even the Dolby noise-suppression system of 1996. Beats will rip your eardrums out. Maybe.

Dr. Dre, an old-line rapper turned entrepreneur (net worth $125 million) claims he helped invent it.

I suspect that’s in the spirit of any celebrity endorser — paid hot air.

But what exactly is Beats, and is it another Dolby?

First, you need to know Monster Cables owns Beats. This company made a fortune selling $300 HDMI cables for home theaters that you can buy for less than $10 in generic labels.

I dusted aside all the Beats marketing noise and tried their $299 headphones. The only overwhelming happening here is the price.

For $299 you can buy the fantastic Sennheiser headphones that DJs and record mixers really do use. It will put you in the middle of any orchestra or rock band. You can bequeath them in your will; they last that long.

The battery-powered Beats headphones, to my ears, are about as good as your common $49.95 phones, certainly better than what comes with your player but steps below professional. (I’m sure Beats customers will disagree after being roped in. You love what you own.)

I recently bought my wife an HP Touch Pad for our anniversary and noticed it came with Beats’ audio. Here, some of the claims finally came true.

Even on the crummy tab speaker, I noticed the difference. It’s as if the Beats sound card automatically adjusted an equalizer matching the sound output to the input, boosting all tonal ranges.

I put on my Sennheisers and my ears got a major treat. Beats Audio really does work, despite all the stupid marketing tricks.

I did some Internet searching and found what Beats does is to attack the many shortfalls of computer audio and in most cases wins the fight. A main feature is a grounding cable on the  circuit board that isolates the components from interference. Interference is the main reason computer audio sounds tinny.

Laptops and tablets suffer lots of electronic interference as their components are jammed together. Things get a little better on desktops where the gear has space to breathe. Beats brings desktop sound quality to the mini speakers.

The system with decent headphones is a worthy upgrade from your average computer audio. It should be really wild in car speakers in their captive-audience sound cocoons.

I’d expect Beats will increase the value of everything it touches. Too bad the headphones are on another wavelength.