The relatively successful launch of the Beats 1 radio station isn’t the only reason Dr. Dre’s brand has been in the headlines recently. Nearly a month ago, Bolt prototype engineer Avery Louie popped open a pair of Beats headphones only to discover that the so-called luxury equipment was no more technologically advanced than headphones listed for half the price.
The article reached every corner of the Internet within days, but once the story began to receive some scrutiny, it became clear that the pair of headphones Louie examined was in fact a counterfeit product. But that doesn’t mean Beats is in the clear.
Last Wednesday, Avery Louie followed up his original report with a new post, in which he admitted that the original pair was fake. Since making this discovering, the Bolt team bought two pairs of legitimate Beats headphones, proceeded to tear them down and subsequently made a surprising discovery.
“After tearing down two more pairs of Beats Solo HDs that we purchased from Amazon and Target, I determined that the differences between the genuine and fake Beats only created an estimated change in bill of materials (BOM) cost of $3.29 – increasing from $16.89 to $20.18.”
The differences between the fake and the genuine headphones were so minor that Louie even managed to build a makeshift pair using a combination of parts from both.
So despite the fact that Louie’s original examination was flawed, the results of the second (and third) test are the same: Beats headphones use metal components in order to make the final product feel more premium. The genuine pair actually uses stainless steel rather than the cast zinc of the counterfeit product, but this accounts for a total cost difference of $1.32.
Gizmodo performed its own teardown as well, confirming virtually every point that Louie made in his followup piece. Using metal components isn’t a sin, but every piece of metal on a pair of Beats headphones (real or fake) is superfluous — another excuse for Beats to jack up the MSRP.
Beats headphones are overpriced. Close the books on that one (and get a better pair instead).