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Does Beats Audio Qualify as a Real Feature?

Steven Blum
2

Beats-branded handsets have been one of HTC's biggest investments in recent years, so it may or may not surprise you to learn that these phones don't have a single chip that makes them handle audio any differently from a non-Beats branded HTC handset. That's right; not a single bit of hardware distinguishes these oft-pricier handsets from their similarly capable siblings. The only difference between phones with Beats and phones without is a slight modification in software. And that software is really not so impressive; all it does is increase the bass of a song. You could actually set the bass to rumble with every song on your own with an app called DSP Manager and be done with it.

So why is HTC continuing to market the hell out of this feature?

It's simple; branding. Beats has one of the most powerful backers in the music industry, Dr. Dre. And folks know the Beats brand since it's been around for about four years already. Beats by Dre headphones sell quite well for the same reason: brand loyalty. And so HTC will continue to market their Beats-branded handsets to consumers who don't know any better as if they're a huge step-up in audio performance. 

In my opinion, Beats audio is definitely not worth the price upgrade. While the handsets may come with better headphones, the differences end there. I would suggest HTC focus on really innovating their product line with useful features rather than investing millions in empty marketing campaigns.

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Comments

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  • Brennan Yamamoto Mar 6, 2012 Link

    Well, it does a bit more than just increase the bass of a song. If that were the case, the effect would be easily duplicatible by means of any 3rd party music player with a graphic equalizer (or like you said, a DPS manager). It's still not entirely clear how it does this, but the changes are a bit lower level--it affects the way the hardware handles the sound processing, not just altering the output signal to the speakers (ask eric, he has a sensation).

    That being said, you hit the nail on the head with this one--its all about branding. People LOVE beats, even if it really doesn't sound all that great (another debate altogether), the name itself really means something to people. If you have a $300 pair of beats headphones (or if you really wanted a pair but are too poor to buy them), wouldn't you want to get a phone that has "beats audio" enabled on it as well?

    TBH, I'm not totally sure theres any "price upgrade" involved here. It really doesn't cost them a whole lot or licensing, and obviously has no manufacturing overhead to put on the device, so it's almost a free lunch really. It's more of a feature that HTC was testing on their higher end devices in 2011, and I SUSPECT, that all the phones in their 2012 lineup will come with beats audio enabled (lest the nexus if they get it :p). Even if it doesn't mean a thing to me, I think it's quite an effective market strategy for HTC to bring aboard new customers.

    ...And I gotta admit, it's pretty cool to see the beats logo pop up in my notification bar when I'm listening to music :)

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  • CJ Brown Mar 21, 2012 Link

    As soon as I found out that the HTC Rezound wasn't GPS friendly, I lost interest (I use my Android Smart Phone for Navigation) - right now? the HTC Thunderbolt has dropped down in price so low it screams "outdated & about to be replaced" (unless Verizon Wireless is trying to get rid of stock on hand) but overall? I think it's a better model HTC Android Smart Phone then the HTC Rezound ...

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