When choosing headphones for travel, the first choice is whether you want over-ear or in-ear.
I’ve used both in the past, but for reasons of bulk for packing, and also the ability to fall asleep with them in, I prefer in-ear headphones, and so tried out these latest “Tour” in-ear headphones from Beats by Dr Dre.
I’ll admit I’d not heard of this brand until it was recently bought by Apple for a reported US$3 billion, but my children think they are the coolest headphones, so I had to retrieve these from various bags and bedrooms several times before I could use them regularly.
Much of the point of the headphones being branded “Dr Dre” is removed, however, if you’ve no idea who he is, but the “Tour” bit I get — they are for travel, and it is for travel that I have used them, every day for commuting and for several long-haul trips from the UK to Asia and the US.
The headphones came in a large, heavy and attractive piece of packaging, a red and black box with the main features listed. An important one is Remote Talk so the headphones can be used for calls – there’s a microphone halfway down.
There are also optional fitting sizes for people with odd-shaped ear canals and the option of a secure-fit wingtip, only necessary if you’re going to use them in the gym or run through airports to make the gate on a regular basis. (I have several sets of headphones, and prefer the Jabra ones for the gym – especially the new ones which sync with an app on my phone and also measure your heartbeat simply by being in your ears).
I found the ear buds fitted well, without changing the size of them, and they are bent slightly for a more comfortable fit, saving your ears from becoming sore, even while wearing them for quite some time (several hours on one occasion, although I was asleep for most of that).
They also, so far as I can judge, don’t leak noise onto your neighbour. Admittedly, this is more difficult to judge, but unlike some headphones I never felt the need to turn up the volume to close to maximum. I’ve found that when this is necessary, it’s normally because your music is annoying everyone else rather than staying in your ears for your enjoyment. The sound was good, perhaps not the best I’ve experienced – a pair of Sennheiser ones I have are best for that, but they have a bulky unit attached to them which you have to clip to your shirt front or jacket lapel, and so are less convenient.
I like the cable on the Tour, which is long and flat, allowing the cable to be rolled up and put in the neat carrying case quickly and easily, and also ensured that it – or rather they, since there are two cables, one for each ear, which then meet and become one – never got tangled while in there. I’ve had headphones where you spend the first minute or so untangling the wire each time before use – these have solved that problem, so to be free of that irritation is worth extra.
I was less keen on the colour of the cable – red, on this pair – although I noticed many other, admittedly younger, travellers seem to opt for red. But it’s possible to order a black cable if you prefer to be more subtle about the brand of headphone you are using, or alternatively don’t have anything that matches red in your wardrobe.
Really good headphones – robust, great sound and well-designed.
- Beats by Dr Dre Tour £119.95