The Entry Level #29 Contacts

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Beats by Dr. Dre, PO Box 95232, Las Vegas, NV 89193. Tel: (800) 442-4000. Web: beatsbydre.com

Skullcandy, 1441 W. Ute Boulevard, Suite 250, Park City, UT 84098. Tel: (435) 940-1545. Fax: (435) 214-2566. Web: www.skullcandy.com

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COMMENTS
Ariel Bitran's picture

I too remember your "i don't like headphones" days. Good thing that's over. 

Et Quelle's picture

They are made to handle electronic drums and not real instruments. Hence; Dr. Dre

Stephen Mejias's picture

They are made to handle electronic drums and not real instruments. Hence; Dr. Dre

That's an interesting thought and it's exactly why I tried them with many types of pop music, including tracks produced by both Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre. Yet the Beats headphones invariably lacked the clarity, detail, and overall balance and impact of the other 'phones I tried.

In other words, even with pop and hip-hop, the Beats fall short.

The music that I found most enjoyable through the Beats typically featured fairly simple arrangements, was dynamically restricted but had lots of midrange energy, and made great use of stereo effects. The Haxan Cloak's Excavation, for instance, sounded thrilling and wonderfully physical through the Beats. But even that album was better served by other headphones. 

Utopianemo's picture

I enjoyed your article; I am almost inspired enough to move beyond my base model Grados and buy something more.....well, stylish, anyway. And although I can't bear to put any song I enjoy on my iPhone in anything less than lossless(make playlists on your computer and switch the songs out as you feel fit), I am glad iTunes is adding to your enjoyment of music.

But you kind of threw me for a moment with the A$AP Rocky thing. Are you being serious? Now, I hope I'm not coming off as insulting, but you do know there's another rapper named Aesop Rock from New York who's been making music since the late '90s, right? And you are aware Aesop is infinitely more talented at his craft than A$AP, right?

Maybe you don't agree. Given the iTunes tracks you mentioned above, maybe you don't like headiness in your hip-hop. In any case, if you haven't checked out Aesop, Give his album "None Shall Pass" a listen, Especially the title track, or "Five Fingers", or  "The Harbor is Yours", or pretty much any track on the album. You'll be doing yourself a favor. If you're feeling particularly adventurous, try "Cycles to Gehenna" or "Ruby '81" or "ZZZ Top" off his latest album "Skelethon".

Stephen Mejias's picture

I'm glad you enjoyed the article. Thank you.

But you kind of threw me for a moment with the A$AP Rocky thing. Are you being serious?

Yes. I'm very curious about many types of music, regardless of genre or audience, from the very underground to the very mainstream; and A$AP Rocky, as you know, has been getting lots of press recently, which in turn inspired my curiosity. The first few times I listened to Long.Live.A$AP, I didn't enjoy it very much. I was hoping for something with more lyrical substance. But, the more I listen, the more I do enjoy his voice, timing, and flow. I'm also a sucker for pop music, in general, and I particularly enjoy the tracks "Fuckin Problems" (featuring Kendrick Lamar, Drake, and 2 Chainz), "Hell" (featuring Santigold), "PMW" (featuring Schoolboy Q), and "1Train" (which features just about everyone). I think the album offers plenty of rewards, actually. I enjoy it.

But my enjoyment of the album is beside the point: I purchased it because I was (seriously) curious about it.

Now, I hope I'm not coming off as insulting, but you do know there's another rapper named Aesop Rock from New York who's been making music since the late '90s, right?

Yes.

And you are aware Aesop is infinitely more talented at his craft than A$AP, right?

I think a lot of people would agree with you. Personally, however, I've never enjoyed Aesop's delivery or the sound of his voice, so, despite his headier content and more sophisticated word choice, I have to pass him by.

I don't know anything about the relationship between the two artists.

Utopianemo's picture

I respect your opinion. Aesop isn't for everyone.  In spite of my respect for him, his slow songs don't do it for me. But most of the content on his last two albums is really spectacular.  

Other than being from NYC, the only similarities between Aesop Rock and A$AP Rocky of which I am aware are the ridiculously similar names--which in Rap culture amounts to either a blatant bite or a moronically ignorant mishap. 

DJ Solar Bear's picture

...when you find out about MOG!

 

Seriously though, I just found your column, and really dig it. Thanks!

emmdub's picture

Hello. My august 2013 issue arrived today. I was disappointed to see two letters in defense of Stephen Mejias, with none opposed. I was further disappointed by another infuriatingly bad column from SM. I'm sure SM is a swell guy; it's unfortunate that his overall approach to writing is so rankling to me and others. Dudley effectively vouched for the guy by referencing his admittedly witty conception of the alignment protractor as Jesus' choice; but nevertheless SM's column is so chock full of inanities and forehead slappers that I have to comment.

Stipulations:

1. You can't please all the people all the time. So many people whine about Fremer's (quarter? half?) megabuck system, it makes editorial sense to cover some relatively cheap stuff every month. No problem there. 

2. Yes, almost all conceivable uses of time would be more profitable than bashing SM. But the same can be said of reading a stereo magazine. The guy aggressively rankles, it's as simple as that. When I get a little popcorn husk stuck in my gums, I relentlessly floss/brush/ toothpick/hack away at it until the offending particle is removed. I'm sorry SM, but you are an offensive particle. Trees died so that your comments could be distributed. They should therefore be at least modestly valuable.

3. I don't even own a stereo, I don't listen to much music anymore, but I love stereophile. I'm 38. I greatly enjoyed listening to lp's in my early 20's on a $250 stereo. But I don't really care anymore. I don't drink wine, but I am nevertheless greatly pleased when a wine critic describes a particular vintage as 'muscular and authoritative.' I'm just looking for interesting writing. Dudley and Atkinson always deliver that. SM never delivers that.

Beefs:

Though I'd already been annoyed by the intrusive and inane inclusion of Ms. Little and SM's other irrelevant and painfully uninteresting female acquaintances in earlier columns, I think the above article on beats really pushed me over the edge. I find myself wanting to break it down into outline form, so that one can really inspect the ratio of dubious insight versus wasted text. Instead I'll just note the relevant comments to be found in the first 1151(!) words of this article:

1. Lots of people wear headphones. 

2. Dude, you can fit a lot of low res songs on an ipod. Way more than if you use hi res songs. I like that.

3. itunes is awesome! In one convenient place, you can pick up obscurities like Snoop dog and springsteen hits! 

4. Inexplicably contra insight number 2, SM is "excited" by the prospect that apple might someday offer hi res downloads, since it promises to "dramatically change" "the entire digital-music landscape"! (Woot! In that awesome landscape, there'd be oodles of hi res songs available that people wouldn't load onto their devices, because 2.)

Really? Is it conceivable that ANY actual or possible reader of stereophile would actually be informed by these 4 claims? This is not news, and it's certainly not fit to print! Worst of all, these inane claims could have been expressed in significantly fewer than 100 words. JA I'm calling you out! You are a talented editor and writer. This crap is unjustifiable, and I have to believe you know it.

Let's turn our attention to the august column, wherein SM uses roughly 1000 words to inform us that 1. he was really surprised that his girlfriend likes the psb ps1 speakers, despite the fact that she's uninterested in fancier hifi gear. (I'll ignore the fact that no one cares, because there are more serious issues to address.) He could have just asked her why she likes them, and then told us the answer. But SM takes a bolder, curiously insulting path. He speculates that she's unintimidated by these simple, convenient speakers. She doesn't have to learn anything!

 This is nauseating dude! But unfortunately, when SM shifts his attention to statistics, it gets worse.

Stephen clumsily erects the straw man that "music streaming [is] a fad". SM, no one thinks that, no one says that, no one believes that. But even if someone did, it's important to note that none of your statistics could possibly refute this idea. Even if 100% of all music listeners were streaming music 100% of the time, it remains an open question whether current behavior will continue into the future.  Dude, I can't even italicize this sh1t with adequate boldness. I would have thought it would go with out saying that only time will tell if it's a fad. Certainly not what 23% of any subgroup is doing at present. (!!) Again, JA, I feel like you share some responsibility for this epic lameness. EDIT this crap!! 

More could be said, but I'll leave it here. I read stereophile because I've often found interesting writing in it. If you can't fire SM, please at least get serious about editing this trash. 

John Atkinson's picture

emmdub wrote:
I was further disappointed by another infuriatingly bad column from SM. . . If you can't fire SM, please at least get serious about editing this trash.

I think you must be reading a different column from the one I edited, emmdub. I thought Stephen's writing was carefully crafted, with a strong narrative, sufficent discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of the headphones being reviewed, and with the concluding discussion of the headphone market well-argued and supported by references to orignal sources.

Yes, Stephen writes with a distinctive voice and I accept that some readers might be put off by that voice. But that is true for every writer whose work I publish in Stereophile. As always, in such circumstances, all I can do is to advise readers to turn the page.

John Atkinson

Editor, Stereophile

tmsorosk's picture

  Well said emmdub . 

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