MINI-COMPARISON: A03 Ossicle VS Beats by Dre Tour
I almost didn’t do this comparison, because, on initial listen of the A03, I knew it would far outstrip the Beats Tour in every aspect of the sound. However, as I had lunch with a friend right next door to the official Monster store, I just had to do the comparison.
There’s no surprise here; the A03 Ossicle is light years ahead of the Beats by Dre Tour in every possible metric except perhaps comfort and driving ease. In terms of build quality, while the Tour isn’t exactly horrible, next to the A03, the metal mesh grille looked cheap and sloppy. The stock ear tips are superior, and the smaller form factor allows for a much easier fit, but the quality of the plastic isn’t any better, and the styling looks bland when juxtaposed against the futuristic-looking Ossicle.
Things, as expected, looked even bleaker for the Beats Tour when I put them on. Using my Heir Audio 4.A as a ‘palate cleanser’, I first tested the two phones for sheer enjoyment of music. I know Beats products are much maligned on audiophile forums like head-fi, sometimes with unfounded hatred for the brand, but the Tour didn’t do much to acquit itself. The very first tracks I put on were some, er… beats by Dre (yes, ha. ha.), and the very first things I noticed were the bloated mid-bass, recessed mids, and peaky highs. As an overall package, it didn’t sound too terrible, but at the same time, iBuds as a package aren’t too horrible either! Without even needing to listen to the A03, I knew the Beats Tour just didn’t belong in the $149 category. In fact, I’d say the ~$65 A00 Malleus might even be a better choice!
Nevertheless, I put on the Ossicle, and it was simply better in every dimension. The midrange did not feel veiled, and despite not exactly being the most forward, was in fact quite clear and well centered. With two clicks above 50% in volume, the A03 simply filled up its shells with punchy, detailed, and textured bass. In this regard, the Ossicle shared much more in common with the venerable Future Sonics Atrio m5 (with MG7 driver) than to the Beats. It still had more mid-bass than the 4.A, but it didn’t feel intrusive at all. The sub-bass rumbled deep in the background, giving the music a dynamic presence, and most of all, the soundstage and separation was simply grand. In typical RedGiant fashion, it makes your typical, throwaway popular music from the likes of Eminem, Usher, and LMFAO sound epic. Mind you, I’m using Comply tips with the A03, which takes away a little bit of the sparkle and air. As I switched to other genres, the A03 distanced itself even further. Some genres such as Vocal Jazz simply weren’t very listenable with the Beats Tour, but were still very enjoyable with the Ossicle. Needless to say, without needing to get technical in the analysis at all, the A03 trounced the Tour in every category imaginable.
The sad part was that this was very much an apples to apples comparison. The A03 Ossicle and Beats by Dre Tour hold the same MSRP of $149, target the same demographic with their hip, modern designs, and cater specifically toward the Apple-fi crowd with an in-line microphone integrated into their cables. There is simply no reason for anyone to choose a product like the Beats by Dre Tour over the RedGiant unless that person simply could not get a good fit with the A03, or specifically wanted to be associated with the Beats brand.