Review: Beats by Dr. Dre Neon MIXRs

One of the most understated line of headphones from a company known for style and overstatement just got a splash of color — and just in time for the summer.

A year ago, Beats by Dr. Dre introduced its MIXR line, a David Guetta-inspired collection designed with DJ style in mind. That meant a smaller profile than your traditional Beats, earcups that could rotate up, and a slightly toned-down design.

This year? Beats learns a few lessons, making a sleeker, cleaner-sounding — and more eye-catching — model. The new MIXRs are available in five bold neon colors (blue, green, yellow, orange and pink) as well as the traditional black, white and red offerings for $249.99, and they showcase subtle changes over last year’s model.

First off, this year’s unit is easily more comfortable. Last year’s MIXRs were sleek and portable, but they also felt incredibly tight on your ears, squeezing in on your head. The units had very little give, and after an hour’s worth of wear, you’d take them off to give your ears a break.

No such problems this time around. Beats made the headband slightly larger this year, and it seems a tad more flexible. Yes, that means the entire MIXR is a little bit bigger, too, but it remains tiny and sleek, far leaner than anything else in the Beats line.

Meanwhile, the set retains its comfy on-ear earcups. The deep white color on the earcups now creates a bold contrast with the neon, though, enlivening these cans much more.

The earcups still swivel up and down, allowing you to listen to music in one ear and keep your other ear firmly grounded in real life, if you should so choose. Each degree of rotation draws a satisfying click, and even with the looser, larger headband, these cans still feel solid with only one earcup down.

It’s all a satisfying framework, and once again, the MIXRs deliver solid sound. They’re easily Beats’ least bass-intensive units, making for a pleasant experience when listening to movies and audiobooks as well as music. The bass remains potent, but vocals come across stronger in Carrie Underwood’s “All-American Girl” and Michael Jackson’s “Beat It.” The clarity of musical instruments doesn’t quite reach the level of Sony’s X headphone line, but it’s a nice improvement over previous Beats iterations.

It’s all a nice showing from the company that’s come to define headphones in recent years. The headphone market has grown increasingly crowded these days, with solid lifestyle offerings from Sony, Sennheiser and other companies, so it’s nice to see that Beats is finally doing more than simply reskinning tried-and-true sets of headphones.

Yes, the MIXRs got a splash of color. But the redesign this year helped, too.

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