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Full Version: Anatomy of a $199 pair of Beats By Dre headphones
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No surprise here, they're hugely overpriced and of average at best quality.

How It’s Made Series: Beats By Dre

https://medium.com/life-learning/how-it-...4aae384b36

It’s nearly impossible to be on a train, fly on a plane or walk down the street without spotting the iconic “b” logo. Beats has been extremely successful in marketing its headphones and now enjoys large market appeal. But with a sky-high retail price of $199, is there more to Beats than meets the eye?

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Lots of optimizations are to be expected in a product manufactured in the millions of units: snaps and glue are used for assembly rather than screws (which require lots of human manipulation) and almost every part is injection molded plastic (which is essentially free at high volumes).

Anytime I take a product apart there are a few exciting surprises to solve some tricky problems. Here’s what I found for Beats:

Use of metal components to increase weight

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One of the great things about the solo headphones is how substantial they feel. A little bit of weight makes the product feel solid, durable, and valuable. One way to do this cheaply is to make some components out of metal in order to add weight. In these headphones, 30% of the weight comes from four tiny metal parts that are there for the sole purpose of adding weight.

The two larger parts are cast zinc. Cast parts are similar to injection molded parts in that there is a tooling cost and a per-part cost. Compared to injection molding, the tool is marginally more expensive, but the per-part costs are higher, and the tools do not last as long.

The brilliant thing here is that the two large metal parts are not mirror images of each other- they are actually the same part! This means that only one tool would need to be made to produce both parts, which saves money in tool design and number of tools. It also makes the headphones easier to assemble, since there are fewer unique parts.

Complex mold design of headband

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This part probably has the highest tooling cost of any of the parts in the headphones, because it requires many cams in order for the part to be released from the mold. Cams allow for parts of the mold to move perpendicular to the parting line. These extra parts have to meet perfectly, in order for the parts to be molded properly. It is easy to tell what direction the two halves of the mold pulled apart from the round dots you can see in the photo above — those are ejector pin marks, from where the part was pushed out of the tool.

From the flashing along the long snaps at the top of the part, I can tell there are two side actions that were used to create the undercut. You can see parting lines in the part right under the snaps, and at the bottom of the circle.

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You can also tell that inside the circle where the ear cup goes, there were actions to create the pins that the ear cup swivels on — the witness lines are visible, even though it has been post-polished.

Minimal use of screws

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Screws are cheap but are tedious to install, hence nearly every part on this product is snapped or glued together. You can see how the number of screws are optimized at the cost of cutting two more molds by comparing the left and right speaker grills and speaker cups — one of them has an extra two screw holes. Screws are great here because they make sure the PCB does not rattle around near your ear- however, they could have shaved off some assembly time by using heat stake bosses, or simply trapping the PCB between the red plastic and the ear cup.
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So, do Beats by Dre headphones really enhance the bass? I couldn’t tell from the product teardown but the generic drivers make it seem unlikely. I was impressed, however, by the look and feel that was achieved with so few parts.

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While it’s difficult to accurately reverse engineer the COGS of a product, I will do my best with each product that I tear down. In this BOM, I break it down into several categories- plastics, metal parts, and electronic parts.

[Image: I2lvBeC.png]

I estimate that the COGS without labor or shipping is $16.89 - yet Beats is able to successfully retail these headphones for $199+. This is the power of brand; Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine have leveraged their personal backgrounds and a sleek design to launch a remarkable brand that’s become fundamental to music pop culture.

*Plastic part price takes the following assumptions into account:

2% scrap rate
1 cavity / tool
20% regrind allowed
No additives (Meaning not glass filled, etc)
Machine rate, setup labor, and direct labor adjusted per component
Cycle time of 15 seconds is assumed per part
Markup is not included
Tooling cost is amortized assuming 1M units
No downtime factored into molding machine
Assume simple tooling (It’s known that some of these parts have actions, but was not added to the tooling cost)
Tooling cost assumptions are broad and based in China
Production costs based on Asia. Somewhat conservative and broad

*Metal part price takes the following assumptions into account:

5% scrap rate
160 ton press
95% uptime, 8hr setup

*Electronics part price takes the following assumptions into account:

Quoted from Zirui @ qty 6000 FOB
CB with routing and v-score, 1 part placement
25 seconds to solder @ Shenzhen min wage RMB2,030/mo = US $1.50/hr
Exact equivalent not found; found 40mm x 5.6mm, 32 ohm, 25mW for $0.75

Avery Louie is a Prototype Engineer at Bolt. Bolt is a seed-stage fund that invests capital, staff, prototyping facilities and expertise in startups at the intersection of hardware and software. For more info, check out http://www.bolt.io.
beats have always looked cheap to me

i see less people wearing them these days. I guess people know they are cheesy
(06-21-2015 10:40 PM)EVILYOSHIDA Wrote: [ -> ]beats have always looked cheap to me

i see less people wearing them these days. I guess people know they are cheesy

I am an earbud guy myself. I like being able to keep everything in my pocket when necessary, and big ear cups are cumbersome and sweaty at the gym. I also like a flat or slightly mid sweetened EQ, not a big bump in bass response. The Apple earbuds that come with current products or Sony earbuds around the same price point are good enough for me.

As the article points out, it's about marketing and consumer materialism. Remember when the iPod came out, everyone could notice you had an iPod or iPhone by the white cord. Every company started making white earbuds after that.
about 17 bucks to make a pair?

what's stopping people from making something with the exact same quality and charging only 50?
(06-21-2015 10:47 PM)johan Wrote: [ -> ]
(06-21-2015 10:40 PM)EVILYOSHIDA Wrote: [ -> ]beats have always looked cheap to me

i see less people wearing them these days. I guess people know they are cheesy

I am an earbud guy myself. I like being able to keep everything in my pocket when necessary, and big ear cups are cumbersome and sweaty at the gym. I also like a flat or slightly mid sweetened EQ, not a big bump in bass response. The Apple earbuds that come with current products or Sony earbuds around the same price point are good enough for me.

As the article points out, it's about marketing and consumer materialism. Remember when the iPod came out, everyone could notice you had an iPod or iPhone by the white cord. Every company started making white earbuds after that.

earbuds are better for travelling.. headphones are better for critical listening

Sonys are the best value for money at the high end

i have a pair of MDR 7520s.. prob the best p4p headphone
(06-21-2015 10:51 PM)EVILYOSHIDA Wrote: [ -> ]
(06-21-2015 10:47 PM)johan Wrote: [ -> ]
(06-21-2015 10:40 PM)EVILYOSHIDA Wrote: [ -> ]beats have always looked cheap to me

i see less people wearing them these days. I guess people know they are cheesy

I am an earbud guy myself. I like being able to keep everything in my pocket when necessary, and big ear cups are cumbersome and sweaty at the gym. I also like a flat or slightly mid sweetened EQ, not a big bump in bass response. The Apple earbuds that come with current products or Sony earbuds around the same price point are good enough for me.

As the article points out, it's about marketing and consumer materialism. Remember when the iPod came out, everyone could notice you had an iPod or iPhone by the white cord. Every company started making white earbuds after that.

earbuds are better for travelling.. headphones are better for critical listening

Sonys are the best value for money at the high end

i have a pair of MDR 7520s.. prob the best p4p headphone

I have the 7506's for monitoring and at home listening.
(06-21-2015 10:48 PM)EVILYOSHIDA Wrote: [ -> ]about 17 bucks to make a pair?

what's stopping people from making something with the exact same quality and charging only 50?

Maybe nothing, but no one would buy it.

It's about the brand boss. The brand.
performance also matters too.

if you could tout your headphone as having the same sound for 25% of the price people would buy it... esp. headphone freaks.

go to head-fi.org.. those guys are crazy about any brand as long as its good
the 7506 is a good example that johan brought up.

around 80 bucks for a pair but superior performance to beats.

i think they can bring a top class headphone down to about 40-50 bucks. that would be a HIT
I definitely think you underestimate the power of branding boss. You been up in China too long.

Quality means jack shit. You're wearing a showpiece to show your bling bling.
branding is one thing but beats are also known for good sound for certain types of music like dance and hip hop.

if someone could make a "bass heavy" headphone that sounded just like beats for around 50 bucks it would sell. not a lot but it would sell.

I think they probably have some proprietary bass boost at some level in the circuitry.
Maybe. I don't wear headphones ever. I can't stand the feeling of not being able to hear what's going on around me.

As soon as I put in some sweet buds and start rocking out, that's when they'll come in for the kill and I'll never hear it coming.

CONSTANT VIGILANCE!

But seriously though, headphones make a person extremely vulnerable.
(06-22-2015 01:37 AM)Winnson Wrote: [ -> ]Maybe. I don't wear headphones ever. I can't stand the feeling of not being able to hear what's going on around me.

As soon as I put in some sweet buds and start rocking out, that's when they'll come in for the kill and I'll never hear it coming.

CONSTANT VIGILANCE!

But seriously though, headphones make a person extremely vulnerable.

You're right. When I'm on my bike I have to keep my headphones at a reasonable level or I can't hear anything going on around me. The road cyclists I see usually don't have headphones on, but I'd be too bored without them. Same thing with my car, the system in my car is about 1200 watts (watts isn't a measure of loudness, but you get the point). I can't hear horns or sirens when I've got it at about 75% or louder. I only take it to that point now when I'm on an open road.
There is no way I could cycle with headphones in. I can't even sit at the computer with headphones in.

I've tried, but I just can't do it.

Anyone could be doing anything anywhere around you and you'd have no clue. Too easy.
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