Alloy has been involved in bringing all of Beats’ over-ear and on-ear headphones to market. Initially we provided architectural CAD for the manufacturers to detail with our oversight. Over time, we have owned the mechanical design further into the process, providing tool-ready geometry backed up by several rounds of prototyping to ensure a robust design. The result has been faster overall development times, tighter fit and finish, better integration of acoustic and electrical requirements, and increased durability.
Original Studios (2008)
(Phases 1, 2, 3, 5)
Famous musician/producer Dr. Dre, Ammunition Design, and Monster Cable partnered to kick off Dre’s audio product line with headphones destined to disrupt an entire industry. We were initially brought in to refine the factory’s first pass at the layout. But it soon became clear that we needed to rebuild it from the ground up. We developed a unique gimbals architecture, nesting the ear cup pivots inside the iconic tear-drop headband to reduce the overall thickness. Dr. Dre himself insisted on the folding feature, challenging us to integrate the hinges with hidden wiring into the existing headband thickness. We oversaw every mechanical detail and refinement over the 2+ year process, including several trips to overseas factories.
(Phases 1, 2, 3)
Beats’ next task was to shrink down the Studio architecture into a lighter, passive, lower-cost headphone. We embraced the challenge by slashing the number of parts and eliminating almost all of the screws. We developed a robust plastic headband that no longer required metal reinforcement. We came up with a fun way to slide, hook and snap the parts together for easy assembly. And we introduced cast metal parts for the hinge and trim to improve the fit and finish.
(Phases 1, 2, 3)
For the professional musician, DJ and recording engineer, Beats Pro combines a larger, more powerful driver in a super robust package. We developed a bomb-proof mechanical design using die cast aluminum hinges, a stainless steel headband, and formed aluminum ear cups, all optimized to maintain a reasonable weight. Two of the key challenges were the detented hinges that allow the user to pivot the ear cups away from their ears and the unique ear cushion design that forms itself around the edges of the ear cup and dual audio jacks.
(Phases 1, 2, 3)
In collaboration with the renowned DJ, David Guetta, Beats set out to create a lighter, on-ear headphone dedicated to the hardcore DJ. Like Pro, the headphones needed to stand up to serious abuse and offer the rotating ear cups for single ear listening. This time we developed a cool mechanism that combined the sliding for size adjustment and fore-aft rotation of the ear-cup. The plastic headband required extensive analysis and material testing to achieve proper stiffness and durability.
Executive (2012) (Phases 1, 2, 3, 5)
The Executive headphones introduced a more sophisticated appearance and fold-flat design to the family. Previously, we needed to include both vertical and horizontal rotation in the ear-cup to allow it to conform to wearer’s head. This time we put the vertical hinge up in the headband, allowing the ear cups to rotate flat against the collar bone while being worn around the neck or fit into a slim case appreciated by travelers.