Beats Pill+ Bluetooth portable speaker review: A fashion pill as a musical statement

The Beats Pill+ Bluetooth portable speaker follows the brand’s style of visually appealing music devices

By Anirban Bagchi

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Published: Tue 28 Nov 2023, 11:10 PM

Last updated: Thu 30 Nov 2023, 9:35 AM

Not long ago, people everywhere – and especially the young — were in the habit of going around in public wearing horn-like appendages on their heads and around their ears, ostensibly as headphones but actually as fashion statements.

This bizarre turn of fashion, where a gadget almost became a garment, was the marketing success of a certain Dr Dre, the rapper turned electronics entrepreneur, who launched the ‘Beats by Dre’ brand of music devices, mainly headphones.

So successful was he at turning a personal music device into a thing to be seen with, and so complete seemed the adoption of the Beats headphones among both listeners and non-listeners of music alike, that I was often left wondering whether the human species would actually evolve horns soon. Especially since no head looked able to survive on its own without having these horn-like appendages that were masquerading as headphones seemingly channelling life into them.

In the end, though, evolution didn’t have to dumb us down to cattle-levels. Thankfully, brains prevailed over horns and, like all fads, the horny (no pun intended) headphones fad, too, faded – much to the disappointment of Dr. Dre I would imagine. For, while the going was good, he must have milked the horns-over-the-head headphones phenomenon for all it was worth.

While it must have been a bitter pill to swallow for Dr. Dre and Beats Audio, they perhaps saw the writing on the wall and fell back on Plan B – a portable Bluetooth speaker called Beats Pill, perfect for listening to music when the headphones were off. The Beats Pill then evolved into the Beats Pill+, going into a more advanced avatar as the company found it could somewhat offset the fall in headphone sales as the fad dwindled, with its portable speaker.

True to Dr. Dre’s design philosophy of sophisticated flash, the Beats Pull+ is a good-looking little speaker. It lives up to its name by resembling a pill in shape, making it highly portable and easy to carry. The design is sleek yet minimalist and aesthetically pleasing, featuring a smooth, matte finish and the iconic Beats logo. The compact size allows it to fit into small bags or even pockets, making it an excellent choice for those on the go.

And of course, as a Beats product, the speaker comes in various colour options, catering to users with different style preferences. The red, blue and white variants are our picks for the cool factor in their looks, though it’s the black that is more likely to blend with most decors for those who like their speakers to be heard more than seen. The attention to design detail is evident on the Pill+, making it not only a functional audio device but also that Dr. Dre essential — a fashion statement. In a repeat of its headphones formula, Beats thought that a made-for-portability speaker like the Pill+ absolutely has to look the part, no matter how it sounds.

And it does sound quite good — if it’s not stretched. The hallmark of the Beats by Dr. Dre sound in its headphones is overblown bass. In the Beats Pill+, though, the company takes the opposite route by overemphasising the treble. The speaker boasts a two-way crossover system, which effectively separates the high and low frequencies. It then proceeds to accentuate the former, resulting in clear vocals, mids and high-range.

At moderate volume levels and with well-mastered sound sources, vocals and instruments are clear, musical and bright, making pop, soft rock and melodies with intricate details sound good. But pump up the volume or feed it music that has not been recorded or remastered properly – or even audio files that are not high-quality in terms of resolution – and the overemphasised treble range easily makes higher frequencies sound piercing. Bass is not its strongest suite, with whatever it offers of the stuff sounding boomy.

In comparison with other small Bluetooth speakers in its price range – such as those by JBL and Sony, and especially the Bose Soundlink Mini, which is the standout product in the category in our estimation – the Beats Pill+ leaves something to be desired. On the upside, it can play stereo content without downmixing it into mono.

It’s also right up there in terms of connectivity, not only with the seamless Bluetooth but also with an auxiliary input, providing a wired connection option for non-Bluetooth devices. Another plus is the ability to connect multiple Beats Pill+ speakers wirelessly to create a more immersive soundstage for larger spaces.

The Beats Pill+ offers a bog-standard 12-hour playtime on a full charge, though continuous high-volume playing saw us get a tad less than that. This limitation can be a drawback for those planning to use it in settings where access to power outlets is limited, such as outdoor events or extended trips. Another limitation for this is the lack of an advertised dust or water resistance rating, though the build quality is very sturdy.

In the final analysis, the Beats Pill+ offers oodles of style along with some substance, making it an attractive choice for music enthusiasts who prioritise aesthetics as well as sound. At circa Dh500 depending on colour option, it is the affordable audio pill for those looking for brand recognition and making a fashion statement.

“The attention to design detail is evident on the Pill+, making it not only a functional audio device but also that Dr. Dre essential - a fashion statement. In a repeat of its headphones formula, Beats thought that a made-for-portability speaker like the Pill+ absolutely has to look the part, no matter how it sounds”

Beats Pill+ Bluetooth portable speaker

Hits:

- Clear and airy treble

- Design and build quality

Misses:

- Muted bass

- No dust or water resistance

Price: Dh500

Rating: 3.5 stars


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