Beats by Dr Dre Studio vs. AKG Q701 Quincy Jones headphones pictures and hands-on

In the world of headphones, it's all the rage to add the moniker of a music superstar to your brand in order to create a sense of authority. The House of Marley has released a range of earbuds and cans, David Guetta has loaned his name to a DJ-centric headset from Beats, and Chas and Dave are rumoured to be in talks with the Cockernee Headphones Co from Bow. Probably.

But, two specific brands have used their association with big name producers to climb to the very top of the tree. The first is AKG, with its tie-in with Quincy Jones. While the other can be summed up succinctly with four little words; Beats by Dr Dre.

It's impossible to walk the streets of London (at least) without seeing someone - generally in their 20s - sporting a pair of Beats by Dr Dre headphones. You definitely couldn't visit the changing room of a Premier League football club without being surrounded by them. For the younger generation, a Beats by Dr Dre headset is the must have accessory, often being worn around the neck as much as on the ears.

In stark contrast, AKG's Quincy Jones signature range of headsets are favoured more by older audiophiles. And although they too are offered in a range of colours, including a rather garish bright green, their focus is on high-end performance rather than good looks.

So, therefore, the Beats by Dr Dre Studio and AKG Q701 Quincy Jones headphones may seem strange bedfellows in a battle of the brands. Until you realise that they share a similar message, that is; a deep-routed philosophy that runs throughout their core. These are no mere licensed products, these both have the soul of their respective sponsors running through their very cores. Jones and Dre helped design these headphones, and boy can you tell.

Take the AKG Q701 'phones, for example, they are possibly best suited to jazz or music that requires keen control and subtlety. They are spatially excellent, offering up every ounce and sonic drop afforded by a lossless audio track, while retaining some of the lower end bass required for traditional rhythm and blues. In short, they are Quincy Jones personified.

The Beats by Dr Dre Studio headphones, however, are as subtle as a swift punch in the man glands. There be bass in that there them hills, and it's going to beat you into submission. Listening to Eminem's Lose Yourself or Public Enemy's Night of the Living Baseheads on these baddest of bad boys is like trying to juggle knives on a bouncy castle; hugely dangerous but ultimately great fun.

Sadly, that bass overload does mean that they are far from suitable for all musical ventures. Trying to listen to If I had a Gun by Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds on a pair was like trying to have a conversation in a nightclub - the vocals were fine, but the precision was mugged by a bassline so massive it could've been security at a Boo-Yaa Tribe gig.

So, indeed, in audio terms, these headsets are chalk and cheese. And that's why they are both equally brilliant.

The Beats do win out in extra features, offering battery-powered isolation functionality (effectively, the manufacturer's own proprietary noise cancellation) which definitely helps when in a loud environment, such as on a plane or tube train. But we suspect the Q701s will be utilised more in the home than on the move - certainly, they're much bigger, being of an over-the-ear design.

Both come with two cables, but only the Beats offers one that's designed for iPhone or BlackBerry use, coming with an in-line mic. Neither of the leads supplied with the Quincy Jones cans have a mini microphone, although one of them is much much longer at 6 metres (the other is 3 metres), so can be used across a living room or recording studio.

The last important disparity between the 'phones is in recommended retail price. The Beats by Dr Dre Studio (which are available in black, white and red usually, with a host of limited edition colours on the way) come in at £280, while the AKG Q701 Quincy Jones headphones are listed at £500. However, the latter can be found for under £300 if you shop around, so there's not much in it considering.

What it all boils down to really is what type of music you prefer: The Rolling Stones, Muddy Waters or Captain Beefheart? Quincy's your man. NWA, Chase and Status or Pendulum? It's all about da Beats. N-Dubz? Check yourself into a clinic immediately.

Do you have a pair of either of these headphones? If so, which would you recommend? Let us know in the comments below...