What Exactly is Beats Audio? Update: An Answer

Back in August, I wrote an article questioning what exactly Beats Audio was, since it was always just referred to as “a technology” in advertisements, without offering any clue as to what exactly it really was. At the time, I couldn’t find any information on the Beats Audio website, and when I contacted HP PR reps, they never did reply with an answer.

A reader of that article searched extensively and was able to find a YouTube video that broke down what exactly makes up Beats Audio, and here it is:

1. Redesigned headphone jack – reduces ground noise
2. Discrete headphone amp – more powerful with better stereo separation
3. Dedicated audio island – isolates audio components on the circuit board
4. Function + B – engages Beats Audio profile

Based on the information provided, the Beats Audio system simply “corrects” some of the audio degradation that can occur when a computer is placed into a smaller package (a laptop) and corners are cut with the audio systems inside of it.

The “redesigned headphone jack” simply makes the jack itself out of plastic instead of metal to reduce potential noise. So any laptop with a plastic jack (and most desktops) essentially have that component of Beats Audio already.

A “discrete headphone amp” is the addition of a ground cable in between the stereo cables and better insulation of the cables themselves, so that there is less interference. And when they say “amp” they’re just referring to the audio being powered in general (like every computer) — the video itself even points out that the presence of a separate amplifier component is simulated.

The “dedicated audio island” is exactly what they say it is — simply isolating audio components on the circuit board. Like making the “amp” more “discrete,” this brings that isolation the rest of the way to the board.

Finally, the “Beats Audio profile” sounds like marketing speak for “equalizer setting.”

In summary, from what the video seems to indicate, Beats Audio is simply that equalizer setting paired with handling the wiring and organization of components in a way that fixes an oversight from previous HP laptop design. I’m sure it’s an improvement over some other manufacturers’ laptop construction as well, but who wires sound in what way probably varies a bit. Or more simply, Beats Audio makes your laptop sound as good as a desktop computer. But is it a difference you’d be able to hear anyway without high-end headphones?

As for how HTC implements Beats Audio in their phones and tablets, it’s probably safe to assume it’s a similar mixture of equalizer and insulation.