Build Quality and Cables
The Beats by Dre does have metal hinges and folds up, and the earcups of the Bose fold down to lay flat on a desk. We don't think either would stand up to be accidentally stepped on, however.One thing to note about the Beats is their shiny look. Some people think they are very sleek, but that shiny texture picks up fingerprints. You just touch the headset to take them off, and you have smudges. The kit does come with a microfiber cleaning cloth, but to keep these at their best you'd be polishing them all day.Both come with two sets of detachable audio cables (one with an in-line remote and microphone for Apple iPods and iPhones, and one for normal devices). Both also require batteries: the Beats requires two AA batteries while the Bose only requires one. Both headsets will only operate with noise cancellation on, and when the batteries run out, so does the music. This is really par for the course in a noise-cancelling set, and it shouldn't be a major factor in your decision.
The Beats Studio are a very nice set of cans, and has a few features that the QC15 does not. For one, it comes with Monster cables that are much beefier than the ones provided by Bose. The Beats also has a 'mute' button on the right ear-cup that you can press so that you can hear what's going on outside your personal music world.
The Bose audio cables are thinner and are technically proprietary. The end of each cable terminates with a little 'cartridge' that fits snugly into the left can, and when installed looks completely integrated, as if the cable were permanently attached. The cable also has a 'high/low' gain switch so you can adjust the volume on high-gain devices.
Using the Beats, the AA batteries are installed in the left ear-cup, which are revealed when you twist the 'B' logo counter-clockwise. This cap feels cheap like it will fall off, and is a little loose when clipped on.
Bose's battery implementation has a more clever design. You just pop open a hinge to reveal the battery compartment, which is discretely tucked away once installed.
The Beats requires two AA batteries because in addition to its noise-cancelling technology, they are also amplified. You do notice a slight volume difference between regular headphones and the Beats, and they just appear to have more energy.
Noise cancellation is a chief function of both the Bose QC15 headphones and Monster Beats By Dre studio headphones, with both pairs housing electronics within the earpiece to offset external sounds. The two headphones both do an effective job of removing noise beyond the speakers, though the QC15s from Bose provide a measure of sound dampening that is simply unmatched by Monster's Beats By Dre Studio. The Beats By Dre headphones cancel out the bulk of the ambient noise, and carries high sound sensitivity (lots of amplification) to offsets most noise; however, Bose has long been synonymous with noise-canceling technology and it proves true here.
It should be noted that neither pair of headphones work without noise reduction; when the batteries run out, the headphones will no longer produce sound.
The 'Studio' designation of these headphones has more to do with its audio quality than its intended use. Priced at around $300, the sound quality of these headphones is a prime draw to both pairs, and both equally live up to their billing.
There is no clear advantage in sound quality between these two pairs of headphones, though there are some distinctions. The Beats By Dre has a fuller, low-end sound with burly bass and a highly amplified sound. The Bose QC15s produce a smooth, rich sound with less low-end emphasis and a more consistent overall signal.
At their extremes, the Beats By Dre seem to hold its sound slightly better at maximum (not recommended) volumes, while the Bose QC15 carry a more even sound, sustained at its lowest volumes.
Both noise-cancelling headphones are ported because they have to release air pressure from the sealed cups, and they use microphones to sample ambient noise (The Bose uses four). There will always be a bit of sound leakage, especially when compared with ear-buds.
One of the major factors that influenced my decision was the ambient sound that the headphones generate. Everyone in my general vicinity could hear exactly what I was listening to, so my experience was far from private. For me, this is a major flaw because one of the major points of having headphones is for privacy.
The Bose QC15 leaks sound about as much as any normal set of headphones, which isn't noticeable from a few feet away.
The Monster Beats is rather comfortable, but the ear cups were a little small and the pressure was a little much on my head.
The Bose QC15 has a much lighter grip and is the most comfortable pair of headphones I've ever tried. Since the pressure is less, they may slip off while exercising, but most people interested in these are commuting or sitting at a desk.
Another thing that may be a factor for you is the carrying case. The Bose QC15s fold flat, and the case is far slimmer (so it can slip into a laptop bag) and has room for all the cables and even a pocket for your iPod. The case for the Monster Beats is much bulkier and won't slip into anything smaller than a gym bag, but does have a carabiner so you can clip it to your bag, albeit with much more bulk.
The major deal-breaker for me was the sound leakage of the Beats Studio. If you're in an environment with other people (open office, bus or airplane), then everyone will be able to hear what you are listening to. The Beats do produce very good sound, but what's the point if it's not private? You might as well have a ghetto-blaster on your shoulder.
The major factors for me are the noise cancellation, comfort, and sound leakage; all without sacrificing quality audio. If one of your primary criteria is noise cancellation, then you have to choose the Bose QC15: there just is no substitute.