Beats headphones, known more for their style rather than their actual sound quality, cost significantly less to manufacture than their retail price suggests, according to a report from Bolt engineer Avery Louie that shouldn't surprise many.
Louie decided to tear down a pair of Beats Solo HD headphones, which cost $199 when they first hit the market in 2013. From the parts found within, Louie estimated that the total materials cost, including production and tooling of individual components, for these headphones and their packaging was just $16.89, or around 8.5% of the retail cost.
While this bill of materials (BOM) cost doesn't include the cost of research and development, labor, shipping or retailer margins, it goes to show just how expensive the actual components in a pair of headphones are. For example, the two speakers included in the Beats Solo HD headphones, arguably the most important components, cost just an estimated $1.80 in total to produce.
In his teardown, Louie also discovered a number of metal pieces that were used solely to increase the total weight of the headphones, making them feel more substantial. 30 percent of the Beats Solo HD's weight comes from four metal parts, which push the total weight of the headphones over 100 grams.
Louie's article describes in detail some of the methods Beats used to construct the headphones, and how the company managed to keep the cost of materials as low as possible. It's well worth a read if you're interested in the materials that go into a product such as this.