Beats Solo3 Review
Pros: Lightweight, good sound
Cons: Expensive, especially considering their relative performance
Manufacturer: Beats by Dre
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|Pros||Lightweight, good sound||Superb active noise cancellation and overall sound quality, multipoint Bluetooth pairing, auto-pause, relatively comfortable for most people||Excellent sound quality, field-leading noise cancellation, comfortable||Great sound quality, relatively small and portable||Inexpensive, powerful bass, effective active noise cancellation, comfortable|
|Cons||Expensive, especially considering their relative performance||Expensive||Expensive||Can be uncomfortable if you have larger ears, noise cancellation lags slightly behind that of comparable models||Lacks some brightness in mid and vocal ranges, headband may be to large for smaller heads|
|Bottom Line||Decent performance that doesn't quite match the expectations set by the list price||Top-notch in terms of both noise cancellation and sound quality, it's hard to find a better listening experience||Pillowy comfort and one of the best personal listening experiences we've enjoyed from any device||A great choice for those that place a premium on sound quality over active noise cancellation||Impressively inexpensive given the sound quality, active noise-canceling performance, and comfort|
|Rating Categories||Beats Solo3||Sony WH-1000XM4||Bose Noise Cancelli...||beyerdynamic Lagoon...||Soundcore Life Q20|
|Sound Quality (30%)|
|Noise Isolation (25%)|
|User Friendliness (10%)|
|Specs||Beats Solo3||Sony WH-1000XM4||Bose Noise Cancelli...||beyerdynamic Lagoon...||Soundcore Life Q20|
|Manufacturer reported battery life (hours)||40||30||20||45||40|
|Measured weight (ounces)||7.5||8.8||9.2||9.9||9.3|
|Included case||Padded soft case||Semi-hard case||Semi-hard case||Semi-hard case||Lined drawstring pouch|
|Earcup padding cover material||Leatherette||Foamed urethane/leatherette||Leather||Protein synthetic leather||Leatherette|
|Charging cable length (inches)||N/A||7.9"||42"||27.5"||40"|
|Microphone for voice?||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Onboard buttons||Volume, play/pause, forward/back||Volume, change track, take/make calls||Volume, play/pause, forward/back, noise cancelling, voice assistant, power/bluetooth, answer/decline/mute calls||Volume, play/pause, forward/back, fast forward/rewind, noise cancelling, voice assistant, power/bluetooth, answer/decline/mute calls||Volume, multifunction, power, NC|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Solo3 offers decent all-around performance, but in many areas they fall short of other similarly priced headphones.
In our testing, the Solo3 sounded better than the average pair of headphones, but not exceptional. Where the Solo3 really shines is in its clarity. Everything from crowded guitar riffs to swung notes on ride cymbals sounded crisp and clear. In this capacity, these headphones were just shy of the clarity of top-scoring models.
The major downside to the Solo3 is its bass, which was very weak when compared to other high-end models. This robbed some degree of depth from most music. Overall, this sound profile makes the Solo3 great for things like podcasts and acoustic music, but it makes things like bass-heavy rock or hip hop sound a bit flat when compared to other high-end models.
This is one area where the Solo3 really falls short of other high-end models. This is mostly due to the fact that the Solo3 lacks an active noise-canceling feature, something that is standard for most models in this price range. Though the headphones themselves do a decent job of muffling ambient noise, even with loud music playing we could still hear a slightly quieter version of most of the surrounding noise. This paled in comparison to the almost complete sound isolation of the active noise-canceling models.
The Solo3 was again lacking in our comfort testing. These are the only on-ear headphones that we tested, so they put some pressure on your ears by design. While this is fine for short periods after time, after using them for an hour or two our ears were aching for a break. In contrast, over-ear models from Bose and Sony stayed on our heads all day without any complaint.
The Solo3 is fairly easy to use, but can be a bit finicky. The headphones have a single button that functions as a play/pause button. You can also quickly press twice to skip forward a track or press three times to go back a track. To fast forward you press twice and hold on the second press. Once you get past the play/pause functionality, none of these commands are particularly intuitive, so there is a slight learning curve.
One plus for Apple users is the fact that the Solo3 uses the proprietary Apple W1 chip. This makes pairing with Apple devices even easier than usual. It also means that once you pair these headphones with one of your Apple devices, every other device logged into your Apple account will immediately recognize the headphones.
The Solo3 was the most portable headphones that we tested. These headphones weigh just 7.5 ounces and fold up into a tiny, padded carrying case. These things will certainly not weigh you down when you carry them on to your next flight.
Unfortunately, the Solo3 price to performance ratio isn't particularly good. Today's standard expects active noise cancellation in this price range.
The Beats Solo3 are fairly good headphones that still fail to live up to their list price. If you're considering spending this much on wireless headphones, there are much better options available.
— Max Mutter and Steven Tata