It’s no secret that Beats headphones haven’t been the greatest quality both in sound and design. Previous Beats headphones put too much emphasis on bass and the quality of the music was awful. But with Apple’s purchase of the headphone brand back in 2014, they’ve made some pretty good strides to improve and impress. Fast forward to Beats latest offering the Beats Solo Pro. They’ve been redesigned in almost every way.
So what’s the deal with the Solo Pros?
Well, they’re on-ear headphones that can:
Answer phone calls
Connect via Bluetooth
Use smart assistant Siri
Auto turn on/off
But the biggest selling point with the Solo Pros? These headphones are Beats’ first on-ear pair of headphones that feature active noise canceling.
So how did these headphones do? Did Beats hit it out of the park with ANC? I’ll answer that and more in this review.
Let’s talk about it.
The Beats Solo Pros Design
As I mentioned before, the Beats Solo Pro has gone through a redesign from the Beats Solo3. The biggest change I saw was from the overall design. To start, these headphones come in 6 different colors ranging from black, ivory, and grey to dark blue, light blue, and red. The latter are categorized as “more matte” and are in collaboration with Pharell. I found the colors to be fun.
Moving on to the overall build quality, the Solo Pro ditched the glossy plastic design of the Solo3’s for a premium matte plastic finish with aluminum sliders. Everything about them feels more refined. Not once did I feel like these headphones would break from an accidental drop onto hard flooring.
Since these are on-ear headphones, they don’t surround your ears and, as you might’ve guessed, sit on your ears. This makes wearing these headphones a bit uncomfortable for long periods. The materials used in the Solo Pro’s make for a stiffer and stronger clamp force. Even though the ear cups are soft and plush, they still find a way to press your ears to the sides of your head.
Headphone users that wear glasses may find this a deal-breaker.
Over time my ears started to fatigue and get sweaty, I couldn’t comfortably wear the headphones for more than 45 minutes. I feel this is the biggest downside to these headphones. On-ear headphones, in general, are already uncomfortable so if they could find a way to soften the clamping force they could end up being a pair of headphones I use daily.
For those of you who still find a use for a headphone jack, you’ll be sad to hear they’ve removed it from the Beats Solo Pro. Being an Apple product it doesn’t surprise me that they did this. But this means you’ll have to buy another dongle to get this feature back.
The Beats Solo Pro also ditched the hard case for a new felt-like case that’s made of recycled materials. The case itself has a bit more give and doesn’t provide as much protection. It follows Apple’s philosophy of using recycled materials in its products and that’s great. But I would’ve preferred a hard case for added protection.
The last thing I noticed is that it doesn’t specify any sort of waterproof or dust protection rating in the packaging. I did some research and it seems that a little sweat or rain won’t damage these headphones.
The buttons on the Beats Solo Pro feel solid and clicky. The controls are straightforward. The right ear cup handles most of the functions. Pressing the center button once toggles the play/pause. Double pressing the center button skips tracks, a triple press repeats tracks, and pressing up and down on the right ear cup button toggles the volume.
For the Android users, activate Google Assistant by long-pressing the center button on the right ear cup.
On the left ear cup, there’s a raised button located on the bottom that activates Active Noise Cancellation and Transparency Mode. My biggest complaint with this setup is there’s no way of telling which mode you’re in.
Phone calls were a great experience. Calls came in really clear with minimal to no hissing. The headphones were able to pick up my voice. There was hardly any wind noise when listening to music outside or when making phone calls.
The passive noise cancellation from the on-ear headphones alone does a great job of blocking a lot of outside noise. Combine that with the ANC and you almost have complete silence.
I was thoroughly surprised by the audio quality of the Beats Solo Pro. These are probably the best sounding Beats headphones I’ve used in a long time. The sound was pretty well balanced but still kept enough punchy bass to satisfy my musical tastes. I listened to several genres of music and it was passable through all of them.
Mids are nice and clear but the Highs could use a touch-up. It’s nothing to be concerned over though because it was still a great listening experience. The quality does suffer a bit when you start to turn up the volume higher than 70 percent.
Active Noise Canceling & Transparency Mode
Before we go any further in this review, let me take a second to explain what Active Noise Cancelling mode and Transparency mode is.
Transparency mode is similar to what you’ve seen advertised on a lot of other headphones. This mode will actively use the microphones inside the Beats Solo Pro to let in sound around you without taking them off. This allows you to be aware of your surroundings while you’re out for walks, crossing the street, or on a run.
Now Active Noise Cancellation or ANC Actively blocks external noise from passing through your headphones. This gives you a sense of isolation so you can just hear the music playing. The ANC actually worked better than I expected. They weren’t Bose level quality but it surprisingly blocked out a lot of outside noise.
I didn’t find Transparency mode too noticeable when listening to music at various volume levels but it is there. It’d be nice if there was a way to adjust the levels of both the Transparency mode and ANC through a companion App or by other means. But it’s practical and it works.
Apple’s H1 Chip in the Beats Solo Pros
While the Beats Solo Pro headphones work on both iPhone and Android, iPhone owners get a few more benefits thanks to Apple’s H1 chip.
For starters, you get proximity pairing which allows the Solo Pro’s to connect to any device closest to them quickly and seamlessly. These headphones also use iCloud pairing which connects to any device connected to iCloud, like my Macbook or iPad Pro for example.
If that wasn’t enough, the H1 chip enables the headphones to activate the smart assistant Siri through voice commands for a hands-free experience. I don’t use Siri all that often and found myself not using this feature all that much but this is a big bonus for users who want a more hands-free experience.
The coolest thing I found is that the Solo Pro’s work hand in hand with the new iOS 13 feature audio sharing. This feature lets me share music I was currently listening to through these headphones with a friend who owns a pair of AirPods without having to use any kind of special adapter.
On and Off Feature
To Turn on the Beats Solo Pros, all you have to do is flip them open and to power them off, just fold them back up. This is a handy feature to have that adds to the sleek and minimal experience, but I guess that makes me a bit old school. I still prefer a physical on/off button for my sanity that I didn’t accidentally leave my headphones on.
Something I would’ve liked to see added to the Solo Pro’s is an auto-pause feature. When I took these headphones off at different times during my testing, they didn’t automatically pause the music. It’s not a big deal but I would’ve liked it for the sake of convenience.
Battery Life on the Beats Solo Pro
When it comes to the battery life, Beats advertises about 22 hours of playback with ANC on and around 40 hours with ANC off. My results pretty much reflected close to the advertised amount. I frequently listen to music for long periods so I had to charge these headphones every couple of days or so. If you’re a light user you should be able to go for longer.
At the end of the day, battery life will be dependent on your usage.
Beats Solo Pro Price
I mentioned the biggest downside with these headphones was the clamping force…I lied.
The biggest downside of the Beats Solo Pro is the price. The MSRP is $299.99. Mind you it’s a premium price for a premium product however I feel they’re missing a couple of features that would justify this price point.
On top of that, their older brother, the Beats Studio3 only costs $50 more with better ANC capabilities and a more comfortable fit.
At the end of the day, If you are a Beats loyalist, can justify the price, and are looking for an awesome looking pair of headphones, knock yourself out. If you’re more budget-conscious and are looking for a more comfortable listening experience, spend an extra $50 and look at the Beats Studio3 or Sony WH-1000XM3