Beats are still the butt of every joke in the headphone world, but I don’t know how long that’s going to last when products as good as the Solo Wireless keep coming out. These headphones are fantastic.
What Is It?
On-ear headphones from Beats with Bluetooth capability, as well as a bundled 3.5mm controller cable that works with your iOS device.
They have the same design language we’ve come to expect from a pair of Beats: bright headphones made almost entirely of glossy, colourful plastic, except for the leatherette ear cups. They come in black, silver, blue or red. Understated, these headphones are not.
They’re almost exactly the same dimensions as the Beats Solo2 wired headphones we reviewed mid-last year. The only real difference is that the cable is optional (but still bundled in the box if that’s your bag), and the Bluetooth capabilities make it 6g heavier.
They’ll set you back $349.95 in Australia, compared to $259 for the wired Solo2 headphones. You’ve really gotta want that wireless capability to invest in these.
The sound of the Beats Wireless is surprisingly great. Normally when I test Bluetooth headphones the sound is tinny and full of static. It's often easier to have phone in your pocket throwing audio at you from the built-in speaker than have a pair of over-ear Bluetooth headphones these days, but the Solo Wireless are pleasantly surprising.
It's heavier in the bass department and doesn't leak a whole lot of sound at medium to high volumes. Crank it up and you'll get leakage and annoy everyone around you, but it's a unsustainable volume. Keep it that loud for too long and you'll start to have a permanent ringing in your ears.
Also impressive is the range you get on the Solo Wireless. I live in a one-bedroom apartment and can comfortably plug my phone in on my bedside table and move around the house without the 'phones stuttering or losing connection. It's stunning.
Even in our noisy, signal-polluted office, the Solo Wireless performs well. I can connect to my desktop PC, fire up some music in the Solo Wireless and wander up to the water cooler or even into the bathroom for a quick whizz without losing signal. Amazing.
The soft cups and padded headband make the Beats Solo Wireless comfortable for a few hours of use at a time, but the tightness may be an issue for those with slightly larger heads.
Whether you take a break or not, the Solo Wireless will see you through a long flight or whole day at the office, with 12-13 hours of use from fully charged.
So you can travel safely with the 'phones, Beats includes a soft foam case for the Solo Wireless, as with every pair of Dr Dre's famous headphones. It would be nice to have a slightly tougher carrying solution for $360 headphones, but the soft case isn't about to go to threads in the life of the headphones.
I think the most astounding thing about the Solo Wireless. It isn't the surprising sound, the range or the comparatively subtle range of colours. It's the battery life.
When I got these in to review, I switched from the wired Solo2's as my daily drivers to the Solo Wireless headphones for review. The Solo2 Wireless are bloody great 'phones, but they seem to pinch your head a little more than the Solo2 wired headphones do.
Admittedly, I have a big head, but it's still kind of uncomfortable to wear these for more than a couple of hours at a time, especially if you're on the move.
When my colleague, Campbell Simpson, reviewed the wired Solo2 headphones last year, he wrote that for the $259 price tag you should probably get the Bluetooth functionality thrown in. Instead, we've had to wait a year for it to arrive and it costs $140 extra. That's more than a little disappointing when you think about it.
These are expensive headphones, and it's mostly because of the "associated brand value" you get when you buy them. Beats are sold as a status symbol for some reason. They're great daily drivers, but be prepared to pay top dollar to get your hands on them.
Should You Buy It?
Beats headphones used to pack in more style than substance, and while the look of the 'phones hasn't changed significantly over the last few years, it's packing more substance than ever.
They aren't the perfect headphones: they're still a little bass-heavy and they're pretty expensive, but if you're drawn to Beats because the cool kids are, you'll get good all-round, on-ear sound and the added convenience of Bluetooth connectivity with the Solo2 Wireless. I'm giving them the thumbs-up.