Beats just announced the all-new, noise-cancelling Solo Wireless headphones, and they are, by many measures, beautiful. These represent the first Beats headphones to be completely redesigned under the supervision of Apple. (The new Powerbeats Pro were the first earbuds.) That Apple oversight goes a long way.
At first glance, the new Solo headphones look a lot like the old ones—same silhouette, same big Beats logo. But in keeping with the Beats aesthetic, the redesign has fundamentally altered the Solo’s construction in a great way. At the core of the new construction is an anodized aluminium headband that looks and feels very Apple. It also should help make the new Beats Solo especially durable. I watched in awe at a recent briefing when a Beats designer twisted the headphones up like a wet towel, and they sprung back to their original form when he let go. This parlor trick is especially impressive if you’re familiar with Beats’ history of building flimsy headphones.
Everything else about the Beats Solo Wireless redesign also feels right. The plastic housing seems somehow less flimsy. The outside of the right ear cups works as a subtle control with a volume rocker. The cups themselves have more padding and a new leather finish. The inside of the headband has a soothing texture, not unlike what’s on the pricey new Bose 700 headphones. They’re overall a sophisticated set of headphones, which isn’t something I’d say about previous generations of Beats.
The new Solo Wireless also got a bunch of guts upgrades. The power switch is built into the hinge on the headband, so they turn on when you unfold them. Like the AirPods and the Powerbeats Pro, the Solo Wireless have Apple’s H1 chip for seamless pairing and connectivity. There are also a completely revamped set of drivers that pump out clean, accurate audio. (I only had a few minutes to test the sound on the new Solo Wireless, so I’ll reserve most of my opinion on the audio quality for the full review.) The Beats Solo Wireless also add active noise cancellation for the first time. Beats says this feature was adapted from the Solo’s big sibling, the Beats Studio Wireless. It definitely elevates the experience, though we’ll need additional testing before we can say how well it holds up compared to Bose or Sony.
The new Beats headphones go on sale October 30 at $429.95 a pop. (As a point of comparison, the old Beats Solo Wireless cost $398), and those Bose headphones I mentioned earlier are $599.95) They come in black, white, and tan. There’s also a Pharrell Williams collaboration at launch that offers a teal, blue, and red option. They’re all very attractive.