Beats Solo 3 Wireless Headphones Tested

Beats are still one of the best for bass and battery life, but balance among the rest of the frequencies hurts as a result.

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Hey everyone, Jimmy with JimsReviewRoom.

Giving you guys a look at the Beats Solo 3 Wireless headphones from Apple.  These things I’ll admit looks nearly identical to the last generation, but there’s some new tech on the inside that would be very interesting to go over.  I personally paid for these at the retail price of $299, making these hit the premium price point of headphones, but despite being expensive, it’s equal to what Bose is offering, and is actually cheaper than the Sony Hear On’s I had reviewed several months back.  What I’ll do, I’ll leave my links in the video description below, click on my links, and they’ll give you the most updated prices in real-time.

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Going over the physical features first, they are literally identical to the last generation.  The same layout is here and as much as Apple has been pushing for Lightning connections, surprisingly, they kept the micro-USB port, which I’m fine with as I still have plenty of USB connections around the house.  The 3.5mm analog connections are not officially dead, so we get that here as well.  And rotating a bit, you have the same volume up and down, tapping in the middle, right on the “Beats” logo gives you pause and play, and if you hold it down instead, it’ll bring up Siri, Google Voice, or S-Voice for those on Samsung as I’ve tested and proven to work.

The same build quality returns with either the very finger-print prone glossy finishes, or, what I have here is the special edition silver and white with chrome accents looking amazing in my opinion.  The chrome accents on the arms seems to be holding up well, but the Beats Logo has already started to show minor scratches from possibly being in my bag or rustling against some sort of fabric.  The arms are still reinforced by metal, and despite the entire outside of the headphones being made of plastic, they still feel well made and feel pretty decent in the hands when handling.  Now during my stress test, and keep in mind, Beats are not like the very first generations where we’ve seen fall apart, but I did notice some seams did pop out – though to be fair, they did snap back in.  I did double check and nothing was compromised, nothing was broken.  And I’m aware, my bend test is extreme, but seriously, if you’re not going as far as I am, I’m certain your headphones are going to last.

As for comfort, right out the box, they do squeeze the head to somewhat medium or moderate levels of firmness, causing my ears to slightly warm up the first 30 minutes of wearing; but afterwards, my ears do acclimate and feel fine.  There’s no pressure at the jawline where it pinches your head, and wearing these for several hours straight, thankfully no pressure or soreness at the crown of my head was noticed either.  I also weighed the Solo 3’s against the Solo 2’s, and they both weigh the same as well!  I would have assumed maybe a gram or two difference for Apple finding space to stick in their new chip.

But, let’s start talking about the internals.  The Solo 3’s have the new W1 chip inside, giving some better battery management.  The old Solo 2’s claimed to get up to 12 hours of use. This time, up to 40 hours is claimed.  I left them on at 50% to 60% volume, and they played day and night.  I recorded 52 hours of use, which is insane.  At 50 to 60% volume, it was plenty loud for casual listening.  An additional feature is what Apple calls “Fast-Fuel”.  When your battery is low, charge it for just 5 minutes, and get 3 hours of playback instantly.

Testing this, it does work and it’s amazing when you’re in a crunch.  Now, because of the W1 chip, we’re anticipating better wireless range.  Apple features what they call a Class-1 connection, offering connections up to 300 linear feet.  With Class-2, like most other headphones on the market, including the Solo 2’s, the range on those have always been around 30 linear feet.  I tested the range in my house, walked from one side to the other and having the signal go through several walls, not even a hint of a disconnection or static.  The signal is possibly the best that I’ve tested so far on a pair of headphones.

And last before jumping into the audio, sound-leaking-wise, when you’re wearing these and maybe are on the train or in the cafe, in a quiet environment essentially, the Solo 3’s performed okay – there is some sound leaking, others can hear the vocals pretty well, especially in those quiet areas.

So now to the moment you’ve been waiting for – the audio test.  First off, the Solo 3 wireless sounds identical to the Solo 2 wireless, cutting to the chase, if you’re going to shell out another $300 for beats and already have the Solo 2’s, you’re really just paying for the crazy good battery life and the signal performance.  Of course, that’s up to you if it’s worth it.  Switching the old model with the new repeatedly over several songs, I honestly couldn’t tell a difference.  Yet with that being said.  If you’re looking for bassy headphones, Beats once again provides that.  If you’re a bass-head, it hits deep, it provides that nice rumble for hip-hop and select pop music, more bass than the Sennheiser Urbanites, V-Moda Wireless, the Sony Hear On’s, and Sennheiser Wireless Momentums.  But, if you’re the type that enjoys a more of a balanced sound signature, something that doesn’t sound bass-boosted, you’ll notice the upper bass frequencies somewhat get into the mid-range.  The upper bass frequencies over shadows some of the vocals on some songs.

Regarding the vocals and midrange frequencies by themselves, they still do very well.  They’re clear, articulate and pronounced, but again, once in awhile, you get bass levels coming over on select songs.  The high frequencies perform well without getting any where close to being sharp or ear tinging.  A little bit more sharpness would have been nice to really hear the details on the top-end, but again, these are truly bass focused headphones.  If you’re listening to a quality bit-rate audio file, the soundstage on these are impressive with sounds being distinguished from left and right, to in front and behind you.  And last regarding passive noise isolation, or blocking out outside and unwanted noise when you’re wearing these, they did really well.  It’s not close to Active Noise Cancelling, but a good performance nonetheless.

So overall, with all biases aside, if you’re looking for bass, Beats headphones are honestly one of your best choices.  For sure, the bass may be overwhelming for some, even giving some listening fatigue, yet in every other aspect, the battery life is phenomenal, the range is good, passive noise isolation is done well and soundstage is great.  The Solo’s still look really good with amazing finishes, but new headphones are really putting out newer and more fresh designs, and I’m shocked Apple didn’t redesign these at all.  Also, if you already own the Solo’s 2, the only reason why you would want to shell out another $300 for a new pair of headphones, is really just for the battery life – I honestly would just save my money.  So, thats it for this review.  If you haven’t, be sure to add me onto Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.  You guys take care, and I’ll see you on the next one.