Since Apple acquired Beats a few years ago, we all knew the day would arrive when there would be flawless integration of the brand into the Apple ecosystem. With wireless sound already showcased as the future by Apple with the removal of the headphone jack from the iPhone 7, it seems that the time has truly come to adopt wireless headphones as standard. This is my first venture into the world of Beats headphones, and in a word, wow!
The Beats Solo³ ship in a nice box and are very well presented. Included inside are the following:
-Beats Solo-3 wireless headphones
-USB-A to USB-micro charging cable
-Wired connection cable
-Carry case with clip
-Quick-start guide/warranty information/beats sticker
All accessories are top-notch. The USB charging cable is Beats branded, and has a very soft, premium feel. The wired connection (should you choose to use one) is also immaculate, again with a shiny Beats brand logo. The carry case is compact and well-designed with an inner pocket and zipper. I did find getting the headphones in and out of the case to be a little tight, though. The quick-start guide and warranty information are presented in an envelope, similar to MacBook/iPad information. There is also a beats logo sticker which was a nice touch. There was something definitely reminiscent about this unboxing, much like unboxing an Apple gadget. I wonder why…
First impressions are very positive. The headphones feel sturdy, are flexible and aesthetically pleasing. The headphone size can be adjusted to accommodate your head, and a top rubber part helps keep the headphones in place (on a side note, the first pair of headphones I received had one side of the length adjustment to be very stiff, and one side to be very loose. Amazon sent me a replacement immediately, so that was swiftly resolved). I really appreciate the minimalistic design that Beats have adopted here. I opted for the matt-black colour. It does seem to pick-up some fingerprints, but this is not a big deal. Overall, they feel a high quality item. The headphones also feature four LED lights so you can check the battery level, too, although the battery meter is also clearly displayed on your iOS device as a %, which is probably better.
You can control your music using the built-in buttons on the left earpiece. There are no physical/visible buttons, but the entire ear piece essentially acts as one large button. Pressing on the top part of the left ear piece raises the volume, pressing on the bottom part lowers volume, and pressing on the “b” sign in the middle for a couple of seconds will activate Siri. This will allow you to communicate with Siri and also take voice calls, as there is also a built-in mic.
Setting-up the headphones with my iPhone 6 Plus was quick and easy. This new model contains a W1 chip, which is essentially the same one found in Apple’s new wireless AirPods, which have flawless compatibility with iOS devices. All I had to do was simply turn on the headphones with a single press to the small power button located on the right ear-piece. A notification popped up on my iPhone screen asking if I would like to pair the Beats Solo³ headphones. I accepted and the headphones were paired. Simple! The headphones also automatically showed up on my MacBook. This is because once they are paired with your iPhone, they automatically show-up under all other devices that are signed in with the same iCloud account.
A nice little touch was that the headphones were automatically named as “Andy’s Beats Solo³”. Turning on the headphones again requires a 2 second press, and a brief audible melody chime can be heard through the earphones. A very small/dim LED light stays powered on whilst the headphones are on and connected. A chime is also heard when powering down. There is also a small headphone icon in the top bar of my iPhone to show that they are connected. It is small little things like this that make these headphones really stand-out from the competition.
I am no audiophile, but do appreciate good quality sound. I was initially a little concerned as I had heard that Beats headphones were bass-heavy. I do not really feel that this is the case. I found the bass and treble with these headphones to be well balanced. Audio is clear, and there is no distortion, even at the loudest volume. I have used a few headphones over the years, including Bose QC3, and can honestly say that the sound quality is quite comparable, with a slight edge going to the Bose QC3s. The sound quality is definitely good. I could hear all the fine notes in my music, which I know are not present with cheaper headphones. For example, whilst listening to “Their War Here” by Hans Zimmer from the Batman vs Superman soundtrack, I could hear crackling fire sounds at the beginning of the track which I did not notice with other cheaper bluetooth headphones.
There is no noise cancellation, although the product description does claim noise isolation. Still, a good job is done to keep outside sounds away. There is some mild noise leakage, however, nothing that would draw undue attention. The volume does not go very loud, but is sufficient for my needs. I can also adjust the sound settings for these headphones in the settings of my iPhone, allowing me to tweak things so they are just right.
I have never found on-ear headphones to be completely comfortable for more than ~30 minutes of use, particularly when I am wearing glasses. The Beats Solo-3 are well made, light in weight and have a soft padding which is just about right. They are however one of the more comfortable sets I have used over the years, but still do press on my head. I have read that these headphones have received some criticism for being a little tight. This may be the case, but as I have a fairly small head, I personally found the overall press and tightness to be perfect. I can wear these for around 40 minutes before I take them off and let my ears rest.
I have only owned these headphones for 2 days, so cannot comment yet on battery life. However, it is claimed that you can get up to 40 hours from a full charge. Even if you need to charge these in a rush, 5 minutes of charge time will give you 3 hours of playback time. You can use the included USB-A to micro-USB cable which is provided, or use any micro-USB cable. As a wired connection cable is also included, you can easily carry that with you if you are going on a long trip / accidentally forget to charge the headphones.
Overall, I am very pleased with the Beats Solo³. The sound quality is good, they are light in weight and great for portability. The design is top-notch and I am also very pleased with the connectivity with my iOS / Apple devices. They are on the expensive side for the sound quality, but as with other Apple products, you are probably paying for the ease of use, engineering and convenience. In my opinion, these are one of the best headphones that I have owned and I am really looking forward to getting a lot of use from them. As they connect wonderfully with both my iOS devices and MacBook, feel that they are perfect for Apple users, and would definitely recommend them. 5/5