5 December 2016
Fast flowing curves
Pivoting ear cups
8 colour choices
Requires iCloud account and macOS Sierra, iOS 10 or watchOS 3, Apple W1 chip, Wireless connectivity to move freely, Integrated on-ear controls, dual beam-forming mics, Hand's Free calls
Class 1 Bluetooth
Tap to connect
3.5 mm remote talk cable
Rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery, Up to 40 hours of battery life, Fast Fuel - 5-minute charge gives you 3 hours of playback
Height: 19.8 cm
Weight: 215 g
Award-winning Beats sound
Maximised clarity, breadth and balance
Adjustable headband & ear cups
Comfort-cushion ear cups
Great battery life
Improved wireless connectivity
Audiophiles won't be impressed
A look at Beats Solo 3 Wireless, aside from a new colour range what’s new?
Beats by Dre are one of the most recognisable audio brands on the market, they hit their stride a couple of years ago and have tweaked their design to get it to a place where, like other Apple products, they are very happy. So it’s no surprise that the Solo 3 Wireless on-ear headphones are not very different from Solo 2 Wireless in design, in fact there is only one noticeable difference and that’s the colour choice. With 8 colours to choose from you will find one that suits your taste, whether its glossy black or matte black; or maybe the impressive looking gold headset. But it’s not just the new colour range that’s different, Beats have also ditched the iconic red ‘b’ branded on each ear cup, instead this is now in a colour that compliments the overall headset colour, a subtle but tasteful change that makes the Beats Solo 3 Wireless more appealing to a wider audience and not just the younger generation. Keeping those fast flowing curves and streamlined design the Beats Solo 3 Wireless look as impressive as ever and in no way dated. One design change that is not noticeable until you put them on and that’s the headband tension, it’s a lot firmer than before and that’s to allow you to wear the Solo 3 Wireless to the gym or jogging without a fear that they will fall off your head, or need constant adjusting. While the firmer tension will feel a little odd at first, with the pivoting, cushioned ear cups and soft rubber padding on the headband they are actually quite comfortable. This is a good design move for Beats as most joggers choose in-ear headphones as they feel more secure, but Solo 3 Wireless are taking a stab at changing this trend.
Ease of Use
Beats are ‘exclusive’ to Apple products, which means this is what they are designed for, however if you are an Android or Windows user you will find the headphones work very well, in fact with the cable there is no difference. If you are in the Apple family the Beats Solo 3 Wireless require iCloud account and macOS Sierra, iOS 10 or watchOS 3. Solo 3 Wireless are equipped with the new Apple W1 chip which Apple have designed to make switching between your Apple devices easier and I have to say it really works well. Most Apple users will have numerous Apple products like a phone, tablet, watch, laptop or PC and this new chip makes switching between these products pain free, no matter what you’re doing you can stay connected and continue to enjoy your music. Like all wireless headphones the Solo 3 Wireless are designed to allow you to move freely without needing your device with you to listen to your favourite tunes, with integrated on-ear controls you can skip or pause your music and adjust the volume. The Solo 3 Wireless also have dual beam-forming mics which allows you to take hand’s free calls, you can keep jogging and take a call without reaching for your phone. While the Solo range has always been easy to use, the addition of the W1 chip shows Beats has thought about their customers with multiple devices, making the Solo 3 Wireless more user friendly.
Beats Solo 3 Wireless use Class 1 Bluetooth to connect with your Apple device, connectivity is strong and thanks to the new W1 chip is easy to switch between devices. Solo 3 Wireless also enjoy tap to connect, once initially paired to the device and Bluetooth is activated you can just lightly tap the headphones to the mobile/watch and it automatically connects, easy! Even though the Solo 3 Wireless enjoy a long battery life, if you do find yourself caught with no more battery power the Solo 3 Wireless also come with a 3.5 mm remote talk cable in the box, just connect to the headset and your device and you can continue listening to your favourite tunes. This cable still allows you to adjust volume, skip, pause and take calls with the inline remote.
Solo 3 Wireless come packed with a rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery which Beats boasts up to 40 hours of battery life which is a big improvement from Solo 2 Wireless at 12 hours and blows most other wireless headphones out of the water. What’s even more surprising is the 40 hours is actually pretty accurate and not just a big statement from Beats, it is in fact one of the best features of the new Solo 3 Wireless. This long battery life means you can enjoy wireless connectivity for at least two weeks before need a charge, more than twice it’s predecessor and for some, depending on your usage you may get longer. Beats have also equipped the Solo 3 Wireless with Fast Fuel which means a 5-minute charge gives you 3 hours of playback for those times you get caught with no battery and want to go for a jog, you don’t need to reach for the wire just plug it in for 5 minutes while you get ready and you’re good to go.
Weighing a decent 215 g the Solo 3 Wireless are not exactly featherweight but for a Wireless headset they are actually quite light. Thanks to the foldable design the Solo 3 Wireless are very portable, the ear cups fold up into the headband to become quite compact. Beats also provide a carry case, a small leatherette pouch to put your Solo 3 Wireless into when you’re putting them in your bag or bringing them on holiday, and I recommend you use the case, while its not a hard carry case it will prevent those little scratches ruining the look of your glossy headset.
Beats boast it’s award-winning Beats sound with fine-tuned acoustics and maximised clarity, breadth & balance for the Solo 3 Wireless. In reality the sound quality has not changed much from the Solo 2 Wireless, that said it’s much better than the original Solo on-ear headphones if that’s what you currently own. Are the Beats Solo 3 Wireless the best sounding wireless headphones on the market…… no, serious audiophiles will not be too impressed by the Beats sound quality as they will have the same issues as before and given the price some may expect a better sound quality. However you have to remember you are not just paying for sound quality, you are paying for the look and brand too. That said, it’s not that the Solo 3 Wireless sound bad, far from it, they actually sound great, but they do have the Beats signature sound. Previously Beats headphones have been very heavy on the base, as Dr Dre made them it’s not surprising; and while this is still the case it’s no longer overpowering. The base is strong and very present but still allows the mids and highs to shine through. Highs again are strong and makes for a very full, lively and rounded sound, unfortunately the mids still feel a little flat, something Beats should look at for the next release. Overall, all genre’s sound good with the Solo 3 Wireless, though the Beats signature sound is still more suited for heavier beats.
While Beats have kept the same design as it’s predecessor, using a metal frame with a plastic casing, they use premium materials meaning the Solo 3 Wireless are by no means flimsy. While some may not like the idea of plastic its actually looks good, keeps the weight down and accompanied with the metal frame the headset still remain quite durable.
Beats use an adjustable headband and ear cups which allows you to fit the headset perfectly to the shape of your head, while this is not uncommon these days, not all on-ear headphones have adjustable ear cups and this addition makes all the difference for comfort. Beats also use comfort-cushion ear cups and soft rubber padding in the headband to cushion the headband tension, which is firmer as I mentioned earlier. While this make take a little getting used to initially and can feel quite snug, they are actually very comfortable even over long hours. The only time you may find an issue is if you wear glasses with a thick band, as I sometimes do, the added tension can cause some discomfort behind the ear after a few hours, you may want to try the headphones on if you usually wear glasses like this before buying.