Apple’s Beats brand has been relatively quite when it comes to introducing over-ear headphones, but today, the company has broken that streak. In a press release, Beats has announced a new pair of Solos call the Beats Solo Pro headphones. They cost $299 and are the brand’s first on-ear headphones to feature ANC.
What’s ANC, you may ask? It’s active noise cancellation. Many popular headphone brands such as Bose, Sony, and Senheiser have had the feature for years, but for some reason, Beats has decided to keep it out of its flagshi products until this point.
This is the flagship feature of the new Solo Pros, and Beats won’t let you forget that. It touts how it’s developed its own proprietary version of the feature called Pure ANC that includes “updated tuning to accommodate the on-ear form factor.” Unlike other popular headphones, though, the Solo Pros don’t let you adjust ANC output. You either turn it on or off. There’s no adjustable control in an app like what you get with headphones from Bose and Sony. This may be a dealbreaker for some, but certainly not for all.
The company also includes a feature called Transparency that lets you hear the outside world using the headphones’ supplied microphones to amp up external noise. Of course, the Solo Pros also come with improved sound and clarity, while the mics have also gotten better for easier voice pickup.
Also included with the new Solo Pros is Apple’s H1 chipset which allows for instant pairing with Apple devices, It also enables audio sharing on iOS and iPadOS, allowing you to connect more than one pair of Beats or AirPods to your device so your friend can listen along. Notably, the feature also works with Powerbeats Pro, Beats Studio3 Wireless, Solo3 Wireless, BeatsX, and Powerbeats3 Wireless.
As far as battery life goes, with ANC and Transparency used, the Solo Pros can last up to 22 hours on a full charge. With both features disabled, however, you get Beats’ acclaimed 40 hours of usage.
Interestingly, the Solo Pros come with a Lightning port this year for charging, not microUSB. It’s pretty clear that microUSB is dead by now, but I must say, I’m a bit shocked they didn’t go with USB-C. I get that people who buy thiese headphones will likely have a ton of Lightning cables lying around, but if the iPhone goes USB-C next year, you’ll be stuck with old cables for your headphones, and that’ll suck.
Speaking of cables, you can no longer use a 3.5mm connection with Beats. With the Solo Pros, Beats has removed the 3.5mm plug, so you’re stuck with Bluetooth. Having the extra versatility of a wired connection is handy for traveling since your headphones might die mid-flight and there’s nowhere to charge them. I’m not entirely sure why Beats made this decision, but I can imagine they felt pretty courageous doing so.
The Beats Solo Pros will go on sale October 30th for $299.95. They’ll launch in Black, Ivory, or Gray. A special Pharell Williams collaboration collection called “More Matte” will introduce the colors Dark Blue, Light Blue, and Red. Pre-orders are open starting today through Apple.com.