Beats has this history that dates back to the very first pairs of Dr. Dre-branded headphones. With every pair of over-ear or bud-style headphones with the Beats logo, you get a headphone that’s way too strong in the bass, crispy and clear in the highs, and very quiet in the mids. None of this got fixed until the Powerbeats Pro and, most recently, the Beats Solo Pro arrived this year.
That means for a solid chunk of a decade, you could buy a pair of headphones from Dr. Dre for hundreds of dollars and get something that’s good at playing only certain types of music. I say certain “types” because I can actually think of a few other music categories besides hip-hop and R&B that sound good through Beats. Pop music comes to mind, and so does electronic.
But these are genres you come to expect to sound good. After all, they’re super mainstream. And that’s who Beats have historically been built for: people who listen to mainstream music and want it to sound good. They’ve never been targeted at audiophiles or indie rock nerds. That’s what’s made Beats so popular and one of the default companies you think of when shopping for new cans.
The last pair of headphones Beats ever made with this mantra were the Solo3 Wireless in 2016. They were the first pair of over-ear headphones to ship with Apple’s W1 chip that allowed for an easy pairing process with iPhones and iPads. They stuck with Beats’ historic philosophy of punchy bass and crispy highs to deliver a sound that’s as mainstream as you can get, and they came in fun colors with a reasonable price tag that convinced millions of people to buy them.
I recently got a pair of the Solo3 Wireless in the mail that were a part of Beats’ Club Collection with a red, white, and blue finish. Because they’re three years old, I wasn’t sure what to do with them. I know a traditional review won’t be a relevant, but the holidays are coming up and some of you may be wondering whether even buying these things is a good idea.
In a nutshell? They look good, they sound good, and they have excellent battery life. They’re not the latest you’ll get from Beats, and they certainly don’t have the best sound quality you can get from the company in this day and age. But for what it’s worth, three years later, the Solo3 Wireless remain a really solid pair of wireless headphones.
What more do you need?
A design that holds up
The headphone market never really gets crazy with design, and the same is true for Beats. With almost every pair of over-ear cans, the company sticks with a basic design made of aluminum that give the Solo3 Wireless a premium look and feel. I especially love this color scheme which looks great in pictures and even better in real life.
Wanna know how you can tell these headphones are from 2016? Take a look at their ports. The Solo3 Wireless ships with a microUSB port for charging, while a 3.5mm headphone jack lets you connect an audio cord to your headphones and plug them into your device, so long as the device you’re using still has the jack. Nowadays with Beats, you’re forced to connect them to your device over Bluetooth and charge over Lightning. The latter is a welcome upgrade over microUSB, but the former is a bit annoying since your headphones might die mid-flight and you want to continue using them to watch a movie.
That’s not the case with the older Solo3 Wireless. Beats sells a headphone cable for $20 on its website that will let you connect them to a compatible device and use them even after their battery dies. This is a convenience you just can’t get when you buy the Solo Pros.
On the left side of the headphones, Beats includes a button that supports both play/pause controls. A long press will trigger whatever voice assistant your device comes with, whether it be Siri, the Google Assistant, Cortana, or Alexa. On the right, you’ll find the power/pairing button that uses a series of long presses to perform different actions. It’s worth looking into the manual that come with the headphones to learn how this button performs, because it confused me to death the first time I used it.
If there’s one major downside to the design of the Solo3 Wireless, it’s the weight and fit. When you pick them up, they feel heavy and premium, but that’s not necessarily what you want when you wear headphones. You want them to be light and comfortable for long listening sessions.
Light and comfortable are two things the Solo3 Wireless aren’t. If you have a larger-than-average head, odds are they’re gonna hug it really tight. Oh, and you can forget about wearing them with glasses on, unless you’re gonna reposition the arms above each earcup. That was the only way I could comfortably wear the headphones with my glasses on.
Besides this trait, I really don’t mind the design here. Everything is pretty well-crafted, albeit not necessarily geared toward comfort. They were able to stand the test of time, and three years later, the Solo3 Wireless headphones maintain plenty of curb appeal.
Fantastic battery life
One of the highest points of the Solo3 Wireless are their battery life. Beats advertises 40 hours of continuous music playback, and I got just that. Once a week is as often as I charge these things, so thankfully, I don’t have to look at the microUSB cable all that often.
Also, I’d just like to add there’s no fast charging here. That being said, this shouldn’t cause any problems since once a week, you can charge the headphones overnight and you’ll be good to go for another seven days.
Easy pairing process… for Apple users
Since Apple owns Beats, the company can give any headphones that come out of the brand an exclusive set of features. One of those features is the W1 chip which lets iOS, iPadOS, watchOS, tvOS, and macOS users connect the headphones through a simple interface that pops up the moment you turn them on. I did the set-up process on my iPhone and it took less than two minutes to complete. Afterward, the headphones will be able to connect to any other devices you have your Apple ID on.
This is a fantastic perk for buying the Solo3 Wireless. However, the same can’t be said for Android users. If you wanna connect the Solo3s to, say, a Samsung Galaxy or Google Pixel, you have to go through the normal Bluetooth set-up process in the settings app which is both tedious and cumbersome. It’s also a pain in the neck at times.
Granted, connecting to Bluetooth headphones through your device’s settings app can be straightforward. It’s just a lot easier on Apple devices.
Connection is strong
One experience that is consistent across all devices is the Bluetooth connectivity strength. For the price you pay, you get a pair of headphones that can hang onto a Bluetooth connection better than most other headphones in its category. For some perspective, I can be around 40 feet away from whatever device I’m connected to and still listen to my music. This is a feature, undoubtedly, many people will appreciate.
How do they sound?
I said this at the top of this review. The Solo3 Wireless stick with Beats’ mantra of keeping bass punch, highs crisp, and mids low to deliver the fun, playful, and bumping aesthetic Beats have always delivered in terms of sound quality. Do I wish they sounded a bit more spacious? Yes. Do I wish certain guitars and drums wouldn’t get washed out? Sure. Do I care about either of these things? Not really.
I’m a super casual music listener. I don’t dig through the internet for headphones that support high fidelity playback. I don’t care if my headphones are open-back or closed-back. I don’t mind extra bass in my music. All that I care is whether my headphones sound good to me. I want a headphone that sounds good while I do my work, take my walk, or chill on the couch. The Solo3 Wireless deliver that, and I’m fine with it.
The question now becomes: are the Solo3 Wireless worth buying in 2019?
In short, yes. I think anyone who buys these things will be happy with them. I’d even still recommend them at their $199.95 price point. With Black Friday around the corner, you’ll probably find them for cheaper. Heck, you may even get a pair for free if you buy a MacBook or something. But as a gift, for you or for someone else, the Solo3 Wireless remain a solid pair of headphones, so long as you aren’t too fussy about high-end sound quality.
You get a nice design (especially if you get them in a Club Collection finish), excellent battery life, a strong Bluetooth connection, a simple set-up process (well, some do), good sound, and a headphone jack. What more do you need?
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Beats Solo3 Wireless$199.95
- Really nice design
- Good sound quality
- Excellent battery life
- Apple W1 chip makes set-up easy
- Headphone jack!
- Punchy bass not for everyone
- Charges over microUSB 🙁
- Can get uncomfortable, especially for bigger heads
- Not the best headphones for non-Apple device owners
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