While the Beats Solo3 are good headphones, they don't quite live up to the high-end pedigree suggested by both their price and their advertising. The sound quality is good but not exceptional, they do not offer active noise cancellation, and they're not the most comfortable headphones we've tested. They are exceptionally light at just 7.5 ounces, are available in many different colors and have a nice, minimalistic design. If those things are at the top of your wireless headphone buying checklist, then these are a worthwhile buy.Editor's Note: This review includes new information on our favorite products and those we would buy. It was updated on January 18, 2021.
Beats Solo3 Review
Pros: Lightweight, good sound
Cons: Expensive, especially considering their relative performance
Manufacturer: Beats by Dre
Compare to Similar Products
$149.88 at Amazon
$348.00 at Amazon
$379.00 at Amazon
$59.99 at Amazon
|Pros||Lightweight, good sound||Superb active noise cancellation and overall sound quality, multipoint Bluetooth pairing, auto-pause, relatively comfortable for most people||Excellent sound quality, field-leading noise cancellation, comfortable||Inexpensive, powerful bass, effective active noise cancellation, comfortable||Great sound quality, good active noise canellation, intuitive interface|
|Cons||Expensive, especially considering their relative performance||Expensive||Expensive||Lacks some brightness in mid and vocal ranges, headband may be to large for smaller heads||Expensive, uncomfortable to wear for long periods|
|Bottom Line||Decent performance that doesn't quite match the expectations set by the list price||Top-notch in terms of both noise cancellation and sound quality, it's hard to find a better listening experience||Pillowy comfort and one of the best personal listening experiences we've enjoyed from any device||Impressively inexpensive given the sound quality, active noise-canceling performance, and comfort||This on-ear model is a more compact option, making them excellent for city commutes and other short periods of wear|
|Rating Categories||Beats Solo3||Sony WH-1000XM4||Bose Noise Cancelli...||Soundcore Life Q20||Beats Solo Pro|
|Sound Quality (30%)|
|Noise Isolation (25%)|
|User Friendliness (10%)|
|Specs||Beats Solo3||Sony WH-1000XM4||Bose Noise Cancelli...||Soundcore Life Q20||Beats Solo Pro|
|Manufacturer reported battery life (hours)||40||30||20||40||40|
|Measured weight (ounces)||7.5||8.8||9.2||9.3||9.5|
|Included case||Padded soft case||Semi-hard case||Semi-hard case||Lined drawstring pouch||Soft case, no padding|
|Earcup padding cover material||Leatherette||Foamed urethane/leatherette||Leather||Leatherette||Leatherette|
|Charging cable length (inches)||N/A||7.9"||42"||40"||N/A|
|Microphone for voice?||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Onboard buttons||Volume, play/pause, forward/back||Volume, change track, take/make calls||Volume, play/pause, forward/back, noise cancelling, voice assistant, power/bluetooth, answer/decline/mute calls||Volume, multifunction, power, NC||Volume, play/pause, forward/back, noise cancelling, voice assistant, power/bluetooth, answer/decline calls, toggle between sound modes|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Solo3 offers decent all-around performance, but in many areas, they fall short of other similarly priced wireless headphones.
The Solo3 sounded better than the average pair of headphones but not exceptional in our testing. Where the Solo3 really shines is in its clarity. Everything from crowded guitar riffs to swung notes on ride cymbals sounded crisp and clear. In this capacity, these headphones were just shy of the clarity of top-scoring models.
The major downside to the Solo3 is its bass, which was very weak compared to other high-end models. This robbed some degree of depth from most music. Overall, this sound profile makes the Solo3 great for things like podcasts and acoustic music, but it makes things like bass-heavy rock or hip hop sound a bit flat compared to other high-end models.
Noise Isolation is one area where the Solo3 really falls short of other high-end models. This is mostly because the Solo3 lacks an active noise-canceling feature, which is standard for most models in this price range. Though the headphones themselves do a decent job of muffling ambient noise, even with loud music playing, we could still hear a slightly quieter version of most of the surrounding noise. This paled compared to the almost complete sound isolation of the active noise-canceling models.
The Solo3 was again lacking in our comfort testing. These are the only on-ear headphones that we tested, so they put some pressure on your ears by design. While this is fine for short periods after time, after using them for an hour or two, our ears were aching for a break. In contrast, over-ear models from Bose and Sony stayed on our heads all day without any complaint.
The Solo3 is fairly easy to use but can be a bit finicky. The headphones have a single button that functions as a play/pause button. You can also quickly press twice to skip forward a track or press three times to go back a track. To fast forward, you press twice and hold on the second press. None of these commands are particularly intuitive once you get past the play/pause functionality, so there is a slight learning curve.
One plus for Apple users is that the Solo3 uses the proprietary Apple W1 chip. This makes pairing with Apple devices even easier than usual. It also means that once you pair these headphones with one of your Apple devices, every other device logged into your Apple account will immediately recognize the headphones.
The Solo3 was the most portable headphones that we tested. These headphones weigh just 7.5 ounces and fold up into a tiny, padded carrying case. These things will certainly not weigh you down when you carry them on to your next flight.
Should You Buy the Solo3?
Unfortunately, the Solo3 price to performance ratio isn't particularly good. Today's standard expects active noise cancellation in this price range. The Beats Solo3 are fairly good headphones that still fail to live up to their list price. If you're considering spending this much on wireless headphones, there are much better options available.
What Other Wireless Headphones Should You Consider?
If you are in the budget range of the Solo3, we prefer the Jabra Elite 85h. While not an award winner, these headphones offer a much higher score and performance for a lower price than the eSolo3. If your budget can stretch about $50, we'd recommend the Sony WH-1000XM4, which is the highest-ranked option with superior performance in sound quality and noise cancellation.
— Max Mutter and Steven Tata
Ad-free. Influence-free. Powered by Testing.
GearLab is founded on the principle of honest, objective, reviews. Our experts test thousands of products each year using thoughtful test plans that bring out key performance differences between competing products. And, to assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No cherry-picked units sent by manufacturers. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing and comparison.Learn More