The Beats Solo 3 Wireless are decent mixed usage headphones, with a surprisingly balanced sound for critical listening. They're almost identical to the Solo2 Wireless but have a better range and battery life thanks to the W1 chip. They're above-average comfortable but a bit tight on the head which makes them stable enough for sports but not ideal for long listening sessions. Unfortunately, they also have fairly weak noise isolation, so they won't be the ideal headphones to use in noisy environments.
- Good audio reproduction.
- Stable and sturdy design.
- Excellent wireless range and battery life.
- Poor noise isolation.
- Leaky at higher volumes.
Update 9/28/2017: The microphone has been tested with our new methodology, as explained here
Update 8/10/2017: Converted to Test Bench 1.1. Learn more about our new versioned test bench system here.
The Beats Solo3 Wireless are practically identical to the Solo2 Wireless. Like the previous model, they have a sleek and sturdy build quality, an efficient and responsive control scheme, as well as a compact design making them somewhat portable. They're above-average comfortable for an on-ear headphone thanks to the ample padding of the ear cups. Their tight fit also makes them stable enough to jog and exercise with. However, this means that, like the Solo2s, they're not as comfortable as the Beats Studio3 Wireless.
The Beats Solo3 Wireless look indistinguishable to the Solo2. You can barely tell them apart even upon closer inspection. The only differences are the available color schemes for which the Solo2 have a bit more options. On the upside, if you liked the previous model, then you will be familiar with the sleek design and the small, round, and well-padded earcups of the Solo3. They'll still stand out in a crowd, especially, if you choose one of the flashier color schemes.
The Beats Solo3 Wireless are almost identical in design to the Solo2. They have the same weight, and they're just as tight on the head. Luckily, the ear cups are heavily padded which makes them decently comfortable but not ideal for long listening sessions without feeling any fatigue.
The control scheme of the Beats Solo3 Wireless is efficient and easy to use. Like the Solo2, the buttons feel responsive and are well spaced out on the small earcup. They provided the basic but essential functions: track-skipping, call/music, and volume controls. The buttons are a bit small but they're not much cause for concern.
The Beats Solo3 Wireless are decently breathable headphones. They have an on-ear design that doesn't fully cover the ears, which traps heat with the notch and ear canal, leaving the outer ear relatively cool. They will make you sweat a bit more than usual during intense workouts but they are not as bad as most closed back over-ear designs.
The Beats Solo 3 Wireless come with a mediocre pouch that will protect the headphones from scratches and scuff when they're in your bag. Unfortunately, the soft case won't shield them from impacts or water damage like a good hard case would which is a little disappointing for their price.
These headphones are well-built, compact headphones that won't break if you accidentally drop them a couple of times. They're made using high-end materials and the headband is reinforced with a metal frame that makes them decently sturdy under physical stress. Unfortunately, the plastic coating is prone to scratches and scuffs and feels a bit rigid, which could crack if you bend them too far.
The Beats Solo3 Wireless are stable enough to run with. They may not be the best headphones for high-intensity exercises that involve a lot of jumping, but they're tight enough to not move around much while on your head. Additionally, they're wireless, so they won't get pulled off your ears because the audio cable got hooked on something.
The Beats Solo3 Wireless are an above-average sounding pair of closed-back on-ear headphones. Their sound is nearly identical to that of the Solo2 Wireless and is more balanced than previous attempts by Beats. They have a deep and extended bass, capable of producing thumpy basses and punchy kicks, but it tends to sound a bit boomy and overpowering. They also have a well-balanced mid-range, but it is slightly recessed which gives more emphasis to the bass instruments. Additionally, they perform consistently across multiple users and produce little distortion, and like most other on-ear headphones, they don't have a large and out-of-head soundstage.
The bass performance of the Beats Solo3 Wireless is very good. Despite having an on-ear design, these headphones are able to produce more than enough bass throughout the range. Their sub-bass is extended down to 10Hz, which is excellent. This ensures a good reproduction of thumps and rumbles. Mid-bass is also virtually flat, but hyped by about 3dB. This gives a bit of excess emphasis to the bass and kick instruments. High-bass is also over our target by 3dB, adding a little bit of muddiness to the sound. Overall, the bass is prominent, deep, and punchy, but a little boomy.
The Beats Solo3 Wireless have a good mid-range performance. The response is pretty consistent but shows a wide 5dB dip around 700Hz. This pushes vocals and other lead instruments slightly to the back of the mix and gives more emphasis to the bass instruments. Overall, the mid-range of the Beats sounds good but a bit recessed.
The Beats Solo3 Wireless has an excellent treble. Low-treble and mid-treble are relatively consistent and within 0.5dB of our target response, which is impressive. This ensures a good balance of presence, detail, and brightness in the reproduction of vocals, leads, and cymbals. Overall, the treble sounds well-balanced and quite neutral.
These headphones have a good frequency consistency. Despite having measured the low-end of these headphones on 5 human subjects, 5 times each, the variance in Bass response is +/-1dB which is very good. However, these headphones perform a bit less consistently in the treble range, due to their on-ear design and different positioning preferences that people tend to have with on-ears.
The Beats Solo3 Wireless have excellent imaging. Their weighted group delay is 0.16, which is quite low. Also, according to the graph, their entire group delay is below our audibility threshold. This results in tight a bass reproduction and a transparent treble. Additionally, the L/R drivers of our test unit were exceptionally matched in amplitude, frequency and phase response. This ensures an accurate placement and localization of objects (voices, instruments, footsteps) in the stereo image.
The soundstage is poor. Since these are on-ear headphones, they are not able to acoustically interact with the pinna, which is important for creating a large and out-of-head soundstage. Also, because of their closed-back design, their soundstage will be perceived as less open, compared to open-back on-ears like the Grado SR80e. Overall, the soundstage will most likely be perceived to be small and located inside the listener's head.
The Beats Solo3 Wireless headphones have a very good harmonic distortion performance. The overall amount of harmonic distortion is quite low throughout the range, and doesn't increase considerably under heavier load either, which is very good for an on-ear design. This suggests that they should be able to handle a good amount of EQ boost in the bass range before distorting.
The Beats Solo3 Wireless have a below-average isolation performance. They don't actively cancel noise like the Studio Wireless or Studio3 Wireless. Furthermore, the small earcups don't create a good enough seal to prevent ambient noise from seeping into your audio. They won't be the ideal headphones to use in loud and noisy environments, and unfortunately, they also leak quite a bit so they may distract the people around you in quieter settings.
The isolation performance is sub-par. These on-ears provide little isolation in the bass range, which is important for cutting out the rumble of airplane and bus engines. The passive isolation provided by the ear cups start to kick in at around 300Hz, but the isolation won't get significant until around 1KHz. The overall amount of isolation achieved in the mid-range, where the bulk of speech sits, is about 10dB, which is below average. In the treble range, they reduce outside noise by more than 30dB which is good. Overall, these headphones are good at reducing sharp sounds such as S and Ts, but not very good at isolating speech and commute sounds.
The leakage performance is mediocre. These headphones leak a bit more than the usual closed-back on-ear headphones. The noticeable portion of leakage is between 400Hz and 8KHz, which is rather broad. However, the overall level of leakage is low, except for the sharp peak at 4KHz which could be significant at closer distances. Overall, you don't need to worry about the leakage, unless you are blasting your music and are in a quiet environment like a small room.
The Beats Solo3 Wireless have a mediocre integrated microphone. Speech recorded or transmitted with the mic will sound quite thin and rather muffled and lacking in presence. However, it'll still be easily intelligible in quiet situations. In noisy environments, they may have difficulty separating speech from background noise even in moderately to loud places, such as a busy street.
The integrated microphone has a mediocre recording quality. The LFE (low-frequency extension) of 370Hz indicated that speech recorded or transmitted with the Beats will sound quite thin. Also, the HFE (high-frequency extension) of 3.5KHz, indicates a speech transmission that lack detail and presence. However, this will not have a big negative effect on the intelligibility of the recorded speech, since speech comprehensibility is mostly dependent on the 500Hz-3KHz range.
- 100% SpNR
The noise handling performance of the Beats Solo3's mic is mediocre. In our noise rejection test, the Beats achieved a speech-to-noise ratio of only 11dB. This suggests that these headphones are mostly suitable for quiet environments and will struggle to separate speech from ambient noise in moderate to loud situations.
The main difference between the Beats Solo3 Wireless and the Solo2 is the W1 chip. It adds a few improvements to the active features and a better integration into the iOS software similar to the AirPods. The battery life has also improved significantly while having fast charge capabilities, which is great if you're often on the go. Unfortunately, some features are only available on iOS which may not be ideal for Android Users.
The Beats Solo3 Wireless have a phenomenal battery life. They can last up to 40 hours of continuous playback on a single charge. They also charge surprisingly fast delivering just above 2.5 hours of playback from a 5-minute charge and a complete charge takes only 1.5 hours. This makes them a great headphone if you're often on the go and do not have a lot of time to charge your headphones. However, they do not have an auto off timer so the battery will continue draining if you do not switch them off.
Like the AirPods, they also use the W1 chip to provide some extra features on iOS devices. The Beats Solo3 connect with a pop-up that displays basic battery information. The pop up is not particularly useful as it only shows up on your initial connection with an iOS device. However, with the integration into the iOS software, you get a constant notification that gives you live feedback on the battery status. Unfortunately, this feature is not available on Android.
- 10% Bluetooth
- 32% Wired
- 10% Base/Dock
- 22% Wireless Range
- 25% Latency
The Beats Solo3 Wireless connect wirelessly via Bluetooth and also come with an iOS-specific 1/8"TRRS audio cable with an inline mic that is compatible with the PS4 but not the Xbox One. They also have a more reliable wireless connection that has a longer range and slightly lower latency on both Android and iOS. This latency is even less noticeable on iOS devices thanks to the integration of the W1 chip.
- 79% Multi-Device Pairing
- 20% NFC
- 0% PS4 Compatible
- 0% Xbox One Compatible
They connect wirelessly via Bluetooth. Unfortunately, they can't pair simultaneously with multiple devices and do not have NFC support. On the upside, they are much easier to pair than the Solo2.
- 13% Analog
- 9% USB
- 26% PS4 Compatible
- 26% Xbox One Compatible
- 26% PC Compatible
The Beats Solo3 Wireless come with an iOS cable with an in-line remote microphone that's compatible with the PS4 but not the Xbox. This gives them a secondary connection option in case you do not want to use Bluetooth to save on battery life or for less latency while watching videos or gaming.
- 4% Optical Input
- 22% Line In
- 4% Line Out
- 22% USB Input
- 4% RCA Input
- 9% PS4 Compatible
- 9% Xbox One Compatible
- 9% PC Compatible
- 2% Power Supply
- 13% Dock Charging
These headphones do not have a base/dock. If you want a versatile headset with a base that you can also use wired check out the SteelSeries Arctis 7.
The Beats Solo 3 make some improvements in their wireless connection and range compared to the Solo2 Wireless. They have one of the best line-of-sight and obstructed range that we've measured on an on-ear headphone so far and reach about 55ft indoors when the Bluetooth source was obstructed. This makes them suitable for medium to large offices and should be more than enough for most use cases especially if you keep your Bluetooth source or smartphone on you.
These headphones have about 179ms of latency. It's slightly improved over the previous model, however, the lack of a low-latency codec means they won't be the ideal headphones for watching movies or gaming. Latency is also less noticeable on iOS devices thanks to some internal compensation that we cannot yet measure reliably. However, if you need to watch movies either use them wired or get the Audio-Technica ATH-M40x or the Beats EP On-Ear for their wired connection and good sound.
In the box
- Beats Solo3 Wireless Headphones
- Carrying case
- Audio cable
- USB cable
Compared to other Headphones
The Beats Solo3 Wireless are the most up-to-date version of the wireless on-ear design by Beats. They deliver a well-balanced sound quality. They're wireless and have a great range and battery life but can be a bit tight on the head and lack decent isolation for noisy environments.
The Beats EP are good-sounding wired on-ears with a sturdy and stable design. However, like the Solo3, they can be a bit tight on the head and do not isolate well enough for very noisy commutes. Overall, they should be sufficiently decent for most use cases, but their wired design is a bit limiting. If you need more casual everyday use headphones, then get the Solo3. However, the Beats EP are slightly better sounding for critical listening.
The Studio3 Wireless are the updated version of the Studio Wireless design. They have a few advantages over the Solo 3, like better isolation thanks to their active noise canceling. They also have a more comfortable over-ear fit. However, their dynamic audio reproduction tends to sound a bit worse than the Solo3's, so if you need a more comfortable and better mixed-usage headphone, get the Studio3 but if you care most about sound quality and portability, then the Solo3 are a better and cheaper alternative.
The Solo2 are the older model of the Beats Solo3 Wireless. They have the same design, weight, and fit but a much worse range and battery life. They also don't come with the W1 chip so they won't have the auto pairing and battery data features of the Solo3 on iOS. If you're on a tight budget and like the Solos design then consider the Solo2 but for most use cases, the Solo3 are much better.
The Sony MDR-XB950B1 are an over-ear with plenty of bass and a good sturdy looking design. They are considerably cheaper than the Solo 3 and also have a good range and battery life but have no quick charge feature and sound significantly less balanced. If you want the most bass for your dollars, then get the XB950B1 but in most use cases, the Solo3 vastly outperform them.