Reviewed on Feb 22, 2018

Beats Solo3 Wireless HEADPHONES REVIEW

Usage Ratings - Version 1.2
6.9
Mixed Usage
7.4
Critical Listening
6.9
Commute/Travel
7.2
Sports/Fitness
7.0
Office
6.0
TV
5.7
Gaming
Type : On-ear
Enclosure : Closed-Back
Wireless : Yes
Noise-Cancelling : No
Mic : Yes
Transducer : Dynamic

The Beats Solo3 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.

Test Results
Design 7.2
Sound 7.4
Isolation 5.8
Microphone 6.0
Active Features 7.9
Connectivity 6.2
Pros
  • Good audio reproduction.
  • Stable and sturdy design.
  • Excellent wireless range and battery life.
Cons
  • Poor noise isolation.
  • Leaky at higher volumes.
  1. Update 2/16/2018: Converted to Test Bench 1.2.
  2. Update 9/28/2017: The microphone has been tested with our new methodology, as explained here
  3. Update 8/10/2017: Converted to Test Bench 1.1. Learn more about our new versioned test bench system here.

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7.2

Design

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

Style

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.

7.0 Comfort
Weight : 0.47 lbs
Clamping Force
:
1.1 lbs

The Beats Solo3 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.

7.2 Controls
Ease of use : Decent
Feedback : Decent
Call/Music Control : Yes
Volume Control : Yes
Microphone Control : No
Channel Mixing
:
N/A
Noise Canceling Control : N/A
Talk-Through
:
N/A
Additional Buttons : No

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.

7.9 Breathability
Avg.Temp.Difference : 2.3 C

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.

6.4 Portability
L : 4.25 "
W : 6.13 "
H : 2.63 "
Volume : 68.5 Cu. Inches
Transmitter required : N/A

The Beats Solo3 Wireless are decently portable headphones. They fold up to take less space and could potentially fit into larger jacket pockets. However, they're still a bit of a hassle to carry around on your person.

6.0 Case
Type : Pouch
L : N/A
W : N/A
H : N/A
Volume : N/A

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 especially when compared to similarly designed headphones like the JBL Everest 310.

7.5 Build Quality

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.

7.5 Stability

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.

Cable
Detachable : Yes
Length : 4.2 ft
Connection : 1/8" TRRS

The Beats Solo come with a 1/8" TRS audio cable with an in-line remote and a USB charging cable.

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Headshots 1
Headshots 2
7.4

Sound

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.

8.2 Bass
Std. Err.
:
2.7 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
:
10 Hz
Low-Bass
:
2.41 dB
Mid-Bass
:
3.01 dB
High-Bass
:
3.34 dB

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.

7.9 Mid
Std. Err.
:
2.79 dB
Low-Mid
:
-0.12 dB
Mid-Mid
:
-4.02 dB
High-Mid
:
-1.69 dB

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.

8.8 Treble
Std. Err.
:
2.54 dB
Low-Treble
:
0.5 dB
Mid-Treble
:
-0.44 dB
High-Treble
:
-4.73 dB

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.

7.5 Frequency Response Consistency
Avg. Std. Deviation
:
0.5 dB

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.

8.8 Imaging
Weighted Group Delay
:
0.16
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
:
0.83
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
:
1.29
Weighted Phase Mismatch
:
4.21

The Beats Solo3 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.

3.9 Soundstage
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
:
3.43 dB
PRTF Size (Avg.)
:
1.99 dB
PRTF Distance
:
2.63 dB
Openness
:
4.3
Acoustic Space Excitation
:
4.6
Correlated Crosstalk
:
0.0 dB

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.

8.5 Total Harmonic Distortion
Weighted THD @ 90
:
0.353
Weighted THD @ 100
:
0.547

The Beats Solo3 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.

5.8

Isolation

The Beats Solo3 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.

5.6 Noise Isolation
Isolation Audio
:
Overall Attenuation
:
-13.32 dB
Bass
:
-0.69 dB
Mid
:
-9.04 dB
Treble
:
-30.84 dB
Self-Noise
:
14.57 dB

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. If you like on-ear designs but need a bit more isolation for your noisy commutes, then check out the AKG N60NC Wireless of the Marshall MID ANC.

6.0 Leakage
Leakage Audio
:
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
:
44.97 dB

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.

6.0

Microphone

Integrated
:
Yes
In-line
:
Yes
Boom
:
No
Detachable Boom
:
No

The Beats Solo3 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.

6.0 Recording Quality
Recorded Speech
:
LFE
:
369.71 Hz
FR Std. Dev.
:
2.96 dB
HFE
:
3466.89 Hz
Weighted THD
:
28.322
Gain
:
33.03 dB

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.

6.0 Noise Handling
Speech + Pink Noise :
Speech + Subway Noise :
SpNR
:
10.65 dB

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.

7.9

Active Features

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. 

8.2 Battery
Battery Type
:
Rechargable
Battery Life
:
42 hrs
Charge Time
:
1.5 hrs
Power Saving Feature
:
No
Audio while charging
:
Yes
Passive Playback
:
Yes

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.

5.0 App Support
App Name : N/A
iOS : Yes
Android : No
Mac OS : N/A
Windows : N/A
Equalizer
:
No
ANC control
:
No
Mic Control : N/A
Room effects
:
No
Playback control
:
No
Button Mapping : N/A
Surround Sound : N/A

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.

6.2

Connectivity

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.

6.0 Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
:
4.2 + W1 chip
Multi-Device Pairing
:
No
NFC Pairing
:
No

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. You can also check out the More recent JBL Everest 310 if you need multi-device pairing and also being able to share your music with any other Bluetooth headset.

8.5 Wired
OS Compatibility
:
iOS
Analog Audio
:
Yes
USB Audio
:
No
PS4 Compatible
:
Audio + Microphone
Xbox One Compatible
:
Audio Only
PC Compatible
:
Audio + Microphone

The Beats Solo3 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.

0 Base/Dock
Type
:
N/A
Optical Input
:
N/A
Line In
:
N/A
Line Out
:
N/A
USB Input
:
N/A
RCA Input
:
N/A
PS4 Compatible
:
N/A
Xbox One Compatible
:
N/A
PC Compatible
:
N/A
Power Supply
:
N/A
Dock Charging
:
N/A

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.

9.5 Wireless Range
Obstructed Range
:
55 ft
Line of Sight Range
:
242 ft

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 (see our recommendations for the best on-ear wireless headphones).

3.0 Latency
Default Latency
:
179 ms
aptX Latency
:
N/A
aptX(LL) Latency
:
N/A

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
  • Manual

Compared to other Headphones

The Beats Solo3 Wireless are the most up-to-date version of the wireless on-ear design by Beats. They're one of the best on-ear headphones we've tested. 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. See our recommendations for the best noise cancelling headphones.

Beats Studio 3 Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Beats Studio3 Wireless are slightly better headset than the Beats Solo3 Wireless thanks to noise cancellation. The Studio3s isolate a bit better in noisy conditions, which makes them a better option for commute and travel than the Solo3. They also have a more comfortable over-ear design that most will prefer over the on-ear fit of the Solo3s. The Solo3 Wireless, on the other hand, are a bit more compact and have a much better battery life than the Studio variant. They also have a greater wireless range and better latency performance.

Beats Solo 2 Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Beats Solo3 Wireless are slightly better headphones than the Beats Solo 2 Wireless. While both headphones have a similar sound profile, the Solo3 have a noticeably better battery life with about 40 hours of continuous playback. They also take advantage of the W1 chip on iOS devices, which the Solo2 don’t do. Design-wise, there isn’t much difference between the two models. Note that the Solo2 were measured on an older version of our test bench, so not all components were tested.

Bose QuietComfort 25/QC25
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Bose QuietComfort 25 are better headphones than the Beats Solo3 Wireless. The QC 25 are noticeably more comfortable, have a better neutral-sounding audio reproduction, and have a great noise isolation performance, which is great for commuting. However, they are wired headphones so if you prefer a wireless design, then the Solo3 will be better. They also have more battery life and are rechargeable, while you need to use AAA batteries for the QC 25.

Bose QuietComfort 35 II/QC35 II Wireless 2018
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Bose QuietComfort 35 II are a better wireless headphone if you prefer over-ears; however, if you want a more portable on-ear design, then go for the Beats Solo3 Wireless. The Bose are more comfortable, and most will prefer their over-ear fit compared to the on-ear design of the Beats Solo3. The QC 35 are also noise cancelling headphones that will isolate you better on noisy commutes and long flights. On the upside, the Beats Solo3 Wireless have a more portable on-ear design and are more stable for the gym. They also have a better wireless range and a longer battery life than the Bose.

Sony WH-XB700 Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Beats Solo3 Wireless are better on-ear headphones than the Sony WH-XB700. They have a more neutral audio reproduction and they feel noticeably sturdier than the Sonys. They give an impressive 40 hours of continuous playback and don’t take much time to charge fully. Additionally, you can take advantage of the W1 chip if you have an iOS device. On the other hand, the Sony WH-XB700 are better suited for bass-heavy genres and they support the aptX codec and NFC. They are also quite cheaper so they could offer better value for most, especially if you’re a fan of bass.

JBL Everest Elite 700 Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The JBL Everest Elite 700 are not directly comparable to the Beats Solo3 Wireless since they are over-ears and noise cancelling, when the Solo3 are on-ears and isolate passively. This means if you prefer a headphone for noisy environments then go for the JBL. They will block and cancel more noise on your commute. They also have a lot more features than the Beats Solo3 since they have an app that gives them access to an EQ and noise cancelling settings. The JBL also have a better more durable build quality and a sturdier design overall. On the other hand, the Beats are a lot more portable and deliver a much longer battery life that you won't have to charge for a couple of days. They also charge a lot faster, have a greater wireless range and slightly lower latency on iOS devices.

JBL Everest 310 Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Beats Solo3 Wireless are better on-ear headphones than the JBL Everest 310. Their design is more comfortable, and they have a more accurate audio reproduction, especially in the treble range. Also, their battery is incredible and offers 42 hours of continuous playback. The Beats are also better built and feel more high-end than the squeaking JBLs. On the other hand, the Everest 310 can connect to two devices simultaneously and have a unique music sharing feature. They also isolate a bit more noise than the Beats.

AKG N60NC Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Beats Solo3 Wireless are better sounding and better-built headphones than the AKG N60NC Wireless. However, the AKG isolate more ambient noise due to their ANC feature, which makes them a bit more versatile, especially for commuting and for the office. They can also connect to two devices simultaneously, which is convenient. On the other hand, the Beats have an amazing 42-hour battery life, which is about 3 times longer than the AKG’s.

+ Show more
6.9 Mixed Usage

The Beats Solo3 are versatile headphones that struggle a bit in loud environments but deliver a good sound and an excellent battery life. The slight improvements over the previous model may warrant an upgrade if you want the better set of active features and especially if you have an iOS device.

7.4 Critical Listening

Good for critical listening. The Beats Solo3 Wireless have a slightly better treble range than the Solo2. That and the overall improvement in the bass and mid ranges that Beats has made with their recent lineup of headphones make them sound a bit more balanced. They have a powerful bass and cater decently well to instruments and vocals, although, they sound a bit muddy compared to some other critical listening models. Unfortunately, due to their small, circular and closed-back earcups, they won't have the best soundstage, which means they're great for casual listeners but may lack the ambiance that more critical listeners are looking for.

6.9 Commute/Travel

Decent for commuting. The Beats Solo3 have an efficient and straightforward control scheme. They have a great battery life, and they're also somewhat compact which makes them a bit easier to carry around on your person. However, they do not isolate well in loud environments, which isn't ideal for commuting or traveling.

7.2 Sports/Fitness

Above-average for sports. Their tight fit and wireless design mean they won't easily fall off your head even when running. However, they do tend to get a little steamy when exercising for a long time. They're also still a bit bulky despite their compact design which might not be ideal for intense training.

7.0 Office

Above-average for office use. They won't isolate well in a loud, lively office and leak a bit at higher volumes so what you're listening to may be overheard. However, they have a good wireless range so if you pair them to your PC you can walk around in your office. They're also decently comfortable.

6.0 TV

Mediocre for home theater use. They have a bit less latency than the solo 2 but it's still too much for watching videos and movies. On the upside, they have a good wireless range and the latency is not as bad when used with iOS devices.

5.7 Gaming

Below-average for gaming. The Beats Solo3 have a mediocre microphone, and slightly too much latency to be suitable for gaming. They also have no customizable options and they're not as comfortable to wear for really long gaming sessions. On the upside, they do come with a decent audio cable which may help solve some of the latency issues experienced when using Bluetooth.

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