Dr. Dre’s headphone company is now Apple’s headphone company, but the Beats Solo 2 were unveiled just after the acquisition and clearly developed long before Apple became involved. Still, the sequel to Beats’ flagship product is more than just a footnote to the acquisition story – they’re a huge improvement on the originals and a good reason why the latter-day Beats became an appealing target for Cupertino.
- Weight 0.205 kg
- Aux cable with remote/mic
- Carrying case
- 1.4m cable
- MSRP: $199.95
- Product info page
- Lightweight, portable
- Great design
Design is where Beats excels, and the Solo 2 headphone is no exception. They borrow some design cues from the Studio line, which got an update last fall, and look dramatically better than the Solo HD, with smoother lines and more uniform color schemes. They’re also quite light for cup-style headphones, and they feel comfortable on the ears and head, even when worn for prolonged periods.
If anything mars the Solo 2 design, it’s the included audio cable. It just feels a bit cheap compared to the overall quality of the Beats 2 headset itself, with a button response that’s not ideal either. That said, the cord does seem thick and decently sturdy, despite the plasticky feel of the inline remote and cable housing, so hopefully it’s long-lasting.
The ability of the Solo 2 to fold up and the included soft carrying case make these fairly portable, too, but the lack of a hard case means while you’re able to carry them with you, you might not feel perfectly comfortable throwing these into a backpack with assorted heady items. For $200, you expect a more protective case, especially given that competitive devices including the special Star Wars edition Street by 50 offer that.
Overall, though, Beats leads the pack when it comes to design. At this price point, you won’t find a better looking pair of cans.
Of course, with headphones, hopefully sound plays a more important role in your buying decision. And that’s where Beats hasn’t fared so well in the past – previous versions of the Beats Solo I’ve tried out have left me unimpressed with their overall sound quality.
The Beats Solo 2 actually represent a significant improvement in terms of audio quality, however. I had the chance to try out the Beats Studio Wireless headphones earlier this year, and those come very near to closing the gap between them and the industry leading Bose noise cancellers. The Beats Solo 2 also inherit some of the audio improvements made by the company in its latest generation of headphones.
Don’t get me wrong: I use a pair of Sennheiser HD 598 open headphones at home and the difference in quality is astounding. But open headphones aren’t really usable in public unless you feel like being rude and making everyone else listen to your jams. Plus, the Sennheisers are ugly as sin, with actual wood burl finish and the worst yellow-white color you could ever imagine.
But Beats isn’t after that market, and what they have done with the Solo 2 is continue to offer headphones with solid fashion appeal and social cache, but they’ve improved performance to boot – which I honestly don’t think they actually even needed to do to get them flying off shelves.
If you’re looking for everyday walkaround headphones, the Beats Solo 2 are hard to beat. They’re good-looking, they sound plenty good enough for most users, and they’re very comfortable. A variety of color options sweetens the pie, too. If you don’t care about fashion, you can find cheaper headphones that offer similar performance, but Beats has done an admirable job of earning up to their popularity this time around.