As I said in one of my previous articles on the new AirPods Pro, I don’t have a lot of past experience with active noise cancelling or reducing headphones. Because of this, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first got them. Just like many others, I have been very impressed with how much sound they block for their small size and how much more immersive the listening experience is because of that.
Based on my very positive experience with the AirPods Pro and instant love of active noise cancellation, I decided to take a look at Apple’s recently released Beats Solo Pro on-ear headphones. Just for some background, I have never been a big fan of Beats products. I never felt like their older products were worth the price and I didn’t prefer their very bass-heavy sound mix, either.
Despite any previous reservations, because of their similarities to Apple’s AirPods, I reviewed the Beats Powerbeats Pro wireless earbuds this Spring and came away very impressed with them. My wife now has them, still loves them, and uses them everyday. The Powerbeats Pro did get me to see Beats products in a little different light, especially if they share chipsets and technology with Apple’s AirPods line.
The Beats Solo Pro on-ear headphones are such an example, as they are also based on Apple’s H1 chip. This is the same chip that powers the 2nd Gen AirPods, Powerbeats Pro and new AirPods Pro, so the pairing and user experience are just as good as with these other products. Like the AirPods Pro. the Beats Solo Pro also have active noise cancelling built-in, making them far more interesting to me than previous Beats products.
After reading a couple of reviews that agreed that the sound quality and mix of the Solo Pros are a little more balanced and less bass-heavy than older Beats products, I was sold. Even though the Solo Pros are on ear phones rather than over ear, having the same quality active noise cancellation as the AirPods Pro with a wireless headphone seemed very appealing after my great experience with Apple’s new buds. A good headphone should be able to deliver even better sound isolation, as well as better battery life. Also, just by virtue of simple physics, larger speaker elements should be able to deliver better sound quality.
My early verdict is that all of the above are true. I’ve only had the Solo Pros for a week, but they are very much like a larger, on ear version of the AirPods Pro. They certainly don’t blow them away in terms of features or quality, but they are a little better in both respects. Better battery life is a no-brainer. The differences are enough to be noticeable.
That said, the AirPods Pro and the Beats Solo Pros are obviously not the same kind of product. The AirPods Pro are about convenience and offering the best of the above features possible in a tiny, extremely portable package. The Solo Pros are geared toward listening to music first. The H1 chip and easy to use wireless do make them convenient, but they aren’t a substitute for AirPods Pro or vice versa. One product is more versatile than the other, but if you really want a way to listen to music with the best battery life possible, the other excels.
I do love listening to music and that is why I wanted to give the Beats Solo Pros a shot. So far, I’m very pleased with them, as they deliver a little better noise cancellation and isolation, richness of sound and playback time without recharging. They aren’t going to be my go-to listening device while working at a customer site. However, if I’m working on estimates and budgets (or writing articles like this one) at home or my local Starbucks, they are the perfect way to drown out the world and focus on what I’m doing. And like the AirPods Pro, if you need to pay attention to what’s going on around you, Transparency Mode is also included on the Solo Pros.
There were rumors earlier this year that Apple would be releasing Apple-branded headphones with active noise cancellation and the same user experience as AirPods. As far as I’m concerned, the Beats Solo Pros are this product. I don’t know if the rumors were wrong or if Apple changed its mind about the branding, but these phones fit the rest of the description to a tee. So if you have been skeptical of Beats as a brand in the past the same way that I was, understand that the Solo Pros and Powerbeats Pros are a little different. They may have Beats branding, but they are Apple audio products all the way to the H1 core.