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Here’s What’s Good and Bad About Apple’s New Beats Solo Pro Headphones

November 5, 2019, 3:00 PM UTC

Apple’s Beats by Dre headphone-maker has been churning out quality audio products for years now. And its latest product, new Beats Solo Pro, has a lot going for it.

Beats by Dre introduced its new Solo Pro wireless headphones last week for $300. It’s pricier than other wireless headphones, but it comes with active noise-canceling that entry-level ones do not, long battery life, and a sleek metal and leather design.

In the week I spent using the new Beats, I found myself reaching for my usual AirPods less, and not just because I was trying the Solo Pro for this article.

The over-the-ear headphones have a phenomenal 40 hours of battery life, or a still-impressive 22 hours when the active noise-canceling is on. So I never worried if they were running low on power.

The noise canceling—controlled by a button on the bottom of the left speaker—is what sold the headphones for me. Initially, I tried the noise canceling out of curiosity to see how much of a difference it made—and it made a big difference.

Suddenly, my morning commute on a packed subway car was almost peaceful. I didn’t feel the need to raise the volume to make sure I could understand people speaking on podcasts.

Even using the headphones without any audio on helped provide a quieter experience in my office. I didn’t hear my colleagues speaking next to me or the space heater whirring at the desk nearby.

The headphones are comfortable because of their plush ear cushions. However, for long-term use, the cushioning only provides comfort up to a point. The cushions press up against your ear, which is normal for any over-the-ear headphone with cups that don’t surround the ear. But they still make you want to take a break after a few hours.

This is a bigger problem for people who wear glasses, and I found myself taking the headphones off sooner when I had my glasses on.

Traveling with the Solo Pro also means you’ll need more space to store them. AirPods have spoiled consumers because they can easily put them in their pockets. With Solo Pro, or any other over-the-ear headphones, that’s impossible. Customers, in the end, will have to decide how essential portability is to them.

Additionally, the new headphones come with a flimsy fabric case that offers little in the way of protection. Before putting the Solo Pro in my backpack, I was careful to store them in the case—and even then, I was mindful that they could still be damaged.

My other issues with the headphones came when I went to the gym. To be clear, you can work out while wearing Solo Pros. But why would you?

They’re sweat-resistant and, truthfully, felt fairly secure for most activities. During for the most rigorous workouts like a HIIT class or even yoga that requires a good deal of movement, they may start to slip. Another Beats product, the Powerbeats Pro, is much better for the gym considering their smaller size and wraparound-the-ear design that better secures the headphones. AirPods would also be an improvement.

The newly announced AirPods Pro also just went on sale for $250. The new earbuds offer similar active noise-cancelation in a smaller package, even smaller than the original AirPods.

At $300, the Solo Pro is likely too expensive to be a big seller like some other Bluetooth headphones, including AirPods. If you’re in the market for noise-canceling over-the-ear headphones rather than a pair of everyday use earbuds or something to use at the gym, the Solo Pro is worth the money.

And while the noise-canceling is great, it still might not be enough for some customers to shell out the money for the Solo Pro. Those who do likely won’t be disappointed though.

The audio quality is good but not great, which may rule them out for audiophiles. And the new headphones don’t provide much of an improvement over the now-pervasive AirPods.

However, the Solo Pro is still a well-rounded pair of headphones.

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