Beats Comparison: Solo2 vs Solo3 vs Studio Wireless

Discussion in 'iPhone Accessories' started by AustinIllini, Oct 22, 2016.

  1. AustinIllini, Oct 22, 2016
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2016

    AustinIllini macrumors demi-goddess


    Oct 20, 2011
    Austin, TX
    After having the Solo3 for the better part of a month, I have a number of observations when comparing and contrasting.

    It all comes down to price
    This is kind of the reason why this is a viable comparison. Traditionally, the Studio line of Beats headphones is a "step above" the solo line, with a steeper price tag and additional added features. However, in typical Apple fashion, products that are longer in the tooth come down in price from third party retailers. With the announcement from Apple that there will not be a late 2016 edition of the Studio Wireless, the Apple store still has the Studio Wireless at a ridiculous $380 price tag. Best Buy, in comparison, has the Studio Wireless for nearly $100 less. For comparison's sake, theses are the price "environments" in which I will be making these comparisons.

    Solo2 Wireless: $212.99 (Best Buy)
    Solo3 Wireless: $299.99 (Everywhere)
    Studio Wireless: $264.99 (Best Buy)

    Based on these prices, it's pretty clear why this comparison is possible, especially with that great Studio Wireless price.

    Build Quality
    Compared to the original 2009 iteration "Monster-beats", the Beats line has made huge strides forward in build quality. All three of these products get a B for build quality. There are headphones out there with better build quality but a lot with a lot worse. The devices are all fairly durable. If I had to give an advantage, the buttons on the Solo series appear to work a little bit better on the whole. The Beats logo button on the Studios are really hit or miss in comparison.

    Verdict: Solo3 = Solo2 > Studio

    Bluetooth Connectivity
    There is absolutely no escaping that the Bluetooth experience for audio is generally pretty terrible. Both the Solo2 Wireless and Studio Wireless fall into this trap. Pairing to all your devices isn't necessarily hard, but connecting and disconnecting between devices is more of a hassle than I remembered previously. For example, if I come back from somewhere using the Studios paired to my iPhone and I want to switch them over to my Mac, the process is kind of a pain. I had a heck of a time getting my iPhone to let go of the Studio for transfer to my mac. The Solo2 behaves the same way.

    Enter the Solo3 Wireless. With the new W1 chip pairing technology, bluetooth connectivity becomes significantly more streamlined. Pairing is easier than ever with the device showing up immediately and the pairing process traverses your iCloud devices. At any time, on any device, you can choose the Solo3 in your bluetooth menu and the transition is seamless.

    Verdict: Solo3 > Solo2 = Studio

    Battery life falls in the same pattern as Bluetooth connectivity. The W1 Chip provides the Solo3 with incredible battery increase over its predecessors. Both the Solo2 and Studio get about 12 hours of battery (I'm seeing that as well). By comparison, the Solo3 gets an insane 40 hours of battery life. We're talking about every day charging verses weekly charging. The Solo3 simply lasts forever.

    One more thing on battery. With the Solo lines, the included cables allow the end user to listen even when the battery is dead. Studio users are not so fortunate. The Studio Wireless do not run without battery even when connected directly to the audio source.

    Verdict: Solo3 > Solo2 > Studio

    Noise Isolation and Sound Quality
    To me, this is where the decision gets interesting. The Solo3 and Solo2 operate with "Sound Isolation". This basically means most nonsense noise will be filtered out by the music you play on the headphones. The end user gets little to no relief from plane noise (it's loud) and with no music there's really no benefit from these guys. On a plane, both the devices work. As far as sound quality goes, the Solo2 and Solo3 are good to very good with solid bass and an increased emphasis on treble (probably as a response to the muddy bass Beats of the past). The mids get away some, and it doesn't take a lot from rock music to get some level of distortion.

    The Studios are a different animal in this department. In general, the Studios have a similar sound profile to the other 2, but the sound just isn't as distorted at increased volume. The sound is almost good enough at sufficient volume to block out sound, which is pretty impressive. The Studios offer more, however, as they add active noise cancelling. All-around, the active noise cancelling Studios get a C. With the right volume, most droning noises are removed. Of the three devices compared here, the Studios are the airplane choice, with all but the loudest noises addressed by Active Noise cancelling and the rest covered by decent volume music.

    Verdict: Studio > Solo3 = Solo2

    I understand Beats are attractive to only a certain subset of buyers. They tend to be bass heavy for the modern pop, hip-hop, and r&b genre. With the removal of the headphone jack from the iPhone 7, the number of options in this space is on the verge of an explosion. That being said, between these three devices the comparison isn't an easy one, and only after including the price in the equation does the picture become more clear. At the price tags I quoted earlier, the choice for me is the Studio Wireless. The improved sound quality push me in that direction. Between the other two, it's the Solo3's magnificent battery life that edges out the Solo2s even with the higher price tag.

    Final Verdict: Studio > Solo3 > Solo2
  2. ZipZap macrumors 603

    Dec 14, 2007
  3. AustinIllini thread starter macrumors demi-goddess


    Oct 20, 2011
    Austin, TX
    The equals sign means the same

    So A = B > C means A and B are the same and both better than C. A > B > C means A is the best, C is the worst
  4. ZhenyaF macrumors 6502

    Mar 28, 2008
    Brooklyn, NY
  5. jjd macrumors regular

    Aug 22, 2003
    I have the Studios and I don't love them. The sounds is ok (not great) and yes the connectivity is a pain. But my real compliant is the weight/ comfort factor. I find these things are unpleasant to wear for more than 10 mins. They are heavy and on a warm day they are uncomfortably hot.

    I have never been a Bose person (though I have the wired QC20's for noise cx on flights and they are pretty amazing in a tiny package albeit with ordinary sound). But I tried a pair of the new Bose wireless over the ears (QC 35). Was very impressed with the sound and they are incredibly light and comfortable to wear.

    The QC35s with a W1 chip would be compelling.
  6. AustinIllini thread starter macrumors demi-goddess


    Oct 20, 2011
    Austin, TX
    Yeah, I didn't really review the comfort too much, because YMMV on comfort. My head is fairly large but I don't have any problems with discomfort.
  7. boston04and07 macrumors 68000


    May 13, 2008
    Thanks for this very detailed review! I've been thinking about upgrading my Solo 2's to 3's so this was all very helpful. The battery life and connectivity improvements alone will make it worthwhile for me I think.
  8. AustinIllini thread starter macrumors demi-goddess


    Oct 20, 2011
    Austin, TX
    It's really amazing. You can probably get $100+ for your Solo2's on eBay, too. 40 hours is a TON of battery life.

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7 October 22, 2016