Let’s get this out the way now, I have never owned a pair of Beats by Dre headphone. I’ve used them in the past when friends around me had it with them, but I never physically went and purchased a pair. The first generation of Beats were just not my thing. From an overbearing bass to its marketing plan, it always rubbed me the wrong way. So, while at CES this year, I managed to “win” a pair of Beats by Dre Solo 2, which were the “new” and “improved” headphones from the line. In 2014, we saw a retouch and turnaround for the company. From updating their headphones to the Apple acquisition. So when I won the pair I immediately decided to finally give them a shot, and at the end, I was quite surprised.
As mentioned before, these Solo 2 headphones are the latest from Beats’ On-Ear line and replace the Solo HD’s – and thank god they do. Aesthetically, these new headphones are a huge improvement from appearance and build quality. Taking from their Studio line, the Solo 2 feature a much sturdier plastic band and larger ear cups. The leather padding on the cups are also much improved and similar to those on their Studio headphones. The build gives off a much more glossy look which does attract minor dust and of course fingerprints. The biggest improvement has to be from its hinges and adjustable sides. Metal hinges are now in placed giving the headphone an overall durable feel with a nice click noise to ensure you the headband has clicked into place. These small details in the changes to the headphones gives off more than you think. From just picking up the older Solo HD’s, the headphones felt absolutely fragile and I was afraid to even let them drop because of how flimsy they felt.
The leather ear cups lay right on the ear and for the most part are pretty comfortable, but of course everyone is different. Depending on the way you adjust the headphones on your head, you might suffer from some fatigue which I did… A lot. Having to re-adjust or even rub my ears due to them hurting was the result of a very stiff head band. Most will notice the pressure from the start but for me it took a while, but it’s there. As mentioned, this can be treated by adjusting the headphones but this is my main gripe with On Ear headphones, and sadly they all suffer from this.
Aside from being impressed of the new design and build quality, I was also shocked at how different these New Solo 2 sound compare to the older Solo HD’s. While bass is still dominant on this pair, it isn’t overbearing like previous versions. It’s much more subtle in giving different types of music just the right amount of bass and low end. Mids, highs and vocals still aren’t as clear and sharp as I would want them too, but it’s still very listenable. When reviewing Beats, the most popular statement was Beats are great for genres like Hip Hop, Rap and even Electronic Dance Music. Of course, with myself a Hispanic, urban genres like Reggaeton sounded great, but others like Bachata or Merengue needed a bit more clarity of vocals and mids. The average user won’t pay much attention to these details because regardless of the fact, it’s a much more improved sound on an already popular headphone. If these more urban bassy genres are your thing, than you will definitely enjoy these Solo 2’s. When I wasn’t focusing on pop, jazz or alternative music, the Beats Solo 2 were actually enjoyable to use, which surprised me.
The included wire is of course removable for easier storage and is a typical audio cable. Attached is an inline microphone which does its job with phone calls and multimedia use which works perfectly for Apple devices and having minor functions for Android devices. The carry case is also a neat pouch which keeps the headphones nice and compact while protecting it from dust. Though I wish the case could’ve been a bit harder for protection of falls or even travel purposes but the added carabiner clip was a plus for backpacks.
At a price point of $199, the Beats Solo 2 are a huge improvement for their previous models. Hardcover audiophiles won’t name these in their top 10, but your average consumer will find these to be just fine for their everyday life.
- Solid build quality
- Better audio balance
- Higher tones don't seem to pop
- Bit too tight on the ears
- Clarity still needs work