Beats' new $430 Solo Pro headphones are terrific, but there's one drawback I just can't ignore

Dave Smith/Business Insider

Beats has a new pair of headphones. They’re really good.

The $A430 noise-cancelling Solo Pro , which go on sale October 30, have a lot to offer in the way of sound and battery life. Most people will love how they look, too.

Personally? I’m not sure if I’ll be able to get over how they feel on my head.

Let me back up a bit first.

Apple-owned Beats was kind enough to send me a pair of their brand-new Solo Pro wireless headphones, which retail for $A430. They are absolutely gorgeous.

Dave Smith/Business Insider

I love the design, with the sliding headband over the metal structure, and the clean lines and logo. I also adore this beige colour these headphones come in.


Black headphones are getting boring, and while the other available colours are a bit more bold, I prefer the subdued but luxurious look of the grey-and-copper pattern.

The new Solo Pro also come inside a new carrying case, which is nice and soft instead of the hard shells from years’ past.

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Thanks to Apple’s H1 chip, Solo Pro will instantly pair with your iPhone if it’s nearby as soon as you unfold the ear cups.

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Unfolding the ear cups is actually how you turn on these headphones. Otherwise, controls are easy.

Dave Smith/Business Insider

Like other Beats headphones, you control volume and playback with the right ear cup.

A new button on the bottom of the left ear cup toggles between three listening modes – noise cancelling, transparent, and extended power. Pressing the button toggles noise cancelling, and double-pressing it turns it off.

In my early testing though, there’s no noticeable difference between noise-cancelling mode and transparent mode. It feels like noise-cancelling is on by default. (This will probably change in a future software update released around the time these headphones become available.)

Once I activated my Solo Pro headphones, I spent a couple of hours listening to music on my phone, then watching YouTube, Twitch, and TV shows on my Apple TV. I love — and I mean love — how these things sound.

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Beats headphones have a reputation for favouring bass, but it’s never to an obnoxious level. The rest of your audio will still sound loud and clear. I thoroughly enjoyed listening on these headphones.

There was just one thing I didn’t like about the Solo Pro headphones: It feels like they push into my head, rather than sit on it. And it’s uncomfortable.

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To be fair, I had a similar issue with the previous-generation Solo 3 Wireless. But in order to achieve the noise-cancelling ability these headphones are promising, each ear cup needs to create a seal around your ear to block air and external noise from entering. And since these are on-ear headphones, rather than over-ear headphones, the headphones will literally squeeze your head to secure themselves.

When I’m wearing Solo Pro, it feels like my head is in a vice, or like the headphones are bookends to my head.

Play GIFGiphyA live look at how my head feels.

After spending time with the Solo Pro, I tried Beats’ other premium headphones, the $US350 Studio 3 Wireless. The difference in comfort was literally night and day.


Unlike the Solo Pro, the Studio 3 Wireless headphones sit around your ears, rather than directly on them. As a result, it feels like the headphones are hugging you, rather than gripping you. I much prefer this design, and believe it is absolutely worth the extra $US50 if you’re on the fence with the Solo Pro . The Studio 3 Wireless, to me, is still the best pair of headphones Beats has ever made.

Overall, I’m really happy with the Solo Pro, and I think they’re so close to greatness. But for $US50 more, I would still recommend going with Beats’ Studio 3 Wireless over this new design.

Dave Smith/Business Insider

The Studio 3 Wireless can similarly insta-connect to Apple devices, sounds incredible, and looks great, but you won’t feel like your head is a watermelon about to burst. Both pairs of headphones also offer super-fast charging (up to three hours in just 10 minutes of charging!) and excellent battery life.

There are tons of similarities between the Solo Pro and Studio 3 Wireless, but the latter headphones are far more comfortable, and comfort with headphones is key, particularly when you’re spending over $A430. The Studio 3 Wireless headphones are two years old now, but they’re still the best pair of headphones you can buy from Beats.

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