Upgraded audio, extended battery life and familiar design

When Beats is introduced Solo 3 In 2016, the headline feature was the inclusion of Apple’s W1 audio chip. This ensured seamless pairing with Apple devices making life much easier for iPhone, Mac and iPad owners. Along with noise cancellation Solo Pro In 2019, Beats hadn’t updated its Solo line in nearly eight years, and now it’s bringing its popular on-ear headphones up to today’s standards. Beats announced the Solo 4 today, a $200 set of familiar-looking boxes with significant upgrades in sound quality and battery life. But as with other devices, the company opted for its own audio platform over Apple’s AirPods chip.


Beats has made significant improvements to the sound quality and battery life of the Solo 4, but the design needs an update.


  • 50 hours of battery life
  • Improved sound quality
  • USB-C
  • No price increase

  • Too familiar design
  • Not the most comfortable for big heads
  • iOS does not have multipoint Bluetooth
  • No automatic pause

$200 at Apple

Beats says it has redesigned the sound in the Solo 4 for “unbelievable, high-quality acoustics.” This includes new, custom-designed 40mm transducers that are said to offer “extraordinary clarity and range” with minimal delay and distortion. The change also led to improved high-frequency response compared to the Solo 3, the company explained. Beats says the Solo 4 is its only passively tuned headphone, so you’ll get the same sound quality when listening wirelessly. the battery dies and you have to use the 3.5mm jack.

Spatial Audio was available on the Solo 3, but Beats took it a step further in the Solo 4 by adding Personalized Spatial Audio with dynamic head tracking. It’s a process Apple developed for its AirPods, and it uses the iPhone’s camera to create a custom audio profile tailored to the shape of your ears. The effectiveness of head tracking in enhancing Spatial Audio may depend on your personal preferences and content, but the addition brings the Solo 4 up to par with other Beats (and Apple) audio products.

Beats Solo 4 is placed on top of two books with an iPhone on the left and a black pen in the foreground. Beats Solo 4 placed on top of two books with an iPhone on the left and a black pen in the foreground.

Billy Steele for Engadget

Another big improvement is battery life. The Solo 3 already offered 40 hours of playback time on a single charge, but the Beats Solo 4 managed 10 more hours. Of course, that’s about 50 percent volume with Spatial Audio turned off (45 hours in ten). ). A quick charge feature, Quick Fuel now gives you up to five hours of use in 10 minutes. That’s two hours more than Solo 3.

As Apple does with most of its products, Beats has switched to USB-C for charging in the Solo 4. This wired connection also provides lossless audio as long as you’re listening to compatible content with a supported device. Like other new Beats products, the Solo 4 replaces Apple’s chips with the company’s own platform. In this case, Solo 3 has replaced W1, but still has deep integration with iOS, macOS, and iPadOS. And the company’s latest effort to better serve Android users continues in the Solo 4.

Beats has improved the microphones on the Solo 4, although they’re only used for calls, as there’s no active noise cancellation (ANC). Specifically, the company says it has replaced analog microphones with digital, beam-forming MEMS microphones, leading to improved sound capture in a variety of environments. Beats has also added a noise learning algorithm that can target your voice while fighting background noise and wind.

From the bottom, the Beats Solo 4 headphones show a 3.5mm jack on the left and a USB-C port on the right. From the bottom, the Beats Solo 4 headphones show a 3.5mm jack on the left and a USB-C port on the right.

Billy Steele for Engadget

Beats’ strides to improve sound quality on the Solo 4 really delivered. The company has ditched the overly bass-heavy EQ that dominated the sound in its first headphones for several years now, using a more even tuning. I also hear added clarity on tracks like Justice’s “Neverender,” where details like synth sounds brought an atmospheric texture that enhanced the song. This is most noticeable with Spatial Audio enabled, and in my experience, the Solo 4 was at its best with Dolby Atmos content on Apple Music.

The 50-hour battery life claim also holds. After 37 hours of testing at about 50 percent capacity, macOS still showed that the Solo 4 had 35 percent left in the tank. This beats the number recorded by Beats. During testing, I was streaming spatial Dolby Atmos content from Apple Music, mostly from a MacBook Pro.

Beats says the Solo 4 features the same memory foam ear cushions as the on-ear Studio Pro headphones, but with a new cover material for that component to further improve comfort. I feel less pressure when wearing the Solo 4, but after a few hours I felt more laborious with each passing minute.

Beats Solo 4 headphones on a wooden table with a laptop and an iPhone below. Beats Solo 4 headphones on a wooden table with a notebook and an iPhone below.

Billy Steele for Engadget

While we’re on the subject of comfort, I’ve never been a fan of over-the-ear headphones. Most of them, including the Beats Solo, feel tight over my head. It is true that I have a large dome; I pick up my New Era caps at 7 ⅝. But I can appreciate that this design is very popular, so it’s less of a provocation and more of an observation for my big-domed colleagues. Small changes to the ear pads definitely help make it more comfortable, but it’s still very comfortable for me. Clearly, the Solo line is a hit: Beats says it’s sold 40 million pairs of these headphones. .

I also wish the company would do a bit more with the Solo 4’s design. I understand “if it ain’t broke” and all that, but it feels like a missed opportunity. Beats opted to keep the almost identical look from the Solo 3, except that the ‘Solo’ branding on the headband is now just a ‘4’. The company changed things up a bit on the Solo Pro, but that model is no longer available, so a design update on the non-ANC Solo headphones would be a welcome change.

Although there are some obvious updates to the sound profile, the Solo 4 sounds a little thin at times. Audio performance is consistent across genres when listening on an iPhone, but there’s a noticeable difference when listening to the same songs on Apple Music on a Mac. That Justice album, hyperdrama, The MacBook Pro doesn’t have the same audio stream as it does on the iPhone.

The Solo 4 also lacks multipoint Bluetooth support on iOS. This isn’t the first Beats audio device to go missing, but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating. The ability to automatically switch between your computer and phone when you receive a call is a handy feature that most headsets offer these days. If you’re used to it, it’s something you’ll miss in Solo 4.

There’s no denying the upgrades Beats has made to the Solo 4 in terms of sound quality and battery life. The company also made tweaks to modernize it, including a switch to USB-C. Small changes to the ear pads make the Solo 4 more comfortable for those with large heads, but the fit is still far from ideal. Overall, the familiar design could use an update, especially now that we’re nearly eight years behind the Solo 3. However, the Solo 4 is a clear improvement over the Solo 3, but it’s probably not significant enough to attract more. The Beats are loyal.

The Beats Solo 4 is available today For $200 From Apple. The headphones are available in black, blue (pictured) and pink color options.

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