Exactly what you’d expect for $80

The idea of ​​Beats wireless headphones for under $100 is certainly appealing. So far, the company has been operating in the $150-200 range, excluding $70. Beats Flex, it offers an excellent set of features with good sound quality and a comfortable fit. However, much of the competition tended to offer buds at significantly lower prices, limiting functionality to the basics. With Solo Buds (80 dollars), Beats still has the cheapest wireless headphones and manages to retain much of its product DNA. However, the company had to scale back everything to keep the price down, so don’t expect these headphones to blow you away with their performance.


The Solo Buds cover the basics, but that’s about it. Sound quality is flat unless you’re listening to Dolby Atmos content on Apple Music, but at least the headphones are comfortable with long battery life.


  • Very affordable
  • Long battery life
  • Solid audio performance with spatial audio content
  • Comfortable fit

  • Audio is sometimes flat
  • No ANC or wear detection
  • Not IP rated
  • Call quality is poor

$80 on Amazon

The Solo Buds carry the same general headphone design that Beats has favored for some time. The main difference between them Studio Buds +, although the Solo Buds are slightly larger to accommodate larger batteries. The new model still offers on-board controls in an angled flat panel, complete with the company’s trademark “b” branding. The good news is that this headphone shape has always been comfortable to wear for long periods of time, and that hasn’t changed here. Despite the closed acoustic architecture of the Solo Buds, the added micro-ventilation holes eliminate the stuffy feeling that can plague wearers after a few minutes of use.

That’s where the Solo Buds go beyond Beats’ previous models. This thing is small. In fact, according to the company, it’s 40 percent smaller than the Studio Buds + case, which wasn’t huge by any means. This is because Beats removed the battery from the case. The company claims this makes the Solo Buds more environmentally friendly, and one less battery to worry about degrading over time.

If you’re after the clear version of Studio Buds+, you’re in luck. There is a transparent red option for the Solo Buds. However, there is also some bad news: only business is transparent; the buds themselves are opaque

Like other new Beats products, all software for iPhone owners is built on iOS. You’ll need the Beats app to customize touch controls or download software updates on Android. On both platforms, you’ll get one-touch pairing, quick pairing, and location tracking assistance for lost headphones. iOS users take advantage of iCloud pairing with other devices, Apple Watch streaming, and audio sharing with AirPods and Beats products. On Android, you’ll be able to automatically pair with any device in your Google account and take advantage of Bluetooth multipoint pairing.

Since the Solo Buds only have the most basic features, there isn’t much else to list. However, the company allows you to reconfigure the press-and-hold control to adjust the volume. By default, this action invokes your device’s voice assistant on both headphones. And that’s really the measure of everything. No support for Silent Siri, transparency mode, active noise cancellation (ANC), wear detection, and Apple’s Adaptive EQ.

Compared to Studio Buds + Solo Buds.Compared to Studio Buds + Solo Buds.

Compared to Studio Buds + Solo Buds. (Billy Steele for Engadget)

The best sound quality you can expect for an $80 set of headphones is slightly above average. Most of the time, you end up with something that works, but not necessarily the setup you’d use to listen to the finer details of the album. It does well with the sound quality in the Beats Studio Buds line Beats Fit Pro, but understandably, corners had to be cut in places to keep the price down on the Solo Buds. It turns out that audio performance is one of those areas.

The Solo Buds still retain some decent detail in the sound profile, but overall the setup doesn’t deliver the dynamics of the Studio Buds +. The songs are flat and the mix is ​​weak, sometimes lacking highs or booming bass. For example, Bilmuri’s “Emptyhanded” features loud, distorted guitars that provide the track’s rhythm. These instruments usually fly and have a lot of texture in more expensive headphones, but here they lack scale and stand out less than usual in other mixes. These aren’t the headphones in the company’s lineup that you’ll want to choose if sound quality is a big deal. Instead, the Solo Buds get the job done like a very confused and unexcited worker.

One of the advanced sound features that Beats has included is Spatial Audio. It’s automatic and works with Apple Music songs available in Dolby Atmos. Albums like Justice’s Hyperdrama and Wyatt Flores Half life Solo has more solid bass and clarity that sounds less compressed than some other “regular” albums on the Buds. It’s still not flagship-level audio performance, but it’s noticeably improved over non-Atmos content.

When it comes to calls, the Beats Solo Buds use only one microphone on each side. This definitely affects the sound quality, and you’ll sound more like you’re on speakerphone than with more expensive headsets. The company does a great job of blocking out background noise, but during my tests in loud environments, combating distractions further degraded call performance. My voice was hoarse in a room with a loud fan compared to a quieter place with ambient noise.

The Solo Buds have a similar overall design to other new Beats headphones. The Solo Buds have a similar overall design to other new Beats headphones.

Billy Steele for Engadget

Beats claims the Solo Buds will last up to 18 hours on a single charge, double or in some cases triple what the competition offers. The company opted for larger batteries in the earbuds and included one out of the box, so it won’t take long to fit the buds. After they die, you have to activate them and connect the case to the socket with the USB-C cable.

In my tests, I came in an hour later than Beats’ stated figure. That’s not too much of a disappointment since I still have 17 hours, and it’s probably because I set the volume to 75 percent and didn’t use the Solo Buds for more than 24 hours. If you’re in a pinch, you can get an hour of playback on a five-minute charge. Plus, you can use your phone to play tunes again by charging via the USB-C connection on both iPhone (15 and up) and Android devices.

Since there is no battery in the case, the Solo Buds do not have an LED indicator to show the charging status. You can access this information on your phone by tapping the on-board controls while the headphones are in the case and nearby. It’s inconvenient, but instead of a green or red light, you get an accurate number.

Beats has entered an increasingly crowded market for sub-$100 headphones. Not only do big names like Bose or Sony release new flagship models every year, but companies like Anker, JLab, and Jaybird also regularly debut more affordable options. Some of them cost less than $50. current best budget headphonesAccording to my colleague Jeff Dunn, it is Anker Soundcore Space A40. Currently available for $50, the A40 offers solid ANC, multi-point Bluetooth and respectable sound quality. Battery life is 10 hours and the buds are IPX4 rated for water resistance, but wear is not detectable and the A40 isn’t great for calls either.

The Solo Buds It’s a smart play for Beats and I have no doubt the company will sell a lot of them. Even without features like active noise cancellation, greater transparency, and wear detection, they’re good enough for most people. Apple Music has some solid audio performance with songs, but the overall sound quality is flat and not quite as high as the Studio Buds + or Beats Fit Pro. However, the long battery life and comfortable fit mean you can wear them all day, and those two things alone might be enough to make up for the Solo Buds’ lack of sound — especially at $80.

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