The only thing I dislike about the Beats Solo Pro—the company’s new noise-canceling on-ear headphones—is how they require a lightning cable to charge.
That’s a big deal, not because this Android user keeps forgetting the proprietary cable, but because it’s a critique that would have been buried in most other Beats reviews I’ve ever written.
Early Beats headphones were plasticky, overpriced, and had so much bass they could rattle themselves off a table. But people bought them—as fashion statements. However, ever since Apple bought the company—earning Beats’ founders $3 billion in the process—the products have improved considerably. Five years later, the Beats Solo Pro are some of my favorite headphones of 2019.
It makes me happy the new Beats are so much better than its predecessors. Even though I didn’t always like the products, it was hard to not root for the company’s success from the get-go. When Beats launched, the audio world was dominated by old white men. Watching Dr. Dre, Lebron James, and other prominent early Beats backers disrupt the industry (and its previously drab branding) was exciting, even if the products weren’t. Finally, the excellent branding now matches the goods.
It may seem odd given Beats’ past design strategy, but I like the Solo Pro because of its inconspicuous nature. Sure, you can still order them in Pharrell-endorsed schemes like orangey-red and bright blue, but in the sleek all-black colorway of my review unit, they’re some of the most elegant looking headphones I’ve tested in months.
Apple’s minimalist design aesthetic has leaked over in all the right ways. The sleek, round earcups feature only a single visible button (to turn the noise canceling on and off). Instead of using small, hard to distinguish controls like other headphones, the outside of the right cup covers up a three-way rocker that does everything else. Press the middle of the earcup to play and pause music or change songs, whereas the top or bottom will adjust the volume. Quick double presses will even change tracks. If only all headphones were this simple.
There’s no power switch, too. The headphones have sensors that turn them on and off when you unfold and fold them, so they’re