Before we undertake our Beats Solo 2 WIRED Review, let’s take a moment to consider the development of music and the products that service it.
In the seventy years or so since ‘popular’ music took hold on a young generation of music worshippers, we have seen enormous change. Possibly the biggest change has been the ‘culture of design and manufacture.’ Seventy years ago, you made your sound from what there was to use. But then the manufacturers woke up and started to produce what musicians and fans wanted — innovation, driven by requirements.
Leo Fender with his guitars and bass guitars. Jim Marshall, the ‘father of loud’ as he was known with his amplification. Mary and Les Paul, the psychedelic era and bands like Pink Floyd and the age of the synth. There were also the pioneers with effects pedals and microphones. And also a host of other products that were dragged along screaming in an attempt to keep up. To keep up with what was needed.
But then came other forms of music as an extension to what was happening. A genre that deliberately seemed to place itself outside of the mainstream. Music of the streets as they liked to be known. A genre painted with a dark stain by some involved and by others who encouraged it to be unacceptable in the eyes of the mainstream. And in so doing made it popular with the extremes.
The demands of their musical styles were not met entirely by the manufacturers. There had to be a new product. Some were loathed to get involved, and politely declined. Others had a go but didn’t really grasp or appreciate the tenure of the music. Possibly nowhere was this more noticeable than with the listening experience. It became ‘headphone’ time.
But the usual products didn’t really cut it. Rap and Hip-hop without a heavy beat and bass doesn’t work. Traditional headphones, especially at the pro level, aim for a flat frequency curve. That was not any use to this genre. This music demands street credibility, and without the right sound, there is none.
You need a heavy bass end. A very heavy bass boosted to what many thought ridiculous levels. The mids were reduced, another sacred cow destroyed, and the top end there but not prominent. All turned upside down, and not many manufacturers managed to satisfy the need.
But then along came Beats headphones, and suddenly we could hear the bass of people’s music coming towards us before we even saw them. The frequency design did flatter the music a bit in our opinion. It didn’t flatter those on the outside, though. Those who try to copy it and make fools of themselves and, at the same time, a pile of money. It is a genre, like it or loathe it. Appreciate it or reject it, it is here to stay. For a while, at least.
Beats was the idea of one Dr. Dre or Andre Young as he was born. He is an American rapper and record producer, amongst other things who saw the need and filled it. He founded Beats in 2006 from whence it became a major manufacturer and supplier of headphones for a specialized genre. Beats were sold to Apple in 2014.
The Beats Solo 2 WIRED – Overview
Beats has become a popular audio brand since its creation by Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine. They don’t only manufacture earphones and headphones but also speakers. But whatever they produce, it is all built with a similar sound signature. Bass and drums and then more bass.
There is no doubt though they have become a popular brand in the Rap and Hip-Hop world. Their popularity, though, does not end there as other listeners who prefer a heavier bass sound are enjoying them. They seem to be especially popular with well-known musicians and even sportspeople.
That has fuelled a desire amongst some to be seen to be wearing the same product. That is, of course, not a new phenomenon. It is the very reason we bought our first Fender Precision Bass all those years ago. The problem with that situation is that it tends to inflate the price, and the marketing people make sure it is well-publicized. You can’t blame them, I suppose. It’s business.
It’s just a bit ironic that something playing ‘street music’ is way out of the price range of some of the very people the music is for.
This set of headphones we have to say though have mellowed a bit. They have been designed to be a bit more user-friendly than some of the other ‘brain-removing’ products you can buy. A nice design, bass prominent, seriously prominent, but a good sound and they are lightweight. They are also made to be comfortable. On first contact, they are impressive, but let’s see what they are really made of.
By now you will have got the gist of it. If you like heavy booming bass, stick around. However, if you are looking for a flat response headphone, it is probably time to say goodbye.
For those still with us, let’s find out what the Beats Solo 2 WIRED is all about…
There is a lot of plastic in the build, which can be a good or a bad thing. A mainly plastic construction does usually mean they will be lightweight, but these come in at just under one pound. Plastic can be vulnerable, but these have metal strips to reinforce the headband and other potentially vulnerable parts. This makes them both durable and flexible.
And as if to make the most of that, they fold away very nicely after use. A nice design plus is that no screws are visible, and they utilize a flush hinge arrangement. It is all very compact and nicely presented.
The headband is rather light on padding compared with some headphones, and it has an almost leather look that is quite obviously plastic. There is just enough padding to allow you a certain degree of comfort. Not enough to call it soft.
They are quite a tight fit, though, and might not be overly comfortable on larger heads. Certainly, after you have worn them for an hour you know you have had them on.
This cannot be said to be a plus point. For the majority of users or potential users, comfort is one of the priorities. An added problem is that in making the headband strong, it also lacks flexibility. This, in itself, means your head size has to be right to get the most from them.
They are an on-ear design and, as such, have very nice padding around the ears. It is needed if the fit is tight. They can be loosened a little to remove any problems with clamping on the ears. The adjustment is quite minimal, which does give you the extra security that they won’t fall off.
With the tight fit of the earpads comes an added benefit in that ambient noise is all but excluded. We don’t think they are described as noise-canceling, but when in position, most external sounds are reduced to being almost inaudible. It is a nice extra benefit.
On the left earcup is a removable cable. This includes the remote control, which also houses the microphone.
Finally, they use Titanium-coated drivers to get accuracy in the sound and give a powerful sound definition.
To sum up, the build quality is good and quite sturdy. As we said, there is a lot of plastic, but it is good quality plastic and at critical points supported by metal strips. The design makes them very tight-fitting with little room for adjustment, and the imitation leather look is not really to our liking on the headband.
The earpads, though, are comfortable if again a little tight. But, the styling is nice, and we particularly like the sleek lines, flush hinges, and no screws on display look.
Let’s return to the controls. The remote control is inline and is easy to use. It is a three-button design that plays and pauses songs, and it has a volume control. And it also handles your calls with an answer and end call facility.
It is operated by a series of taps. Once you get the hang of the tapping to change the function, it becomes quite easy to operate. It is easy to alternate between your music and any call you may receive. There is a built-in microphone to take calls
No problems in that area and all easy to operate.
Now, as we have already mentioned when discussing the build, we don’t think these headphones are the most comfortable you will come across. The clamping is tight, and whilst the earpads are well-padded, the general design is not very giving in its options for comfort.
We are really not sure how comfortable they will be for people who wear glasses, given their grip is so tight. This will also be a problem for people who like to listen to music for any length of time. We can easily see a situation where you might need a ‘rest’ after an hour or so. So in our opinion style-wise, they win a few points, but in the comfort stakes, they lose a few.
This is always going to be an area dominated by personal opinion. These headphones are principally designed to suit a musical genre. If you don’t happen to like that genre, then you aren’t likely to enjoy the sound of the Beats Solo 2.
With Beats, you know what you are going to get. They are well-known for their big, almost at times, overpowering bass. With the Beats Solo 2, though, you might be a little surprised. While the bass is still the prominent sound, they seem to have taken it down a notch from some of the previous models.
The soundstage is also a little wider than has previously been the case. But the emphasis is still very much on the lower frequencies and is likely to appeal to those that demand that.
The issue that must be mentioned is that they manage to produce such a powerful bottom end without a hint of distortion. Even at levels that might be considered unsafe, the sound at the top and bottom is still clear. But noticeable by their absence are the mids. It has to be said they are very weak.
They might be more audible than on other Beats headphones, but the mids on the Beats Solo 2 WIRED are still indistinct. This shows itself plainly in the vocals. The main sound of the vocals comes from the mids, but with these headphones, they are mostly provided by the high frequencies. With the mids being so flat, the result is poor sounding vocals.
These are not for the purist or for those seeking a flat frequency response. All we can say is that for us, the sound is not so good. Too heavy at the bottom end and a bit shrill at the top with nothing in the middle. But as we keep saying, this is a Beats product. You know what you are going to get. If what you want is what they provide, there won’t be too many complaints.
The Beats Solo 2 WIRED comes with a nice black zipper pouch for carrying them around. The phones fold up very neatly and fit inside comfortably. They also come with a carabiner, so if you choose, you can just attach them to your belt or another fixing point.
Beats Solo 2 WIRED Pros & Cons
- Excellent Sound isolation.
- Great for exercise.
- Quality Sound.
- Sleek design hides electronics.
- Comfort may be a problem if you wear glasses.
- Sound can be unbalanced.
- Less sound detail than some premium headphones.
- Some find the headband too firm.
Less Bassy Headphone Options
Looking for something with a more rounded sound without masses of low end? If so, check out our reviews of the Bowers and Wilkins PX5, the Bose QuietComfort 25, the Bose Soundlink Around Ear, the Sony MDR 7506, the Bose QuietComfort II, the 1More Triple Driver, and the Sony WH1000XM3.
What We Think
There is no doubt that these headphones are designed and built for a specific market. They are not the sort of product that you would normally consider. Having said that, we get the feeling that Beats, or more appropriately, Apple, have tried to make changes to make them appeal just a little to a wider audience.
Certainly, the gut-wrenching bass prevalent on previous models is watered down a little. That could be an attempt by Apple to make them an option as a second set of phones. But a second set with more bass. If that is the case, we don’t think they have succeeded. They are still the phones for Rap and Hip-Hop, and anything else just doesn’t sound as good as other phones at half the price.
Beats headphones are popular because they manipulate the sound rather than just produce it. They are exactly what is needed for the genre they find themselves in. They are for someone who wants bass and then more bass. People will buy headphones that suit the genre of music they like. It is that simple.
If that is what you want, then they are certainly worth considering even though the price does seem a little high.
Choices are personal; what is not personal is safety. It could be argued quite easily that these headphones pose a risk to your ear health. There is no limiter, and as they are over-ear, the sound is pumped straight in. That bass at extreme volume? Ouch. They are not the only ones, of course, but with such boosted frequencies, especially at high levels, they could cause damage. So be careful.
The Beats Solo 2 WIRED headphones in their genre are quite impressive, notwithstanding there are design features we don’t like. Out of their genre, we are afraid we would be inclined to say look elsewhere.