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Best Beats headphones 2020: budget and premium

Best Beats headphones Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best Beats headphones you can buy in 2020.

You can't underestimate the impact Beats headphones have had on the headphone industry. While audiophiles and hi-fi fans have always been happy to consider investing in a good pair of headphones, Beats came around at a time when your average consumer didn’t.

They launched amidst a flurry of clever marketing and celebrity endorsement - their design was bold and their sound was similar, i.e. skewed towards bass in a way that alienated some potential buyers.

The brand hasn't been able to entirely shake off that reputation, but the best Beats headphones do address that. And while we wouldn’t exactly call them neutral, they do offer a fun and energetic balance that the majority of popular music is indeed suited to.

Beats headphones can still struggle in terms of outright sound quality but their design, feature set and comfort still makes them the best option for many. If you like the Beats balance – and perhaps, too, you have an iPhone that can benefit from the extra functionality provided by some pairs, our list of the best Beats headphones should have something to suit you.

MORE: Best cheap headphone deals: wireless, noise-cancelling and more

Best Beats headphones 2020: wireless Beats for every budget

(Image credit: Beats)

1. Beats Powerbeats3 Wireless headphones

Arguably the best Beats headphones you can currently buy.

SPECIFICATIONS

Connector: n/a | Cable length: 1.3m | In-line remote and mic: Yes | OS support: Android/iOS | Bluetooth: Yes | Noise-cancelling: No

Reasons to Buy

Good fit
Great battery
Bassy, fun sound

Reasons to Avoid

Bass can overpower at times
Need better clarity and dynamics

While not truly wireless like the Powerbeats Pros mentioned below, the Powerbeats3 Wireless still offer Bluetooth connectivity and, arguably, better value for money. The inclusion of Apple's W1 chip gives you a super seamless connection to iOS devices and you get a good fit and similarly good noise isolation (noise-cancellation isn't part of the package). Battery life is 12 hours, while a quick five-minute charge will get you one hour of use.

The bassy sound can overpower at times, but this makes them a good option if you're going to be using them in noisy environments. They're also a fun listen, which makes them our pick of the current crop of Beats in-ear headphones.

Read our full review: Beats Powerbeats3 Wireless

Best Beats headphones 2020: wireless Beats for every budget

(Image credit: Beats)

2. Beats Solo 3 Wireless headphones

Impressive wireless technology and a full-bodied Beats sound.

SPECIFICATIONS

Connector: 3.5mm | Cable length: 1.5m | In-line remote and mic: Yes | OS support: Android/iOS | Bluetooth: Yes | Noise-cancelling: No

Reasons to Buy

Full-bodied, bold sound
Clear, clean midrange
Excellent battery life and range

Reasons to Avoid

Lacks subtlety and detail
Fit is too tight
No Lightning connector

The Beats Solo 3 Wireless are a tale of two halves. From a technology perspective, they shine. As the smallest of the Beats on and over ear family, they wear their Apple ownership on their sleeve and come with Apple’s W1 chip built in for faster pairing with Apple devices. 

The newer Class 1 Bluetooth helps to create one of the most stable wireless connections we’ve ever tested, and their 40 hours of battery life is impressive, though they can also be used wired if you run out of juice.

From a sound perspective, however, these Beats headphones fall a little short. It’s not that the sound is bad, and it’s certainly not as unwieldy as some Beats naysayers would have you think. But for all they give us in full-bodied sound and enthusiasm, they miss out in subtlety and refinement compared to the cream of the similarly-priced crop.

The overall performance just isn’t as explicit or engaging as we’d like – it needs to be tighter and more insightful to keep us entertained over longer listens.

Read the full review: Beats Solo 3 Wireless

Best Beats headphones 2020: wireless Beats for every budget

(Image credit: Beats)

3. Beats Solo Pro wireless headphones

A balanced pair of Beats headphones with excellent noise-cancelling.

SPECIFICATIONS

Connector: 3.5mm | Cable length: N/A | In-line remote and mic: No | OS support: Android/iOS | Bluetooth: Yes | Noise-cancelling: Yes

Reasons to Buy

Full-bodied and clear sound
Excellent noise-cancelling
Premium feel

Reasons to Avoid

Bettered for timing and dynamics
Tight fit

The Beats Solo Pros tick a lot of boxes. The design is premium, build quality is solid and substantial while battery life is a respectable 22 hours (40 hours with noise-cancelling turned off).

They're a slightly tight fit and they can be bettered for timing, but their overall balance is nicely balanced and bass isn't overpowering, which makes for an enjoyable listen. If you want to get involved with the Beats brand, these headphones are a good place to start.

Read our full review: Beats Solo Pro

Best Beats headphones 2020: wireless Beats for every budget

(Image credit: Beats)

4. Beats Powerbeats Pro wireless headphones

The best Beats headphones for sport, but audiophiles might want more.

SPECIFICATIONS

Connector: N/A | Cable length: N/A | In-line remote and mic: No | OS support: Android/iOS | Bluetooth: Yes | Noise-cancelling: No

Reasons to Buy

Superb playback consistency
Flawless comfort and fit
Great battery life

Reasons to Avoid

Dynamic range limited
Bass lacks punch
Audio lacks excitement

The Beats Powerbeats Pros true wireless buds have all the ingredients of a good pair of sports headphones. Entirely wireless, their build, their fit and their features are nothing short of superb. Plus, thanks to Apple’s upgraded H1 Bluetooth chip technology, they’re easy to use and virtually glitch-free in their delivery of wireless audio. Consider them an Apple AirPods alternative.

With nine hours of battery life, there is more than enough power here to see you through a marathon, and with a further two charges in the included case, you could even take on an Iron Man with these by your side.

Unfortunately, their musical performance does let them down. While not chronically bassy and replete with detail, they lack some liveliness, which is particularly important in helping you power through a tough point in exercise.

Not our top pick for that reason, but a comfortable fit, strong wireless performance and excellent battery life could still make them one to consider.

Read our full review: Beats Powerbeats Pro

Best Beats headphones 2020: wireless Beats for every budget

(Image credit: Beats)

5. Beats X wireless headphones

A fine Bluetooth performance, with a typically energetic Beats sound.

SPECIFICATIONS

Connector: N/A | Cable length: N/A | In-line remote and mic: Yes | OS support: Android/iOS | Bluetooth: Yes | Noise-cancelling: No

Reasons to Buy

Great wireless performance
Smart, simple look
Energetic sound

Reasons to Avoid

Limited detail
Shouty midrange

If you prefer your wireless headphones a bit more, well, wired, the Beats X offer the more traditional take on wireless in-ears, with a cable connecting the two buds that trails behind your neck. 

They’re slim and lightweight meaning they’re comfortable and easy to wear, with magnets on the back of each earpiece to stick them together when not in use.

Featuring Apple’s W1 chip, the Beats X offer slick pairing with Apple devices and an unshakeable Bluetooth connection no matter what you own. They also promise eight hours of battery life, with a fast charging capability that provides two hours of battery after 15 minutes plugged in.

Soundwise, the Beats X are largely enjoyable. Their tone is full and chunky and there's plenty of energy to their delivery.

Detail struggles though, and they also suffer from a rather shouty midrange, making some more strident vocalists sound abrasive at higher volumes.

Read our full review: Beats X

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