Best Beats headphones Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best Beats headphones you can buy in 2021.
You can't underestimate the impact Beats has 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 suits most popular music.
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 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.
While not truly wireless like the Powerbeats Pro 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 the full Beats Powerbeats3 Wireless review
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 Beats Solo 3 Wireless review
The Beats Solo Pro 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 the full Beats Solo Pro review
The Beats Powerbeats Pro 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 the full Beats Powerbeats Pro review
The Beats Flex are a step up from Apple's bog-standard Lightning wired buds. They’re available in some fresh hues (including the Yuzu yellow sample before you), they charge via USB-C, have a 12-hour battery life, and courtesy of one-tap audio share you can split sounds with nearby Beats or AirPod headphones (provided you have an iPhone 8 or later running iOS 14). And they're very affordable, too.
Four ear tip options gives a good chance of finding a decent fit, and the cable is flat, like a strand of tagliatelle. Magnets keep the earbuds together when not in use.
Pairing is a doddle (even more so using an Apple device). They don't support some iOS 14 features, including automatic switching to another device or hands-free Siri support. And there’s no noise-cancelling either, but with the correct seal you’ll still enjoy good levels of passive noise isolation.
Audio quality is good, but not great. There's just not the same impact that the best at this price manage to pull off. Still, the Flex offer a considered, smooth sound profile that’s preferable to one that is harsh or bright through the upper frequencies. A solid Beats bet at this end of the market.
Read the full Beats Flex review
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 the full Beats X review
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