Best Beats headphones 2022: 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 2022.

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 with 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.

How to choose the best Beats headphones for you

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All of these Beats pairs are wireless, so it really comes down to what you prioritise: low-end or portability. On-ear pairs like the Beats Solo Pro offer more body towards the bottom of the frequency scale, while the Studio Buds are an altogether more sedate offering, though still impressive in a more understated way.

Beats offers some brash colourways too – check out the Yuzu yellow of the Beats Flex. And active types will want a pair made for exercise, like the Beats Powerbeats Pro.

We've included other specs like weight and battery life too, to give you an idea of what they're like to live with.

Best Beats headphones 2022: Beats Studio Buds

Think Beats is still all bass and brash branding? Check out the Studio Buds, its most demure offering yet. (Image credit: Beats)
The best Beats headphones money can buy.

Specifications

Bluetooth version: 5.2
Battery life: 15 hrs (buds: 5hrs; case: 10hrs)
Connector: N/A
Built-in mic and controls: Yes
Noise-cancelling: Yes
Waterproofing: IPX4
Weight: 5g each

Reasons to buy

+
Agile, more neutral bass
+
Spacious soundstage
+
Remarkably small earpieces

Reasons to avoid

-
Slightly harsh treble
-
No on-device volume control

The Studio Buds are unlike any Beats headphones that have come before them: gone are the over-ear clips, the brash branding and lurid colourways. Instead, they're demure – understated even – with a true wireless design and one-touch wireless pairing not only to iOS, but Android devices too.

They're the smallest and subtlest of any Beats headphones, with impressive longevity. Battery life totals up to 15 hours with noise cancelling on, or 24 with it disabled, while a five-minute Fast Fuel charge gives up to an hour of playback if you need to dash out the door.

Apple Music users can enjoy Spatial Audio for available tracks mixed in Dolby Atmos without having to enable it in their phone's settings (as with other headphones). They can also speak to wake Apple's Siri personal assistant. Active noise cancellation adjusts 48,000 times a second to mute background noise, though it doesn't have adjustable levels, just on or off.

Sonically, the Beats Studio Buds are more refined than the usual bass-heavy Beats sound, marking these out as a cut above the rest of the pack. A refreshing change of direction from Apple's subsidiary.

Read the full Beats Studio Buds review

Best Beats headphones 2022: Beats Fit Pro

If you're using them for exercise, these are the best Beats headphones you can buy. (Image credit: Beats)
These Beats earbuds are incredibly easy to get along with.

Specifications

Bluetooth version: 5.0
Battery life: 27 hrs (buds: 6hrs; case: 21hrs)
Connector: N/A
Built-in mic and controls: Yes
Noise-cancelling: Yes
Waterproofing: IPX4
Weight: 5.6g each

Reasons to buy

+
Enjoyable, lively sound
+
Comfortable, secure fit
+
Seamless to use
+
Works well with iOS and Android

Reasons to avoid

-
Sony rival sounds more authentic
-
Excitable edge to treble

The Beats Fit Pro are the usual stylish, workout-friendly, active noise-cancelling earbuds, yes, but they also have glimmers of brilliance. 

The new wingtip design promises a more secure fit so they don't fall out of your ears mid-burpee. The Beats app for Android allows non-Apple users to enjoy the features of Apple’s own brand products, which are usually closed off to anyone not in the iOS ecosystem. The performance has been taken up a notch too, with better noise-cancelling, better sound and the addition of Spatial Audio. And they come in at a very reasonable price.

It's a good job too, as the wireless earbuds market is now more competitive than ever. But the Beats Fit Pro show that Beats can mix it up with the best at their price level. Looks like Beats might have just come of age...

Read the full Beats Fit Pro review

Best Beats headphones 2022: Beats Solo Pro

The Beats Solo Pro are no longer being made, but if you can find a pair, they might do you proud. (Image credit: Beats)
A balanced pair of Beats headphones with excellent noise cancelling.

Specifications

Bluetooth version: 5.0
Battery life: 22hrs
Connector: 3.5mm
Built-in mic and controls: Yes
Noise-cancelling: Yes
Waterproofing: No
Weight: 267g

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 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 judged 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.

Note: these were recently discontinued, so once stock is gone, it's gone.

Read the full Beats Solo Pro review

Best Beats headphones 2022: Beats Flex

Decent sound quality meets some fresh and funky colours in this Beats package. (Image credit: Beats)
Fun and fuss-free wireless Beats headphones.

Specifications

Bluetooth version: 5.0
Battery life: 12hrs
Connector: N/A
Built-in mic and controls: Yes
Noise-cancelling: No
Waterproofing: No
Weight: 18.6g

Reasons to buy

+
Punchy lows
+
Durable build
+
Extra features for iOS users

Reasons to avoid

-
Treble is rounded off
-
Fit may be an issue

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 at least iOS 14). They're very affordable, too.

Four ear tip options give 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 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 Beats headphones 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

Best Beats headphones 2022: Beats Powerbeats Pro

Before the Beats Fit Pro landed, these were Beats' best fitness headphones. (Image credit: Beats)
Some of the best Beats headphones for sport, but audiophiles might want more.

Specifications

Bluetooth version: 5.0
Battery life: 24hrs (buds: 9hrs; case: 15hrs)
Connector: N/A
Built-in mic and controls: Yes
Noise-cancelling: No
Waterproofing: IPX4
Weight: 20.3g

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 Pro true wireless buds have all the ingredients of a good pair of sports headphones. Entirely wireless, their build, fit and 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.

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.

For that reason they're not the absolute best Beats headphones available, but a comfortable fit, strong wireless performance and excellent battery life still make them one to consider.

Read the full Beats Powerbeats Pro review

Best Beats headphones 2022: Beats Solo 3 Wireless

The Solo 3 Wireless have a full suite of tech tools, but the sound quality is a little disappointing. (Image credit: Beats)
Impressive wireless technology and a full-bodied Beats sound.

Specifications

Bluetooth version: 5.0
Battery life: 40hrs
Connector: 3.5mm
Built-in mic and controls: Yes
Noise-cancelling: No
Waterproofing: No
Weight: 215g

Reasons to buy

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

Reasons to avoid

-
Lack 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 would like – it needs to be tighter and more insightful to keep us entertained over longer listens.

Read the full Beats Solo 3 Wireless review

Best Beats headphones 2022: Beats X

X marks the spot? Yes indeed, thanks to a full delivery with plenty of energy. (Image credit: Beats)
A fine Bluetooth performance, with a typically energetic Beats sound.

Specifications

Bluetooth version: 4.0
Battery life: 8hrs
Connector: N/A
Built-in mic and controls: Yes
Noise-cancelling: No
Waterproofing: No
Weight: 20g

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.

Sound-wise, 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

How we test headphones

We have state-of-the-art testing facilities in London, Reading and Bath, where our team of experienced, in-house reviewers test the majority of hi-fi and AV kit that passes through our door.

Of course, testing headphones don't often require such facilities (though we do often try audiophile headphones in our reference hi-fi system). What is important in our headphones reviewing process is that each pair is compared to the best in its price and style class – whether that's one standout pair or a few we favour the highest among the 100+ pairs we listen to each year for reviews and What Hi-Fi? Awards judging. What Hi-Fi? is all about comparative testing, and we keep class-leading products in our stockrooms so we can always compare new products to ones we know and love.

We are always impartial and do our best to make sure we're hearing every product at their very best, so we'll try plenty of different types of music and give them plenty of listening time (and time to run in). It's not just about sound quality, of course. If a pair has active noise cancellation – increasingly the case these days – we'll ensure part of our testing involves using them in different environments. 

All review verdicts are agreed upon by the team rather than an individual reviewer to eliminate any personal preference and to make sure we're being as thorough as possible, too. There's no input from PR companies or our sales team when it comes to the verdict, with What Hi-Fi? proud of having delivered honest, unbiased reviews for decades.

Joe has been writing about tech for 17 years, first on staff at T3 magazine, then in a freelance capacity for Stuff, The Sunday Times Travel Magazine, Men's Health, GQ, The Mirror, Trusted Reviews, TechRadar and many more (including What Hi-Fi?). His specialities include all things mobile, headphones and speakers that he can't justifying spending money on.