Beats Solo 4 and Solo Buds shun noise cancellation for better battery life

Beats Solo Buds in transparent red and Beats Solo 4 in black on white background
(Image credit: Beats)

Beats has announced it is further expanding and updating its headphone line up, with a new pair of true wireless buds and a successor to its best-selling on-ear cans.

The Solo Buds are brand new and expand the Solo family into the in-ear market for the first time, while the Beats Solo 4 are the successors to the Solo 3, the on-ear headphones that launched in 2016, and very much overdue a refresh.

Unlike the larger Beats Studio Pro, which were released last year, the Solo family focuses on compact design and portability. In fact, the Beats Solo Buds come in the smallest charging case the brand has ever made, but still pack in some pretty impressive specs.

With a custom-built acoustic architecture, each earbud features dual-layer transducers designed to minimise micro-distortions across the frequency curve, while the ergonomically designed acoustic nozzles and laser-cut vents help to improve audio performance while relieving pressure during long wear.

Beats Solo Buds in black on a desk next to a green pen

(Image credit: Beats)

There are four ear tip sizes in the box (XS, S, M and L) to help fit a variety of ear shapes, which is important for passive noise reduction since there's no noise cancellation here. You will reap the rewards in battery life as a result though, with a whopping 18 hours of playback from a single charge.

Once you've got through that, USB-C charging will get the buds back up to full, and you can even charge them directly from your phone or tablet if you're caught short. Plus, Beats' Fast Fuel function will get you an hour's worth of playback from five minutes on charge.

If you prefer an on-ear fit, the Beats Solo 4 offer a lightweight (217g), compact design that are promising comfort thanks to new UltraPlush on-ear cushions and flex-grip headband, plus ergonomically angled earcups for delivering the sound more directly into your ears.

Beats Solo 4 headphones in black resting on some books

(Image credit: Beats)

It's been eight years since we've seen a new pair of Solo headphones, and so they've rightfully been re-engineered from the ground up for how they sound. There are custom-built 40mm transducers in each earcup with a focus on clarity, by minimising electronic artifacts and distortion.

There's also support for Personalised Spatial Audio with dynamic head tracking this time round, and you can choose to listen via Bluetooth, USB-C for lossless audio and simultaneous charging and 3.5mm analogue.

Like their predecessors, the Beats Solo 4 also go without noise cancellation, but have managed to squeeze out a bit more battery life over the previous generation, now offering up to 50 hours up from 40 hours. Fast Fuel is once again on hand to give five hours of playback from a quick, 10-minute charge too.

As we've seen with Beats headphones before, both the Solo Buds and the Solo 4 will benefit from dual compatibility with both iOS and Android devices, including one-touch pairing, automatic account setup and the Find My/Find My Device locating feature for the two operating systems. 

All the colours of the Beats Solo Buds and Beats Solo 4

(Image credit: Beats)

Beats Solo 4 are available in three colors – a choice of Matte Black, Slate Blue and Cloud Pink – for £199.99/$199.99, and will ship from 2nd May, while the Solo Buds will be available in a choice of four colors – Matte Black, Storm Grey, Arctic Purple and Transparent Red – for £79.99/$79.99 (US) from the beginning of June.


Check out our first impressions of the new Beats Solo 4

Read our full review of Beats Studio Pro

Check out our pick of the best true wireless earbuds you can buy

Or try our selection of best wireless headphones

Verity Burns

Verity is a freelance technology journalist and former Multimedia Editor at What Hi-Fi?. 

Having chalked up more than 15 years in the industry, she has covered the highs and lows across the breadth of consumer tech, sometimes travelling to the other side of the world to do so. With a specialism in audio and TV, however, it means she's managed to spend a lot of time watching films and listening to music in the name of "work".

You'll occasionally catch her on BBC Radio commenting on the latest tech news stories, and always find her in the living room, tweaking terrible TV settings at parties.