Beats by Dre Solo 2 Review - Preface
Few things are more polarising to audiophiles and headphone enthusiasts than the mention of Beats by Dre headphones. They have long been renowned in the audiophile community for having poor sound quality and a ridiculous high price. However, through smart marketing and killer product placement Beats by Dre have became the go to headphone for celebrities and trendy folk around the world. The "other" camp appreciate the Beats line as a fashion accessory and dare I say "powerful" bass canon but there also seems to be a large camp of detractors left unimpressed by the headphone goliath. It seems that Beats have been listening to consumers and in the past year the company have released a few new models. I found myself wholly unimpressed by the larger Beats by Dre Studio's but have been caught off guard during my time conducting the Beats Solo 2 Review.
Beats Solo 2 - Looks & Build Quality
The Beats Solo 2, for starts, is one of the nicest looking headphones their line up. Whilst the Solo 2 headphones retain the familiar shape of the original Solo they have been refined and streamlined. Build is still unfortunately plastic but it is of decent build and feels pretty strong in the hand and featuring a nice thick cable soft pads and strong hinges. The Beats Solo obviously pale in comparison to something like my Vmoda M80 or Sony MDR-1 but nonetheless its nice to know that the Beats won't be falling apart.
The Solo 2 offer good clamping force making noise isolation fairly good, perfect for commuting however, keep in mind that this, combined with the on ear design as opposed to over ear, can lead to discomfort over long listening sessions. The Beats also sit fairly far off the head as opposed to the slimline designs from Vmoda but this really comes down to personal style preference.
Beats Solo 2 - Sound Quality
Now on to the part that I expected to hate the most. The review of the sound quality. My original issue with the majority of Beats by Dre products has been the bass. Not in the way that many audiophiles claim to be searching for the perfect neutral flat sounding or neutral headphone (I personally think that sucks (unless you are actually intent on monitoring)), no I love me some bass, some down, dirty, brain shaking bass. What I wont accept is when the bass positively screws up everything else. The Original Beats Solo and Beats Studio were some of the worst offenders of all time when it came to flabby bloated, fart like bass. Bass that bled all over the rest of the sound spectrum but you know what? That doesn't seem to be the case during the Beats Solo 2 review. The headphones are still certainly a bassy and warm sounding headphone but its actually done quite well. Everything else has been tightened up offering more of a punch sound in the lows which still extends deep but bleeds only a little into the mids if at all. The mids themselves now sound more forward and are presented with more natural tones than the Solo 2's tinny sounding predecessor. The Solo 2 are laid back with a rolled off and recessed treble and considering the type of music one is likely to use on a set of Beats this can be seen as a positive. Without a doubt the Beats Solo 2 are the best sounding only Beats headphones you can buy right now (I have spent time with them all).... Thats compared to other beats....what about the real competition?
Beats Solo 2 vs V-Moda M80 - The Beats Solo 2 come with a stronger bass presences and the V-Moda M80 hit back with better sounding treble. Build quality is on another level with the M80's its a seriously tough headphone with some replaceable parts. Looks and comfort wise its a tie but overall... and I cant believe I am saying this, I would rather have the Beats Solo 2.
Beats Solo 2 vs Sony MDR-1 (Review)- The Sonys are bigger better built and I actually think they look the better of the 2. Sound is not so far apart on the 2 units but I am going to have to give it to the Sony for just being more refined and lush sounding.
Beats Solo 2 vs Sennheiser Momentum (Review)- Instantly you hear a difference when switching back and forth with the Sennheiser's being extremely tight sounding with markedly more treble extension. The Solo 2 hit back with an ability to go lower with more powerful bass. Build quality has to go to the Momentums. If I was listening to Rap/Pop etc I would go for the Beats Solo 2 but if its classical/Rock etc then the Sennheiser Momentum are a stunning set of headphones.
Beats Solo 2 Headphone Review - Conclusion
Beats by Dre makes headphones which are as much about style being a fashion/lifestyle accessory as they are about the sound and thats fine with me. While I care about sound quality I can also appreciate a good looking headphone and the new streamlined looks are actually quite pleasing. With the introduction of the Solo 2 Beats have finally made a headphone that I can recommend to people when just over a year ago the company didn't have one product which could stand with the headphones mentioned above. The Beats Solo 2 review signal a positive step under apples stewardship. It is a refinement in every area over the original whether it be the styling, build or sound its all just better and all that makes these the best beats headphones on the market.