Beats By Dre, fresh from being purchased by Apple have launched the new version of their Solo headphones in South Africa – the Solo2. Sticking with the high-end, the new Solo headphones are priced at around R2500. This is quite the investment for a set of headphones. However, Beats have become as much a fashion statement as a tool to appreciate high-quality music.
What they look like
It’s blue. Now I know you’re probably thinking “well yes, but many things are blue” but just take a look at the picture, the Solo2 is very, very blue. It is also available in a number of other eye catching, attention seeking colours. Personally, I am not the biggest fan of the brightly coloured options for the Solo2. It is just way too conspicuous. Black, white and grey are my choice of colours for headphones. The colours the Solo2 is available in are:
It’s made from shiny plastic. This is a serious diversion from the original Solo headphones, which were made from a combination of matt plastic and aluminium. The combination of the bright colours and the shiny plastic makes the Solo2 very “loud”. They’re sort of like setting your TV’s picture to ‘vivid mode’ and watching CSI Miami.
It’s still built well. Yes, the combination of shiny plastic and bright colours sounds more apt in the children’s toy industry but Beats pull it off. I don’t find the Solo2 as well built as the original Solo headphones but they still have an unmistakable feel of quality.
How they sound
It’s rather large. This a good thing. The Solo2 are ‘on-ear’ headphones, which means just that – the pads of the Solo2 sit directly on your ear. This provides for less sound insulation than ‘over-ear’ headphones, and they generally have smaller drivers than over-ear headphones. This results in a “smaller sound”.
This difference between the on-ear Solo and the over-ear Studio headphones was very noticeable with the original Solo headphones. This is why the Solo2 being bigger is a good thing. The Solo2’s sound very close to its bigger brother, the Studio. The bass is heavy and precise, and the range is very impressive. More so, the experience of listening to good-quality music on the Solo2 is remarkably enjoyable. Beats have a finesse in handling music from every genre:
Music Example: Author Rubinstein playing Chopin Ops 24
Device: iPhone 5
Verdict: Pros – A beautiful, rather gentle handling of the piano pieces. Cons – the Beats are tuned for heavier sounds than classical music generally offers with Tchaikovsky as the exception.
Rock / Alt-Rock / Blues
Music Example: Black Keys ‘Turn Blue’ (purchased from iTunes)
Quality: ACC 320
Device: iPhone 5
Verdict: Pros – the new larger drivers in the Solo2 allow them to handle grungy sounds and guitar extremely well, with an impressive dynamic range allowing for each sound to be distinct. Cons – on occasion they’re a little too heavy on the bass.
Rap / Hip-Hop
Music Examples: Kanye West (ft Frank Ocean) ‘New Slaves’ & Major Lazer (ft Pharrell Williams) ‘Aerosol Can’
Quality: 320kps Mp3
Device: iPhone 5
Pros: This is where the Solo2 outclassed almost every set of headphones (in the price range), the bass was extraordinary – clean, sharp and very pleasing to the ear. The vocal notes were presented clearly and with an impressive musical tone.
Cons: The quality is such that you can listen to this detailed, bass heavy music for hours and not realise the volume.
The Solo2 is a massive upgrade in terms of sound quality and listening experience to the original Solos. Within the price range of the Solo2 there is nothing else I would recommend.
Images via Beatsbydre.com