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    The Beats Solo 4 is spartanly good


    With a price of 230 euros, the Beats Solo 4 is anything but cheap and does not even offer active noise cancellation. Nevertheless, the on-ear headphones will find enthusiastic buyers, which is primarily due to their powerful sound and great endurance.

    There are very few good on-ear headphones, which is probably because many people find it uncomfortable that the speaker cups rest on the ears instead of enclosing them. On the other hand, such headphones are much more compact than over-ears, but can sound almost as good – if the manufacturer does it right.

    This is the case with the new Beats Solo 4, which offers great sound. Nevertheless, it is likely to appeal only to a very specific group of buyers, as it is rather sparsely equipped for its relatively high price of around 230 euros.

    Tight seat but comfortable

    The Solo 4 has retained the design of the headphones almost unchanged from its predecessor. The headset looks good and is quite comfortable for its design, with thick, soft padding on the ear cups. It sits quite tightly to prevent it from slipping during vigorous movement, but even with sensitive ears you can wear the headphones for longer periods without a break.

    The case and headphones are of high quality. The case and headphones are of high quality.

    The case and headphones are of high quality.

    (Photo: kwe)

    The workmanship is flawless, the Beats Solo 4 looks very robust. This also applies to the joints on the headband, which are used to fold the headphones together so that they can be stored in their equally high-quality carrying case. It's just a shame that the pads cannot be changed, which should be a given in this price range. There is also no official protection against moisture or dust.

    Easy control

    Nothing has changed in terms of controls either – and that's a good thing. Instead of relying on fiddly touch gestures, Beats has retained the uncomplicated but effective operation via mechanical buttons. Most of the work is done by pressing the logo on the right ear cup once, twice or three times. There are additional buttons above and below to adjust the volume. There is also an on/off switch on the right side. It's that simple. What is missing is wear detection, so playback does not automatically pause when you take the headphones off. That's also something you would expect at this price.

    Beats is owned by Apple, but the Solo 4 is also compatible with Android smartphones. Unlike iPhones, with which the headphones work like Airpods, they require an app and personalized 3D audio is not an option. However, the Bluetooth connection is quick with both versions, and in the test the headphones were automatically recognized immediately after switching on. You can also use iPhones and Android devices to search for a lost or misplaced Solo 4.

    Great sound

    You can listen to music and charge the headphones at the same time using the USB-C port (right). You can listen to music and charge the headphones at the same time using the USB-C port (right).

    You can listen to music and charge the headphones at the same time using the USB-C port (right).

    (Photo: kwe)

    The Solo 4 does not support high-resolution Bluetooth codecs; SBC and AAC have to suffice. Nevertheless, it sounds great. It is not an uncontrolled bass monster like early Beats headphones, but it does deliver powerful, elastic lows that are fun. The fairly wide sound stage is dominated by cleanly defined mids, which are garnished with clear highs with lots of detail. Overall, the sound was impressive in the practical test across all styles of music.

    It gets even better when you listen to music wired via the USB-C port, which the headphones have in addition to a classic jack socket. This is because it is not only used for charging, but also supports the (simultaneous) transmission of uncompressed, high-resolution audio files.

    The Beats Solo 4 can also be used for making phone calls. The person you are talking to can hear you well and the sound is pretty natural. However, on busy streets it is better to hold the smartphone to your ear.

    No ANC, no transparency mode

    Noisy environments are also not ideal for listening to music, as the headphones do not have active noise cancellation (ANC). The passive shielding provided by the cushions is quite effective, but it is not sufficient for air travel or traffic noise. On the other hand, the Solo 4 does not offer a transparency mode, which is why you have to take it off to understand announcements in the train station, for example.

    The lack of these features is almost cheeky at a price of 230 euros. On the other hand, the headphones have a running time of around 50 hours. And if the battery is completely empty, you can continue listening to music with a cable.


    For purists who don't care about ANC and other extras, the Beats Solo 4 is an interesting option due to its great sound, very long battery life and relatively high wearing comfort. This is especially true for iPhone users who can enjoy 3D audio. Otherwise, it might be worth waiting a bit until the headphones are cheaper.

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