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Beats Solo 4

Compact on-ear headphones with some limitations

In a nutshell

In our test, the Beats Solo 4 proved to be very good-sounding on-ears that operate at a high technical level, which impressed us with their long battery life. However, for a price of just under 230 euros, they lacked some important features.

Pros:
  • Sound
  • 3D audio and head tracking (iOS only)
  • Good passive noise cancelling
  • 50 hours runtime
  • USB audio
  • Can also be used without battery via analogue input
Cons:
  • No noise cancelling and no transparency mode
  • No multipoint
  • No auto pause feature
  • No 3D audio and no head tracking for Android users
  • Poor wearing comfort for large heads
  • Quite expensive
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Historically, the first Beats headphones were a cult brand with a focus on bass aimed at fans of hip-hop, and this contributed significantly to their success. With the purchase of the brand in 2014, Apple tuned Beats headphones to make them suitable for mainstream sound in order to reach a larger customer base.

What makes the Beats Solo 4 special?

The most important feature: Beats wants to treat Android users as equally as possible, but an app is required for iOS; in the Apple universe, Beats Solo 4 are virtually embedded in the operating system as a member of the family. Nevertheless, if you only use Android, one important feature, in particular, is missing: personalised spatial audio requires Apple hardware.

With a runtime of up to 50 hours, Beats Solo 4 scored some points, and this was not at all surprising when you consider that both energy-intensive active noise cancelling and a transparency mode are not included. At least the manufacturer has thought to once again include a quick-charging function, so thanks to “Fast Fuel”, you can enjoy five hours of music after just ten minutes plugged into the USB cable.

The Beats Solo 4 enable lossless audio via USB stream, but can also be used as “normal” wired headphones without any power at all – the necessary cables are included.

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If you want to enjoy Dolby Atmos music or experience interactive surround sound, you can do it with the Betas Solo 4 if the corresponding players and streaming services are available.

Beats Solo 4 – first impression

The cardboard box made of sustainable wood fibres contains a black bag made of robust fabric, and inside that, you will find the headphones folded up to save space. Two side compartments hold the USB-C cable and the mini-jack cable. The Beats Solo 4 are not only as compact as possible but also extremely light at 217 grams.

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The metal headband and hinges seemed very stable. The underside of the headband is covered with soft material in the same colour as the housing. The “UltraPlush” ear pads are very soft but also provide a good seal, something which is very important for on-ears. They are fixed and cannot be replaced.

The Beats Solo 4 fitted a little “clumsily” on my head (hat size 60). The earpieces had to be fully extended for larger heads, and the contact pressure (it was slightly tight) didn’t feel all that comfortable after a longer period of wear. Therefore, I lent them to my daughter (21) for a day and asked her to test the new Beats Solo 4 for wearing comfort and sound. In terms of wearing comfort, I can give the all-clear: wearing them for hours didn’t seem to be a problem – I didn’t see the headphones again that day.

Setting up the Beats Solo 4 with iOS and Android

The Beats Solo 4 don’t need much setup and work with Bluetooth version 5.3 and the SBC and AAC codecs. My iPhone 14 wanted to connect to the new Beats straight away, so I immediately authorised it. The advantage of this: the headphones recognise known devices immediately, but other devices registered with the same account, such as iPads or Macs, can also be “paired” quickly and at any time after a one-off Bluetooth confirmation. When changing the player, the connection to the existing one was disconnected, and the new one was established immediately – but classic multipoint was not included. Otherwise, the Solo 4 connected automatically when a known device was nearby.

My Google Pixel mobile phone also recognised the Solo 4 immediately (Google Fast Pair), but I was first asked to visit the Playstore to download the Beats app. I could then make the individual operating settings in the app in the same way as for iOS.

Audio Sharing, a nice feature that allows you to share music with compatible Apple headphones, was not available for Android.

If you want to activate “Personalised 3D Audio”, you need compatible Apple hardware such as an iPhone; this was not available for Android. Google Assistant could only be used by pressing a button along with the voice command “OK Google”, but “Hey Siri” worked without first pressing the B logo button. You can set up “Where is” (Apple) and “Find my device” (Google) functions for both operating systems.

How do the Beats Solo 4 sound?

Apple marketing now claims that the Beats Solo 4 are particularly suitable for fans of low frequencies, and I don’t want to leave this unchallenged in our listening tests. Yes, they were deep, but nowhere near as overpowering as the original Beats, something which I personally did not mind at all, as this left more energy for the rest of the sound.

Listening to current pop music, such as Dua Lipa’s “Houdini” was fun; the dry bass was delivered with great enthusiasm in harmony with the very present voice and the driving beat. Taylor Swift’s album opener “Fortnight” from “Radical Optimism” also worked very well with the Beats, with the Solo 4 showing no weaknesses even at higher volumes. And Beyoncé’s Beatles cover “Blackbird” with chorus and strings was also a hit with the Solo Beats 4. Finally, I treated myself by listening to Keith Jarrett’s “The Köln Concert Part I” via the Beats Solo 4 in a high-res version via Bluetooth, as the piano background noises and the hall ambience can be heard very nicely in this recording. Here, too, the Beats Solo 4 scored points even to my spoilt ears with their richness of detail. Of course, it was also exciting to hear how the Beats Solo 4 performed via their analogue input. Our listening test using Tchaikovsky’s “Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D major, Op. 35” in a high-res recording was convincingly reproduced by the Beats Solo 4, as well as via USB audio.

The Beats Solo 4 in practice

We put the Solo 4 through their paces in various situations. The wearing comfort was very good, as long as you don’t have a head as big as mine. We therefore strongly recommend trying them on. People with smaller heads found both contact pressure and wearing comfort to be pleasant. The passive noise-cancelling of the Solo 4 was remarkable: the very tight-fitting padding let very little sound through from the outside, and the noise emission to the outside was not perceived as disturbing. The Solo 4, therefore, makes a good travelling accessory as long as you are not actively involved in road traffic.

I liked the battery life of around 50 hours, but I wasn’t able to utilise it to the full because, during my test, I occasionally performed one or two activities via USB audio – and thus recharged the battery; for example, a short podcast production using Garage Band, where I used the Solo 4 as a monitor via USB audio.

The Beats Solo 4s do not have an auto-pause function, which unfortunately means that they continue to blare merrily away when you take them off. These on-ears are only switched off when there is no signal after a certain length of time. There is a small round button on the right-hand side, which serves as an on/off switch, and this is also required for initial Bluetooth pairing.

Phone calls went very well to my iPhone. Both parties were able to communicate very satisfactorily thanks to the high-quality technology. Video calls on my MacBook via Google Meet and Facetime also worked smoothly with very good speech intelligibility and accurate sound-image synchronisation.

The latest productions by Dua Lipa and Taylor Swift were, of course, even better when listened to in their Dolby Atmos versions via the Beats Solo 4, as were the newly mixed and mastered Beatles productions. It is important to mention here that dynamic head tracking is only possible with compatible Apple hardware. The easiest way to enjoy 3D Audio is to take out an Apple Music subscription. This comes with the purchase of the Solo 4, and you can decide after a six-month trial period whether you want to continue using the streaming service or not.

Conclusion

The Beats Solo 4 are compact, very good-sounding on-ears with decent battery power, which are suitable for both iOS and Android users as universal headphones for everyday use, but they can also be used for enjoying music at a higher level. If you can do without Auto Pause, Multipoint, active noise cancelling and transparency mode and are prepared to put 229 euros on the table, all you have to do is choose one of the three colour variants – matt black, slate blue or cloud pink.

However, Android users who put the Beats Solo 4 on their heads unfortunately still have to put up with restrictions compared to iOS users.

1 month ago by Ralf Willke
  • Rating: 3.88
  • Sound
  • Handling
  • Price/Quality
  • Function

Technical specifications

  • Ear couplingOn-ear
  • Typeclosed
  • Transducer principledynamic
  • Weight without cable217 g

What's in the box

  • 3.5 mm analogue audio cable
  • USB-C to USB-C cable
  • Case

Special features

  • Available in matt black, slate blue and cloud pink
  • BT version: 5.3
  • BT codecs: SBC, AAC

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