ADVERTISEMENT

Beats Solo Buds

Stylish True Wireless in-ears with a reduced set of features

In a nutshell

Are you looking for simple headphones that look good, play equally well with Android and iOS and take up hardly any space in your pocket? The Beats Solo Buds could be what you’re after, and they retail for just under 90 euros, but you would have to make compromises, including unbalanced sound and no noise cancelling (ANC). You also have to do without a transparency mode, IPX protection, auto-pause and a battery in the case.

Pros:
  • Battery life
  • Wearing comfort
  • Lightweight, small case
Cons:
  • Unbalanced sound
  • No auto pause
  • No IPX
ADVERTISEMENT

You’ve read correctly, but you mustn’t forget: The production and disposal of batteries are extremely harmful to the environment. While most manufacturers are promising longer and longer battery life, there are now True Wireless in-ears coming onto the market that don’t have batteries in their charging case.

For example, the Skullcandy EcoBuds also lack this feature. This not only conserves valuable resources and thus reduces their carbon footprint, but it also ensures a lower price. But how do you charge your in-ears when they are flat if there is no recharging option via the case?

A charging case that isn’t what it seems

With a runtime of up to 18 hours at medium volume, the Solo Buds last a long time. However, these are the values measured by the manufacturer. In practice – especially when you’re out and about and want or need to drown out outside noise – this runtime is reduced, but we still got a very good 17 hours (volume at 75 per cent, using iOS).

The super-compact case has a USB-C port and charges the in-ears inside when it is connected to a power source via a cable. Incidentally, a USB-C cable is not included in the package. The case also has no LED to signal the charging status; instead, this is indicated by short beeps. Thanks to a quick-charging option, five minutes is enough to get around 60 minutes of runtime.

ADVERTISEMENT

You will need to get used to this new charging logic and, if possible, bring your own suitable cable with you: If you have an iPhone with a USB-C port or an Android smartphone, you can charge the Beats Solo Buds directly with your mobile phone. All other iPhone users who have the old Lightning connection – like me – will be left out of luck.

If you are travelling, then you should have no problem with this, as charging cables, mains plugs and/or power banks are now part of “travel essentials”.

ADVERTISEMENT

Beats Solo Buds package: what you get

The fully recyclable packaging contains the Beats headphones in their case, four pairs of silicone ear moulds (XS to L), as well as the usual documents, including stickers and a free trial subscription to Apple Music (only for new customers).

Design of the Beats Solo Buds

The Beats are available in four colours; in addition to matt black and storm grey, the headphones are now also available with a transparent red or polar violet case. You might recognise the transparent look from the larger Beats Studio Buds +.

The case itself is really small (approx. 3.4cm x 6.6cm x 2.3cm) and weighs just 22 grams. The headphones (approx. 1.6cm x 1.8cm x 1.8cm) and case lid are held securely in place by strong magnets.

Wearing comfort of the Beats Solo Buds

We could not complain about the wearing comfort. Once you have chosen between the different-sized ear moulds, hold the in-ears by their “bridge” and turn them downwards so that the driver openings slide deeper into the ear canal. The design of these in-ears is based on that of the Studio Buds +, although they are rounded at the bridge and therefore seem more teardrop-shaped. However, you can read more about why the design could be a problem for you in the “Sound” section below.

How easy are the Beats Solo Buds to use?

All the functions of these Beats Solo Buds always worked reliably – from initial pairing to media control (play, pause, forwards, backwards).

The only gesture that can be globally changed is the press-and-hold gesture that can be switched from voice assistant to volume control in the settings. You can also decide whether you want to end calls by pressing once or twice.

Touch commands are not available here either; you have to press in the traditional way.

The Bluetooth connection of the Beats Solo Buds

The Beats Solo Buds work with Bluetooth version 5.3 and the codecs SBC and AAC. Inside, with doors closed, the wireless connection was so stable that we were able to listen to music two rooms away without any drop-outs. In open spaces, just over 30 metres was possible.

Pairing was quick and easy on both platforms: Simply open the case, and a pop-up appears with further setup steps. If this didn’t work straight away, there was still the option of manual pairing, which, thanks to the lack of technology in the case, can be activated by pressing one of the in-ears.

If you’re using Apple, then Beats makes it easy to switch between multiple players. Thanks to one-touch pairing, a connection was quickly established with any device in your iCloud account (iOS 16.4 or higher). When they were chosen in the Bluetooth settings, the headphones changed the active connection within a few seconds.

The same applied to Android: in addition to Google Fast Pair, the Beats solo Buds are Audio Switch compatible, which is basically the same as Apple One-Touch Pairing and requires a Google account and Android devices with Android OS version 8 or higher.

Multipoint, i.e. the ability to be connected to multiple players at the same time, is supported by the Beats Solo Buds.

Is it worth installing the Beats app for the Beats Solo Buds?

With iOS and macOS, the configuration options are integrated into the system settings, so provided you have a reasonably up-to-date model with the latest operating system, you can use those. An app is, therefore, not necessary or simply does not exist.

There’s not much more you can do with the Android app, and you only really need it active if you want to make future firmware updates.

What do the Beats Solo Buds sound like?

The two 8.2mm dual-diaphragm transducers designed for the Beats Studio Buds + are said to be able to “handle the complexity of Studio Buds + listening modes, and offer phenomenal performance in acoustic tuning”.

This sounded very promising, but in our listening tests, the Beats Solo Buds were unable to fulfil this promise.

Though their design makes them very comfortable to wear, the drivers do not radiate optimally onto the eardrums with the supplied adapters; at least, that was the case with my ears.

So the overall performance lacked a convincing bass presentation in particular. As a result, the sound tended to lean towards the mids, which were present. Voices were clearly reproduced, and details could be perceived quite well.

Together with this treble, tracks that were sharply mixed with, for example, sharp hi-hats, became tiring from a volume of around 80 per cent, making it almost impossible to enjoy listening.

When I changed the fit of the Beats Solo Buds (and fixed them by hand), the sound changed, and the bass range was much more present. Which is why I opted to use third-party EarTips.

This measure improved the sound for me, but it shows once again how different and individual the ear anatomy can be. However, in this context, it was interesting that the Studio Buds +, which have an almost identical design, still fully fulfilled their sound promise. They simply sounded much better despite having the same transducers.

The Beats Solo Buds also support 3D audio, but without head tracking. If you start content that has been mixed in Dolby Atmos in the Apple Music app, the Solo Buds automatically play it back in this format.

Conclusion

The Beats Solo Buds left me with mixed feelings: The manufacturer fully delivers in terms of style and integration but for 90 euros you will need to make some compromises, especially if you consider manufacturers like Nothing, which simply offer more functionality with the Ear (a) for the same price. Or the Soundcore Liberty 4 NC by Anker, which, like the Ear (a), offer auto pause, equaliser, ANC and transparency mode and can also score points with LDAC, which at least benefits Android users.

The lack of a rechargeable battery in the case has advantages and disadvantages, although we imagine that this will set a precedent – if only for the sake of the environment. Skullcandy has already shown the way.

3 weeks ago by Pete Schloßnagel
  • Rating: 3.63
  • Sound
  • Handling
  • Price/Quality
  • Function

Technical specifications

  • Ear couplingIn-ear
  • Typeclosed
  • Transducer principledynamic
  • Weight without cableje 5,7 g, Case 22 g

What's in the box

  • 4 pairs of ear tips (XS, S, M, L)
  • Case

Special features

  • Available in black, purple, grey and red
  • BT version: 5.3
  • BT codecs: SBC, AAC

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

ADVERTISEMENT