From the earcups to the headband, the Beats Solo headphones have a nice, quality feel to them. The adjustable band is metal coated in a soft, matte plastic and features a bit of padding on the top as well as the Dr. Dre logo stamped on the outside. A single, removable cable in the Beats' signature thick, red coating attaches to the left earcup via a gold-plated straight plug. Following this 50 inches to the other end brings you to an uber-reinforced gold-plated L-plug that attaches to your audio source. The cable appears to be exceptionally durable and is not at all tangle-prone, a definite plus in our book.
The Beats Solo headphones have a couple of additional features that are worth mentioning. Foremost is that they include ControlTalk, which refers to a small square module a few inches down the cable that has an integrated mic and call-answer button for use with music phones. This button also doubles as playback controls for the iPod or iPhone, with one-click playing or pausing music, two clicks skipping forward a track, and three skipping back. The module also incorporates a volume rocker, which appears to work only with the aforementioned Apple devices. Finally, the headphones fold down into a compact form for storage and transport, and Monster includes a case for these purposes as well.
While the original Dr. Dre Beats headphones rather underwhelmed us in the bass department, the Beats Solo set takes things in the complete opposite direction. Indeed, the low end can be quite overwhelming, especially on first use. Although the thumpiness mellows after the earphones have "burned in" a bit, there are still several tracks that tend to suffer from muddiness, Five Deez's "Afghanistan Dan's Skating Stand" being one example. As such, if you tend to listen to a lot of beat-heavy electronica, or even dance pop (such as Scissor Sisters), you will likely be disappointed with the audio reproduction here.
On the plus side, not all songs sound overly muffled. We had a fair amount of luck with alt dance (Cobra Starship, 3OH!3), clean alt punk (No Doubt), some rap (MC Solaar, 50 Cent), and folk-like music (Dan Hicks). With these tracks, the Beats Solos offered reasonably clear audio with defined low- and high-ends and a smooth midrange. And yet it's hit and miss: T.I. tends to sound muddy, for example, and Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" is lacking in crisp response. We'd expect more of a genre-friendly pair of headphones given the $200 price tag. The design alone may be enough of a convincer for some, however.