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Commentary Headphones

Beats headphones are getting more frequent discounts

In the hypercompetitive headphone market, we're seeing Beats by Dre models often selling for less than their list prices. A lot less.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Beats by Dre's Solo 3 Wireless headphones haven't been out that long and they're already selling for well below their list price of $300. Amazon currently has them for $220 and the other day Walmart reportedly had the matte black version of the Solo3 Wireless on sale for $150.

Today, as part of its Deal of the Day program, Best Buy has the titanium version of the Beats Studio Wireless on sale for $225. When it came out a few years ago, that headphone listed for $380 and had a long run selling for close to that. Due for an update this year, the Studio Wireless now streets for around $250.

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The list (much like the beat) goes on. The relatively new Powerbeats3 Wireless, which lists for $200, is available for $150 in black from Amazon. And the wired Beats EP, which I liked and lists for $130, can be had for $80 from Best Buy, as well as from Amazon and Walmart. Previously, it had been on sale at Best Buy for even less than that.

So, what's the deal? Why all the discounts? Well, while Beats remains the market leader in headphones in terms of both unit and dollar sales, it's facing a ton of competition and its headphones are comparatively expensive. They always have been, but the whole supply and demand equation has shifted, particularly for certain models like the Solo3 Wireless. It simply doesn't seem worth $300 to me, despite its great battery life. There are plenty of strong wireless headphones in that price range.

I reached out to Apple, Beats' parent company, to ask whether retailers are dictating the pricing and running specials as they feel fit -- that's often the case -- but I haven't heard back yet.

In the meantime, expect to see more Beats discounts going forward on certain models, as well as deals from other big headphone brands such as Sony, Bose and Sennheiser. As for Apple itself, the AirPods are $159 everywhere, and you probably won't see them cost less than that for a while.