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Beats Solo 2 Wireless review:

A very good on-ear wireless headphone, but no bargain

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The Good The Beats Solo 2 Wireless is a well-built wireless headphone that sounds good in both wireless and wired modes and is relatively comfortable to wear for an on-ear headphone. Its battery life is decent and has a remote control built-in to the right earcup that's easy to operate by feel.

The Bad Expensive; doesn't sound quite as good as the Bose SoundLink On-Ear Bluetooth, which costs $50 less.

The Bottom Line Beats on-ear Bluetooth headphone has lot going for it, but it doesn't quite justify its lofty price tag.

CNET Editors' Rating

7.2 Overall
  • Design 8.0
  • Features 8.0
  • Sound 7.0
  • Value 6.0

Earlier this year I reviewed the Beats Solo 2 , the significantly improved successor to one of the world's most popular headphones. I liked the Solo 2 and think it's one of the better on-ear headphones that costs about $200 (£170, AU$260), although it helps if you appreciate a zippier, more "exciting" sound profile.

So why am I not quite as enamored with the Solo2 Wireless, which looks similar to its wired sibling but weighs slightly more due to some extra electronic components and rechargeable battery built into the headphone?

Well, for starters, the price. This is a $300 headphone -- UK and Australian pricing hasn't been announced yet -- which is a lot to pay for headphone, wired or wireless. When you get into that price range, your expectations tend to go up and while you may not expect greatness, you certainly expect something close to it.

The Beats Solo2 Wireless doesn't quite get there. It's very good for a Bluetooth headphone, but it doesn't reach the "excellent" level of the Apple-owned brand's bigger and more expensive brother, the Studio Wireless . ($380). The reason for that is partly because it isn't as comfortable and partly because it doesn't sound as good.

To be clear, that doesn't mean the Beats Solo 2 is a bad headphone. In fact, as I said, it's quite good in a lot of ways. But there are arguably better wireless headphones for the money, including the Studio Wireless.

Design and features

I usually don't spend a lot of time comparing an on-ear headphone to an over-ear model, but I suspect a lot of people will be trying to decide between the more compact Solo 2 Wireless and the larger Studio Wireless.

That compactness has some advantages. This is a lighter headphone than the Studio Wireless and folds and stows away in a smaller carrying case. Yes, it's more travel friendly, but it also isn't as light as some competing on-ear headphones, such as the $250, £220, AU$329 Bose SoundLink On-Ear Bluetooth (the Bose is lighter by about 2.2 ounces or 62 grams).

It's also worth mentioning that because Beats Solo 2 Wireless offers a very snug fit -- the headphones do stay securely on your head, even while running -- they end up pressing down on your ears somewhat firmly.

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The Beats Solo2 Wireless comes in blue, black, red and white. Beats

While I found them relatively comfortable for an on-ear model, a couple of other editors in our New York offices found their fit a bit too snug (both experienced a bit of a pinching sensation). By comparison, while the Bose SoundLink On-Ear Bluetooth wiggles around a bit when you shake your head vigorously, we all thought it offered a more comfortable fit.

I also liked the fit the Studio Wireless better. However, I do prefer the fit of over-ear headphones in general, so I come into the review with a slight bias.

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