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Beats Solo 2 Wireless review: A very good on-ear wireless headphone, but no bargain

As far as features go, like most Bluetooth headphones, you can stream audio from up to 30 feet (10m) away from Bluetooth-enabled devices and there are controls on the earcup to raise and lower volume, as well as take calls and skip tracks forward and back. As noted, a cable is included for wired playback in case you run out of juice.

What you get in the box. Sarah Tew/CNET

This model doesn't offer the active noise cancellation included with the Studio Wireless (there's also no AptX support, though I don't think that's a big deal). In fact, Beats has truly used the Solo 2 as its foundation for this headphone and when you connect a headphone cord to it, it sounds almost identical to a wired Solo 2, which is to say, quite good. That's something the Bose can't boast. When it's in wired mode, its sound quality falls down. The sound quality of the Beats doesn't.

As for battery life, it's rated at 12 hours, which is less than what the larger Studio Wireless offers, but is still pretty decent. A set of LED lights on the earcups act as a battery life indicator and you can also see how much battery you have via an indicator on your phone or tablet.

As with all stereo Bluetooth headphones, this model has a built-in microphone for making calls, and call quality was good, though the step-up Studio Wireless has a small advantage in this department.

The headphones fold up. Sarah Tew/CNET


A good Bluetooth headphone is one that sounds like a good wired headphone and the Solo 2 Wireless succeeds in this regard, retaining many of the qualities of the wired Solo 2. But it does lose a little something in wireless mode. It's got a slightly harsher edge and isn't quite as clean or as tight in the bass.

When I wrote my review of the Bose SoundLink On-Ear Bluetooth headphone, I said we liked the Bose a little more because the Bose offered more balanced sound with more warmth in the midrange. While the Solo 2 produced more bass, instruments sounded a little more distinct on the Bose and the overall listening experience was more pleasant to our ears.

I also reiterated that the Beats Solo 2 Wireless is a strong Bluetooth headphone -- and its faster sound may suit some listeners' musical tastes better -- but we came away liking the sound of the Bose a little more. It just sounds a little more clear and open.

Of course, everybody's sound and aesthetic tastes are different, and some people will like both the look and sound of this Beats better than the Bose.


At the end of the day, my gut feeling about this headphone is that I'd rather spend the extra $80 to get the Studio Wireless, a more comfortable headphone and a notch up in terms of sound quality. Yes, this is a smaller, less bulky headphone and some people will find its compact size appealing. But at their current price points, the Wireless Studio is arguably the better deal, even thought it's more expensive.

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