Beats announces Solo 4 headphones and $79.99 Solo Buds

By Chris Welch, a reviewer specializing in personal audio and home theater. Since 2011, he has published nearly 6,000 articles, from breaking news and reviews to useful how-tos.
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Beats just announced its new Solo 4, its latest in a long line of on-ear wireless headphones. The latest model, priced at $199.99, offers battery life of up to 50 hours. That endurance is no doubt helped by the fact that these lack active noise cancellation, a feature present in many competing products at the same price point. But Beats says plenty of other improvements await buyers of the Solo 4.
For one, they support wired audio over both USB-C and the 3.5mm jack. And these headphones have passive tuning, meaning they can keep playing when plugged in even when the battery is dead — without any degradation in sound. Beats is also hyping all the custom acoustic architecture that’s gone into the Solo 4. And just like the Beats Studio Pro headphones released last year, these support native software features on both iOS and Android.
Wouldn’t you know it, but I’ve actually been testing the Solo 4 on-ears for about a week now, and you can read my full review right now.
But the Solo 4 aren’t today’s only new Beats hardware. The Apple-owned brand is also introducing the $79.99 Solo Buds, which now serve as its entry-level wireless earbuds. They deliver “big Beats sound in the smallest case we’ve ever made,” the company said in its press release. Again, there’s no ANC to be found here — apparently, a Beats product must have “Pro” in its name for that — though Beats claims the Solo Buds provide a good amount of noise isolation to help mitigate ambient noise.
Another concession at this price point is that the case doesn’t actually provide any battery recharges; the earbuds themselves can last up to 18 hours on a charge, but after that, you’ll need to juice them up over USB-C. They come in four colors including black, gray, purple, and a very snazzy red that has a translucent case a la the Studio Buds Plus. With this launch, the Beats wireless earbud lineup now looks like this:
The Solo Buds are shipping later than the Solo 4 and will be available sometime in June. As Beats’ first true wireless earbuds to cost under $100, I’d expect them to do very well. It’s looking like a busy season for the brand overall. LeBron James was spotted with an unannounced Beats speaker of some sort earlier this month, so the new hardware releases might not be done just yet. When you consider that new AirPods are rumored to be announced this fall, it makes sense for Apple to give Beats its own attention over the spring and summer.
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