Skip to main content

Beats Solo 4: the latest on-ear headphones get spatial and lossless audio

Beats Solo 4 in three colors.
Beats

After a nearly eight-year gap, Beats finally has an updated version of its Solo wireless on-ear headphones: the Beats Solo 4. The fourth-gen cans look nearly identical to their predecessors and they sport the same $200 price tag. Under that familiar exterior, however, lies a series of upgrades, including support for spatial and lossless audio, that Beats hopes will keep the Solo 4 as its most popular product. The Solo 4 can be ordered starting April 30 in Matte Black, Slate Blue, and Cloud Pink, with shipping beginning May 2. Beats also debuted its latest wireless earbuds, the Solo Buds.

Man wearing Beats Solo 4 in Slate Blue.
Beats

Physically, very little has changed since the Solo3 Wireless debuted in 2016. The Solo 4 preserves the now-classic Beats lines, with the same folding hinges and a low-profile headband that transitions seamlessly into the earcups. Some of the chrome-finish accents have been retired, but the distinctive lowercase “b” Beats logo is still front and center.

Beats says the ear cushions have been restructured for greater comfort and support, and if you look at the bottom of the right earcup, you’ll see one of the more notable changes. Instead of the Solo3’s ancient microUSB port, the Solo 4 are equipped with USB-C. And, just like the Beats Studio Pro, this means you can charge the cans from almost any device, including USB-C-equipped smartphones like the iPhone 15.

Beats Solo 4 in Cloud Pink.
Beats

That USB-C port also supports lossless digital audio, including hi-res audio compatibility up to 24-bit/48kHz. You can charge and listen at the same time via USB-C or, alternatively, you can use the 3.5mm analog input. Beats even includes a 3.5mm analog cable, something that was strangely absent on the Solo3.

Speaking of audio quality, Beats says the Solo 4’s acoustics have been improved, too. “Beats Solo 4 has been reengineered for incredible, high-fidelity acoustics,” touts the press release. “The custom-built 40mm transducers minimize electronic artifacts, latency, and distortion for extraordinary clarity and range.”

Beats Solo 4 in Slate Blue.
Beats

There’s a revamped carry case that uses a toiletry-kit like design, and Beats has improved compatibility with the Android ecosystem — the Solo 4 can connect via Google Fast Pair, which also brings Find My Device functionality. You’ll be able to seamlessly switch devices within each ecosystem (Android or Apple), but the Solo 4 still lack true Bluetooth Multipoint functionality for simultaneous connections to any two Bluetooth devices.

Unfortunately, only iPhone users will get the other big addition: head-tracked spatial audio. Now, in addition to letting you hear spatial audio formats like Dolby Atmos Music, you can turn on a spatialized stereo mode. Both versions use Apple’s personalization feature to increase the sense of immersion created by spatial audio on headphones.

Woman wearing Beats Solo 4 in Cloud Pink.
Beats

And iPhone users will also get hands-free “Hey, Siri” access and audio sharing. Battery life was already impressive on the Solo3 at 40 hours, but this has been increased by 25% to a claimed 50 hours on the Solo 4. Fast Fuel charging delivers five extra hours of playback with 10 minutes of charging.

Are the Solo 4 a good choice for your next set of wireless headphones? Check out our in-depth review for some possible answers.

Editors' Recommendations

Simon Cohen
Simon Cohen covers a variety of consumer technologies, but has a special interest in audio and video products, like spatial…
Next-gen wireless headphones will get lossless hi-res audio with a little help from Qualcomm
Man listening to wireless headphones.

Qualcomm has announced its latest S3 and S5 Gen 3 Bluetooth chipsets for audio products like wireless earbuds, headphones, and speakers. Along with the usual improvements in performance, some of these chips break new ground in terms of audio quality, thanks to the addition of hi-res support to the company's aptX Lossless Bluetooth codec.

Until now, aptX Lossless -- which requires Qualcomm's Snapdragon Sound technology on both sides of the wireless device equation -- has been limited to CD-quality audio.

Read more
Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 4 debut with lossless audio, but skip the spatial trend
Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 4 in copper/black.

Sennheiser has revealed its latest flagship wireless earbuds at CES 2024: the Momentum True Wireless 4. Though the company claims there are over a dozen upgrades and future-facing technologies onboard -- like lossless, CD-quality audio -- it has conspicuously side-stepped the spatial audio trend embraced by its biggest competitors.

The Momentum True Wireless 4 (MTW4) have been priced at $300 ($50 more than the previous generation) and will be available for preorder on February 15 in three colors: black copper, metallic silver, and graphite.

Read more
Open-ear earbuds and spatial audio ruled 2023 — and they’ll be even bigger in 2024
A collection of open-ear earbuds in their charging cases.

The two biggest audio trends in 2023 were open-ear earbuds and spatial audio. They weren't new -- both were already picking up steam a few years ago -- but this was the year they became ubiquitous, as big and small brands jumped in with new products.

What was once niche is now mainstream, and you can expect that acceleration to continue into 2024.
Spatial audio

Read more