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Beats Solo 4 wishlist: All the features I want to see
Beats makes plenty of popular earbuds but hasn’t updated its headphones in years. The company made waves with the translucent Studio Buds Plus in 2023, and it’s about time we saw an upgrade to the Solo headphone series, too. I’ve gathered everything we know about the impending Beats Solo 4 headphones and what I want to see from the next on-ear headphones. If the Beats Solo 4 want to keep up with the competition, there are a few things Beats needs to improve before their release.
Modernize the design
The Beats Solo 4 will likely look an awful lot like the Solo series at large: on-ear headphones with a “b” logo adorning each ear cup. The headphones will collapse into the headband for convenient transport. Based on Beats Studio 4 rumors, the Studio 4 will have button controls, and I hope the Solo 4 will follow suit.
With its earbud cases, Beats has adopted USB-C charging. It’s definitely time to also see Beats use a USB-C charging port on the Solo 4. It would be great to see the company depart from the micro-USB port on the Solo 3 and the Lightning port on the Solo Pro.
Match the competition in specs and features
Until the Beats Solo Pro, the Solo line comprised non-noise canceling on-ear headphones. Seeing how all notable flagship headphones boast active noise canceling (ANC) these days, I expect the Solo 4 to have ANC too. The Solo 3 and Solo Pro had Beats’ signature bassy sound profile. While Beats’ headphones will always present this kind of sound, we could see a less intense bass bump with the Solo 4.
The Beats Solo 3 have a headphone jack and the Beats Solo Pro did not. Seeing how Apple championed the headphone jack’s demise, it seems likely that the Solo 4 will also ditch the headphone jack. If that’s the case, the only way the Solo 4 will be able to connect is over Bluetooth. Apple’s products only support two Bluetooth audio codecs (SBC and AAC), and I don’t see why it would change things up with the Solo 4.
In the last few years, Beats has extended an olive branch to Android users by making its Beats app for Android more robust. Like the Studio Buds Plus, I hope the Solo 4 will have some control customization through the Beats app. You might also be able to cycle through listening modes, if Beats adds ANC. With the Studio Buds Plus, Beats teamed up with Google to grant Google Fast Pair and Find My Device access. It’s within the realm of possibility that we’ll see these Android-friendly features on the Solo 4.
The Solo 4 is all but guaranteed to house Apple’s proprietary H1 chip. The Solo 3 have the older W1 chip and the Solo Pro had the H1 chip. These chips facilitate Apple-exclusive features like automatic device switching between iCloud devices, “Hey Siri,” and more. If Apple packs the Solo 4 with sensors we may even see spatial audio with head tracking like the AirPods Max.
Active noise canceling
The Solo 3 don’t have noise canceling, but the Beats Solo Pro did. If Beats adds ANC to the Solo 4, it will help the upcoming on-ear headphones remain unique among the competition. There are few on-ear headphones as is, and even fewer have ANC.
Noise canceling will make the Beats Solo 4 stand that much taller above the small pool of good on-ear headphones.
Unlike spatial audio, active noise canceling isn’t the least bit gimmicky. With ANC, your commute can go from a distracting nuisance to a moment of zen. Noise canceling can also help prevent noise-induced hearing loss. With ANC, you’re less likely to increase the volume to dangerous levels to hear your music above environmental noise. These days, it seems noise canceling is necessary for listeners to consider it a worthwhile pair of headphones.
Better sound quality
Let’s face it, when I think of Beats, I think of loud bass. This can be fun for working out or at a party, but it can also make it hard to hear instrumental detail from your tracks. I’m not asking Beats to eliminate its signature sound, but rather tame it a bit. If Beats opts for a less bass-heavy sound, its on-ear headphones would work well across more genres of music.
Custom EQ in the mobile app
Maybe Beats doesn’t care to amend the sound profile of the Solo 4. If that’s the case, at the very least, I’d love to see the company provide a custom equalizer in its Beats app for Android. This is a bit of a moonshot as no Apple product has a custom EQ in the iOS Settings app, but it would make the user experience more premium. If you’re paying upwards of $200 for headphones, you should be able to easily tweak the sound.
A custom EQ isn’t just for us picky audiophiles either: it can make it easier to hear spoken-word content from a TV show or movie. Really, everyone can benefit from this. Bare minimum, I’d like to see EQ presets in the Beats app for Android.
In a devastating but unsurprising move, Beats nixed the headphone jack on the Solo Pro. I hope Beats brings the headphone jack back on the Solo 4 as it would allow listeners to enjoy lossless, uncompressed audio if they want to. Further, it’s sometimes just easier to plug and play than it is to putz around with Bluetooth settings.
Improved microphone quality
Now more than ever good microphone quality is a selling point of earbuds and headphones. So many of us are remote or hybrid workers and take calls with our headphones. Beats will have to step up its microphone game on the Solo 4 if it wants remote workers to take them seriously.
From our demos below, you can get an idea of what the Solo 4’s baseline performance might sound like. As you can hear, my voice sounds muffled in both demos. The Solo 3 made my voice sound quiet, while the Solo Pro amplified my voice a bit too much. I hope the Solo 4 get it just right, and have proper noise suppression so you can take calls from noisy environments.
Beats Solo 3 microphone demo (Non-standardized):
Beats Solo Pro microphone demo (Non-standardized):
More comfortable build
On-ear headphones aren’t generally known for their comfort, which rings true for the Beats Solo series. Both the Solo 3 and Solo Pro were uncomfortable, but I found the Pro headphones unbearable. Wearing the Solo Pro felt like placing my head in a vice grip. Fortunately, Beats can fix the comfort of the Solo 4 by reducing the clamping force. Additionally, it could use more premium material for the ear pads (e.g., affordable, genuine leather). Doing this would make the headphones more comfortable, specifically for listeners with glasses.
What do you want to see most from the Beats Solo 4?
Will there be a Beats Solo 4 series?
Neither Beats nor Apple — Beats’ parent company — have officially announced the Solo 4. I fully expect Beats to continue its famed on-ear line of headphones. Although Beats has been hyper-focused on its wireless earbuds lately, its Solo 3 ($129 at Amazon) headphones remain available on its site.
Beats favors fall releases for its on-ear headphones, and we can expect the same for the Beats Solo 4.
The time between Beats headphone releases gets longer with each product. Beats waited two years between the Solo 2 and Solo 3 and then three years between the Solo 3 and Solo Pro. The company discontinued the Solo Pro on November 1, 2021, just two years after their release. Ideally, this was to refocus on what will make the Solo 4 a hit. If the timing is right, we may be lucky enough to see the Beats Studio 4, Solo 4, and Fit Pro 2 all debut this year.