Back at the end of February I decided I needed to get a pair of over the ear headphones for the office. (Little did I know I’d have only about another 3 weeks left in the office until my recent return at the end of August.)
I originally had my sights (sounds?) set on the Sony WH-1000XM3. These are often considered best noise cancelling headphones on the market – and noise cancellation is what I was after. Office life can be full of interesting distractions, but nothing beats putting on some Radiohead and getting lost in your work for a couple of hours. My AirPods were great, but over-the-ear headphones are even better for really blocking the outside world and being able to focus.
Moments before hitting the trigger on the buy button, I remembered that Apple owns Beats, and that means that newer Beats headphones have the same H1 chip founds in the AirPods Pro – this in turn means seamless pairing with all the Apple devices I own, the ability for new messages to be read out automatically, and handsfree use of ‘Hey Siri’. At the last moment, I changed my mind and went for the Beats Solo Pro instead. At the same price, most reviews has reassured me that the sound was actually pretty decent, unlike previous generations of Beats (which I ended up returning because of this).
First impressions were great. The sound is indeed very good – not as good as the AirPods Pro, but still extremely enjoyable and seemingly optimised more for music than for podcasts or phone calls. Comfort-wise, they can be a bit hot and because unlike the Sony WH-1000XM3 they are on ear not over ear, but are fine for wearing for a couple of hours at a time, but certainly not all day.
So far, so good. Until I took them outside during my government mandated daily lockdown exercise. It turns out that both transparency and noise cancellation modes are pretty much unusable outside due to the fact that even the smallest, most minor breeze will be picked up by the onboard microphone and amplified right into your ears. Imagine someone blowing into a microphone and that’s what it sounds like. While this obviously won’t be a problem in the office, I can imagine a lot of people buying these for use outside – and they will likely be disappointed.
So while the H1 chip and integration with all of my Apple devices is excellent, the sound really punches, they look decent and are OK-ish on the comfort side – this one issue makes me wish I’d gone for the Sonys instead.
This a just a brief review to highlight the issue of wind effecting the Beats Solo Pro. For a more rounded review, I highly recommend this YouTube video.