Into hip-hop? Look hip
SOLO2 is the first pair of headphones Beats Electronics has released since the company was acquired by Apple for US$3 billion (about S$3.7 billion).
The original Solo was a top seller because of its trendy good looks, but critics panned it as overpriced, too bass-heavy and of poor audio quality.
The Solo2 retains much of the original's good looks and smooth curves, with no visible screws to disrupt the streamlined aesthetic.
I think Solo2 looks better than the original and will attract admiring stares from onlookers. The review unit comes in white but the model is also available in blue, pink, grey, black and red.
Unlike the metal construction of the original, Beats has opted for a plastic build for the Solo2. But the glossy plastic does not feel cheap. In fact, the build somehow feels sturdier and more solid than the original.
Yet, the headphones can be folded into a compact neoprene carrying case that is included along with a carabiner. This allows you to carry it in your bag without worrying about scratching it.
Solo2 comes with a thick audio cable that plugs into a standard 3.5mm headphone socket on the left earcup. It has a three-button remote for Apple iOS devices.
The cushioned earcups cradle your ears nicely to provide great comfort and superb sound isolation.
I heard nothing but music from my media player at medium volume, when I wore the Solo2 on MRT trains and in shopping malls.
On the downside, the fit of the headband is really tight and it may need some breaking-in before it gets comfortable. In addition, while the earcups are comfortable, my ears did feel sweaty after using it for several hours.
Overall, Solo2's audio quality is a big improvement over the original, with far more balanced audio output.
While its bass is still strong and evident even at low volume, it is not so overbearing that it muddles the mid-range and treble.
In fact, the treble is clearer and smoother, with good fidelity. However, the mid-range sounds a bit flat and could do with more details and texture.
Listening to a variety of music genres, I think the Solo2 is best for those who listen more to techno and hip-hop. Country, pop and rock songs sound great on Solo2 too. But with classical music, you want to hear every instrument and the lack of details in the mid-range is evident.
If the Solo2 was priced at $200, I would recommend it unreservedly. But at $310, there are better headphones in the market for the same price, albeit not as stylish and good looking.
If hip-hop is your style and you like to look hip, the Beats By Dr Dre Solo2 will be worth the premium.
THE STRAITS TIMES
Value for money: