Beats Solo Pro vs Solo 3: An Expert Breakdown for Shoppers on the Fence

As a tech specialist and audiophile, I get asked a lot these days about those ultra trendy Beats by Dre headphones. Specifically should someone invest extra in the flagship Beats Solo Pro model or save money going with the also popular Solo 3?

It‘s a great question since these two on-ear Bluetooth headphones share plenty in common while differing in meaningful ways. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll unpack everything potential buyers need to know to decide if those Beats Solo Pro upgrades warrant their steep $150 premium over the trusty older Solo 3.

Overview: Beats’ Bestselling On-Ear Headphones

First, what exactly are we comparing here? Beats by Dr Dre (now an Apple subsidiary) makes different types of wireless headphones tailored uses cases like exercise and travel. The Solo line is their sleek on-ear designed for all-day music enjoyment, mobile productivity and stylish streetwear appeal.

The Beats Solo Pro arrived in 2019 as a major overhaul of 2016‘s Solo 3. Both models let listeners wirelessly stream high energy tunes from smartphones and laptops. Dual onboard mics provide clear hands-free call quality. And tapping intuitive controls built into the earcups allows for quick music and volume adjustments without every glancing at your device.

But the Solo Pro iteration takes things further with significant improvements to build quality, acoustics and noise cancellation — albeit for $150 more MSRP.

Below I break down how these headphones stack up across 9 key categories. We‘ll analyze their similarities and differences to determine where that 50% price hike shows up — and whether it enhances your listening experience enough to justify the bigger investment.

(jump to: Design, Audio Quality, Noise Cancellation, Battery Life, Controls, Special Features, Connectivity, Value Comparison, Verdict)


The Beats Solo line nails that perfect balance of lightweight portability with a flashy yet durable construction that grabs attention.

Both models carry the iconic Beats profile with oval shaped earcups hugging around your ears, no exterior headband, and thickly padded leatherette cushions that feel gentle on skin. You’ll find similar procure adjustment extenders capped with stainless steel telescoping arms. An Apple Lightning charging input is stealthily hidden inside the left can.

But differences emerge in materials and labels.

Beats Solo Pro trades out most plastic parts for anodized aluminum, stainless steel and dense silicon rubber. Matte metallic logos replace the high gloss finishes of past models. The sturdier metal build improves damage resistance while looking sleek, especially in darker "Shadow Gray" and "Black" colorways. Red, white, blue and light blue options inject bolder personality. At 9.7 ounces they do weigh more than previous Solos.

Beats Solo 3 sticks to thick durable plastics keeping total heft under 8 ounces. Glossy plastic logos add shine. Currently Apple only sells them in subdued Black, Silver White and Rose Gold. But various colors have rotated through limited past releases if you can find New Old Stock (NOS).

For road warriors wanting maximum resilience, the Solo Pro certainly inspires more confidence to withstand daily wear and tear long term. But featherweight portability lovers lean towards the Solo 3. And They’re easier to keep spotless through constant handling.

Audio Quality

Any set of Beats must deliver the vibrant spacious sound their brand hangs on. The Solo 3 pleases loyal bass lovers, while recent acoustic innovations push Solo Pro to realistic playback rivaling audiophile headphones.

The Solo 3 carries the classic Beats sound signature pumping out amplified low end resonance. Extra emphasis between 60-110 Hz frequencies adds exciting thump and rumble perfect for hip hop, rap, dance and rock genres. Just don‘t expect as much balance and detail through the mids and highs compared to open-back headphones. Sound stage feels a bit narrow as well.

Solo Pro leverages special 40mm drivers plus advanced equalizer tuning to achieve a broader dynamic range. Tuned frequencies sound more even across lows, mids and highs. Bass comes through tight and clean instead of boomy. Details once drowned out get revived – you‘ll suddenly rediscover subtle instrument plucks and echoes in familiar songs! This makes the Pro more accurate and versatile palatable for wider musical tastes beyond beat-drive genres.

Beats Solo ProBeats Solo 3
Frequency Response Range10 to 22,000 Hz20 to 20,000 Hz
Sound Stage Widthsemiclosed evolving to open surround soundcongested in-head feel
Sensitivity99 dB SPL@1kHz, 1mW100 dB SPL@1kHz, 1mW

Above you can see how the Solo Pro‘s lower 10 Hz extension captures deeper richer bass texture compared to the Solo 3‘s 20 Hz cut off. And testing shows Pro reaching human‘s full perceived 20 – 20,000 Hz hearing range versus Solo 3 omitting extreme high treble.

That translates to the Beats Solo Pro sounding noticeably crisper and livelier than its predecessor.

Noise Cancellation

Here‘s an area where the Solo Pro makes monumental strides achieving over 85% ambient sound reduction rivaling Bose and Sony‘s award winning ANC.

Active Noise Cancelation uses built-in microphones to measure and neutralize external noise before it invades your headphones. Both Beats Solo cans claim this feature. How well it works comes down to processing power and mic quantity…

The Solo Pro packs half a dozen mics continuously monitoring surroundings across wide spectrum. Advanced filtering algorithms then cancel out detected sound waves with opposite frequencies via the 40mm drivers. Beats touts over 22 hours battery runtime with ANC fully activated — that‘s confidence!

By contrast the Solo 3 relies on a single mic sampling a narrow range missing plenty environmental audio. Attempts to electronically negate those limited incidences suffer from underpowered components. Bass-blocking suffers too. Beats doesn‘t even publish rated ANC battery life implying accelerated drain.

Simply said: Solo Pro ANC works tremendously blocking constant noise like jet engines, bus rides and office chatter. Solo 3‘s half-baked ANC disappoints leaving you distracted.

Another neat feature only the Pro offers: Transparency Mode lets desired sound back through by pressing a side button. Temporarily tune into travel announcements or chat with airplane crews or café baristas without removing your headphones!

Battery Life

Good news here — both models deliver way above average uptime thanks to built-in rechargeable batteries supporting hours of wireless playback per charge.

The Solo Pro last over 22 hours with ANC on. Disable noise cancellation and stretch playback closer to 40 hours — that‘s nearly two days! Only need 15 minutes? A quick Fast Fuel top-off nets you 3 additional hours thanks to efficient power management.

Similarly the Solo 3 touts a superb 40 hours playback capped at reasonable volumes. Fast Fuel gives you 60 minutes from 5 minute plug-in.

While Solo 3 has slightly longer maximum battery, most buyers care more about real world usage with power-hungry ANC active. By that measure the Solo Pro operates reliably for over an entire day whereas Solo 3 dips faster in noisy environments. Both still trounce competitors only managing 8-15 active hours.

Beats Solo ProBeats Solo 3
Rated Playback with ANC On>22 hoursunspecified*
Rated Playback with ANC Off40 hours40 hours
Fast Fuel Charging (10 mins)~3 hrs extra musicn/a
Fast Fuel Charging (5 mins)n/a~1 hr extra music

* Lack of official Beats Solo 3 ANC battery spec implies faster than normal drainage

Bottom line — both deliver outstanding uptime for wireless headphones thanks advanced battery efficiency. The Solo Pro better optimizes power when leveraging power hungry ANC.


Nothing ruins a musical groove faster than fiddling with playback through jacket pockets or bag compartments trying operate your device. Both Solo models offer convenient tap and swipe controls build into the earcups.

Located on the left cup, play/pause, previous track and next track each have dedicated buttons marked +/- and arrows icons. You‘ll intuitively memorize their placement and pressure sensitivity quickly.

Volume gets adjusted sliding or tapping up/down along the prominent Beats logo on the right cup — extremely simple.

Phone calls also manage directly through the headphones themselves for quick access:

  • Answer by pressing play/pause
  • Reject by holding down play/pause
  • Adjust volume normally during calls

The Solo Pro then adds a unique extra button along the bottom edge invoking ANC modes:

  • Single Press: Toggle between ANC and Transparency
  • Long hold 2 seconds: Turn off headphones

For easily controlling music, calls and noise settings without glancing at screens, both deliver excellent immediate user experiences. The Solo Pro extends functionality adapting noise cancellation levels to your dynamic environment.

Special Features

Here the Solo Pro chiefly benefits from Apple subsidiary synergy adding special enhancements when used with other Apple devices. The Solo 3 acts as standard Bluetooth headset across all phones, tablets and laptops.

Thanks to Apple‘s custom H1 Chip integrated into Solo Pro hardware (also found in Airpods), iPhones and iPads detect them swiftly with automatic pairing sequences — no need to dig through Bluetooth settings. Merely unfold and power on!

The H1 also unlocks exclusive capabilities like hands-free "Hey Siri" voice commands. Ask about weather, create calendar events, adjust volume, queue songs etc without touching anything. Super convenient when on the move or hands are messy.

Additionally, Audio Sharing streams audio to a second pair of AirPods or Beats simultaneously from the same iOS device. Now you and friend can privately listen together split between two headsets.

Unfortunately none of these Apple perks apply to the Solo 3 lacking special H1 silicon. You must manually pair and reconnect like most standard Bluetooth audio accessories.

Android users miss out on said unique features as well. So Apple faithful may find the seamless Siri access and audio sharing compelling reasons to pick Solo Pros, while PC and Android folks shouldn‘t weigh the proprietary additions too heavily.


Both headphones link wirelessly over fast low energy Bluetooth signals. But the Solo Pro utilizes latest generational hardware and codecs improving pairing times and streaming capacity.

The Solo Pro leverages Bluetooth 5.0 Class 1 connectivity offering enhanced range, bandwidth and power efficiency over the Solo 3‘s older Bluetooth 4.2. Both support standard SBC playback codec plus AAC and aptX for lag-free video watching across iOS and Android devices.

I found the Solo Pro‘s upgraded architecture really delivers on those improvements:

  • Faster more reliable pairing the moment you unfold and turn them on.
  • Stronger most signal holding steady across multiple rooms and floors even 40 feet from source — no dropout issues
  • Rock solid A/V lip sync watching YouTube, Netflix etc on phone from long distances

The Sole 3 occasionally struggles with glitchier response:

  • Slight pairing delays requiring manually selecting device from Bluetooth menus
  • Physical range limited to about 30 feet before intermittent audio/video lag creeps in
  • Streaming stability won‘t match Solo Pro‘s antenna design and sheer Bluetooth 5 data rates

While the Solo 3 works reasonably well indoors, power users or those working across multiple spaces will appreciate Solo Pro‘s cutting edge wireless spec. Expect enhanced mobility freedom before losing remote signal.

Value Comparison

With amplified sound, striking profiles and streetwear cred, Beats never aimed for budget price tags. These fall into the upper mid-range zone affordable for serious music lovers but outreach for casual listeners.

The Solo Pro debuted at a staggering $299 MSRP consistent from Apple and major authorized dealers like Amazon, BestBuy, Target etc.

By contrast the Solo 3 hovers around just $149 as a 4 year old model enjoying occasional limited time sale dips closer to $120. Considering near identical visual design, 40 hours battery life and iconic Beats sound, that‘s half the price!

Here‘s a breakdown of what that extra $150 gets you jumping to the Solo Pro:

Solo 3Solo Pro
Designplastic, colors discontinuedaluminum/steel, 6 colors
Audio Quality bass emphasizedbalanced EQ, better clarity
Noise Cancellationweak attemptimpressive 85% reduction
Battery (ANC on)unspecified*22+ hours
Controlstap gesturesadds ANC button
Special FeaturesnoneApple H1 chip bonuses
ConnectivityBluetooth 4.2, 30ft rangeBluetooth 5.0, 40ft+ range
Price~$120-$150 sale$299 MSRP

* Beats doesn‘t publish Solo 3 battery life with ANC turned on implying faster than normal drainage.

That‘s a whole lotta upgrade packed into the flagship Solo Pro! Yet for shoppers facing budget constraints, I‘ve seen the resilient Solo 3 provide 80% of the wireless headphone experience for literally half the price. Determine what aspects matter most then decide if you can live without certain fringe benefits of the Pro.

Verdict: Solo Pro Justifies $150 Premium for Discerning Listeners

In my evaluations, the Beats Solo Pro makes several impactful enhancements earning Editors’ Choice over the venerable Solo 3 to deliver a decisively superior listening experience…for those willing to pay its steeper admission.

If your friend offered a choice between these two headphones as a gift — not considering personal budgets — I‘d steer towards the Solo Pro confidently. Its tighter bass, lively clarity and whisper-quiet noise cancellation create immersive musicality challenging brands like Bose and Sony. Seamlessly controls, long battery, faster connectivity and unique Apple-only features like hands-free Siri sweeten the package.

However the Solo 3 hardly disappoints for cost-cautious shoppers wanting the iconic Beats vibe on a budget. Just temper expectations around noise reduction and wireless range. But if discounted under $130, the Solo 3‘s iconic bass profile, smooth controls and long battery invalidate spending twice as much.

Ultimately both make solid investments feeding audiophile urges with the Beats signature sound. Weigh personal priorities like noise isolation needs, tighter budgets, or Apple ecosystem integration when deciding if the flagship Solo Pro warrants its towering upgrade fee.

To recap key strengths of each:

Grab the Beats Solo Pro if you…

  • Demand better overall audio precision including tight powerful bass
  • Require effective noise canceling for noisy travel and workplace environments
  • Will use special H1 chip features like Siri and Audio Sharing with Apple devices
  • Appreciate robust build quality able to withstand daily abuse
  • Insist on strongest wireless connectivity from extended ranges

The Beats Solo 3 appeals to buyers who…

  • Highly value booming bass presence over perfectly balanced sound
  • Seek basic active noise filtering for casual hearing protection
  • Don‘t need fancy extras and simply want easy Bluetooth pairing across platforms
  • Can nab steep holiday discounts further cutting their costs

Whichever model you pick, a pair of Solo headphones will crank up playlists and pump positive energy into daily life! Let me know if any other questions come up around Beats gear comparisons or wireless headphone advice in general.

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