Think of Beats headphones. You're probably imagining a slick pair of shiny red over-ears with the signature Beats B on the cup, right? These days there are many different Beats headphones to choose from. The question is, which Beats headphones are right for you?
Apple acquired Dr Dre’s Beats headphones in 2014, which expanded Apple’s tech portfolio to include colorful, fashion-forward on-ear headphones, wireless over-ear headphones, and slick running earbuds.
The answer to that question largely depends on your budget, your tastes and what you'll be using them for. In the guide below, we've selected the best Beats headphones you can buy right now, along with details about how well they perform, what their strengths are and whether they'll suit you.
There could be a new pair of Beats headphones on the way soon, too. The rumored Beats Studio Buds are a pair of true wireless earbuds, and were spotted in Apple’s latest beta software for tvOS and iOS. Since then, they've emerged in an FCC filing, and LeBron James was spotted wearing a pair of earbuds that looked suspiciously similar to the so-called Studio Buds.
Beats headphones can be pricey, so it's worth keeping an eye out for deals: check out our guide to the best Beats headphones deals for all the latest discounts. Plus, with Prime Day deals expected to roll in soon, June could be a great time to get your hands on a pair of Beats cans.
The best Beats headphones: FAQ
Is Beats owned by Apple? Yes. The company was originally founded by music producer Dr Dre back in 2006. In 2014, it was bought by Apple for a reported $3 billion and is still owned by Apple today.
Which are the best Beats headphones to buy? That depends what you're looking for. Best in terms of quality and the newest, high-end tech, we'd say the Beats Studio 3 Wireless are the winners. These are over-ear headphones that are super comfortable with noise-cancelling smarts. However, if you need a pair to workout in, the Powerbeats are probably your best bet and if you want noise-cancelling but want to save a bit of money, the Beats Solo Pro are a solid alternative. Check out the guide below for all of our recommendations.
Which is better – Beats Solo 3 or Solo Pro? Both the Beats Solo 3 and Beats Solo Pro are over-ear headphones that offer hours and hours of listening time. They look similar too, with a sleek band and the Beats signature B on the cups. However, there are some key differences. For example, the Beats Solo 3 don't have active noise cancellation. Of course, this makes them considerably more affordable than the Solo Pro, but does mean you won't get the best audio experience.
Are Beats headphones worth it? Beats headphones offer good audio quality and heaps of style. We've awarded some of them 4 out of 5 stars in our reviews. However, they can't compete with some of the best headphones around. For example, even the noise cancelling Beats Studio 3 Wireless and Beats Solo Pro headphones won't beat our pick of the top headphones, like the Sony WH-1000XM4, or even our budget favorites: the Plantronics BackBeat Go 810. But they are a solid choice if you like how they look and use a lot of Apple products too.
Our top picks
The Beats Solo Pro are at the top of our list because they bring excellent adaptive noise-cancelling to an on-ear offering that's comfortable and looks good. Beats Solo Pro are a marked step up from previous iterations – particularly when it comes to build quality.
Sturdier than the Beats Solo 3 and sporting a cool matte finish in each color, the Beats Solo Pro feel like the biggest advance in quality the series has seen in some time for this larger line of headphones. Like the 2019 AirPods and AirPods Pro, they come with the H1 chip and this allows for fast pairing and hands-free Siri integration.
Priced at $299.95 / £269.95 / AU$429.95, the Solo Pro will likely appeal most to users who want a great pair of Beats cans without committing to Apple's bulkier, pricier over-ear option, the Beats Studio 3 Wireless or Apple's own Apple AirPods Max.
The active noise-cancelation – both in these headphones and the Beats Studio 3 Wireless – brings Apple's Beats somewhat closer to the best offerings from Sony and Bose, although those two are still ahead by some distance – the Sony WH-1000XM4 and the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 are our top two picks for over-ear ANC.
We do like the simple-one button access to the transparency mode here, though. This optional feature allows some outside noise to come through, which can be handy in an office if you want to be aware of someone calling your name or making sure you're aware of traffic around you when walking or cycling.
Read more: Beats Solo Pro review
The PowerBeats Pro true wireless earbuds are special. That's because they do something earbuds often promise on, but rarely deliver: they’re supremely comfortable, sound decent and seem to never, ever fall out. This is (literally) music to the ears of those who like high-intensity workouts but can rarely find buds that keep up – or stay in place.
They might not be the best true wireless earbuds in Apple's audio arsenal now we can choose from the AirPods Pro, but they're Apple’s most premium play into the world of running headphones, and are the buds we'd recommend to most workout enthusiasts for that reason.
That's thanks to features like the pressure-reducing micro-laser barometric venting hole, their long on-board battery life and good sound quality. If we had to choose between wearing these and the original AirPods around the house or office, we'd choose these.
Read more: Beats PowerBeats Pro review
With an over-ear, closed back design, the Studio 3 are among the best noise-cancelling headphones Beats has made.
The battery has massively improved since previous models as well, which means you can enjoy music for up to 22 hours, or 40 with the active noise cancellation turned off – you get a similar experience with the Beats Solo Pro.
However, it isn't all good news with the Studio 3. There are sound issues you just don’t hear in other solid headphones at this price. It’s not boomy bass, but a tire of blubber sitting between the bass and mids that makes the Beats Studio 3 Wireless less articulate and open-sounding than most alternatives. This isn't a deal-breaker, but for a fairly premium price it is a little disappointing.
Still, they're a good match for iPhones missing the 3.5mm jack – in fact, you can pair them with any smartphone you have thanks to the Bluetooth technology. The Studio 3s are available in multiple colors too, including red, matte black, white, porcelain rose, blue and shadow grey.
Read more: Beats Studio 3 review
The new Beats Powerbeats (the PowerBeats 4) are a significant upgrade on the company's wireless workout earbuds, offering a sound quality that's just as good as the Beats Powerbeats Pro. They also boast an IPX4 rating and Apple’s H1 Wireless Chip, which can summon Siri with the sound of your voice.
They’re supposed to last 15 hours per charge – six hours more than the Powerbeats Pro and three more than their predecessors, the Powerbeats 3 – and can be paired to multiple devices and share songs wirelessly with another pair of Beats headphones.
They're not quite as good as Apple's high-end alternatives – the Beats Powerbeats Pro and the Apple AirPods Pro – especially in terms of the way they fit and sit in your ears, but they have a lot of the same technology and specs to make them a decent cheaper alternative.
Read more: Beats PowerBeats 4 review
These Beats headphones were the first fruits of Apple's deal to buy the Beats brand – in terms of actual products at least. That means they're some of the oldest on the list, but we still consider them a solid option if you're looking for a pair of wireless over-ears – especially because they often pop up in deals and during sales seasons.
At first glance, the Solo 3 Wireless don't look all that different to their predecessors, the Solo 2, Apple takeover or not. It's only under further inspection to the internal specs that the improvements become more obvious – Apple's expertise in mobile engineering sees connectivity stabilized and battery life improve.
However, the traditional issues with audio quality are back with the Beats Solo 3 Wireless. Which means we'd only usually recommend these if they're discounted or you're not a Beats brand loyalist, as you'll find better performance in one of the pairs of the best noise-cancelling headphones.
Read more: Beats Solo 3 Wireless review
The Flex are affordable, but still premium, earbuds from Beats. They have traditional Beats sound with a traditional Beats design, as well as many of the same features of other Beats headphones, but at a very non-Beats price.
The price for the Beats Flex is set at $49.99 / £50 (around AU$70) which makes them the cheapest wireless earbuds the company's ever launched.
Some of the most notable features of the Flex include the Apple W1 Wireless Chip; a built-in sensor for auto-play/pause; a 12-hour battery life with Fast Fuel, and, our personal favorite, a laser cut micro-venting chamber to reduce in-ear pressure.
On paper, the Beats Flex are a great deal – and worth it if you have a small budget –but, spend some time with them, and you’ll understand why the price is what it is. We had a hard time getting the fit right and the sound might be good, but it doesn't compare to other headphones out right now.
Read more: Beats Flex review
- Best headphones 2021: your definitive guide to the latest and greatest audio