We scoured the market for the best Beats headphones, and there’s a pair for anyone who wants to curate a personal soundscape for our noisy, noisy world. With over-ear, on-ear, or in-ear options, wireless and active noise cancelling features, and clarity of sound across a broad spectrum of dynamics, modern headphones have come a long way from bulky ear wear for radio and telephone operators.
If you’re looking to get so involved in your tunes that you don’t even realize you’re singing along at top volume, we’ve got you. And if you want the best pair of Beats wireless headphones to cancel out the person singing next to you on public transit, don’t worry — you’ve got options too.
— Best Overall: Beats Solo3 Wireless Headphones
— Best for Working Out: Beats Fit Pro
— Best Earbuds: Beats Studio Buds
— Best Noise-Cancelling: Beats Studio3 Wireless Headphones
— Best Budget: Beats Flex Wireless Earbuds
How We Picked the Best Beats Headphones
For this article, we focused solely on breaking down the differences between headphones made by popular brand Beats by Dre. It can be tempting to grab the pair with the lowest price or the most eye-catching style, but the variations between models can really impact your listening experience over time. Here are some of our key considerations as we reviewed each model’s specs and read customer reviews. If you prefer a broader selection of brands, check out our best wireless headphones picks or our recommendations for best over-ear headphones.
Fit: Tiny may be mighty — and easy to store in your backpack — but when it comes to headphones, small isn’t always the best choice. We considered top activities our readers enjoy, and correlated how each design fits to each of these activities. For example, earbuds with ear hooks are ideal for doing squats and lunges, and bulky-but-soft on-ear or over-ear models are often more comfortable for wearing all day in the office.
Battery Life: All the Beats models we researched are wireless, which means that battery life is absolutely important. In addition to letting you know optimum battery life, we looked at the logistics of charging wireless headphones and whether models offered a quick-charge solution to extend battery life to a usable amount in situations where you don’t have time to fully juice up your gear.
Listening Focus: We carefully evaluated the special features of each Beats model to ensure you can choose a style that works for your taste and intended use. While some models are great for everyday wear, others are better for workouts or certain music styles. Check out the Beats Studio headphones (Beats Studio Buds or Beats Studio3 Wireless Headphones) for the highest sound quality.
Best Overall: Beats Solo3 Wireless Headphones
Why It Made The Cut: Excellent battery life, on-ear cushioning, and spatial audio combine to make these mid priced headphones a versatile everyday choice across a variety of media.
— Fit: On ear
— Battery Life: Up to 40 hours
— Active Noise-Cancelling: No
— Compatible with Apple and Android devices
— Five-minute charge fuels three hours of playback
— Surround-sound enhanced with spatial audio
— Bulkier than earbuds
— Not ideal for sweaty workouts
In 2006, legendary rapper and producer Dr. Dre and famed record executive Jimmy Iovine founded Beats by Dre, which quickly developed a reputation for stylish headphones featuring some of the best bass sounds on the market for music fans. Beats Solo headphones are a great all-around choice for listeners. Beats Solo3 Wireless Headphones are their latest iteration and come in black, red, and rose gold hues that look as good as they sound. (If you’re hoping for purple Beats headphones, only the Beats Fit Pro earbuds currently offer that color.)
While some people may feel that the Solo3’s on-ear design puts too much pressure on their head, others may find these headphones much more comfortable than earbuds (and much harder to misplace). Take calls with the built-in microphone, experience sound effects in three dimensions while gaming or watching movies with spatial audio, and sync your headphones with Apple’s Siri to call up tunes on demand. You can also control volume, pause tracks, rewind, and fast forward with controls built into the ear cups.
Beats wired headphones (without Bluetooth) are no longer a thing, but if you purchase a Beats audio cable, you can make these headphones wired if you are using an older audio device like an iPod that doesn’t have Bluetooth. It’s also worth noting that not all Beats are active noise-cancelling headphones. The on-ear style of the Solo3 may physically block outside sounds (sometimes called passive noise cancelling) better than poorly fitting earbuds, but they do not have active noise cancellation (ANC), which uses external and internal microphones to cancel out frequencies of outside sounds.
Best for Working Out: Beats Fit Pro
Why It Made The Cut: These sleek new Beats are designed to stay in your ears and resist sweat during a workout, with the bonus of active noise cancelling and the ability to switch modes to stay aware of your surroundings.
— Fit: In-ear
— Battery Life: Up to 6 hours with ANC on (up to 18 additional hours with charging case)
— Active Noise-Cancelling: Yes
— Splash- and sweat-proof (IPX4 rated)
— Transparency mode for taking in your surroundings
— Unique earbud wingtips for secure fit
— Android users can’t enjoy all features
Beats headphones are part of Apple’s ecosystem of curated products, and like many such products, the new Beats Fit Pro work best if you have an Apple device. iOS users can take advantage of the Apple H1 chip in these earbuds to switch between Bluetooth devices, share audio with another Beats listener, and activate Siri. If you’re nervous about losing these, you can even use the Find My app for iOS to locate them under the floor mat in your car or in the gym locker room.
Whether you’re doing HIIT training or rushing to catch the train to work, you’ll appreciate that you can bend the flexible eartips to your comfort level for a unique fit inside your ear. Unlike many earbuds on the market, these have controls on the earbuds themselves to change settings with the touch of a finger so you don’t miss a step. The built-in microphone also reduces wind noise, so if you’re out walking the dog on a breezy day and need to take a call, it won’t sound like you’re on an airport tarmac.
For people considering Apple AirPods who have previously had trouble with Apple’s earbuds fitting their ears (people with small ears take note), the unique design of the Beats Fit Pro is a great alternative. If you don’t care about active noise-cancelling and prefer earbuds that hook over your ear for working out, you might also consider the Powerbeats Pro.
Best Earbuds: Beats Studio Buds
Why It Made The Cut: These wireless earbuds offer active noise cancelling at a mid-range price point, and come in a stylish array of colors.
— Fit: In ear
— Battery Life: Up to 8 hours (up to 24 combined with charging case)
— Active Noise-Cancelling: Yes
— Surround-sound experience with spatial audio
— Control volume and listening modes from each earbud
— Get an hour of juice in just 5 minutes of charging
— Included silicone eartips may not fit all ears
If you find earbuds preferable to on-ear or over-ear headphones for comfort or convenience, Beats Studio Buds are our top choice for everyday use. The main difference between these compact headphones and more pricey Beats earbuds is in how they fit your ear. The Studio Buds have a more conventional design — you choose small, medium, or large silicone ear tips to get a fit that works for you.
Unfortunately, some users may feel like these buds will fall out or just don’t sit tightly enough for a good sound. However, if this type of earbud works for you, you can reap the benefits of active noise cancelling and IPX4-rated sweat- and water-resistance for about $150. When you switch to transparency mode, an external mic plays back the sounds around you so you don’t miss car horns, barking dogs, or your boss sneaking up on you while you’re playing games on your phone.
Best Noise-Cancelling: Beats Studio3 Wireless Headphones
Why It Made The Cut: These top-of-the-line over-ear headphones are designed for long stretches of listening and deliver the most premium sound profile Beats offers, along with superior battery life.
— Fit: Over ear
— Battery Life: Up to 22 hours
— Active Noise-Cancelling: Yes
— Up to 40 hours of battery life (with active noise-cancelling off)
— Up to 22 hours of juice while using ANC
— Ear cups pivot for maximum comfort
— High price point
— No native equalization (EQ) controls
The Beats Studio3 Wireless Headphones are the only pair of over-ear headphones Beats offers. The most important difference between these and the Beats Solo3 Wireless Headphones is the addition of active noise-cancelling. The headphones have internal and external microphones to neutralize outside noise for a better listening experience. Keep in mind that they don’t have a transparency mode like other Beats with ANC to let in noise from your surroundings when desired, but if you mostly prefer that feature for exercising you might not miss it here since the size and bulk of these headphones are not ideal for hitting the gym or trail.
The Futurism team includes a lot of audiophiles and some music production pros, and we want to make it clear that despite the word studio in the name, these are not to be confused with professional studio headphones designed for recording and mixing. If you want to change the EQ to boost bass or reduce treble, you’ll also be dependent on whatever device or app you’re using and its built-in features to do so — Beats headphones don’t have their own native EQ.
While they aren’t the best for music production, the noise-cancelling features and ergonomic ear cups can definitely help listeners hear more of the clarity and color of their favorite tracks. And unlike professional studio headphones, you can quickly switch over from listening to take a call wirelessly or using the included RemoteTalk cable.
Best Budget: Beats Flex Wireless Earbuds
Why It Made The Cut: Take advantage of Beats’ reputation for boosted bass and amp up your music without breaking the bank.
— Fit: In ear
— Battery Life: Up to 12 hours
— Active Noise-Cancelling: No
— Apple W1 chip boosts connectivity and makes it easy to switch between Apple devices
— Low price point
— Available in four attractive colors including Flame Blue and Yuzu Yellow
— Fit may not be comfortable for everyone
— Not sweat- or splash-resistant
For people who appreciate the Beats brand but don’t want to splash out hundreds of dollars for headphones, the Beats Flex Wireless Earbuds are by far the cheapest option — and they still have some special features. They do work with Android, but Apple users will get the most out of the built-in Apple W1 chip, which provides Class 1 Bluetooth and can be used to wirelessly share audio with other Beats headphones, and even Apple AirPods. (This is a great way to trade inspiring playlists with a workout partner.)
These earbuds are connected to each other by a cord. That definitely makes them less streamlined, but can also be convenient if you want to drape them around your neck when you aren’t listening instead of having to stow them in a case. The Beats Flex earbuds are also magnetic, so when you take them out of your ears to join a conversation they’ll automatically pause your music and resume play when you pop them back in.
Things to Consider Before Buying Beats Headphones
There are so many reasons to wear headphones on a daily basis, like tuning out your office chatterbox, tuning in to an inspiring podcast, or motivating yourself to work out. Headphones with active noise cancellation are also a great way to experience the luxury of quiet and deepen your focus. Before you buy, think about what feels most comfortable for your ears, even if that means you go for a bulkier on- or over-ear pair of headphones instead of sleek earbuds. If you have trouble with one-size-fits-all earbuds popping out and rolling away, look for designs that hook over your ear or can be secured with a flexible wingtip inside your ear.
Whether you’ve turned on active noise cancelling or cranked up your tunes to amp yourself up for a workout, your headphones can be almost too good at blocking out the rest of the world. If you are purchasing noise cancelling headphones, look for what Beats calls a “transparency” mode, where you can let in outside sounds. You can also set up volume limits on your audio device to ensure you aren’t listening above a certain decibel threshold. Apps to monitor noise exposure are another good safety practice, and iPhones, iPads, and Apple Watches already have this feature built in. Especially if you’re exercising outdoors, you’ll definitely want to be able to hear traffic and other potential dangers with plenty of time to act.
Why You Listen
The type of audio you prefer and the environment you’re in when you listen to it should play a large role in your selection of headphones. If you’re into rock, rap, hip-hop, or other popular genres that are compressed for maximum clarity on a variety of audio devices, from portable speakers to radio, headphones with a wider dynamic range may not be essential. For fans of classical, jazz, opera, or other audio where the sound frequently varies on a spectrum of very quiet to very loud, you’ll probably strongly prefer headphones with premium sound.
Where You Listen
If you’ve got premium sound but are trying to enjoy a string quartet on public transit or listen to a guided meditation while on a noisy elliptical machine, active noise cancelling may be essential to hearing your media. If you just want to pump up the volume and sync to the bass while you exercise, premium clarity may not be worth the money. For people hoping to listen to audio in bed, check out our recommendations for the best headphones for sleeping.
Q: How much do Beats headphones cost?
Beats headphones start at about $50 and go up to about $350. It’s a smart idea to first determine the type of fit you’d like, such as over-ear or in-ear, and then compare the features for each pair in that category against your budget.
Q: What Beats headphones have the best bass?
Most Beats headphones are known for strong bass. Less expensive Beats models may work just fine for bass lovers who don’t require mid- and high-range clarity as they rock out. Beats fans looking for the overall best sound profile will do best with the Beats Studio3 headphones for sound quality, active noise cancelling, and the comfort of over-ear headphones, though some users may think the bass takes a back seat on these compared with other Beats models.
Q: What’s the difference between Beats Solo2 and 3?
Beats Solo2 is an earlier model of the Beats Solo headphones, and is no longer on the market except as a resale. Unless you are an audiophile studio engineer seeking a vintage pair of high-end headphones or are purchasing a gently used pair of a current model, we recommend you buy new Beats headphones over older models.
Q: Are Beats Pro worth the money?
The Beats Fit Pro headphones can be worth the money for some people, and are at a similar price point to Apple AirPods Pro. However, the best Beats headphones for you will depend on factors like your comfort preferences, where you listen to audio, and why you listen to audio. If you aren’t planning on heavy workouts with your earbuds and conventional in-ear headphones feel secure and comfortable in your ears, Beats Studio Buds are a less expensive option to try.
Q: Which Beats headphones are loudest?
If you’re wondering which Beats headphones are the loudest, the Beats Studio3 Wireless Headphones are going to deliver the best-sounding experience of all Beats models. Sure, it’s important for headphones to have a solid volume output, but you also want to protect your ears from hearing damage. The Beats Studio3 model offers superior active noise-cancelling so you can get excellent clarity of sound without having to crank up the volume to dangerous levels to compete with background noise.
Q: Which Beats headphones are the newest?
Currently, the Beats Fit Pro are the newest Beats headphones. However, Beats Studio Buds are now available in new colors. If you're looking to upgrade, check out our guide to how to recycle e-waste.
There’s a pair of Beats headphones out there for anyone who wants to enjoy music, podcasts, or gaming through a wireless connection with style. While we selected the Beats Solo3 Wireless Headphones as our all-around pick for everyday use if active noise-cancelling isn’t important to you, fans of on- and over-ear headphones can upgrade to the Beats Studio3 to get ANC. If you like the fit of more conventional earbuds, the Beats Studio Buds are a smart mid priced choice to take you from the gym to the office.
This post was created by a non-news editorial team at Recurrent Media, Futurism’s owner. Futurism may receive a portion of sales on products linked within this post.