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Monster Beats Solo HD - Sound Quality, Value and Verdict

Andrew Williams

By Andrew Williams



Our Score:


The Monster Beats Solo HD are a slightly tweaked version of thee original Solo on-ears headphones. They cost £20 more at RRP and use a high-gloss plastic finish in place of matt.

Monster doesn't boast about the technical specs underlying this upgrade, instead dubbing them "high performance" and "high definition" respectively - terms which have no concrete meaning here beyond their marketing function. We reviewed the Solo pair last year and were thoroughly unimpressed with their sound. While the claim of improved sound here isn't a fabrication, the Solo HD don't do enough to turn the Beats boat around.

Monster Beats Solo HD review 17

These headphones have been designed under the philosophy that big bass is good bass. When, in actuality, good bass is something entirely different, something that only converges with "big bass" on very rare, but delightful, occasions.

What results from this faulty approach to the bottom end is best described as a cloying fug. Like eating caramel that sticks to the roof of your mouth, it may seem pleasant at first, but as more and more of the stuff is shovelled into your mouth - continually refusing to be swallowed until long after it has outstayed its welcome - it just gets annoying. We have heard boomier basshead sets with poorer low-end management, but when the Solo HD cost well over £100, we have a right to expect more.

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Top-end detail and resolution are significantly improved over the very poor efforts of the Beats Solo, but the sound is nevertheless unbalanced. Clarity remains mediocre. It's telling that when listening to spoken-word recordings, voices are often reduced to a bassy burble, as if they are talking through a thin plywood wall.

It is possible to try and defend the Beats Solo HD's bass-centric tone by claiming genre specificity - that they excel with bass-heavy music. However, the opposite is true, acting as a catalyst for their sonic dysfunction.

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What's doubly annoying about the Beats Solo HD's muddled, veiled sound is that a large part of it is down to tuning. They likely use 40mm drivers similar to the best at the price, but the skewed sound signature ruins their chances of approaching their performance.

Not that this has adversely affected sales, mind. A strong brand and great design has made the Solo HD into one of the most popular sets of headphones around, but we'd advise considering the cheaper Philips O'Neill pair or the Sony MDR-ZX700, which offer far superior clarity for around half the price.


Realising quite how poor the original Solo headphones sounded for their money, Monster has improved sound in the Beats HD. However, it hasn't done nearly enough. An attractive design offering good comfort can't hide that their muddy sound cannot be justified at the price.

Overall Score


Scores In Detail

  • Design & Features 8
  • Sound Quality 5
  • Value 6


February 15, 2012, 7:52 pm

"They are good-looking headphones, but we find their brash links to "urban cool" a little ugly."

Depends on what you consider ugly. People who look like me, wearing similar cans (Studio) to me, like very similar music to me, I don't consider ugly.

Point me to a marketing campaign from Bose, where they have targeted the likes of me -- urban.

Got nothing against your review, but think people hate on beats because its has not required the 'mainstream' to become sucessfull.



February 15, 2012, 10:14 pm

I'm probably just embittered because they highlight quite how not-urban and not-cool I am. Although I'm not part of the Bose target audience either, thankfully.

Suggesting that Beats and its implied cultural associations are anything but mainstream might be stretching it a bit though...


March 20, 2012, 7:15 pm

So Dre isn't mainstream? If they had put Beats by Jim you think they'd be as successful?

I think a lot of people hate on Beats because much like Bose they are very much over-priced for the performance you get and you would see much better $ value from Sennheiser, AKG and several other headphone manufacturers.


January 18, 2013, 7:20 am

They are over priced, but a big percentage of the profit goes towards battered women and dogs, or so I have been old, hence the name Beats. Over all, I'd say, in order to prevent the battering of women and dogs more people should step outside the box and get their Beat on...just not beating on women and dogs but.

Richard Chien

February 19, 2013, 1:53 am

how bout the magnet type and the frequency response?


June 5, 2014, 4:46 am

WTF? Yet another brain addled individual hypnotised by the corporate beast called Beats; which IS mainstream. Reality check ... reality check in aisle 6!
Those people who hit on Beats actually appreciate headphones that reproduce music in a more neutral, much more uncoloured and much more accurate way - typically without the shite and briny hype and extra expense (yes, half this price and these headphones might actually be close to reasonable value) that Beats repesent - and of course, sheeples of the world fall for. Pfft. you say? They look way cooler than the others. Well sheeples, when you have wasted all your good listening years on the likes of Beats don't come running with your bleeding ears to me. Why do you think Apple and Dictator (oops my bad ... Dr.) Dre merged?. Because they are a match made in heaven. The old saying remains true; A fool and his money are soon parted.


October 4, 2014, 12:46 am

Hilarious but absolute bollocks!

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