Headphone Showdown: Beats Solo 2 Wireless vs Skullcandy Grind Wireless
Can an $89 Dollar On-Ear bluetooth headphone compete with one that costs $300 dollars?
Yes. Absolutely. Better than you’d ever expect.
It’s time for the headphone showdown!!!
The Skullcandy Grind Wireless ($89) takes on the Beats Solo 2 Wireless ($300). Let’s do this!
On first inspection, the Solo 2's feel nicer in the hand. If they didn’t, I’d be pretty baffled, considering the price difference. The Solo 2s have a smooth, clean, stylish look, with no exposed wires or screws. They come in a variety of colors and finishes, and look really nice and subtle on your head. They are a sleek, small headphone, that still feel sturdy and robust. All of the exterior parts are hard plastic, and the headband is metal underneath. The ear cushions and headband pad are both made of synthetic material, and they feel like they’d stand up to tough applications like exercising just fine. The folding mechanism has a satisfying click to it.
The Grind Wireless feels light when you pick it up, but not at all cheap or empty. Its light feel actually helps in the comfort department, more on that later! They have an old-school look, with a single-piece headband design and exposed wires going into the earcups. The materials here are shockingly nice for the price. The headband is a piece of stainless steel, which holds its shape well. The top is covered in a nice synthetic cushion, with faux-leather stitching. The ear cushions are nice and soft to the touch.
The two big design negatives compared to the Solo 2 are the lack of a folding mechanism, and the exposed wires. A folding mechanism may have decreased the robust nature of the headband, and of course would increase the cost. The exposed wires might get caught on your fingers, your hair, or other things in your bag. It also makes them more vulnerable to breaking. Looks-wise, it’s a decision that was very popular in older headphones but has fallen out of favor now.
The branding on the Grind is more subtle than on the Solo 2, but neither of them screams at the people around you. Like the Solo 2s, the Grinds come in a variety of colors.
These are both robust-feeling headphones. The Grind offers a profound amount of build quality for their price. But the Beats look a little more stylish, and I think the color options are better.
Winner: Solo 2 Wireless
The Beats brand is tied to a particular sound in the public consciousness, perhaps a little unfairly. “If you want thumping bass and nothing else, get Beats.” That was true in the early days. A few years ago though, they changed it up. They still offer thumping bass, but not at the cost of other sounds.
Like other current Beats headphones, the Solo 2 Wireless have a punchy, in-your-face sound. The bass is deep, strong, and prominent, but it doesn’t overwhelm the rest of the music. If you want a fun movie-theater-like sound, the Solo 2 is a good choice. It’s like the sound is blaring straight into your head, and there’s also a subwoofer nearby.
The Grind Wireless sounds fully amazing. No joke. Everything is more refined, detailed, and neutral than on the Beats. You’ll hear more sharp clairty in the highs and vocals sound a little more “real.” The only downfall is that the bass is not quite as precise or oomphy. But at their price, it’s almost impossible to complain about how the Grind Wireless sounds. They might be the cheapest “neutral” headphone on the market. They’ll render music exactly the way it was produced.
The Grinds also have a wider stereo image than the Solo 2s, which is largely down to the way they both handle pads and isolation (See isolation below!).
Bassheads will prefer the Solo 2 Wireless, but everyone else will be perfectly served by the Grind Wireless.
Winner: Grind Wireless
The Solo 2’s isolate better than the Grind Wireless. The Solo 2 uses a fully enclosed capsule and ear pad, sealing well to your ear. This also contributes to the improved bass punchiness of the Solo 2: the more sealed a headphone is around your ear, the more bass it can provide. The pads get a little more sweaty over time due to their seal, but you’re hear less of the outside sound around you.
On the Grind, the ear capsules are sealed, but the pads have tons of little holes in them. This allows the pads to breathe and feel lighter on the ear, and prevent them from getting sweaty. But isolation suffers. You’ll hear more outside noise with the Grind. It’s their biggest weakness. If you place a high priority on isolation, the Grind may not be for you.
Winner: Solo 2 Wireless
This category isn’t even a contest. The Grind Wireless wins . The Solo 2s have a tight clamping force that doesn’t ease up all that much, even over time. They’ll start to pinch your head after about 30 minutes. Look at this picture again:
See how much closer together the Solo 2 ear cups are? That’s because of the high clamp. Beats does everything they can with nice padding to mitigate this, but the Grind Wireless is much much MUCH more comfy. The Grinds have soft pads that gently sit on your ears, but the texture of the pads and headband still keep them in place. The ear pads don’t get sweaty thanks to those holes I mentioned. The light frame of the headband makes them easy to forget. The headband also has a little cutout spot in the center to prevent pressure from building up on your head…something normally only found on much more expensive headphones.
Winner: Grind Wireless by a mile
Both headphones connect to one Bluetooth device at a time. Neither offers fancy proprietary codec support, and as such will work perfectly with most bluetooth devices. Both offer about 12 hours of battery life per charge. The button controls on the Solo 2s are better, and it’s a little easier to connect them to a new device. The Solo 2 offers a lighted battery meter next to the power button. They also come with a carrying case, which they fold up into, making them slightly more portable.
Both come with a cable. The Beats cable offers buttons and a microphone. Both headphones sound just as good wirelessly as wired. B0th headphones use non-propietary cable jacks, a rare thing in this industry. Both come with a micro USB cable for charging.
Winner: Solo 2 Wireless, mostly because it comes with a case
Yeah. So. Let’s talk the real point here. I mentioned in my Solo 2 Wireless review that they’re about 100 dollars too expensive for today’s market. When they first launched, 300 dollars was barely a fair price for them, but now it isn’t at all. The Grind Wireless are not as stylish or feature-packed, but they are ONE THIRD the price. And they have a detailed sound that most discerning listeners will vastly prefer. And they’re way more comfortable. I mean, come on.
Winner: Grind Wireless
The Grind Wireless is a miraculous pair of headphones, a brilliant combination of value and performance. They feature smart decisions in cost-cutting, and provide consumers with astounding, natural sound for the price. If you want the best bang-for-your-buck headphone on the market, this is it.
The Solo 2 Wireless is still a competent product, and they go on sale often for less than full price. The color options, finishes, and design are second-to-none. If you need classy style, portability, and really like punchy bass, there’s probably no better choice. But for everyone else there’s the Grind Wireless. And the choice is a no-brainer.
Overall Winner: Grind Wireless