So having had all 3 for the purpose of study, I can give an average consumer's thoughts on these. Borrowed a pair of Beats Solo HDs from a friend (and he bets his life that they're not fake) with about 50 hours of burn in. I also already owned the Sennheiser Hd218, and recently got the Bose OE as a gift. (I'm not really an audiophile, although good sound is still nice) I'll be reviewing the categories on a scale of 1 to 5; durability, comfort, isolation, bass, mids, and treble. 1 is bad, 3 is neutral, 5 is good.
NOTE: When I analyze the sounds, my standards aren't as high as the people that own the AKGs, Grados, or high end Sennheisers. Like I said, this is a non-audiophile's review.
Beats Solo HD: (2/5) If you've ever held one of these in your hands, you'll realize that not only are the hinges thin, but the plastic is brittle and doesn't bend easily. That said, these really feel like they'll snap if you're not super careful. If you paid $200 for these and they snap just because you stretched them a little bit TOO far, imagine how pissed you'd be. I didn't bother actually testing how they stand up to dropping, because I'm almost sure they'll break and my friend won't be happy if I broke these for the purposes of studying them.
Bose OE: (4/5) The plastic headband here is thinner than that of the Beats but much more flexible. The hinges are also thicker. I don't get the feeling of fragility with these at all; in fact, these seem pretty toughly built. They can also handle being dropped on the floor, but I wouldn't throw these around like cheap disposable Skullcandies.
Sennheiser HD218: (5/5) A slightly thick (although thinner than the Beats's headband) but still flexible headband and the lack of any folding hinges at all pretty much guarantees that these can take a beating. I've dropped them several times before and they haven't taken any damage from it.
Comfort - NOTE: This is very subjective. This category only pertains to my personal comfort with the headphones.
Beats Solo HD: (2.5/5) Snug and comfortable for about 15 minutes. Then, I started to feel a little pressure build up on my ears. It's uncomfortable, and I gotta take them off for a few seconds before the pressure goes away, and I can put them back on. Just keep taking them off and putting them on again roughly every 15 minutes to keep the pressing feeling on my ears away.
Bose OE: (5/5) These are actually really comfortable. The pads are really soft and the headphone itself is pretty light, with just enough clamping force to keep them on your head without causing any discomfort. I didn't get any of the ear pressing feeling I got with the Beats. I can wear these for hours at a time without any noticeable discomfort.
Sennheiser HD218: (4.75/5) Similar in feeling to the Bose although the pads aren't as soft (but only by a VERY small difference). I can also wear these for long periods of time without any noticeable discomfort.
Beats Solo HD: (3.75/5) Does a good job keeping the noise out, but seems to have trouble keeping the music in. How is this possible? I have no idea. Maybe one of you guys know.
Bose OE: (5/5) Does a good job keeping both the noise out and the music in
Sennheiser HD218: (5/5) Same as above
Beats Solo HD: (3.75/5) FINALLY we found something the Beats are good at compared to the other headphones. Bass is big; I like big bass and I cannot lie. The problem: I don't know if it's just me, but although the bass is big it sometimes sound slightly "mushy," like it gives more of a boom than a punch. That's not as enjoyable for me.
Bose OE: (3.5/5) Bass is nowhere near as big as the Beats but there's no problem with any "mushiness" with these.
Sennheiser HD218: (3.5/5) Bass comes through crystal clear; very punchy. The problem: the bass is nowhere near as big as the Beats. Well, it's not a perfect world, I guess.
Beats Solo HD: (2/5) With the great bass came a price; some of the details in the mids were overshadowed by the bass. These are not headphones for recording studio work (which I do, seeing as I'm the sound engineer for one of my friend's band).
Bose OE: (5/5) Clear and detailed. No problems from overpowering bass here! Mids progress smoothly and are pleasant to listen to.
Sennheiser HD218: (4.5/5) These were the first hi-fi headphones I'd ever owned, so when I heard the clarity on these I was like "wow!" They still don't cease to amaze me.
Beats Solo GD: (2.5/5) Somewhat veiled treble. I personally don't really mind this either, but some people probably would. At least it's not harsh.
Bose OE: (5/5) Crystal clear and not harsh
Sennheiser HD218: (5/5) Crystal clear and not harsh
Beats Solo HD: For someone that doesn't need sound that's very accurate, these can actually be quite fun. The big bass definitely brings life into hip hop and techno. Still, as a sound engineer, I'd stay clear of this when I'm working with sound files and editing, because the sound this headphone puts out is nowhere close to the original sound. Plus, if you REALLY wanted a headphone that could deliver big bass, I'm pretty sure there're cheaper alternatives out there that can do the job just as well.
Bose OE: The sound signature of these are similar to the HD218s, if not slightly better. I'd say they pack a good $15 worth of sound over the Sennheisers. But wait a minute! Let's do the math here, shall we? The Sennheisers here cost $50. These Bose cost $150. Something is wrong with this picture. I just can't put my hand on it.
Sennheiser HD218: These are the headphones I go to when I do my sound engineering work. They remain very faithful to the original sound and deliver excellent clarity. They're also comfortable enough to wear for the time it takes to perfect an audio file (and sometimes it takes up to an hour). If you need a pair of budget on-ear headphones, I highly recommend these.
Edited by Mister A - 12/21/12 at 4:14am