Review of the Beats Studio Buds: The noise-canceling headphones from Apple that love Android | Apple


The latest Apple Bluetooth headphones from its Beats brand offer active noise cancellation and cross-compatibility that goes above and beyond its competition, even for Android users.

The Studio Buds cost £ 129.99 ($ ​​149.99 or A $ 199.95) and are Beats’ smallest earbuds to date, after the PowerBeats Pro and budget Beats Flex focused on sports.

Unlike most true wireless headphones, including Apple’s AirPods Pro, the Studio Buds have no stems and are quite compact, with a unique shape and a standard silicone tip. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs / The Guardian

Most headphones fit comfortably into the conch of your ear with a pill-shaped projection that protrudes a bit and has a button on the end. Press once to pause / play, two and three times to skip a track, or press and hold to change noise canceling modes.

The controls work great, but unlike some of the competition, the headphones don’t pause the music when you take them off, and there’s no built-in volume control, which means you have to reach for your phone to turn it up. or turn down the music.

Characteristics

  • Water resistance: IPX4 (sweat)
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.2, SBC, AAC
  • Battery Life: 5 hours ANC / 8 hours off, up to 24 hours with case
  • Headphone Weight: 5.1 g each
  • Headphone Dimensions: 15.6 x 21.6 x 19.8 mm
  • Pilot size: 8.2 mm
  • Charging box weight: 48g
  • Charging box dimensions: 51.5 x 73 x 25.6 mm
  • Charging the case: Usb-c

Case and battery

beats studio buds review
The earphones snap into the hard and smooth pill-shaped plastic casing with strong magnets. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs / The Guardian

The case is medium in size compared to its competition and fits roughly in the silver pocket of a pair of jeans – significantly smaller than the PowerBeats Pro case but slightly larger than the AirPods Pro case.

It charges via USB-C and stores enough power to charge the headphones twice. Studio Buds last about five hours with active noise cancellation or up to eight without. When low, a five-minute charge in the case is enough for about an hour of playtime.

Cross-platform connectivity

Beats studio heads
Open the case near an Android or iPhone to check the battery levels of each earbud and the case. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs / The Guardian

The Studio Buds are Bluetooth 5.2 headphones that support standard SBC and AAC audio formats, but have better cross-compatibility than all of the competition, even Apple’s other headphones.

Indeed, unlike previous Beats or AirPods, Studio Buds use a new chip not manufactured by Apple. This means they have almost the same functionality whether connected to an iPhone or Android, including one-touch pairing and compatibility with “Find My” device tracking systems on both platforms. -shaped, making them the first headphones to do so.

The headphones support “Hey Siri” for instant voice assistant access on an iPhone, as well as Apple’s new “spatial audio” surround sound for Apple Music.

beats studio buds review
The headphones connect to only one device at a time, but can seamlessly switch between paired devices without having to manually disconnect from each one first. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs / The Guardian

The Beats app on Android manages settings and updates and displays the charge status of each earbud and case, while the same features are built into an iPhone’s settings app.

Apple devices have some limitations compared to the company’s other headphones. Unlike AirPods Pro, they don’t support spatial audio for movies on iPhone or iPad, or audio sharing for two headphones connected to one device at the same time. When you only need to pair other Apple headphones with an Apple device to have them available on any other iPhone, iPad, or Mac you own, you’ll need to manually pair the Studio Buds with each device you want to use.

Call quality in a quiet space was good and clear with local effect so you can hear yourself and avoid shouting, but the headphones left some background noise in the call and my voice became slightly scrambled in some noisy environments.

Good sound and noise cancellation

Beats studio heads
The traditional silicone earpiece tip provides a good seal in the ear, while the small vents prevent pressure from building up, thus avoiding the ‘plugged in’ feel of traditional headphones. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs / The Guardian

The new headphones are some of Beats’ most balanced and best tuned headphones to date. They produce deep, punchy bass when needed, but that doesn’t overpower the well-balanced highs and highs. They handle complex, overlapping tones well, with good instrument separation and super clear vocals, sounding good with most genres of music for everyday listening. However, no sound customization is available.

Beats founder Dr Dre sounds better on the Studio Buds than any other headphones from the company. But they lack a bit of detail and nuance in some more polished tracks compared to the best headphones, and a bit of energy in some more rhythmic tracks.

The noise cancellation is very similar to that of the AirPods Pro, successfully reducing the low rumble of an airplane or that of a passing car. They have a little trouble with speech and wind noise, and won’t bother the best Sony WF-1000XM4 headphones or the WH-1000XM4 headphones, but do a reasonable job for the money and size.

Noise cancellation alters the sound a bit, making the highs and higher tones more pronounced. Ambient sound mode is good for listening to announcements or quick chats, but isn’t as natural as AirPods Pro.

Durability

Beats studio heads
The headphones and case are made from recycled plastic, but the batteries cannot be replaced. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs / The Guardian

Apple estimates that the batteries in the headphones and case last well over 500 full charge cycles while retaining at least 80% of their original capacity, but they are not replaceable, making the headphones disposable.

Some parts of the headphones aren’t repairable either, but Apple is offering replacements for £ 82.44 or battery service for £ 66.44. All internal plastic parts of the headphones are made from recycled materials, but Apple does not issue environmental impact reports for accessories such as the headphones. The company offers free exchange and recycling programs, including for non-Apple products.

Price

The Beats Studio Buds cost £ 129.99 (A $ 149.99 or A $ 199.95) and are available in white, black, or red.

For comparison, AirPods cost £ 159, AirPods Pro cost £ 249, PowerBeats Pro costs £ 219.95, Beats Flex costs £ 49.99, Sony WF-1000XM4 costs £ 250, Jabra Elite 85t costs £ 219.99, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro costs £ 219 and the Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro costs £ 129.99.

Verdict

The Beats Studio Buds are a surprising set of headphones from Apple that support as many features on Android as they do on an iPhone, including instant pairing and battery level notifications.

They stay put and are comfortable for long periods of time, have a good connection to your phone, and have easy-to-use control buttons. Good battery life and a good, albeit slightly larger, case make them easy to get along with.

The Studio Buds sound great for everyday listening and feature AirPods Pro compatible noise reduction, which is very good for the money and size.

However, noise cancellation modifies the sound slightly and does not interrupt the music when it is removed from your ears. The headphones are irreparable and the battery cannot be replaced when it wears out, ultimately making them disposable and causing them to lose a star.

Benefits: good sound and reasonable noise reduction, cross-platform compatibility with one-touch pairing for iPhone and Android, good battery life and case, small enough and comfortable for long periods, good control buttons.

The inconvenients: No built-in volume control, no music pause when removing, no spatial sound for movies or pairing sync with Apple devices, not repairable.

Beats studio heads
Studio Buds look especially good in red but are available in more traditional black or white. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs / The Guardian

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