To set the stage, I have been an AirPods OG, OG2, and AirPods Pro owner over the last few years. I have mixed in some Bose and a few lesser known buds in-between over the same time, but have consistently settled on Apple's offerings, mainly the AirPods Pro as my go-to buds. Apple has set a pretty high bar (commensurate with it's higher price) in terms of Noise Cancellation, Transparency mode, and overall integration with Apple equipment such as iPhone, iPads, and even the Apple TV. Having owned a pair of on-ear Beats Wireless Headphones, and for the most part enjoyed the bass pronounced sound signature offered by the Beats brand, I was really interested in the diminutive buds offered by Apple/Beats in the form of the Studio Buds.
First off I have to say, I love the coloring offerings of White, Black, and Red. I picked up a pair in red, because I like tech in red color. Having lived with AirPods and AirPods Pro (with some change-of-pace ear tips in Red and Black) the red offered a nice change of pace over the boring AirPods Pro in standard white.
Make no mistake, these are middle-of-the-road offering within the Apple audio ecosystem and would venture to say the overall wireless earbuds market. They offer noise cancellation that is well below the levels offered by the AirPods Pro, but seem to be good enough for typical daily commutes and moderately noisy environments. Transparency mode, which magnifies the external world through the built-in mics is not in the same class as the AirPod Pro’s. Sounds in transparency mode on the Beats are a bit muffled and not as clear as the aforementioned AirPods. Nonetheless, both the ANC and the Transparency mode are serviceable and considering the $149 price tag, they do the job adequately. I haven’t had much time on phone calls using these buds, but from my experience thus far and reviews, the quality of voices on calls is equivalent to in-car BT systems. The Beats don’t have elongated stems to focus on voice signals like the AirPods Pro’s do, but the beam forming mics do an acceptable job at allowing people to hear you in both quiet and noisy environments.
In terms of sound and quality of music playback, the Studio Buds do well for bass heavy tracks like dance and pop. Although, make no mistake, these are not your father’s Beats. I played some tracks in a couple genre’s (rock, pop, dance) in Apple Music Spacial Audio playlists and the Studio Buds did not disappoint. While they don’t have the specific H1 hardware chip inside them for spacial positioning relative to your audio source, the Studio Buds played all tracks with a nice “thump” where needed and sounded good overall. Again, these aren’t AirPods Pro, Sony’s or Bose but they can hold their own in the ever-so-crowded wireless bud market. If I have any complaint, the Studio Buds did not get that loud and required higher volume levels from my iPhone 12 to get to get reasonably loud output, but to be fair, I went back to the AirPods Pro with the same tracks and found similar volume levels from the iPhone were needed to drive those as well.
Comfort-wise the Studio buds are light and fit well in my ears. I really like the tactile press controls of the Studio Buds and actually prefer it over the squeeze stems of the AirPods Pro. Button Presses were easy and did not cause any discomfort by having to press hard and jam the buds further into the ear canal. Hey Siri. Is of course present and works as it should. There is some configuration options in terms of button functions in the Buds Bluetooth settings, but the options are limited to Noise Control or activation of Siri, if you prefer not to say “Hey Siri”.
The quality of the buds and accompanying battery case are a combination of glossy and matte plastic. The Studio Buds battery case, a bit bigger than the AirPods Pro case feels great in the hand and fine in the pocket. The magnets holding the buds in the case are really solid holding the buds in place and offering that satisfactory “snap” when putting them back into the case.
Overall, I like these buds and plan to use them as my daily drivers for a while. While they are missing some of the AirPods Pro magic of auto-connect to iCloud signed in Apple devices, auto pause when taking a bud out of an ear, and the magic of the H1 chip for ANC, Transparency, and positional spacial audio, the Beats Studio buds are a solid offering for both Apple and Android owners who want a good pair of buds for a reasonable price.
- Solid pair of Wireless Buds with good sound, not your typical “Beats” product
- Small, Light, and comfortable (YMMV)
- Colors! (Black, White, Red)
- Just enough features and quality to keep iOS and Android owners happy
- Buds battery life with ANC active only around 5 hrs
- Sound profile not as crisp and sharp as competitors
- Middling Active Noise Cancellation and Transparency modes
- Does not have some of the “magic” that AirPods Pro offer (auto connect, auto pause)
- No Wireless Charging case
Beats Studio Buds - $149.99 USD