We’ve been using the Beats Studio Buds for the past several weeks, and here are some interesting compromises, including a mysterious custom Beats chipset in place of Apple’s W1 or H1 chips. So let’s see what our thoughts are in this Beats Studio Buds review.
As of last month, Apple expanded its line of truly wireless noise cancelling earbuds with features like the Active Noise Cancellation and Transparency Mode, which could be the best noise-canceling earbuds for today’s buyers who are looking for a more affordable option than the AirPods Pro and Powerbeats Pro.
The Studio Buds has a lightweight and compact design, which is one of the main selling points compared to the bulkier and more expensive Powerbeats Pro. Of course, the trade-off here is that the Buds don’t have ear hooks like the Powerbeats Pro. That means the Beats Studio EarBuds may not be as safe for your ears, but that’s what makes them (and Beats Studio Buds case) so compact.
The Beat Studio Buds feature an in-ear design similar to the AirPods Pro, but without the stem. The lack of a stem separates the new Beats earbuds from the AirPods Pro in terms of design, but rumors suggest that the AirPods Pro will be redesigned next year with a similar stemless design.
If it were us, we’d go for the compact design of the Beats Studio Buds over the Powerbeats Pro’s big, ear-hook design. The more apt comparison here is the AirPods Pro, which is $100 more expensive.
The Beats Studio Buds feature an in-ear design, which is again similar to the AirPods Pro when it comes to fit. You have three different ear tip sizes to choose from right out of the box, so there’s plenty of versatility when it comes to finding the right fit.
In this Beats Studio Buds review, we tested these wireless noise cancelling earbuds in several different places – at home, at the gym, for phone calls, and casual wear at office work. In practice, we’ve found the Beats Studio Buds to be comfortable and versatile. Equally important, they fit in your ears even when you are exercising and active.
This is a noticeable difference compared to the AirPods, which use a one-size-fits-all “universal” design without any customizable ear tips. AirPods simply rest inside your ears, which is more comfortable for some people. However, in our experience, the AirPods’ universal design means the earbuds aren’t as secure in our ears.
Finally, Apple’s new Beats earbuds are available in three different colors: red, black, and white. Our Beats Studio Buds review unit is in White same as the Airpods. However, it’s good that Beats is here to serve a market of people who want truly wireless earbuds in colors other than white, unlike the AirPods and AirPods Pro.
The problem with the stemless design may be a lack of physical controls, but that’s not the case with the Studio Buds. Beats has found a clever way to turn the top of each button into a physical button to control playback. Here’s a description of how it works:
Press once to play, pause or answer a phone call, Press twice to skip forward, Press three times to rewind, Long press to toggle between ANC ON (default), Transparency mode, and ANC OFF.
A nice bonus is that you can customize the ‘push and hold’ trigger control to activate Siri as well. For example, pressing and holding the right earbud could toggle between ANC and Transparency modes, while pressing and holding the left earbud could activate Siri. But again, it also supports “Hey Siri,” so physical controls aren’t necessary to access the voice assistant.
If there’s a drawback to this design, it’s that it’s fairly easy to accidentally activate one of the controls when you adjust the headset’s in your ear. For example, if one of the buds slips out of your ear, there’s a good chance you’ll accidentally activate the pause/play control while adjusting the setting.
Beats could have chosen a capacitive design for the Studio Buds or have no physical controls of any kind. This would have been understandable, if disappointing, given the stemless design. Fortunately, there are touch controls in place.
The Beats Studio Buds have 5 hours of battery life with ANC or Transparency mode enabled, or 8 hours without either enabled. Combined with the charging case, you get 24 hours of playtime. In particular, the charging case itself features a USB-C port, which is a nice touch compared to the Lightning ports that Apple uses in AirPods, AirPods Pro, and Powerbeats Pro.
However, the downside here is that the Beats Studio Buds case doesn’t feature wireless charging of any kind. You can just put AirPods or AirPods Pro on a wireless charger for quick power, but that’s not the case with the Studio Buds. However, they do feature fast charge technology to add an hour of playtime to just five minutes when the battery is low.
In our Beats Studio Buds review, the earbuds live up to the claims when it comes to battery life. Using them for phone calls will drain your battery faster than just listening to music, but that’s to be expected since you’re actively using the mic. If battery life is a concern on the phone, we recommend using one earbud at a time and leaving the other in the charging case.
Like all Beats products today, the Beats Studio Buds have deep integration with the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Mac. They pair with your device via the same card-style interface as AirPods or through the Settings app. But they are using a secret sauce here that is very interesting.
The Beats Studio Buds do not work with Apple’s proprietary W1 or H1 chip but instead, work with a proprietary Beats chip. This means you miss out on some of the more useful features of the AirPods and AirPods Pro as well as the Powerbeats Pro, but it also allows the Beats Studio Buds to work across the Android and iOS ecosystems.
One feature that the Beats Studio Buds don’t have compared to the AirPods is in-ear detection. This means the Beats Studio Buds won’t automatically play or pause content when you take it out or put it in your ears. Beats Studio Buds also lacks support for automatic device switching and does not sync your paired devices to iCloud.
Aside from the missing features, we haven’t had any issues with the performance or pairing of the Beats Studio Buds. Bluetooth 5.0 connection is stable and consistent, and pairing is fast and reliable across all devices. There is also support for Spatial Audio on Apple Music.
The Beats Studio Buds also has integration with Apple’s Find My app. It allows you to locate your lost Beats Studio Buds using your previous known location or by playing a sound when paired via Bluetooth. Unfortunately, it’s similar to AirPods and too rudimentary for Find My support. Over time, we’d like to see both Apple and Beats incorporate the U1 chip to enhance Find My integration regardless of Bluetooth.
But the Beats Studio Buds also extend beyond the Apple ecosystem. For Android users, there is support for quick pairing and the Find My Device app.
It’s hard to judge the sound quality and we don’t pretend to be an expert here. The Beats Studio Buds sound good enough in practice, especially for the modest $150 price tag. During our Beats Studio Buds review, the new Beats earbuds sound isn’t quite as rich and full as the Powerbeats Pro or AirPods Pro. This isn’t necessarily surprising given the $100 price difference and more compact design, but it’s worth noting. The sound quality is similar, if not identical, to that of the entry-level AirPods.
In tackling Jazz and Salsa music, we were impressed by the clarity and dynamism of these gems in orchestral masterpieces. The attendance was impressive with Conga and Timpani drums inspiring the rhythm on “Tiptoe Through the Tulips”. There was also talk of the applause of the crowd; Roars and hisses hit our eardrums from all sides.
For those of you wondering whether the spatial sound is involved, the answer is yes and it is automatic. Look for songs that support the feature on Apple Music and you’ll be rewarded with the sound experience. We chose “What’s Goin On” by Marvin Gaye from a list of suggestions and were satisfied with the results. Gaye’s harmony was effortless, and the dialogue and background sound stood out during the recording.
While the Studio Buds are tuned to accurately represent bass, mids, and trebles, they also lack the bass accent of the Powerbeats Pro, a sound quality synonymous with Beats products. When listening to suggested tracks like Daft Punk’s “Doin’ It Right”, the performance was hard, but the hit was soft compared to what came out of the Powerbeats Pro. At the very least, Studio Buds kept the vocals booming.
For sound with ANC active, nothing changes. Beats uses an algorithm that “monitors the source files, correcting and cleaning up sound-affected artifacts 48,000 times per second.” Namely, the buttons remove discrepancies from the source audio files for clear playback when ANC is enabled.
Active noise cancellation
However, to take the Beats Studio Buds sound experience to the next level, there is support for both active noise cancellation and transparency modes. The first is when you want to block out the noise around you, and the second is when you want to let in more sound around you.
It was mostly quiet to stroll through the local farmers market on a busy weekend; the Voice of buyers and speakers not detected. The pressure washers and roars like flying leaves could be heard, but they didn’t attract attention when listening to music at about 80% volume.
We prefer Transparency Mode over Active noise cancellation in most situations, such as outdoors and in the gym, but that’s our personal preference and not because the ANC on the Beats Studio Buds is poor. In fact, the active noise cancellation is particularly impressive due to the interior design.
If you’re shopping for truly wireless headphones that feature deep integration with Apple devices, you have a wide array of options today.
One of the biggest differences between the AirPods and AirPods Pro over the past two years has been the design. Many people prefer the in-ear fit of the AirPods Pro to the Universal Fit of the AirPods. Now, the Beats Studio Buds offer a similar in-ear fit to the AirPods Pro, but $100 cheaper.
After spending the past few days doing the Beats Studio Buds review and comparing them to the AirPods, AirPods Pro, and Powerbeats Pro (REVIEW), we now have a hard time finding a reason to recommend the AirPods. As long as you find the design comfortable on the ear, and not everyone does, the Beats Studio Buds H1/W1 is the real deal, despite its lack of a chip.
With Beats Beats Studio Buds, you get ANC support, Transparency mode, fast pairing with Apple devices, stellar sound quality, and a versatile in-ear design, all in an incredibly compact form factor. There are limitations, such as the lack of in-ear detection and wireless charging, and there is no H1 or W1 chip, but the value is there with a price tag of $150.
Ultimately, the Studio Buds are proof that the Beats brand is alive and well and stronger than ever, and it certainly isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. There are compromises to hitting the $149.99 price, but the pros far outweigh the cons if you don’t already have AirPods Pro or Powerbeats Pro.