Beats (now owned by Apple) is still going strong in the mainstream, higher-priced headphone market. Wireless and noise-cancellation are two technologies it of course has not missed out on, and the brand’s cream of the crop lies in its Studio Wireless series. Now at its third iteration, the Studio3 Wireless over-ears still don’t dare deviate from the iconic Beats design, but rather has a field day internally. This synopsis sums up what you can expect from Beats’ latest and greatest.
You’d be hard-pressed to tell what generation Studio Wireless model this is. Good if you like a subtly stylish design, but bad if you expect more premium materials for $350.
- Effective and comfy fit
- Plump ear pads, hearty passive noise isolation
- Can be used with cable (doesn’t require battery)
- Premium carrying case included
- Great Bluetooth range
- Substantial battery life
- Apple W1 Bluetooth chip integration
- Top-class, intelligent noise-cancellation
- Vivid bass and commanding mid-range audio
- Primarily plastic build
- Mediocre head cushioning
- Old microUSB port
- Bluetooth upgrades restricted to Apple users
- Thick carrying case
- Treble quality is average
- Low-level hiss with ANC on
What it’s like to use
- If you used a previous Studio Wireless headphone, the fit is exactly same (and the weight of 260g).
- The recycled design is good and bad for the same reasons as before:
- The good: Form-fitting, comfortable, and great sized ear holes and pressure from the ear pads
- The bad: Lack of cushioning for the top of the head, and the considerable weight will lead to a pressure ache.
- Beats puts a smooth, matte finish on the plastic, but it doesn’t feel premium in-hand (hollow feel when you tap it).
- The head cushioning feels cheap and is a lint magnet.
- The power button (located at bottom of right ear cup) has a light to indicate if it’s on or in pairing mode (blinking). Press it once to check battery life via a nearby 5-step LED indicator.
- Physical controls are hidden within the flat surface of the left ear cup (there’s no visual indication – you have to memorize it): middle button for play/pause (single press), track switching (multiple presses), and virtual assistant on mobile device (long press).
- There’s minimal difference in the audio quality in wired mode (the low-end has a slight reduction in power). Audio cable is included and has a remote.
- Battery life with ANC on is up to 22 hours, and 40 hours with it off.
- Blockage of noise is some of the best we’ve heard. Passive isolation of the plump ear pads and the intelligent ANC (Active noise-cancellation adapts to environmental noise changes to maintain quality) work superbly. But like everyone else, the Studio3 Wireless cannot escape from low-level hiss.
- There is improvement to the wireless audio quality versus previous model but it’s a step rather than a jump.
- Bass is more controlled (less boomy) but of course still takes the spotlight.
- Mid-range is the most improved. It’s full, articulated, and tonally excellent.
- The rest of the spectrum sometimes overshines the treble, especially in busier tracks. There is also a noticeable roll-off towards the upper end. Otherwise, the treble has nice detail when it the track focuses on it.
- Overall, the sound output can be viewed as a great balance between detail and musical enjoyment.
Despite its recycled (and arguably dated) design, the Beats Studio3 Wireless no doubt has more going for it than it doesn’t. It won’t look that way from the surface, but we can’t deny that its internal revamping isn’t worthy. Namely, the 10 hour bump in battery life from its predecessor and the robust, intelligent noise-cancellation – both of these features are very competitive for this class of headphone.
However, to get the most benefit of the Studio3’s update, you’ll need an Apple device with W1 chip support. This improves wireless range, battery life, and the pairing process. Beats is owned by Apple, so we cannot give them too much flak for this.
Sound-wise, we can still argue that the Studio3’s direct competitors (i.e. Bose QC35, Sennheiser PXC 550, Sony MDR-1000X) have an edge in audio skillfulness, but Beats is catching up at each iteration. It’s sound quality is no longer laughable for the asking price, and it may have the advantage for folks who care as much about impact as they do accuracy.