Beats Studio Buds might seem odd for an Apple product – yes, Apple bought Beats in 2014, if you didn’t know. Apple’s AirPod headphones are awesome, but Beats’ new wireless earbuds are also for Android users. They sound old news, but it’s only because there has been a steady stream of leaks, all the way to LeBron James.)
It’s a good question, is it bad that Beats offers a “universal” experience on both iOS and Android? Basically, it depends where you sit on the OS fence. Despite being excellent earbuds that can comfortably beat the AirPods Pro in terms of sound, there are a few things that are missing from the AirPods as well as other Beat headphones that Apple fans have become familiar with lovers of.
AirPods with no stem?
You’ll notice right away that they look a bit like AirPods without the stem. You can wear them in your ear without anyone noticing, and they’re really light. The overall design of these earbuds is really well thought out, with a physical universal remote control on each one, which I prefer to the touch controls you’ll find on most high-quality true-wireless earbuds on the market today. By using your fingers, you will be able to toggle between noise cancelling on, transparency on, and noise-cancelling off for a particular bud (you can also program it to access your device’s native voice assistant if you wish). There are also the usual single tap functions for pausing and playing tracks and answering and ending calls as well as double-tapping to advance tracks. The earbuds’ volume cannot be adjusted.
The H1 and W1 chips aren’t there
There’s a problem with all this. Beats Studio Buds aren’t equipped with an H1 or W1 chip, otherwise, they can tap into the Apple ecosystem like the Beats Fit Pro (AED 734). That’s what makes them similar to other Apple and Beats headphones. You can’t pair all your Apple devices to iCloud, and thus you can’t auto-switch. Apple describes this feature as follows: “When you sign in to your iOS devices (including iPads) with the same Apple ID you use on your iPhone, your AirPods connect seamlessly to whatever device you’re playing music with (on headphones equipped with Beats support).”
There’s not much better than multipoint Bluetooth pairing for Apple users. It’s one of the best features of higher-end headphones. It’s a deal-breaker for you if you’re still used to it from Apple or Beats models from years past. As a result, the Studio Buds’ firmware was updated in January 2022 so that Apple users will be able to “instantly pair” with their iCloud devices with just a single tap. However, the Studio Buds can’t pair at the same time with multiple Apple devices (you need to manually switch between devices by tapping on the Studio Buds’ Bluetooth menu) and they are only supported on iOS and Mac devices. If you are using the Studio Buds with your Mac or an iPad, this means that when a phone call comes in, the audio doesn’t automatically switch to iPhone when the call is answered. At least you will be able to pair the buds with any one of your devices that is part of your iCloud account, and it will appear in the Bluetooth menu on every device in your iCloud account.
Furthermore, the headphones lack in-ear detection, so when taken out of your ears, music will not automatically resume. However, you can use both the left and right bud separately, a feature that some people find helpful while chatting on the phone.
With the noise cancellation or transparency mode on, battery life is five hours, and eight hours without it. There’s no wireless charging on the noise-cancelling charging case, so you can recharge two times, which is on par with the AirPods Pro. A five-minute charge in the case gives you an hour of playback if the buds and case are totally depleted. This is called Fast Fuel by Beats.
Active noise cancellation is featured on the Beats Studio. The AirPods Pro are great noise-cancelling earphones, but they can’t compete with the two-wireless AirPods Pro, the Sony WF-1000XM4 or the Bose QuietComfort Earphones. I couldn’t muffle the noisy AC in my apartment well with these, and the noise on the street in NYC wasn’t muffled well at all.
It’s better to use transparency mode — the one that lets ambient noise in, so you don’t miss out on the world around you. A good transparency mode makes the world sound like it wouldn’t matter if you were wearing earbuds. This is how the Beats Studio Buds have their transparency mode sounding (natural), so at least it can be compared to the excellent transparency mode of the Apple AirPods Pro, though it may not be quite the same as it.
Call quality was also good: I took these and the Apple AirPods Pro around the streets of New York, and I received many calls telling me that the BeatsStudio Buds sounded like the AirPods Pro in terms of headset performance, as well as good noise-cancellation features. Every bud has a total of three microphones, one of which is a beamforming microphone that focuses on your voice. While traffic passed by, I could clearly hear the callers.
Since they have Bluetooth 5.2, there are no wireless dropouts.
Comparing the Beats Fit Pro with the Beats Fit Lite, the Beats Fit Pro’s sound is exceptional, though it’s not as crisp or as dynamic as the Beats Fit Pro. While the bass is defined and all the mids have a natural sound, there is a decent amount of treble detail in the treble, and there is also an adequate amount of bass.
My impression is that Beats engineers spent a great deal of time designing the custom 8,2mm drivers that they put into the AirPods Pro and the sound that they delivered is a bit clearer and more detailed than that produced by the AirPods Pro. While they don’t sound as great as the Powerbeats Pro, they certainly sound a little smoother and more balanced than they do.
Beats’ hip-hop roots make the company known for its bloated bass. Despite having pretty deep bass, they don’t have quite the energy of earbuds that sell for more, like the Sony WF-1000XM4. As well as better sound quality and noise cancellation, the Sony sounds a bit more open. But I think the Beats Studio Buds deliver better sound, and some people will like them better than the Sonys, which are over AED 367 more expensive.
Beats Studio Buds: Conclusion
According to what I stated at the beginning, these headphones for Apple are a little bit unique since they cater to both iPhone and Android users at the same time. The Pixel Buds A-Series may not be the best value for Android users, but it may be a better alternative at AED 363 thanks to its excellent sound quality and active noise cancellation. Another option is the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus which is available for about AED 367. It seems like there may still be a way for these Beats to be discounted, especially with all the little corners they cut here and there — no H1 or W1 chip, no in-ear detection, etc. In a few months, you may well find that they are selling for AED 73 – 110 less.
Overall, I liked them. It fits my ears well, it’s small, and it has good sound and a good microphone. It’s a good case, too. We’re disappointed Apple didn’t include a few of those key features that make AirPods and Beats so different. The Studio Buds are an attractive option if their price drops below AED 367, but Apple may not have wanted them to compete directly with the AirPods 3.