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Leave it to Beats to make another pair of the best over-ear headphones.
The Beats brand has had quite the ride. Probably with more humble beginnings, it has blown up to be a cultural icon. So much so that Apple paid up a boggling $3 billion to buy the company out, in 2014. So where are we a couple of years later? The Studio Wireless is the current flagship, packing all the bells and whistles that are technologically possible in a headphone today. Bluetooth wireless? Check. Noise Cancellation? Check. Big Battery? Check. Let’s find out if these are your best headphones in our Beats Studio Wireless review.
Price: $249.99 on Amazon
Model: Beats Studio Wireless
WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: Feature-packed with Bluetooth, active noise cancellation, and a lengthy battery.
What We Liked
What We Didn’t
The design of Beats headphones has largely remained the same since the beginning, and Studio Wireless is no exception. The headband follows the same circular form, and the ear cups are topped with that ever so iconic “b” symbol. Albeit, this top-end model is a bit more grown-up. Beats has sharpened things up by surrounding the headphone with metallic trimmings. The matte finish on our Gold model really strikes a nice balance between flashy and sophisticated. Are they the best headphones for podcasting? That remains to be seen. However, if you want to sport a headphone that gives off a more edgy look, you should see our Beats Studio3 Wireless Noise-Cancelling Headphones Review for another choice.
The premium look is complemented by leather-wrapped cushion earpads. They’re more supple than firm, making them super comfortable. Unfortunately, the headband cushion doesn’t share the same aesthetic. It’s firmer and made from a cheaper-feeling rubbery material. Given the 260 gram weight of the headphones, we would’ve liked a bit more support on the top of our head. It can cause a pressure point over lengthy use. While the beats studio wireless over-ear headphones need some more support, the V-Moda Xs On-Ear Headphone review can help you opt for another brand that fits right into place on your ears without getting loose at any point.
The Studio Wireless headphones come packed in their capsule-shaped, zipper case. You’ll immediately notice that they can fold into a compact shape via hinges on each side of the headband – always a considerate feature. Unlike the Audeze EL-8 open-back over-ear headphone, which isn’t foldable. Being that this is a high-end wireless headphone, the packaging includes a charging cable (micro-USB to USB). Generously, Beats also throws in an AC wall adapter and not one, but two audio cables for wired use, if you so wish. One of the cables has an in-line 3-button remote for music playback control and a mic to take calls, and the other is just a simple cable with no remote.
The headphone’s wireless controls are fairly intuitive. The “b” plate on the left earcup is the play/pause button, while the volume up/down are directly above and below it, respectively. The “b” button can also skip to the next track with two presses and backtrack with three presses.
Towards the bottom of the right earcup is a small power button. A tiny LED on the center of the button lets the user know when the headphones are on, and a set of five LED’s directly below indicates the battery status.
Getting connected and playing with the Studio Wireless is a breeze. The headphone turns on/off by holding the power button down for a couple of seconds, and it will be discoverable at first boot up. Simply find it in your mobile device’s Bluetooth settings and voila, now you’re set with the finest headphones for iPhone or your Android device. A nice thing is that the volume of the headphone follows the Bluetooth’s volume setting on the connected device, so you don’t have to deal with two independent volume settings.
The soft earpad cushions mold onto your head and nicely engulf the ears, providing decent isolation passively.
Fortunately, that’s not all you get. The Studio Wireless is Active Noise Isolation (ANC) capable. It is automatically enabled when music starts playing, but can also be toggled in ANC-only mode, if you just wish to use the headphones as a way to peace and quiet.
The ANC feature works like most on the market. It can cancel out lower frequencies around you, but higher pitched sound can still get through. A drawback about the feature is slight hissing in the background (all ANC systems have it to some extent). The music drowns out the hiss for the most part, but you’ll notice it when the playback is quieter.
Of course, ANC needs power to function, so the integrated battery has the job of powering it and the Bluetooth wireless music playback. That sounds like it would take quiet a toll on battery life, but fortunately, there’s a large enough battery to get roughly 12 hours of wireless use (depending on volume level). Like the top wired headphones along with ANC can get you a good deal more life, at about 20 hours. You won’t have to worry about forgetting to turn off the headphones, as they have an automatic shutoff timer when there’s no playback.
It’s important to know that despite the option of a wired connection, once the battery runs its course, you won’t be able to use the headphones. It’s beyond us why the Studio Wireless can’t function without ANC. Other headphones on the market, like the Bose Quietcomfort 25, can work passively with the ANC disabled. Therefore, you’ll want to make sure the Studio Wireless are always charged up if you’re dependent on music, or carry around a battery pack. Bose also has more effective noise-cancellation technology, but Beats isn’t far behind.
Sound-wise, Beats have been known for their impactful bass and prominent treble. The sound signature leans more on fun than accuracy, and that’s certainly still the case with the Studio Wireless. That said, the reproduction has matured in some ways.
While the bass still takes the spotlight, it doesn’t overshadow the spectrum. The other frequency ranges are allowed to show what they can do. This is a great thing, because Beats can push through terrific treble detail. It resonates with depth and clarity. The mid-range doesn’t quite match the treble’s brilliance and airy-ness, but we appreciated its natural tone.
The great thing about the Beats bass reproduction is that it surrounds you and makes you feel it. This is super satisfying from a perspective of indulgence, but it can be a mixed bag in terms of accuracy. The upper-end of the bass can get somewhat boomy and start to bleed into the mid-range. However, it’s more controlled and not as overdone as preceding models. And while we’re nitpicking, we wouldn’t mind a bit more sparkle/extension from the high frequencies. The steep price of the Studio Wireless ($380 retail) pits it up against some strong competitors, like Bose and Sennheiser, and we feel that they have an edge on sound quality, overall.
All in all, Beats has a solid flagship for fans of its style and sound. The Studio Wireless packs the features a headphone of the future should, and they all work well. It may be a downer for some that the headphones are unusable when the battery dies, but at least the battery life is lengthy. It should easily get most people through the work day.
The audio drivers bring the fun and engaging sound that Beats fans also love, although, it can be a mixed bag when listening with a fine ear. There’s also stiff competition at the same price bracket or lower, which can clearly best the Studio Wireless in regard to sound quality.
Read Next: Best Noise Cancelling Headphones