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It’s about time an update to Beats’ flagship noise-cancelling over-ear headphones has come around. We found a lot to love in the original model in our Beats Studio Wireless Review.
Apple (who owns the company) has taken the time to incorporate some of its lofty technological expertise to advance the brand, which in our opinion was much needed to make Beats a more serious competitor in a vast field topped with masterly brands like Sennheiser, Bose, and Sony.
These newest wireless Studio over-ears sport more advanced noise-cancellation technology, much longer battery life, and connection supported by Apple’s W1 chip. But the ultimate question still presides: How do they sound? We’ll cover all of it in our Beats Studio3 Wireless Headphones Review. Also, take a moment to check out the best headphones around.
Price: $349.99 on Amazon
Available: Oct. 2017
Model: Beats Studio3 Wireless
Summary: Beats follows a Porsche-like formula in its third iteration Studio3 Wireless over-ear headphones. That is, the chassis and form are very familiar but internally it’s a different animal. Bluetooth pairing and range get boosted with Apple’s W1 chip, active noise-cancellation is more effective, and battery life is almost doubled.
What We Liked
What We Didn’t
The Studio3 Wireless is an update to Beats’ flagship Bluetooth, noise-canceling over-ear headphone line. That is, if you were to know it. It is clear that Beats isn’t keen on touching the company’s identifiable design. And we can understand that. The simple but effective circular form and round ear cups that highlight that iconic “b” symbol just work. It’s somewhat of a fashion statement, but a subtle one.
Our stealthy Matte Black version of the headphone speaks of a matured sophistication for the brand, with its dominate smooth finish, brushed metal extender frame, and premium leather ear pads. That said, we can’t help feel like Beats is playing it a bit too safe here.
Related: Also check out our Blueant Pump HD Sport Bluetooth Headphone review.
All in all, this third iteration feels much like the Beats by Dre Remastered Studio that we reviewed. That’d be fine if we felt that the design is perfect, but we don’t. Its premium impression becomes a letdown in hand, where it’s immediately realized that the makeup is majorly a sub-par-feeling plastic. Competitors at this price-point use plastic too, but they attempt to enhance the feel with unique finishes, accents, or leather.
See Also: Sennheiser Momentum Wireless Review
Additionally, we wish that Beats had improved the top headband support. In our previous Studio Wireless review, we had a pickle with its mediocre feel and lack of cushioning (like the original, the Studio3 weighs a hunky 260 grams). It doesn’t look like Beats did anything here. Maybe something’s changed on the Beats by Dre Mixr on-ear headphones. Our review has more details.
These are indeed minor complaints, though. The Studio3 Wireless are nearly flawless in real-world use. They hug the head effectively and comfortably, and the earpads have a nearly perfect press and cushioning. We also loved the packaging. The case is cohesively premium with a smooth matte finish and solidly constructed zipper. The headphones efficiently collapse into the capsule, and there’s a red “b” symbol to make sure you’re adequately representing while traveling.
The Studio3 Wireless functions like its predecessors. On the bottom of the ear cups you’ll find a microUSB charging port (not sure why microUSB is still being used in the current world of USB Type-C or Lightning) and an aux jack for wired use. Of course, the wire is a secondary option, which we always appreciate. The main course with this headphone is not only wireless capability but noise-cancellation.
There are now several key players in the noise-cancellation field these days, with Bose being the stiffest competition, as you can see in our Bose noise-cancelling headphones 700 review. But, Beats is ready to take them on.
One of the key upgrades in the Studio3 Wireless is what Beats calls Pure ANC (Active Noise-Cancellation). You can think of it as a smart ANC system, which is constantly checking the environment and optimizing to preserve the sound quality. If you’ve used ANC headphones before, you know that environmental obstacles in your travels (i.e. wind) can sometimes interfere. Beats calls this feature Real-Time Audio Calibration.
We must say that, coupled with the effectively plump ear pads, this new noise-cancelling is up there among the best. Regardless if we were in a noisy coffee shop or walking around the city, external noise was superbly blocked and the music was easily the center of focus. We also noticed above-average dampening on higher frequency noise. Well done, Beats.
Another major upgrade in the Studio3 Wireless was the integration of Apple’s W1 Bluetooth chip. This improves the Bluetooth connection with an iOS device, such as seamless pairing, more robust connection, extended range, and better battery life. This is much nicer than some of the leading noise-cancelling true wireless earbuds can provide.
It will work just fine with any Bluetooth device, but you’ll get the most out of these headphones with an iOS device, like up to a whopping 22 hours of wireless, ANC playback (10 more hours than the original model). A great thing now is that the user can turn off ANC if it’s unneeded, or to save on battery life by double-pressing the power button. One other appreciable feature is fast charging. Beats says that a 10 minutes charge can equate to 3 hours of playback.
Truth be told, Beats headphones have historically been labeled more of a fashion accessory than an audiophile product. Their priority on impactful bass hasn’t helped the cause. But it is true that the sound quality has been improving with each update. We certainly noticed more able acoustics and a better-balanced spectrum in our review of the original Studio Wireless.
Similar to the Bowers & Wilkins P7 wireless over-ear headphones, the Studio3 Wireless continues to improve sound quality, though it’s still a gradual step than a jump. Bass of course maintains its prominence but we’re glad that it gains more control (less loose boomy-ness).
Clarity is also another improvement, as different notes are pleasantly pronounced, and their points in space are discernible – most noticeable with mid-range vocals and instruments that are now full, distinct, and tonally on point. We love the balance that Beats has struck between accuracy and a fun, musical sound.
However, this isn’t without nitpicks. In more energetic/busy tracks, the powerful bass can conflict with the lower mids, muddying the waters somewhat. The treble is competent but not a strong point of the Studio3. Its detail shines through at times, but other times it is pushed back by more powerful parts of the spectrum. This isn’t helped by noticeable roll-off at upper frequencies.
These assessments of course pertain to the wireless output of the Studio3, which is how they’ll primarily be used. Sometimes the wired and wireless audio quality can differ significantly on the same headphone, especially when ANC is involved. Fortunately, that’s not the case here.
It’s clear that Beats made a valiant effort to maintain the frequency response regardless of how you use the Studio3. Though, it is worth noting that the inescapable low-level hiss is audible in wireless and ANC enabled (you cannot use ANC in wired mode). It is easily drowned out when the music gets going, but it creeps around in quieter passages.
The Studio3 Wireless is certainly an iterative update to Beats’ flagship over-ear headphones. For better or worse, it once again uses the familiar (maybe tired, for some) design aesthetic. The real reason you’ll buy the Studio3 is for the internal upgrades, of which there are quite a bit.
The incorporation of Apple’s W1 chip ups the wireless connectivity game all around (but you’ll have to be using an Apple mobile device to get every benefit), and we get a big boost in the battery department. The sound quality is also improving. We found that the overall response does a great job balancing detail and tone with fun and musicality.