Before their release in mid-2021, the Beats Studio Buds were one of Apple’s worst-kept secrets. Star athletes wore them around town, and photos and technical documents about them were leaked months ahead of time. Before they were even announced, almost everyone was aware of these earbuds. We were still astounded by how good they were when they arrived.
The Beats Studio Buds are a pair of solid true wireless earbuds with active noise cancellation and Dolby Atmos support from Apple. The audio quality is excellent, with a lively sound quality that enhances the highs and lows of your music. And they are extremely comfortable to wear for extended periods of time.
Following their release, Apple updated the Beats Studio Buds to include three new color options. Colors like gray, pink, and blue, as well as the Locate My Beats feature for Android devices.
Despite being among the best true wireless earbuds, they are not without flaws. Among their flaws are their poor call quality and lack of an H1 Wireless Chip. With either ANC or Transparency mode enabled, battery life is only five hours (15 hours with the case). And noise cancellation isn’t exactly class-leading.
These, however, are some of the best Beats headphones available today. They are a good alternative to the current king of truly wireless earbuds.
Beats Studio Buds: price and availability
The Beats Studio Buds were available for $149.99/£129.99/AU$199.95 on June 24, 2021. That is significantly less than the cost of Apple’s most recent AirPods. As well as the $249 / £249 / AU$399 Apple AirPods Pro with active noise cancellation. Which we prefer over the standard issue AirPods.
These may make more sense, especially if you use a lot of Apple products and aren’t on a tight budget.
Consider the Beats Fit Pro, a comparable pair of truly wireless earbuds with a better fit for working out and Apple’s latest H1 chip inside.
Beats Studio Buds: design
Unlike Beats’ previous true wireless earbuds, the Beats Studio Buds come in a case that is nearly as sleek and small as the earbuds themselves. The egg-shaped case, similar to the new Google Pixel Buds Series-A, has a single USB-C port on the bottom and a status LED on the front.
When you open it, you’ll find the earbuds. To remove them, pinch the outer control panel and pull them up. The raised control panel allows the buds to slip firmly into the ear without any over-ear hooks or a fin that pushes against the outer ear. The buds then sit almost flush with the ear. And while you won’t be able to sleep with them on (they protrude a little too far), they’re still extremely comfortable.
The Beats Studio Buds are rated IPX4 for water resistance, which means they are sweat-resistant but not waterproof. That means you can wear them to the gym for a quick workout, but without the ear hooks, they’re a little less secure. And the lack of outright waterproofing means they’re not something you should wear to the beach.
A USB-C to USB-C charging cable and extra ear tips are included in the box. Unfortunately, all of the included ear tips are silicone rather than foam, and they only come in two extra sizes, but most people should be able to get a proper seal and a good fit.
Beats Studio Buds: audio performance and noise cancellation
When you’ve found the perfect fit, put on the earbuds and listen to them. We tested them using an iPhone 11 Pro and Apple Music, which now supports Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos and Lossless Audio.
While you won’t be able to get the full effect of Lossless Audio with the Beats Studio Buds (Bluetooth compression ruins the lossless nature of the music). You can use them to play songs with Spatial Audio, which sounds fantastic.
The Studio Buds have a lively sound quality that elevates both the high and low end of the mix. Unlike previous Beats earbuds and headphones that blasted you with thumping bass. As a result, you get toe-tapping, head-bobbing music that doesn’t tire you out but keeps you engaged for extended periods of time.
The noise-canceling feature of the earbuds is a great addition that performs moderately well. Though Beats still has some work to do to catch up with the likes of Sony and Bose. Each of them has years of experience tinkering with the design, processor, and noise cancellation algorithm to ensure that its Buds keep the maximum amount of noise out of your ears.
To that end, the Beats Studio Buds appear to be an excellent office companion. It reduces the dull roar of office conversation while likely struggling to be heard over the jet engine on an airplane or the ear-shaking rattles of a subway car. Of course, due to lockdown restrictions, we haven’t been on either in a while, so we’ll have to put that to the test in the future.
Unfortunately, the call quality falls short of expectations. It’s fine for walking around the house with them on but take them outside where there’s wind, traffic, and other background noise and you’ll quickly wish you were wearing another pair of earbuds.
Beats Studio Buds: battery life and connectivity
The Studio Buds were designed by Beats to work with both Apple and Android phones with a single tap. Simply open the case near either device, and they’ll appear on your screen, ready to pair.
That’s because the Studio Buds use a proprietary wireless chip that isn’t the same as the W1 or H1 Chip found in other Apple earbuds. And a bit disappointing for some Apple users who enjoy features such as multipoint pairing with other Apple devices and hands-free Siri.
While that last bit is disappointing, the wireless chip in the Buds enables Bluetooth 5.2 and supports both Find My in iOS and Find My Device in Android. That’s a good thing because the earbuds themselves are small and if you get the all-black color. They can be easy to misplace if they fall behind the bed… We’re not speaking from experience.
The battery life provided by the Beats Studio Buds is adequate but not exceptional. If you have either ANC or Transparency mode turned on, they’re only good for five hours per charge. Or 15 hours with the case. Which is not terrible and certainly falls in line with other noise-canceling earbuds. But it falls short of class leaders like the WF-1000XM4. It offers eight hours per charge and another 12 in case for a total of 20 hours before you need to go back on the charger.
Furthermore, the Beats Studio Buds do not support wireless charging, which isn’t a deal breaker. But can be a minor annoyance if you already have a charging pad set up for your other devices. The good news is that the Studio Buds support fast charging. Five minutes on the charger provides one hour of playback time.