Apple’s subsidiary Beats has launched new true-wireless headphones that do things differently from what we have been used to from Apple / Beats. Instead of relying on Apple’s own developed processors for headphones, H1, as is the case with the AirPods Pro and Max, one finds an unspecified processor in the Beats Studio Buds. In the end, the effect is that the headphones offer slightly fewer functions for iPhone users, but significantly more for Android users than their AirPod competitors. We have found out for you how the headphones perform overall.
Apple and Beats are not reinventing the wheel with the Beats Studio Buds, they are true wireless headphones. Up to 8 h battery life is possible, with ANC correspondingly less.
At 5g per headphone, they are slightly lighter than the AirPods Pro, and the headphones themselves are quite compact in terms of volume, with very few headphones protruding from the ear.
The case of the Studio Buds is slightly larger than that of the AirPods Pro, but rounder. In our opinion, this makes the case one of the more practical ones; some models are so unusual that you can’t put the headphones in your pocket everywhere.
The connection is of course established via Bluetooth, the special thing here is the pairing process. Most of you probably know or have seen the function of the AirPods in connection with an iPhone – flip open, press “Connect” on the pop-up, done. But the AirPods can only do that in combination with iPhones. With the Beats Studio Buds, you can use this function with the iPhone and Android phones.
The headphones are controlled via hardware buttons on the sides or, for iOS, via the normal audio settings or in the Bluetooth settings; for Android, there is an app, but more on that later.
In addition to the headphones, the scope of delivery also includes two other sizes of rubber tips (L and S), M is pre-mounted. There is also a very short USB-C to USB-C cable for charging. Note: If you don’t have a USB-C cable, you will need a separate USB-A to USB-C cable.
The headphones have an IPX4 rating against sweat and rain. If you take Apple’s quote from the AirPods Pro, the statement is: All land sports should be possible.
Design and Finishing
The Beats Studio Buds are, how could it be otherwise, largely made of plastic. The design is relatively restrained, the headphones are smaller than those of many competitors. In contrast to the AirPods Pro, there is also no style hanging out of the ear, which in turn sometimes makes handling a little more difficult. The fact that the control takes place by pressing on the short side can also lead to unintentional inputs when pressing the headphones into the ear.
In contrast to the AirPods, the case is made of matt plastic and not high-gloss plastic.
As usual with Apple devices, the build quality is again very good. Unfortunately, this is rarely perfect with such headphones and cases.
Unlike the AirPods, the Beats Studio Buds are available in three different colours: red, black and white.
Target group: Android users
One thing quickly becomes clear with the Beats Studio Buds: in contrast to the AirPods, where the target group is definitely iPhone owners, Apple / Beats also wants to target Android users with the Beats Studio Buds and therefore accepts that functions that other Beats headphones for iPhones offer are not available here.
This becomes particularly clear with the latest functions that Apple has built into the AirPods Max and Pro, for example 3D audio / Dolby Atmos support, which the Beats Buds cannot do. But also a function that has been around for a while, the binding to one’s own Apple ID, in order to be able to connect the headphones but use them everywhere, is missing from the Beats Buds – not a doomsday, but a disadvantage for iPhone owners.
For better usability, there is also the Beats app for Android, but the app doesn’t offer any more functions than are already provided by the iOS system. Nevertheless, it is possible to see the battery status of the headphones and the case separately on the smartphone. It is also possible to change what happens when the side buttons of the headphones are pressed for a long time. By default, the system switches between transparency mode and noise suppression. It also enables the Fast Pair function.
So the focus of these headphones is not only on the iPhone user, quite the opposite, Apple even takes it upon itself to cut functions here in order to be able to offer more functions for Android users.
All in all, we find this development relatively exciting, Apple is thus entering into direct competition with other renowned companies that are much more widespread in the Android segment. There are also many cheaper alternatives here. The fact that Apple is now trying to open up this segment for itself is therefore a relatively interesting and surprising development. Only time will tell how successful this strategy will be.
Features of the Beats Studio Buds
Many of the features offered by the Beats Studio Buds we have heard of before. These include active noise cancellation (ANC) and a transparency mode. We already know both functions from Apple products, comparable here would be the AirPods Pro. However, the experience of the AirPods Pro cannot necessarily be transferred to the Beats.
Although the controls are basically identical, both modes are not as high quality as the AirPods. Somehow, there is a lack of treble in both scenarios; although the Beats can filter muffled sounds well, high-pitched sounds are not so good. The same applies to the transparency mode, where you can hear a lot of your surroundings, but the treble is somehow missing, which still gives you the feeling of having something stuck in your ears.
The AirPods Pro are not perfect here either, but they feel better. This function is particularly impressive in the AirPods Max, but of course this is also a different design, quality and price.
“Hey Siri” is also supported by the Beats Studio Buds, but of course only in combination with an iPhone.
Apple / Beats is sparing on sensors with the Studio Buds, of course the headphones have microphones for making calls and controlling Siri, but beyond that you won’t find any sensors on the headphones. The AirPods Pro offer inward-facing microphones for measuring the sound in the ear, optical sensors for detecting whether the headphones are in the ear, accelerometers and even a pressure sensor.
Functions that are linked to these sensors, such as the 3D audio already mentioned, but also the automatic pausing of music playback when one of the headphones is removed from one of the ears, are accordingly not available with the Beats headphones.
How do the Beats Studio Buds sound?
Whether headphones sound good or bad cannot be said in general. Of course there are differences in quality, but headphones can still sound very different in the same price range, so which one sounds better is a very subjective opinion.
To my ears, the Beats Studio Buds often sound very good, they have very deep and voluminous bass, which comes across very well especially with EDM, hip-hop and rap. For typical “one-size-fits-all” pop, the headphones sound good, but not much better or worse than other headphones of this type. Where I don’t like them is with rock music. Bass guitars have a higher frequency spectrum than bass, which the headphones can reproduce particularly powerfully. At the same time, the highs are quickly too sharp for me here.
In direct comparison with the AirPods Pro, it is noticeable that Apple adjusts and optimises the sound with the adaptive equaliser in the AirPods to sound ideal on the headphones. The Beats headphones don’t seem to do that.
In terms of sound, it can be said that the Beats Studio Buds don’t necessarily offer the most balanced sound. On the one hand, this ensures that electronic music or hip-hop with very fat bass sounds particularly good here, but on the other hand, rock doesn’t sound as good.
Our conclusion about the Beats Studio Buds
With its subsidiary Beats, Apple offers the Beats Studio Buds headphones, which are not only ideal for iPhone users, but also for Android users. Compared to the AirPods Pro, which offer fewer features for Android users, they still can’t keep up with the features for iOS users. The sound is good, even if only in some genres; the Beats can definitely handle deep, intense bass, even without distorting the sound. We see weaknesses with rock music. The ANC and transparency mode are also okay, but they can’t necessarily keep up, at least in comparison to the AirPods Pro, and other competitors are also better here in some cases.
And yet, for headphones from Apple, the Beats Studio Buds offer far more features than you’re used to. For €150, you get more features than with the RRP €30 more expensive 2nd generation AirPods, which have also become cheaper on the market, and the Beats tend to sound better and fit more ears.