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Beats Studio Buds Plus vs Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation)

Which noise canceling buds are the best?
By
June 19, 2023
The Beats Studio Buds Plus next to the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation).

The Studio Buds Plus are yet another pair of Android-friendly buds from Beats. While they may look completely different from the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation), the buds have several similarities. Both boast great active noise canceling (ANC) and powerful software features. Although Apple owns Beats, the Studio Buds Plus don’t support all the same features as the AirPods Pro 2.

In this Beats Studio Buds Plus vs Apple AirPods Pro 2 face-off, we’ll find out which wireless earbuds match your lifestyle best.

Editor’s note: this article was published on June 19, 2023, and is the first version. Updates will follow as the market changes.

What’s it like to use the Beats Studio Buds Plus compared to the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation)?

The Beats Studio Buds Plus earbuds outside of the open case.
Lily Katz / SoundGuys
The Studio Buds Plus are one of the smallest TWS earbuds out there.

The small stature of the Studio Buds Plus combined with the XS-L ear tip options make them great for small-eared listeners. The housings place minimal pressure on the outer ear and don’t protrude much.

During my Studio Buds Plus review period, I found them to be comfortable. These IPX4 water-resistant buds stayed secure even while running. However, everyone’s ears are different. Although my colleague Chris Thomas uses the appropriately sized ear tips, the Studio Buds Plus slip out of his ears. If you have trouble finding a good fit, we recommend purchasing memory foam ear tips. These improve comfort and stability since they mold to your ear canal.

The Beats Studio Buds Plus are more compact than the AirPods Pro 2, but Apple's buds are easier to handle.

Due to their shape and how they sit in the case, you need to pinch the Studio Buds Plus to remove them. I have trouble gripping the edges to remove the buds from the USB-C charging case. The flip side is that the magnets are so strong they suck the earbuds back into the case with ease.

The AirPods Pro 2 with water droplets on them.
Lily Katz / SoundGuys
The AirPods Pro (2nd generation) buds and case are water resistant, whereas only the Studio Buds Plus themselves merit an IPX4 rating, not their case.

The stemmed AirPods Pro 2 are larger than the Studio Buds Plus, but Apple’s XS-L ear tip options also accommodate listeners with small ears. The stems descend from your ear canals, but the buds don’t stick outward too much. I find handling the AirPods Pro 2 much easier than the Studio Buds Plus. The extra real estate makes the second-gen AirPods Pro easier to grip, whether removing them from the case or inserting them in my ears.

Despite the bigger earbuds, Apple’s case is more compact than the Beats’, making the AirPods easier to pocket. The AirPods Pro 2 case accepts a Lightning cable and works with MagSafe and Qi wireless charging accessories. Unlike the Studio Buds Plus case, Apple’s has an integrated speaker to help you locate under a pile of laundry. You can use the lanyard loop to hook the IPX4 AirPods Pro 2 case onto anything.

The Beats Studio Buds Plus come in three colors (Transparent, Black, and Ivory); meanwhile, the AirPods series only come in white.

How do you control the Beats Studio Buds Plus and Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation)?

Each Studio Buds Plus earphone has a multifunction button above the “b” logo. This placement is fantastic and doesn’t cause any inner ear discomfort when I press it. You can control media playback, accept or reject calls, and cycle through listening modes from the earpieces. Android and iPhone owners can remap the press-and-hold function to adjust the volume too.

Beats Studio Buds Plus controls:

INPUTACTION
One press
Play/pause/answer call
Two presses
Next track
Three presses
Previous track
Press and hold
ANC/Transparency/off
Virtual assistant
Volume controls
Reject call
"Hey Siri"
Change volume, request directions, playback control, receive messages, and more

The AirPods Pro (2nd generation) use Apple’s force sensor technology. Rather than pressing a button, squeezing each stem controls your listening experience. iPhone owners can also swipe up or down on either stem to change the volume. Unlike the Studio Buds Plus, you need an iPhone to customize commands.

When connected to an iPhone, both earbuds work with “Hey Siri” for asking questions, changing the volume, reading notifications, and more.

AirPods Pro 2 controls:

INPUT (stems)ACTION
One press
Play/pause/answer call
Two presses
Next track
Three presses
Previous track
Press and hold
Toggle ANC/Adaptive Transparency modes
Swipe up/down
Increase/decrease volume
"Hey Siri"
Change volume, request directions, playback control, receive messages, and more

Beats Studio Buds Plus vs Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation): What are the app features like?

If you have an Android phone, the Beats Studio Buds Plus are more user-friendly. The Beats app for Android offers some customization, and you can use Android software features beyond the app too. With the AirPods Pro 2, you need an Apple device to access any software features.

Since the AirPods Pro 2 house Apple’s H2 chip, they have more Apple-exclusive features than the Studio Buds Plus. With Apple’s buds, you get battery optimization, audio sharing, and automatic source switching. From Apple’s Find My app, you can also locate the AirPods Pro 2 case on a map, separate from each bud. This differs from the Studio Buds Plus earbud tracking, which doesn’t include the case. However, the Google Find My app lets you keep tabs on the Studio Buds Plus but doesn’t support AirPods.

If you have an Android phone, you can access all the Studio Buds Plus features — something you can't do with the AirPods on Android.

The Beats Studio Buds Plus and AirPods Pro 2 share some features on iOS. With both sets of buds, you get some control customization, an ear tip fit test, and support for spatial audio. You’ll need the AirPods Pro 2 on iOS for personalization and head tracking. With the Studio Buds Plus, you can enjoy spatial audio with a Google Pixel 6 or 7 series phone.

How do the Beats Studio Buds Plus and Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) connect?

The Beats Studio Buds Plus next to a phone, while connecting.
Lily Katz / SoundGuys
The Studio Buds Plus and AirPods Pro 2 support one-step pairing on iOS, but Google Fast Pair is exclusive to Beats buds.

With the Studio Buds Plus and AirPods Pro 2, you can stream over the SBC and AAC Bluetooth codecs. SBC works with all phones, and AAC works reliably with iPhones. Historically, we’ve found AAC hasn’t performed as well on Android. I notice a half-second lag when streaming videos on my Pixel 6 with either set of buds, especially if I pause and resume content. (This doesn’t happen when I use aptX earbuds with a Pixel 6.)

When pairing the Studio Buds Plus or AirPods Pro (2nd generation) to an iPhone, you can enjoy one-step pairing. Only the Studio Buds Plus are compatible with Google Fast Pair on Android devices.

Is battery life better on the Beats Studio Buds Plus or Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation)?

We turned noise canceling on and tested the earbuds by playing constant music, peaking at 75dB (SPL). The Studio Buds Plus battery life lasted 8 hours, 22 minutes, and the AirPods Pro 2 lasted 5 hours, 43 minutes.

With the Studio Buds Plus, you get an extra 27 hours of playtime stored by the case battery, and the AirPods Pro 2 case supplies 19 hours, 30 minutes of additional battery. Both cases can fast charge their earbuds: 5 minutes in the case yields 60 minutes of playback.

If you can avoid it, try not to charge your earbuds constantly. Doing so can hasten battery degradation and shorten the life of your earbuds.

Do the Studio Buds Plus or Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) block out more noise?

The Apple AirPods Pro 2 have better ANC than the Beats Studio Buds Plus.

The AirPods Pro (2nd generation) have better noise canceling than the Studio Buds Plus. My experience A/B testing the AirPods Pro 2 and Beats Studio Buds’ noise canceling reflects this too. When I insert the AirPods Pro 2, my aging (and very loud) A/C unit sounds quieter than when I wear the Studio Buds Plus.

Technically speaking, the AirPods Pro 2 render low and midrange frequencies about one-half to one-twelfth of their original loudness. The Studio Buds Plus render these same ranges one-half to one-eighth of their actual loudness. Suffice it to say, both buds have very effective ANC, but the AirPods Pro 2 edge out the Studio Buds Plus.

A hand holds an iPhone 12 mini with the AirPods Pro 2nd generation sound mode settings pulled up.
Lily Katz / SoundGuys
iPhone owners can toggle through ANC, transparency, and off from their phones or with the earbuds’ onboard controls.

Both sets of earbuds passively isolate background noise to a similar degree. Incidental sounds like construction “clangs” are much harder to hear when wearing either the Studio Buds Plus and second-gen AirPods Pro than without. You need to find a good fit to achieve the noise canceling and isolation performance that our chart depicts. Beats makes this more accessible than Apple because Android and iOS users can access an ear tip fit test for the Studio Buds Plus. Whereas, only iPhone owners can take a fit test with the AirPods Pro (2nd generation).

The Studio Buds Plus and AirPods Pro 2 have great noise canceling but Apple's is just a tad more effective.

To contrast ANC, the Studio Buds Plus and AirPods Pro 2 have transparency mode. This pipes external noise through the earbuds and works whether music is playing or not. Transparency mode is particularly useful for hearing train announcements and remaining aware of your environment.

Taking this a step further, the AirPods Pro (2nd generation) have adaptive transparency, which reduces the loudness of harsh, unexpected sounds while relaying them through the buds. Apple’s adaptive transparency mode is the best I’ve tested: it sounds true to life, and loud sounds like car horns don’t hurt my ears.

Do the Beats Studio Buds Plus sound better than the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation)?

A chart compares the Beats Studio Buds Plus and AirPods Pro (2nd generation) frequency responses, revealing Beats' bassier sound.
Due to the under-emphasized midrange, the Studio Buds Plus sound a bit bassier than the AirPods Pro (2nd generation).

The Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) follow our Headphone Preference Curve closer than the Studio Buds Plus. Both earbuds are great for casual listening, but the Studio Buds Plus’ under-emphasized lower midrange may pose an issue for critical listeners.

The AirPods Pro 2 frequency response is more consistent, and therefore versatile than Beats’. Basslines won’t sound too loud, relative to vocals with the AirPods Pro 2, but they might with the Studio Buds Plus. Further, the Studio Buds Plus emphasize treble more than the AirPods Pro 2. Although rare, this kind of treble response can make high-pitched sounds irritating to extra-sensitive listeners.

The Studio Buds Plus and AirPods Pro 2 don’t have any EQ settings in their apps. This means you’re stuck with the default sound. If you’re dedicated to tweaking the sound, you can do so with a third-party app.

Does the Beats Studio Buds Plus or Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) have a better microphone?

While Beats’ microphone system sounds great, it’s less sensitive than the AirPods Pro 2 mic. This sensitivity difference explains why the sample recording is louder with Apple’s buds. The Studio Buds Plus mics transmit clearer audio in ideal conditions with less self-noise. In our recorded samples, you’ll also notice how the Studio Buds Plus do a better job than the AirPods Pro 2, which occasionally drop the signal, even in ideal conditions.

Beats Studio Buds Plus microphone demo (Ideal conditions):

Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) microphone demo (Ideal conditions):

The AirPods Pro 2 suppress background noise more effectively than the Studio Buds Plus. Speech is intelligible with both earbuds’ mics. You’ll hear less “whooshing” background noise with the AirPods Pro 2 than with the Studio Buds Plus.

Beats Studio Buds Plus microphone demo (Street conditions):

Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) microphone demo (Street conditions):

Which microphone sounds better?

1340 votes

Should you get the Beats Studio Buds Plus or Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation)?

The AirPods Pro 2 next to the Beats Studio Buds Plus.
The AirPods Pro 2 (left) are more expensive than the Studio Buds Plus (right) and support many more iPhone-exclusive features than the Beats buds.

Android phone users and those who hop between operating systems will get more mileage from the Beats Studio Buds Plus. Beats’ ANC is almost as good as Apples’s, and the Android app works well. The Studio Buds Plus retail for $80 less than the AirPods Pro 2, making them a better value. If you don’t need all of Apple’s bells and whistles, get the Studio Buds Plus.

Beats Studio Buds PlusBeats Studio Buds Plus
Beats Studio Buds Plus
Lightweight, compact, and translucent design • Android-friendly features through Beats app • Longer battery life than before
MSRP: $169.00
The Beats Studio Buds Plus are good earbuds for listeners who hop between Android and iOS. Beats' active noise canceling is a step up from the original Studio Buds. Small housings and a range of ear tip options make these a joy to wear for hours at a time.

Then again, there’s nothing wrong with wanting all of Apple’s perks. The AirPods Pro 2 could be a good investment if you’re already nestled in Apple’s ecosystem. These are cutting-edge earphones with excellent sound quality and ANC. The earbuds fit well, and Apple’s Find My features run circles around the competition. That said, the AirPods Pro 2 go on sale often enough that we recommend waiting for promotional pricing. The flagship buds often dip below $200.

Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation)Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation)
Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation)
Impressive ANC • Comfortable fit • Wireless charging
MSRP: $249.00
One of the best true wireless earbuds for iOS users.
The Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) modestly improve upon the first-generation AirPods Pro and feature the same iconic look. Apple's upgraded H2 chip begets better noise canceling and battery life, while the case's U1 chip and integrated speaker let you precisely locate the case. If you own an iPhone, the AirPods Pro 2 are an obvious choice.

What should you get instead of the Beats Studio Buds Plus and Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation)?

A man sits outside wearing the Sony LinkBuds S
The Sony LinkBuds S look pretty anonymous when you’re wearing them.

The Beats Fit Pro ($159 at Amazon) are an excellent Studio Buds Plus and AirPods Pro 2 alternative. These buds have great noise canceling and a secure fit thanks to the stabilizing ear wings. Their sound is very similar to the Studio Buds Plus, and the iOS software perks are identical to the AirPods Pro 2.

The Sony LinkBuds S ($148 at Amazon) are great earbuds for all listeners. We love Sony’s earbuds and headphones because the mobile app experience is uniform across operating systems. Audiophiles will enjoy the option to stream over LDAC. The LinkBuds S have very good ANC. They also have multipoint connectivity, so you can connect to two sources simultaneously.

Budget listeners who want great ANC and good sound should check out the Anker Soundcore Space A40 ($79 at Amazon). These cheap buds support multipoint and have a comprehensive mobile app with a custom equalizer. You even get LDAC support, which Apple and Beats’ much pricier buds lack. Not too shabby for less than $100.

Frequently asked questions about the Beats Studio Buds Plus and Apple AirPods Pro 2

The Studio Buds Plus and AirPods Pro (2nd generation) are waterproof and have IPX4 ratings. The earbuds can withstand splashes from any direction but don’t submerge them for any amount of time.

Apple owns Beats, so they’re one and the same. However, if you have an Android phone, Beats’ products are more user-friendly thanks to the Beats app. With Apple-branded products, there’s no Android app to receive firmware updates or toggle settings.

There are plenty of great earbuds under $100, and if you want ANC, we recommend the 1MORE ComfoBuds Mini or Anker Soundcore Space A40. The latter has a custom EQ in its mobile app and supports LDAC for high-quality audio.