Since Apple purchased Beats in 2014, each iteration of Beats headphones and earbuds has become more tied into the Apple ecosystem. That all changes with the Beats Studio Buds, which ditches the Apple H1 and W1 chips for a more universal experience across both Apple and Android devices.
Without the tight integration in the Apple ecosystem, does the Beats Studio Buds do enough to stand out from a crowded market of true wireless earbuds?
Who should buy the Beats Studio Buds?
- Android smartphone owners can finally enjoy the Beats brand with a product that integrates well with their phones.
- Workout enthusiasts will appreciate the light and portable case, IPX4 water-resistant buds, and active noise cancellation (ANC) and transparency modes.
- Students can take this set of earbuds anywhere. They take up very little room, can be charged quickly, and cost less than the AirPods or AirPods Pro.
What is it like to use the Beats Studio Buds?
As the packaging on the Beats Studio Buds states, great sound starts with a proper fit. Beats supplies you with three sizes of silicone ear tips, so most people should be able to attain a tight seal. Since the earbuds are a featherweight 5g and barely stick out of the ear, they stay comfortably in place without the worry of falling out even during intense workouts.
Learn more: What makes a good set of in-ears?
A clickable button on either earbud controls music playback. It’s a lot more reliable than the touch controls found on other true wireless earbuds, although there isn’t any way to control the volume from the earbuds. Automatic ear detection is also missing from the Studio Buds, so media playback keeps going even when you remove one or both earpieces. However, you can toggle between ANC and transparency mode from the earbuds, iOS Settings app, or Beats app on Android. Transparency mode lets you hear your surroundings as if you weren’t wearing earbuds at all.
Apple continues to tip-toe back and forth between USB-C and lightning connectors for various products. Since these earphones are targeted at a broader audience outside of the Apple ecosystem, the case charges via USB-C. Unlike recent AirPods models, the case doesn’t support wireless charging.
How does the Beats Studio Buds work with Android?
Apple isn’t shying away from Android with the Beats Studio Buds. The company has even gone so far as to include nice Android phones in marketing for the Beats Studio Buds.
Using the Beats app, you can toggle between listening modes, customize the onboard earbud controls, and rename the earbuds. If you’re struggling to connect the headphones to your device, the app is a great help. However, the Beats app doesn’t offer much after that initial setup phase—it’s mostly a set-it-and-forget-it kind of thing.
How do you pair the Studio Buds to an Android phone?
Pressing the pairing button on the case shoots a pop-up notification to your nearby Android device, similar to how AirPods and Beats pair to Apple devices. Once connected, you can click on the Beats Studio Buds within Bluetooth settings to see battery information, find your headphones, or open the Beats app.
How does the Beats Studio Buds work with Apple devices?
Even without an H1 or W1 chip, the headset pairs effortlessly to pretty much any Apple device. Once Bluetooth is turned on within your device, just place the Beats nearby and pop open the case to see the pairing card pop up.
Read more: What are the benefits of Apple’s W1 chip?
There’s no Beats app for iOS, so all device toggling is done within the iOS Settings app and its Bluetooth menu. When you click the “i” next to the name of the earbuds, a few options show up. Here you can switch between noise cancellation modes, customize the button controls on the earbuds, and change the name of the earbuds.
Apple isn't shying away from Android with the Beats Studio Buds
Without an H1 chip, there isn’t smart iCloud pairing across Apple devices, so you won’t get seamless switching from your phone to your computer. There are also no sensors to support Spatial Audio head tracking when watching movies and TV shows. Even without the H1 chip, you can still say “Hey Siri” when paired with an Apple device.
Does the Beats Studio Buds stay connected?
The earbuds maintain a reliable connection with an Android or iOS device. You get Bluetooth 5.2, with support for the AAC and SBC Bluetooth codecs. AAC is optimized for Apple devices, so you might be better off turning it off within the developer settings on your Android device. The Beats Studio Buds don’t have support for higher-quality Bluetooth codecs like aptX or LDAC.
How well does the Beats Studio Buds cancel noise?
Noise cancelling on the Beats Studio Buds is mediocre at best. The included ear tips passively isolate high-frequency sounds, but even with ANC turned on the earbuds struggle to attenuate ambient noises.
Most ambient sounds you encounter (like airplane engines, transit, and air conditioning) live below 1000Hz. With ANC on the Beats Studio Buds, these noises will sound about 25% quieter. That might seem significant, but it’s well below the best on the market.
The Beats Studio Buds passively and actively blocks out much more noise than earbuds like the AirPods (which isn’t exactly saying a lot). This will help prevent auditory masking, so your music will sound like it should in most environments. It will also help protect your ears, as good passive and active noise cancellation makes users less likely to crank up the volume on their earbuds in noisy environments.
How does the Beats Studio Buds sound?
These aren’t the bass-heavy Beats of old. The Beats Studio Buds have a consumer-friendly frequency response that closely follows our house curve. Most people should enjoy how their music sounds with any genre of music.
The earbuds do have a noticeable dip in mid-range frequencies, leaving low and treble frequencies louder in comparison. However, the earbuds don’t suffer from the same auditory masking issues of older Beats, which had an extreme boost in bass frequencies that masked other parts of music.
Lows, mids, and highs
The fundamental frequencies of most vocals lie between 100Hz and 400Hz, a place of 5-10dB of attenuation on the Beats Studio Buds. The vocals on tracks such as good 4 u by Olivia Rodrigo sound noticeably quieter than they do on most studio headphones.
The Beats Studio Buds do a great job of accurately reproducing high-frequency sounds. Cymbals on September by Earth, Wind, & Fire are well defined, and easy to hear in the mix. There’s no custom EQ functionality with the Beats Studio Buds, so you’re pretty much stuck with how they sound out of the box.
How long does the battery last?
Beats claims the earbuds last 5 hours with active noise cancellation turned on and 8 hours without it. In our testing of continuous playback at 75dB(SPL) with ANC turned on, the right earbud lasted 4 hours, 24 minutes, while the left earbud lasted 4 hours, 41 minutes. This is slightly below average among true wireless earbuds but is in the same ballpark as other true wireless earphones from Apple and Beats.
The charging case provides an additional two full charges to the earbuds, with Fast Fuel providing 60 minutes of playback from only 5 minutes of charging.
How good is the Beats Studio Buds for phone calls?
Dual beam-forming mics on the Beats Studio Buds provide adequate microphone quality. Nobody reported experiencing problems hearing my voice through the Studio Buds during calls, even when I was walking through busy streets.
Listen to the Beats Studio Buds microphone demo below and let us know what you think.
Should you buy the Beats Studio Buds?
For $149 USD, the Beats Studio Buds is a competitive entry into the true wireless earbud market. As the price drops with future sales and discounts, the Studio Buds are sure to move to the top of many potential buyer’s lists.
There is a lot to like with these earbuds, so you don’t have to worry about buyer’s remorse. Great sound, sweat resistance, and active noise cancellation packed inside a small and comfortable package is a rare find in the sub-$200 true wireless earbud category.
You won't have to worry about buyer's remorse with the Beats Studio Buds
Still, there are considerable downsides to these earbuds for both Apple and Android users. The Beats Studio Buds ultimately ends up sitting on the fence between the two operating systems, compatible with both, but failing to truly excel on either platform.
If the price and Beats branding fit your life, go ahead and buy the Studio Buds. They aren’t the best true wireless earbuds in the world, but they’re the best bang-for-your-buck earbuds sporting either a Beats or Apple logo.
What are some alternatives to the Beats Studio Buds?
If you’re deep in the Apple ecosystem and have extra money to splurge, you should consider the AirPods Pro. The AirPods Pro includes a wireless charging case and great-sounding earbuds with better ANC than the Beats Studio Buds. You also get more features and better integration to Apple devices. The AirPods Pro frequently goes on sale for far less than its original $250 retail price, often for under $200.
See also: Best true wireless earbuds under $100
Android users (especially those with a Samsung phone) should check out the Galaxy Buds Plus. The earbuds last nearly 12 hours on a single charge and can be found for under $100.
If Alexa is your virtual assistant of choice, the Echo Buds (2nd gen) are also worth a look. Amazon’s integrations via the Alexa app allow for a ton of control over the earbuds as well as all your smart home devices.