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The Beats urBeats3 is a fashionable option for listeners with a death grip on wired audio. They don’t have many tricks up their sleeves, but the urBeats3 is one of Beats’ more affordable products. Let’s see how the urBeats3 hold up in 2020.
Editor’s note: this Beats urBeats3 review was updated on July 21, 2020, to include information about how the earbuds compare to the Beats Powerbeats and Beats Powerbeats Pro.
Who are the urBeats3 for?
These wired earbuds are for anyone and feature a more subtle footprint relative to other Beats products. The angled nozzles make longer listening sessions comfortable, and the tangle-resistant cable is nice for those moments the ‘buds are mindlessly tossed into a bag. You can get away with lightly exercising in these but be wary of any intense workouts as the urBeats3 ‘buds aren’t IP certified.
How are urBeats3 built?
The signature Beats red flat cable effectively resists tangling but doesn’t completely neutralize them. However, if the cable does happen to tie itself into a knot, it’s easy to undo. Halfway up the ribbon cable is a black Y-split where it diverges into two parts. When out and about, the lack of cable management is frustrating. During testing, I ran the wire under my shirt to prevent it from catching on clothes or my backpack.
Both housings have a bullet-esque build and are brandished with the recognizable lower-case “b.” Inside each chamber is a dynamic driver that pumps sound out through the angled nozzle and into the ear canal. The ergonomic design is comfortable. Unfortunately, though, none of the included ear tips fit my ears well, resulting in an unstable fit. If you run into the same issue, be sure to peruse some third-party ear tip options.
Android users are unable to control volume via the in-line remote.
Down the left line sits an integrated mic and three-button remote module, which feels cheap relative that of the BeatsX. Listeners may use it to control playback and take calls. If you have an Android phone, volume controls won’t work. On the flipside, Android users can access Google Assistant without issue.
Microphone quality is a pleasant surprise. My voice was only slightly muffled when speaking with friends, and the microphone placement effectively negates any potential noises from head-bobbing. Background noises are slightly diminished, but if a car revs its engine by you, it’ll be relayed to your speaking partner.
The urBeats3 earphones connect straight to your phone
Since these are wired earbuds, you don’t have to keep your eyes peeled for high-quality Bluetooth codecs. That said, listening will be a more enjoyable process if your phone has a native headphone jack rather than requiring a USB-C dongle adapter. The actual plug is gold-plated and feels sturdy enough, but an L-shaped jack is preferred.
How do the earbuds sound?
While the frequency response is more neutral-leaning than I anticipated from Beats, clarity is deficient. Even in my quiet apartment with the earbuds jammed down my ear canals, detail is just ok. Generally speaking, bass is still the most prominent characteristic of the urBeats3 sound signature. To get the strongest bass response, make sure the ear tips form a cogent seal as this also promotes better isolation.
Lows, mids, and highs
Gregory Alan Isakov’s song Chemicals begins with a solo guitar alternating between C-F chords with light piano playing to underscore it. Even without vocals or the secondary guitar, which enters later, the guitar’s clarity is lackluster. Listen for the F chord at 0:03, the harmonic resonance is hardly audible over the piano which, again, is just accompaniment and is not being played powerfully.
At 0:55 the first cymbal hit and kick drum are heard. The former is incredibly difficult to hear with the urBeats3 and may even be missed if you’re not actively listening for it since it’s masked by the kick drum, which isn’t meant to be overwhelming yet sounds that way due to the sloppy audio reproduction.
Sound quality isn’t all negative, though; Isakov’s voice is reproduced surprisingly well particularly the when his register goes low at the last utterance of “gone” in the song’s final moments. If you’re a general consumer who isn’t too concerned about sound quality the urBeats3 are fine, but if you’re a discriminant listener, they won’t do.
Should you buy the Beats urBeats3 in 2020?
Most people know in an instance how they feel about Beats; the company knows how to elicit a visceral reaction—positive or negative. Rather than try to sway you in one direction or the other, I’ll be straight with you: the urBeats3 isn’t a great deal for the price.
Listeners aren’t afforded accessories aside from two additional pairs of ear tips, and sound quality is little more than mediocre. That said, we consumers don’t typically buy Beats for the sound quality. We buy them because we like the design. If that’s what draws you to the urBeats3, more power to you, just don’t expect them to sound incredible or be the most durable. Now, say you’re set on wired earbuds but aren’t satisfied with these. We’ve compiled a list of the best earbuds to ease the research process.
Consider the Beats Powerbeats instead
The Beats Powerbeats are a mix between the Beats Powerbeats Pro and Beats Powerbeats3, because they use a design identical to the Pro model, while keeping the cable that joins the two ear pieces. The earphones are water-resistant and last for ~15 hours on a single charge; plus they top up quickly via the included Lightning cable. Since Beats is now an Apple subsidiary, its new products include the H1 chip, which means the Beats Powerbeats feature hands-free siri access just like when you use the AirPods with iPhones.
Next: Best iPhone earbuds