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Beats Studio three Wi-fi Overview: Who Dropped the Bass?

“A great design suffers from mediocre ANC and a lack of low-end oomph.”

Excellent design and controls

Very convenient

Excellent battery life without ANC

Easy pairing with Apple products

Expensive

Overwhelming bass

Bad quality wireless calls

When the $ 350 Beats Studio 3 Wireless debuted in 2017, we didn’t get a chance to review. If we had done that, we might have come to the same conclusion as other reviewers: These are really decent Active Noise Canceling (ANC) headphones.

In the personal audio world – especially in the world of wireless headphones – three years is an eternity. During that time, Sony, Bose, and pretty much every other major brand have launched new top-of-the-line wireless ANC headphones – two new top-of-the-line models in Sony’s case – while Beats was content to keep everything running on the Beats Studio to let 3 wireless.

Given the activity of the competition, can Beats justify the Studio 3’s high price tag? Or were these beats struck?

Let’s take a look.

What’s in the box?

Beats Studio 3 Wireless Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Beats Studio 3 Wireless Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

The Beats Studio 3 Wireless are large headphones and come in a large box. Fortunately, it’s 100% cardboard and you won’t find any hard-to-recycle materials like foam or plastic inside.

In addition to the Studio 3 headphones, you will receive a zippered hard case, a micro USB charging cable, and a 3.5mm analog audio cable with an in-line set of remote control buttons and a microphone.

Beats also throws in a small snap hook in case you want to attach the tote to a backpack or purse.

design

I’ll be honest: I’ve never been a huge fan of the earliest designs from Beats, with their shiny white, red, or black headbands. It always seemed to me that they should draw attention to those who wore them – not something I’m looking for.

However, the Studio 3 comes in a variety of colors, including the blue of my review unit – a shade that is only slightly lighter than the navy and has a satin finish. It’s tasteful and muted, with little chrome accents on the hinges and earcups to remind you that these aren’t $ 80 headphones.

The best thing about the Studio 3 Wireless, however, is the fully integrated headband and earcups. This design is unique to Beats and gives these headphones a sleek and minimalist look. It also creates a very slim profile, reducing the “Princess Leia effect” to a minimum.

This theme of visual simplicity continues into the controls, which are virtually invisible. In the left auricle there is play / pause, call acceptance / end, track jump forwards / backwards and voice assistant access via the central “b” logo, while the volume is controlled via the plastic ring that circles the logo.

The only other control is the tiny power switch on the right auricle, which doubles as a power supply, bluetooth pairing and ANC on / off. Directly below this button is a five-LED light strip that serves as a quick reference for the remaining battery life.

Like many full-size headphones, the Studio 3 folds up for storage, but the ear cups don’t rotate to lie flat. This makes them a bit bulky and explains why the snap hook is included – the hard travel case is bulbous and easy to slip into a backpack only if you have plenty of extra space. Despite the fact that the ear cups don’t lie flat, the Studio 3 is more comfortable when worn around the neck than many over-ear models I’ve tried – here, too, their minimalist design helps.

The Studio 3 manages the balancing act with a fit that is both very secure and very comfortable.

My only minor criticism of the design of these cans is the padded underside of the headband. It’s covered with a grippy silicone rubber surface that prevents the Studio 3 from moving. However, this material is a dust and dirt magnet that needs to be wiped off regularly with a damp cloth to keep it clean.

Convenience, control and connections

Beats Studio 3 WirelessSimon Cohen / Digital Trends

The Studio 3 Wireless aren’t the lightest full-size headphones you can buy – that honor goes to the Sony’s WH-1000XM4 – but they are certainly among the most comfortable.

The trick for headphone comfort is to manage the delicate balancing act between headband padding, clamping force, ear pads (size, shape and padding) and the materials used.

The Studio 3 manages this balancing act with a fit that is both very secure and very comfortable. You may have seen people exercise or even jog with these doses, and while that’s not a choice I would make, the Studio 3 makes it possible – something I say about the majority of full size headphones that I say , can’t say I checked.

You may notice some strange dents in the ear pads in the attached photos – ignore them. The headphones had been in her pocket for a long time before I removed them, and about an hour after I took these photos, they had bounced back.

The controls are also very well executed. I’m a fan of physical buttons. In my experience, they just work. Touch controls – even the best – can’t respond quickly. Not only are the Studio 3’s buttons large and easy to find and use (amazing as they are seamlessly embedded in the auricle pivot), they are also precise. There is no guesswork – press, click, done.

Yes, there’s a pretty audible click when you’re using them, but I make a quick click when I don’t have to repeatedly tap a touch control.

Just two things are missing: a wear sensor that automatically pauses your music when you remove the headphones would be awesome (Apple’s AirPods, AirPods Pro, and the WH-1000XM4 already have this), as well as a pass-through mode that allows you to They feed in outside noise for a while.

The Studio 3’s wireless range is excellent – much better than most wireless headphones.

As with all Apple-made headphones that use the W1 or H1 wireless chips, Bluetooth is a delight on the Beats Studio 3 Wireless. To pair them, just turn them on a few inches away from an unlocked iOS device with iOS 10 or later and you will be instantly notified that your Studio 3 is ready to use. Just tap once and you’re done.

There’s no Bluetooth multipoint (which lets you connect to two devices at the same time), but Apple does this almost as well, allowing you to switch between Macs, iPhones, and iPads with just one click.

The Studio 3 is also compatible with Apple’s audio sharing feature, which allows two W1 or H1 equipped headphones or earphones to listen to content from an iOS device at the same time. This function will be available for more devices with Bluetooth Audio LE. However, it is currently exclusive to Apple.

Unfortunately, audio sharing, simple pairing, and device switching are not supported on Android devices.

As a Class 1 Bluetooth device, the Studio 3 has excellent wireless range – more than 300 feet outdoors – much better than most wireless headphones. I was able to leave my iPhone in the house and still had a reliable signal when I stood two doors down from a house across the street.

Battery life

The battery life on the Studio 3 Wireless is either mediocre or excellent, depending on how you plan to use it.

With ANC enabled, you get around 22 hours of playtime, which is just a bit better than the $ 400 Bose noise canceling 700 headphones after 20 hours, but not as impressive as the $ 350 WH-1000XM4 from Sony after 30 hours.

However, if you don’t use the ANC feature (which seems to gobble up the battery life), you get an excellent 40 hours, two hours more than the Sony’s.

The quick charge function is average and with 10 minutes plug time you get 3 additional hours of playtime.

Speaking of plugs: The Studio 3 uses the Micro-USB format, not the newer and more common USB-C connection. This is hardly a deal breaker, but for most people it means another cord to remember when you hit the streets.

Noise cancellation

Beats Studio 3 WirelessSimon Cohen / Digital Trends

The Studio 3 Wireless has what Beats calls “real” ANC. The company claims to “continuously locate, isolate, and suppress outside noise in real time in order to reproduce the sound as it was intended”. That sounds good, but in reality I’d say the ANC is average and certainly not as good as what you’ll find with the Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700 or the Sony WH-1000XM4.

When no music is playing, the ANC produces a noticeable hiss, preventing a convenient way to simply find some peace and quiet.

Background noise is definitely reduced when the ANC is on, and Beats is right on one point: there is no noticeable change in audio quality between on and off modes.

However, when there is no music playing, the ANC creates a noticeable hiss that prevents these cans from being a pleasant way to simply find some peace of mind. Why exchange the sound of an airplane’s engines for a soft hissing sound?

I also noticed that the ANC mode was struggling to compensate for windy conditions and sometimes accidentally amplified the wind tone instead of erasing it.

The good news: the Studio 3 Wireless does an excellent job of passive noise isolation, which makes ANC a nice but not critical feature.

The bad news? This passive noise isolation is so good that I want a passthrough mode even more – especially when making calls.

Sound quality

Beats Studio 3 WirelessSimon Cohen / Digital Trends

I’d always viewed Beats as a bass-forward company, which definitely goes for other products like the Powerbeats Pro.

So it was a complete surprise that the Studio 3 Wireless doesn’t fit this shape at all.

This is the same complaint we had with the Solo3. Not only is the bass not the main part of their sound signature, I’d even say it was forced to return to the mid and high ranges.

On the one hand, there will definitely be a group of people who like the idea of ​​a less booming beats set – maybe fans of the famous “neutral” or flat EQ that audiophiles praise.

But I don’t count myself among them. I like tons of frequencies so when I listen to a deep, sad track like Hans Zimmer’s Time, I get that hair-raising low-end bass that feels right in your stomach. The Studio 3 just lacks that kind of bass, and since you can’t change the EQ, you can’t compensate for it by adjusting other frequencies.

Before you take this as a sign that you should add the Studio 3 to your “other” column, you should note that although these cans disappoint the bass heads, they still produce an excellent, detailed sound in the mids and highs.

For music with a powerful voice, especially for music created by the greatest divas of our time such as Beyonce, Lady Gaga or Adele, Studio 3 provides energy and clarity.

And if you like it loud, these cans are happy to be ready, with no hint of distortion or pain-inducing volume bumps.

Despite Beats’ roots as a brand adopted (and promoted) by legendary hip-hop and rap artists, these particular Beats headphones are better for genres that are a little less low-down on thump.

Call quality

Beats Studio 3 WirelessSimon Cohen / Digital Trends

I recently tested the BeatsX, a set of wired bluetooth earbuds, and praised them for their call quality. I believe their in-line microphone – placed close to their mouth – is the secret of this success.

I’m even more convinced now after making a few calls to Studio 3 Wireless, which can’t withhold a candle from the BeatsX.

The Studio 3 doesn’t seem to have any gain issues as the voices were perfectly audible in terms of volume, but clarity is another matter.

Most of the time, it sounded like listening to my caller through a few layers of fabric. I could feel what they were saying, but it was very exhausting.

Granted, my chosen location was something of a torture test – a very busy street with lots of truck traffic – but even during the lull in vehicle activity, it was never a great experience.

I suppose the silver lining is that thanks to the included analog cable with inline microphone it should be as easy to plug in the cable and squeeze the dial when it comes to better call quality.

Our opinion

With its excellent design, controls, and no-ANC battery life, the Studio 3 Wireless is still a great choice for those who don’t prioritize big bass, whisper-quiet ANC, or wireless calling. But at $ 350 you really have to guess what they have to choose over the competition.

Is there a better alternative?

Yes indeed. I mentioned the $ 400 Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700 and the $ 350 Sony WH-1000XM4 in this review, and I think both are arguments for leaving Beats Town. Choose the Sonys if you value customization, comfort, and sound quality. Choose the Bose if ANC and call quality are high on your list.

How long will they last?

The Beats Studio 3 Wireless comes with a one-year warranty from Apple, which can be extended with an optional AppleCare purchase. I think they will last for many years with normal use, although you can expect the battery capacity to decrease over time. Overall, they are very well built, with first class materials and durable metal parts for heavily used areas such as hinges and slides.

Should you buy it?

Yes, but I think you should wait to find them on sale for $ 250 or less. If you’re an Apple believer, some of Apple’s wireless features may be worth the Studio 3’s high price tag. But make sure you understand the weak points and are in good working order – especially call quality and lack of low-end bass – before you put your money on it.

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