Jun 27, 2022
If you didn't know, Apple bought Beats in 2014, and the Studio Buds are a little out of the ordinary for an Apple product. You may blame the constant stream of recent leaks up to and including LeBron James for the fact that they sound like old news.
Is it a good or negative thing that Beats claims to provide a "universal" user experience for both iOS and Android devices? The answer to this question depends on whose side of the operating system divide you're on.
The H1 chip in Beats devices gives them many of the same functionality as AirPods in the Apple ecosystem. With a pop-up card, your iPhone recognizes them instantly and can display the battery life of your headphones and cases. Other Apple devices logged in with the same Apple ID can be used immediately.
The same iPhone or iPad may stream audio to two AirPods (or W1/H1-equipped Beats) simultaneously. You enjoy spatial audio when you view or listen to Dolby Atmos-enabled video or music on Apple Music. Beats Studio Buds are in a strange situation without an Apple-made processor since you get some of these functions, but not all. You can't use iCloud sync to switch between Apple devices immediately.
Here's when it gets tricky. Beats Studio Buds don't contain an H1 or W1 chip, which is the not-so-secret sauce in other Beats headphones, including the step-up Beats Fit Pro ($200), that allows them to connect to the Apple ecosystem, making the experience identical to Apple and Android users.
That means you won't be able to use your Apple devices' built-in auto-switch feature because there is no iCloud pairing. Your AirPods link to whichever device you're listening to (on compatible AirPods and Beats headphones) whenever additional iOS and iPad devices are signed in with the same Apple ID as your iPhone.
The Beats Studio Pro earphones may be a better option if you frequently use an Android phone or if you frequently share them with someone who does. There is no wireless charging, but the case is compatible with the new Google Fast Pair standard, making it easier to connect.
Both Google's Find My Device and Apple's Find My Network are supported. Hands-free operation is not guaranteed. The entire experience is still better than most recent Beats devices on an Android phone, even with Google support.
The Studio Buds' design has me swooning. Powerbeats Pro has a larger charging case. However, AirPods Pro's charging case is smaller and more portable. The buds themselves are small, light, and pleasant. With no stem jutting out and no bulbous hump to catch on your winter hat, these earrings are a breeze to wear.
To my surprise, these didn't cause any discomfort after a few hours of listening and were comfortable when skating about the neighborhood and going for a brief jog, but the fit relaxed as I sweated a little more. Not waterproof. However, they can withstand a little water and perspiration. I have a hard time keeping the AirPods Pro in my ears for lengthy periods, but the Studio Buds disappear and don't seem to need any correction.
Regarding noise cancellation, it's decent but not up to the standards set by Apple's AirPods. The transparency mode on Apple's earbuds sounds more natural and does a better job of canceling out ambient noise than the Beats buds do. The noise cancellation is worthwhile but lags below Apple's and Sony's top-of-the-line models.
Bluetooth earbuds with this level of portability produce outstanding audio. Perhaps because of the smaller earbud drivers, they don't have as much bass as some Beats devices. There's still enough kick in the right places to keep things interesting. The sound profile suits current pop and hip-hop more than classical or jazz.
The Beats Studio has active noise cancellation, as previously mentioned. And while these earbuds do a fair job of muffling sounds, They weren't as good at blocking out New York City street noise or my noisy HVAC unit in my flat as those models were. However, transparency mode—that is, the option that enables ambient sound to flow into your ears so you aren't walled off from your surroundings—is superior.
This is a unique offering for Apple because Beats is catering to both iPhone and Android customers. The $99 Google Pixel Buds A-Series may be a better option for Android users because of its superior sound quality and lack of active noise cancellation.
Also available are the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus, now on sale for around $100. On the other hand, these Beats might use some reductions given the shaved corners they've taken — no H1 or W1 chip, no in-ear detection. You may see these for $20-$30 cheaper in a few months.