Compatible with both iPhones and Android, and featuring a wired connection via USB-C, the Beats Studio Pro is not just another pair of headphones. But is it better than the rest?
- 30-hour battery life with ANC
- Usable whilst charging
- Compatible with USB-C audio
- Operates seamlessly on both iOS and Android
- Compact and stylish design
- Adequate noise-cancelling features
- Good mid-range clarity
- Spatial audio compatibility on iOS
- Plastic noises from buttons
- No dedicated track-changing buttons
- Lack of true multi-point Bluetooth
- Absence of integrated equaliser
- Insufficient bass depth
|Beats by Dr. Dre
|260 g / 9.17 oz
|Bluetooth - Wireless
|Class 1 Wireless Bluetooth®
|3.5mm analogue input for wired audio sources
|up to 40 hours of listening time
|“b” button for music and call controls
After the Beats Solo Pro headphones and the Beats Fit Pro and Powerbeats Pro earphones, it’s time for Beats to upgrade its most iconic headphones to the Pro range with the new Beats Studio Pro. It’s worth noting that it was with these headphones that the brand initially launched 15 years ago with the first Beats Studio model. Since then, the models have evolved significantly, incorporating wireless audio, Apple chips, and now, enhanced connectivity.
So how does the new Beats Studio Pro fare, and can it compete with the likes of the Sony WH-1000XM5, Bose Headphones 700, or AirPods Max? Let’s find out in this comprehensive review.
Beats had already released a ‘Pro’ version of one of its headphones in 2019 with the Beats Solo Pro. However, it’s the Studio range of the brand, acquired by Apple in 2014, that sits in the premium segment. This is because Solo models are on-ear headphones, whereas Studio models are over-ear. In simpler terms, while the Beats Solo Pro will sit on your ear causing some pressure, the cushions of the Beats Studio Pro are designed to go around your ear, providing, theoretically, better passive noise isolation and overall noise reduction.
In practice, despite its over-ear design, the Beats Studio Pro features rather narrow cushions in both diameter and depth. The headphones tend to touch the earlobe but don’t hamper usage—at least in my case. Since everyone’s ears are different in shape and size, it would be prudent to try them in-store to see if they will be comfortable for you during extended use.
The same goes for the weight, clamping force, and weight distribution of the Beats Studio Pro. This is a relatively compact set of headphones for its design, but that doesn’t mean it’s lightweight. It weighs in at 260 grams, compared to 250 grams for the Sony WH-1000XM5 and Bose Headphones 700, and a hefty 385 grams for the AirPods Max. The Apple-branded headphones do have the advantage of a fabric mesh headband that distributes the weight on the top of the head, whereas the Beats Studio Pro only has a thin headband with memory foam.
To disperse this weight, Beats has clamped the ear cups tightly enough so that they sit snugly on the ears, relieving some of the pressure on the top of the head. Naturally, this means the Beats Studio Pro will exert pressure not just on the top of the head but also on each side. It remains comfortable for a while, but after an hour or two, you might start to feel some discomfort and will likely reposition the headband for relief.
Apart from comfort, Beats has designed a rather ergonomic set of headphones. You can fold them but not rotate the ear cups. This is already an improvement over Bose and Sony models, which no longer fold into a more compact form. Here, Beats goes the extra mile by including a small, convenient carrying case with a compartment for cables, allowing for easy storage. However, one can’t help but regret the lack of swivel on the ear cups. Although the cups can slightly adjust to fit your head, you can’t turn them inwards or outwards when wearing the headphones around your neck.
The active noise cancellation is another standout feature. It’s not as advanced as what you’d find in Bose or Sony offerings, but it’s effective enough to block out most ambient noises. It works well in environments with constant sound, like an airplane or busy cafe, but it struggles a bit with sudden, high-pitched noises. Nonetheless, it’s a welcome addition that enhances the overall listening experience.
Use and Application
Notably, the Beats Studio Pro isn’t Bluetooth multipoint compatible. It can’t be connected to multiple sources simultaneously, such as a Windows PC and an Android smartphone. Although Beats claims the ability to switch from one device to another, this requires being within an ecosystem that has Apple’s auto-switching functions on one side or Google Fast Pair devices on the other. Thus, the headset can be Bluetooth-connected to a Chromebook and switch to an Android smartphone if you receive a call — the same applies with a MacBook and an iPhone — but it can’t be connected to both sources simultaneously, and this system doesn’t include Windows PCs.
Why tout the Studio Pro’s connectivity if it isn’t even fully Bluetooth multipoint compatible? Well, because it’s one of the few on the market that also offers wired headphone jack connectivity — a 3.5mm to 3.5mm jack cable is included — as well as USB-C audio connectivity.
Like the Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless, the Focal Bathys, and the Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2, the Beats Studio Pro can be USB-C connected to a PC or smartphone and enjoy all the benefits of this interface. Not only will the headset be charged, but it will also benefit from uncompressed music up to 24 bits at 48 kHz — unlike Bluetooth — while activating its built-in DAC — unlike the jack connection. In short, except for the need to connect the headset with a cable, it’s the best of all worlds. However, we don’t understand why USB-C connectivity necessarily deactivates noise cancellation.
Noise Cancelling Functionality
The noise-cancelling functionality, or rather the lack thereof, leaves something to be desired. Despite Beats claiming the use of proprietary algorithms for high-performance adaptive noise-cancelling (ANC), the Studio Pro’s ANC falls short when compared to market leaders like Sony WH-1000XM4 or Bose QuietComfort 45. While it does a reasonable job of eliminating environmental sounds, like the hum of an air conditioner or chatter in a cafe, it struggles with more complex noise scenarios, such as the cacophony of a bustling city street or the roar of an aeroplane engine.
What’s disappointing is that the Beats Studio Pro opts for a fixed level of ANC with no user customization options. Unlike Sony’s offering, which allows users to adjust the ANC level through an app, the Studio Pro doesn’t offer any such flexibility. Also, activating ANC tends to alter the sound signature noticeably, making the audio seem “compressed,” thus sacrificing audio quality in favour of noise reduction.
Battery life also deserves mention. The Beats Studio Pro claims to offer up to 22 hours of high-fidelity sound or up to 40 hours with ANC off. These numbers are slightly better than the Sony WH-1000XM5, which provides up to 30 hours of battery life but falls short of the AirPods Max’s 20 hours with ANC on. The fast-charging feature, which gives about 3 hours of playback from a 10-minute charge, is particularly impressive.
As for sound quality, Beats Studio Pro takes no prisoners. Utilizing Apple’s H1 chip, it offers powerful, low-latency wireless connectivity. In addition, the Studio Pro’s adaptive EQ customizes the sound to your ears in real-time, providing a truly immersive audio experience. The sound signature remains bass-heavy, true to the Beats brand, but with enhanced clarity in mids and highs that were sometimes lacking in its predecessors. However, the bass can feel a bit overwhelming in certain genres, especially for those who prefer a more balanced sound profile.
However, for a headset that touts a premium build and high-quality audio, it’s quite surprising that it doesn’t support higher-quality Bluetooth codecs like aptX or LDAC. It primarily operates on AAC, which, while sufficient for most Apple devices, isn’t ideal for Android smartphones or Windows PCs that don’t support this codec.
The Beats Studio Pro is compatible with both iOS and Android, but it’s clear that the headset is optimized for the Apple ecosystem. Features like “Hey Siri” voice activation and seamless integration with iCloud make the Studio Pro a compelling choice for iPhone users. However, Android users may find themselves missing out on some of these exclusive features. This is a bit disappointing given the headset’s premium price tag; at this cost, one would expect a more universal experience.
Another downside is the limited EQ customization. While some competing brands offer a customizable equalizer through their accompanying app, Beats has yet to provide this feature. This limitation forces users to rely on the default sound profile, which may not be everyone’s cup of tea.
On the upside, the Beats Studio Pro comes with a robust build quality. Its metal framework gives it a sturdy feel, and the leatherette ear cushions are comfortable for extended wear. However, the build does contribute to a slightly heavier weight compared to some of its rivals, which could be a point of concern for users looking for a more lightweight option.
The headset also comes with a premium carrying case, which is a nice touch. The case is compact and well-designed, offering adequate protection for the headphones. It’s small enough to fit in a backpack or large purse, making it convenient for travel.
The Beats Studio Pro offers a mixed bag of features. While it excels in some areas like battery life and build quality, it falls short in others such as noise-cancelling performance and codec support. The headset seems to target Apple users primarily, leaving Android users a bit in the lurch. If you’re deeply integrated into the Apple ecosystem and can overlook some of its shortcomings, the Beats Studio Pro could be a reasonable choice. However, if you’re looking for top-notch noise-cancelling and more universal compatibility, there are better options available in the market.
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