Beats Studio Buds Review: Renaissance buds

Jack of all trades, but only a master of some

The Pros

  • Comfortably small size
  • Long lasting battery
  • Well balanced sound

The Cons

  • Middling active noise cancellation
  • Not a great microphone
  • No Apple H1 chip

The Beats Studio Buds are the most crowd-pleasing wireless earbuds to ever come from Apple.

Surprisingly, the Studio Buds work with Apple and Android devices equally and even go as far as to take advantage of both operating systems’ individual fast pair technology.

This means that, regardless of what phone you have, the tiny design, decent sound and noise-cancellation make these an appealing set of wireless buds for everyone.

There are a few other perks and some downsides to using the Studio Buds, but for the most part, these are the best earbuds around for most people.

Wear me all day long

Hands-down the best part of the Studio Buds is the fact that they’re super light. Coming in at just 5g per bud, they feel almost weightless when they’re nestled in your ears. This makes them easy to wear for hours, and since they’re so small, I never felt like I was going to knock them out of my ears when I got active or adjusted my mask. Even the charging case is relatively thin, allowing it to fit nicely in my pocket.

Overall, I’m a big fan of the buds’ hardware. Even the tiny buttons on each earbud are clicky and function much better than touch controls on competing earbuds. Both earbuds function the same way too — one-touch plays/pauses, two quick touches skips forward and three taps skips back. On top of that, you can tap to answer a call or hold the button to swap between noise-cancelling and transparency mode. Given that the on-ear controls are pretty basic, I would have loved for Beats to try and come up with a smart way to allow users to adjust volume without taking their phone out of their pocket.

In the box, users also get three sizes of earbud tips and a tiny USB-C cable for charging.

The fact that the Studio Buds can connect seamlessly to both Android and iOS devices is another major perk. To pair the earbuds, all you need to do is hold down the single button on the case near a phone and it automatically begins the pairing process.

On Android, the Studio Buds even prompt you to download the Beats app, allowing you to rename your buds and enable your phone’s voice assistant. On iOS, you can do this from your device’s Bluetooth settings. You can also enable/disable the noise-cancelling from Control Centre.

Even though the Studio Buds are tiny, they still pack excellent battery life. You get five hours per bud with noise-cancellation enabled and eight without it. You can get an extra two charges out of the case too. If the battery is low, you can also get an extra hour of listening off a quick five-minute charge.

Notably, both operating systems sync the Beats Studio Buds into their respective lost item apps, allowing you to find the buds if you’ve misplaced them. However, iOS comes out a little ahead since you can play a sound to find your earbuds if they’re nearby, but out of sight.

“The Studio Buds’ noise-cancellation isn’t top-notch either.”

On macOS and Windows 10, I found the performance to be about the same, however, since there’s no find my functionality on Windows you will lose out on that. On top of that, all the usual annoyances of using Bluetooth headphones with Windows still exist.

Not all roses

There is more to love than hate about the Studio Buds, but there are still a few problems worth pointing out. For instance, if you spend a lot of time on calls with earbuds in, the Studio Buds are not for you given their microphone quality is very underwhelming. In my experience, the people I talked to said that my sound quality was absolutely terrible.

The Studio Buds’ noise-cancellation isn’t top-notch either. I enjoyed their level of sound-blocking since it kept out most noises and let me walk around with some sound awareness. That said, people looking to hear nothing are better off with a pair of over-ear headphones like the Bose 700s. For people who just want a little extra noise isolation, the Beats get the job done. Just be wary of expecting too much from these since their one microphone design makes them fall short of competitors like AirPods Pro.

“When it comes to sound quality, the Studio Buds sit near the top end of the wireless earbuds spectrum.”

There’s also a ‘Transparency mode’ that works similarly to the AirPods Pro’s take on the feature and other earbuds that use the microphones to pick up outside noise. This functions well, and while the noises sound a bit processed, they come across pretty naturally and aren’t distracting when you’re walking around.

There’s also no Apple W1 or H1 chip in these buds, so they don’t have some of that Apple magic, like automatically pausing when they come out of your ears. This is fine since you can easily pause them with a quick press at the same time as removing them, but it would have been nice to get the perks of that chip in these buds.

Finally, the Studio Buds are also IPX4, so they should withstand light rain or a lot of sweat when you’re working out.

Music to my tortured mind

When it comes to sound quality, the Studio Buds sit near the top end of the wireless earbuds spectrum. Apple’s website says the Buds feature a “Custom acoustic platform [that] delivers powerful, balanced sound.”

For the most part, I’d agree with the above statement and find the Studio Buds’ sound expertly balanced. The bass is pretty substantial for such small earbuds, which could be a little much for some, but generally, I really liked them. I often listened to them with noise-cancelling on with the volume at about half since the max level is way too loud.

I have no complaints regarding the audio and might even like the EQ mix more than my previous favourite wireless earbuds, the Sennheiser CX400 BTs.

The part that stood out to me the most was the depth of the sound. It’s not better than most high-end wired headphones, but it’s pretty dynamic for audio being sent over Bluetooth. The Studio Buds also worked well with Apple Music’s new Spatial Audio, likely due to the earbuds’ impressive balance.

Earbuds for everyone 

The Beats Studio Buds have become my go-to wireless earbuds over the last week, and it’s going to take a lot for another company to tempt me away (I hope you’re listening Carl Pei).

What draws me to these the most is their size to performance ratio. The simple fact that the tiny earbuds feel like nothing in my ears, and they still sound as good as they do, is phenomenal. Plus, the slim case fits easily in my pocket. Having great battery life and excellent quick pairing features is just icing on this wireless earbud cake.

Apple really flexed by making these buds as good as they are, especially since they only cost $179 around $40 less than the standard AirPods. That said, AirPods feature far superior microphone performance, so if that’s an important feature to you and you’re an iPhone user, the Studio Buds aren’t for you. Undeniably, the best aspect of Beats’ Studio buds is that both iOS and Android users can even take advantage of the earbuds equally -- so for once, we all win.

"What draws me to these the most is their size to performance ratio"

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