Review: Beats Studio3 Wireless offers noise cancellation & Apple's W1, at a premium price

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in iPhone
The Beats Studio3 Wireless is Apple's answer to high-end noise-cancelling headphones from the likes of Bose and Sony. While they're a solid product, it's debatable as to whether they're worth a premium over other Beats models.




First, the basics. One of the key selling points of the Studio3 and other recent Beats headphones is Apple's W1 wireless chip, which enables Class 1 Bluetooth connections with better range and reliability -- more on that later. Another thing it enables is quick pairing with iOS devices, and sure enough, all it took us to get started was powering the headphones on next to an iPhone and tapping on a pop-up. This process also makes the Studio3 accessible to any Apple device signed into the same iCloud account, so long as it's running iOS 10, macOS Sierra, watchOS 3 or later.




This being Beats, you can also pair with non-Apple hardware using conventional methods. Should you not want to use Bluetooth for whatever reason, there's a bundled 3.5-millimeter stereo cable with an inline remote -- you can plug it in without turning the headphones on, but you do seem to lose noise cancellation.

Build-wise, you'd be forgiven for thinking the Studio3 is identical to the cheaper Beats Solo3, at least at first glance. It uses the same general design, which is admittedly visually appealing -- especially in the black, beige and gold "shadow gray" scheme we tested.




More troublesome is Apple's decision not to change up the amount of plastic. The material here isn't too flimsy, and it keeps the headphones light, but it also feels a little chintzy given Apple's $350 asking price. It's not unfathomable that the Studio3 might break during a move or plane trip if it isn't packed well.

Some people may be also upset by Apple's decision to stick with micro USB charging instead of shifting to Lightning, but this doesn't have much tangible impact.




Once you actually put it on, one clear difference with the Studio3 is that it uses over-the-ear cups instead of the Solo3's on-ear arrangement. This improves sound isolation, and in our experience felt more comfortable as well, at least when wearing the headphones for a few hours at a time. We did encounter slight headaches and earaches when trying to go all day, which might be attributable to a combination of air pressure and keeping the band too tight -- loosening the band seemed to help a little.

The product will also warm up your ears even in an air conditioned room, which means it's not well-suited to hot weather or extended gym sessions. For workouts, it's probably better to go with the Powerbeats3 or AirPods.

Sound & Performance

The million-dollar question, of course, is how the Studio3 sounds. The answer is "good" -- above average without being spectacular. We listened to a wide range of music, from trance, rap, and drum and bass through to classical and ambient, and the Studio3 seemed to capture most of the nuances of each track, avoiding the overwhelming bass that Beats was once infamous for.

It does favor bass, though, and doesn't offer the pristine clarity or frequency range of something like Master & Dynamic's MW60. The MW60 costs far more though, as do most products that might sound better.

The headphones' noise cancellation technology -- something Apple dubs "Pure Adaptive Noise Cancelling," or Pure ANC -- does a reasonable job of filtering out droning sound, such as air conditioners. It's nothing special in practice however and as with other noise-cancelling headsets, you'll still hear irregular sounds such as talking, albeit muffled.

For phone calls and Siri, the Studio3 has built-in microphones on an earpiece and the wired remote. In our limited testing, we had little trouble being understood using the earpiece mic, albeit walking around a quiet space.

Speaking of walking, the headphones maintained an absolutely solid Bluetooth connection while we wandered around a two-story house, leaving our paired iPhone sitting in a top-floor office. This even included entering a detached garage, though the connection did cut out when we crossed the street.

Officially battery life is rated at 40 hours without Pure ANC, and 22 hours with it on (the default setting). We weren't able to test this with lab-like precision, but in two days of heavy wired and wireless use with noise cancellation on whenever possible, we were down to 51 percent charge. That bodes well for people wanting to use Studio3 at work or on vacation, assuming of course that comfort issues don't come into play.

Even if the battery were disappointing, Apple's Fast Fuel technology promises 3 hours of playback with a 10-minute charge. We were able to get from 51 percent to 60 percent in five minutes, and from 60 to 80 in 15 minutes.

Conclusions




Should you get the Studio3? It doesn't sound much better than even the Solo2 Wireless, and costs $50 more than the Solo3, which is a tough sell when Bose's QuietComfort 35 headphones are available for $329. Sony's MDR-1000X costs about as much as the Studio3, but should likewise get some consideration before committing.

If you want Apple W1 features and noise cancellation, this is the only game in town. Some people will also prefer the Beats look as a fashion statement.

We would recommend listening to all of the above headphones, if possible, and simply going with whatever improves your favorite genres of music. If that isn't an option, the Studio3 is at least a safe bet.

Score: 4 out of 5

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Where to buy

At the moment, only Apple is actively shipping the Studio3, at a cost of $349.95. Authorized resellers are accepting preorders.

B&H Photo currently has listings for four out of five colors and will not collect sales tax on orders shipped outside NY and NJ, saving many shoppers $28 on average compared with buying direct. Those who want to pick up the Studio3 in Shadow Gray will need to order from Apple or Best Buy, both of which collect sales tax in all applicable states.

Beats Studio3 Wireless in Matte Black for $349.95 @B&H * ($28 off in tax outside NY & NJ)
Beats Studio3 Wireless in Blue for $349.95 @B&H * ($28 off in tax outside NY & NJ)
Beats Studio3 Wireless in Red for $349.95 @B&H * ($28 off in tax outside NY & NJ)
Beats Studio3 Wireless in White for $349.95 @B&H * ($28 off in tax outside NY & NJ)
Beats Studio3 Wireless in Shadow Gray for $349.99 @Best Buy ! (Special financing offer)

* B&H will not collect sales tax on orders shipped outside NY & NJ.
! No interest if paid in full within 6 months using the Best Buy Credit Card. See site for terms & conditions.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 15
    Bose wireless headphones continue to be my favorite. The QuietComfort 35 is beyond exceptional.
    bdkennedy1002kkqd1337
  • Reply 2 of 15
    sirozhasirozha Posts: 317member
    I would like more info on the NC feature of the Studio 3. How does it compare with QC35?

    Also, can Bluetooth be turned off while in NC mode? The only way I found possible to turn off Bluetooth on QC35 was to plug a cable to it. I made a plug by cutting a cheap cable off and use the plug without a cable to turn off Bluetooth. I use QC35 to reduce ambient noise in order to be able to focus while I’m working, and I don’t want to expose my head to unnecessary radiation.

    I never listen to any music or anything else on QC35 as in my opinion the sound is not great. Making calls with it is pretty horrible as well as it muffles too much of my own voice, making me want to shout while I’m speaking. Bose can’t figure out how to provide enough feedback during a phone call so that phone calls feel natural. Bose does, however, provide the best NC I’ve experienced so far. 
    edited October 2017
  • Reply 3 of 15
    Go to frys and listen to beats and Bose. Bose wins. 
    edited October 2017
  • Reply 4 of 15
    I find this review to be particularly unhelpful.

    The Beats Studio3 Wireless are superior to the alternatives listed in that they provide a much better bluetooth connection, an advanced and better method of noise reduction, better battery life, and they integrate seamlessly with all of my Apple products. Doesn't all this count for something?

    What's the point in comparing apples to oranges, i.e., saying that they don't sound better than much more expensive competitors like Master & Dynamic? The fact is, they provide excellent sound at their price point.

    Using plastic to keep them lighter and more comfortable is a plus, not a minus, in my estimation.

    The only negative I can find is what the reviewer regards as neutral. Not having a lightning connector for charging does in fact have a tangible negative impact. You have to put the non-lightening connector in right side up, which is difficult to see (better not try it in the dark), and if you're an Apple user, you now need an additional dongle.

    All in all, though, I love this product and regard it as far superior to the competition when all of its features are considered together.

    If you're considering it, you may want to visit Apple's support page for the product, which is particularly informative: 
    https://www.beatsbydre.com/support/headphones/studio3-wireless.
    edited October 2017 repressthiswatto_cobraanantksundaramJWSCrandominternetperson
  • Reply 5 of 15
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,623member
    Go to frys and listen to beats and Bose. Bose wins. 
    Seems actual reviews are not that clear cut
    watto_cobraanantksundaramJWSC
  • Reply 6 of 15
    sirozhasirozha Posts: 317member
    I think both Bose and Beats are overpriced.  Audio quality is not great in ether. Bose shines with NC. Studio NC didn’t use to be as good as Bose. I’m not sure if NC was improved in Studio 3. 

    Fir $350, the sound quality should be much better. My Bose QC35 sounds basically the same as Apple AirPods. The difference in size is huge, though.

    Both QC35 and AirPods sound 100 times better than BeatsX, which is truly horrible in both design and sound. 
    edited October 2017
  • Reply 7 of 15
    jcs2305jcs2305 Posts: 369member
    sirozha said:
    I think both Bose and Beats are overpriced.  Audio quality is not great in ether. Bose shines with NC. Studio NC didn’t use to be as good as Bose. I’m not sure if NC was improved in Studio 3. 

    Fir $350, the sound quality should be much better. My Bose QC35 sounds basically the same as Apple AirPods. The difference in size is huge, though.

    Both QC35 and AirPods sound 100 times better than BeatsX, which is truly horrible in both design and sound. 
    How can you possibly say that AirPods sound better than BeatsX? That simply isn't true... if you took the time to get a good fit with the provided, or other tips there is no way you can compare the two in regards to sound quality.  I have been using the BeatsX for months now. To be honest it's the first beats product I have ever purchased.. I had always thought they were WAY overpriced and couldn't trust the build quality. I agree with you about Bose pricing as well.. both just cost too much for the sounds quality you get from them.

    I ended up giving the beats a try, after trying a friends AirPods.  I liked the fit and how light the AirPods were, I just didn't like the sound.. not much bass and they allow too much outside noise in which requirers the volume to be louder than I prefer. They also get uncomfortable for me after wearing them for a while, just like the EarPods that come with the iPhone..

     I bought the AirPods for my gf and she loves them..she listens to music very low or to audiobooks mostly at work so the sound is more than adequate for her...


    vukasika
  • Reply 8 of 15
    I find this review to be particularly unhelpful.

    The Beats Studio3 Wireless are superior to the alternatives listed in that they provide a much better bluetooth connection, an advanced and better method of noise reduction, better battery life, and they integrate seamlessly with all of my Apple products. Doesn't all this count for something?

    What's the point in comparing apples to oranges, i.e., saying that they don't sound better than much more expensive competitors like Master & Dynamic? The fact is, they provide excellent sound at their price point.

    Using plastic to keep them lighter and more comfortable is a plus, not a minus, in my estimation.

    The only negative I can find is what the reviewer regards as neutral. Not having a lightning connector for charging does in fact have a tangible negative impact. You have to put the non-lightening connector in right side up, which is difficult to see (better not try it in the dark), and if you're an Apple user, you now need an additional dongle.

    All in all, though, I love this product and regard it as far superior to the competition when all of its features are considered together.

    If you're considering it, you may want to visit Apple's support page for the product, which is particularly informative: https://www.beatsbydre.com/support/headphones/studio3-wireless.
    What a great first post. 
  • Reply 9 of 15
    If you can afford a iPhone 8, what is another $400 anyways?  That $400 includes sales tax on the purchase or the total cost.
  • Reply 10 of 15
    bluefire1 said:
    Bose wireless headphones continue to be my favorite. The QuietComfort 35 is beyond exceptional.

    I agree. The specs are meh:
    https://giph.io/?img=OM9C
    https://giph.io/?img=CS46
    Bose is better. Go ahead and test them side by side.
    edited October 2017
  • Reply 11 of 15
    sirozha said:
    I would like more info on the NC feature of the Studio 3. How does it compare with QC35?

    Also, can Bluetooth be turned off while in NC mode? The only way I found possible to turn off Bluetooth on QC35 was to plug a cable to it. I made a plug by cutting a cheap cable off and use the plug without a cable to turn off Bluetooth. I use QC35 to reduce ambient noise in order to be able to focus while I’m working, and I don’t want to expose my head to unnecessary radiation.

    I never listen to any music or anything else on QC35 as in my opinion the sound is not great. Making calls with it is pretty horrible as well as it muffles too much of my own voice, making me want to shout while I’m speaking. Bose can’t figure out how to provide enough feedback during a phone call so that phone calls feel natural. Bose does, however, provide the best NC I’ve experienced so far. 
    I don't understand your use case.  If you're not listening to music, why not just use earplugs or ear muffs designed for shooting or the like?
  • Reply 12 of 15
    john.bjohn.b Posts: 2,713member
    The Studios are comfortable as all get out, but TBH the noise canceling leaves a lot to be desired.
  • Reply 13 of 15
    mike1mike1 Posts: 1,617member
    Now that I have listened to both the Bose and these Beats, I can state that neither really has what I would say is great sound quality. However, the Bose has excellent noise cancelling and for that reason alone, I bought them for airplane travel. I'll suffer through the mediocre sound while listening to music and movies on airplanes. Save my hearing too. I can keep the volume much lower since practically all the outside noise is gone.
  • Reply 14 of 15
    irnchrizirnchriz Posts: 1,544member
    I have a couple of pairs of studio 2.0 and the feature I always wanted was to be able to disable ANC.  I might pick up a pair of the 3’s as you can turn ANC off.
  • Reply 15 of 15
    I don't find the sound quality of the Bose to be any better, both are good.  I think the Bose noise cancelling is slightly better.  In truth I still went with the Beats though. The decision points down to convenience of ecosystem integration. and the W1 chip.  As I have repeatedly told an IT friend of mine Apple keeps things as close to idiot proof as we are gonna' get.  
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