It’s been three years since the Beats Studio3 Wireless headphones made their debut, and they still remain Apple’s premier over the ear wireless cans to this day. The design hasn’t changed much over that time. The latest incarnation incorporates Beats signature look with new noise cancellation technology and a high-performance battery.
But the real questions are, how do they measure up after all that time, and are they still worth buying? We took another look at the instantly recognizable Beats Studio3 to try and answer these questions.
Beats have been nothing if not consistent with the look of their Studio range since the 2014 debut. Nothing much has changed here over that time. It’s a tasteful design mind you, so not many tweaks have been needed.
All black was definitely the way forward for us. For those that require some extra flair, the Beats come in the usual range of gaudy colors and trims so you can still do your best Eminem impression if you so desire.
The housings and frame are constructed from a soft matte plastic, with the ear pads made from synthetic leather. A padded steel headband with ten adjustment notches finishes things off.
Beats have caught some heat over the years for their build quality, but the Studio3 seem well constructed enough. If we had any criticism, it would be that they feel a little inflexible. Other manufacturers also use plastic designs but manage a far higher degree of flexibility.
As usual, they’re hinged to fold down and come with a sturdy carry case that offers good protection. The hinge has just the right amount of resistance and looks like it would retain its strength over time. The case is on the bulky side when compared to rival models but still easy enough to toss in a backpack.
Comfort & Fit
The pleather pads on the ear-cups are very nicely padded and should be big enough to fit over most ears. Padding on the underside of the headband wasn’t quite so generous and forgiving, and as they fit close to the head, this could become annoying after extended use.
On the bright side, you won’t feel any discomfort around your ears, and the clamping pressure is about right to get a good fit without exerting too much force.
Setup & Connectivity
Setup with Apple devices literally takes less than a second, thanks to the W1 chipset that makes the whole process ridiculously simple. As soon as you turn the Beats Studio3 on, a pop up will appear on your device. Simply tap to connect. Android devices take a second or two longer, but realistically the process is just as simple.
That being said, Galaxy S7 users have reported pairing difficulties, so if you’re the owner of one of these, we personally wouldn’t take the risk.
We can happily report that wireless performance, whether using an Android or an iPhone, was virtually perfect. Bluetooth connectivity for wireless headphones has come a long way in the last few years, and Beats/Apple are by no means the only company to get this right.
Still, it’s a refreshing change from the early days of wireless headphone development and worth being rather pleased about.
We particularly liked that you can pair the Beats Studio3 to multiple devices at once. It will only allow one active connection, but it makes life easy if your switching between devices regularly.
Power and pairing are controlled by a small button on the bottom of the right ear cup. Pressing and holding the button turns them on and, if held down for an extra second, will initiate the pairing process. Unfortunately, there isn’t any voice notification to let you know that either of these things has happened.
Therefore, we were forced to remove the headphones to check the LED pairing indicator light that pulses when pairing is underway. This same button also controls the Active Noise Cancellation. A quick double tap will turn it on or off.
The left ear cup is home to the volume, track, and call controls. These are housed within the Beats logo itself. The outer ring around the logo can be pressed at the top to raise the volume and at the bottom to lower it. A single tap on the logo itself controls pause/play and also will answer and end calls.
A double tap will forward to the next track, and a triple tap will play the previous one. All very practical and easy to get used to.
The Beats Studio3 score well in this area. With the ANC switched on, you’ll get an impressive 22 hours of continuous playback. With the ANC disabled, they will last up to 40 hours, which is really something to write home about. If you forget to charge overnight, a quick 10-minute charge will provide 3-hours of playback. I can vouch that this would be a very handy feature for me.
One minor improvement Beats could make, would be to include an automatic shut-down feature in future models. The Studio3 will stay on if you forget to manually turn them off, which is easily done if distracted. This would also extend the overall battery lifespan as a result
Apple has added its latest Active Noise Cancelation tech to the Beats Studio3 spec. They’re calling it Pure ANC. Sounds great, right? In reality, it does a reasonable job of keeping out city life and engine noises, but without coming close to the effectiveness that Bose has managed with the QuietComfort 35.
As with most ANC headphones, there is a slight drop in volume level with the ANC turned on. There’s also a slight amount of interference in the lower mid-range, which isn’t really noticeable once music is playing.
Ironically, this is probably due to wind being picked up by the pinhole mic that exists to help cancel out noise. Again, this is a problem that all ANC headphones have to try and manage. Some just do a better job than others.
At the other end of the scale, noise leakage performance is excellent. You can safely turn the Beats Studio3 up pretty loud without worrying if you’re disturbing anyone nearby
Beats Studio3 Sound Quality
Gone are the days when Beats were purely ‘all about dat bass.’ The Studio3 has a more grown-up sound signature than its forebears. That’s not to say that it doesn’t have some punch, but the emphasis is more on the higher end of the bass spectrum, rather than the lower and sub-bass frequencies. This works well in some situations but falls down in others.
The lower mid frequencies can end up a little swamped by this emphasis on higher bass, affecting vocal texture negatively. The whole thing can sound a little clogged up with a lack of separation. Trebles aren’t particularly sophisticated and lack that sparkle that can reveal parts of songs you never really heard before.
Ask anyone to put these on, play a couple of their favorite songs, and very few people are going to be too disappointed. Yes, the odd Audiophile will turn their nose up, but the sound quality will be satisfactory to the vast majority of listeners.
However, we would also be willing to bet that those same listeners would be able to tell how much better the Bose QuietComfort 35 series sounds in comparison. Because they really do.
Beats Studio3 Wireless Pros & Cons
- Seamless wireless performance.
- Outstanding battery.
- More mature sound.
- Easy setup.
- Cloudy mids.
- Competition has better sound.
- Noise isolation could be better.
- Debatable value for money.
As we’ve mentioned, the Studio3 has a lot of stiff competition out there, so if you’re not a die-hard Beats fan, it may be worth taking a look at our reviews of the Bose QuietComfort 25, the Bose Soundlink Around Ear, the Bose QuietComfort II, the 1More Triple Driver, the Sony WH1000XM3 and the Sony MDR 7506.
The Beats Studio3 are a significant improvement on their predecessor. Battery life has been improved, wireless performance is spotless, and the W1 chip makes these headphones remarkably functional. Noise cancellation is also better but still doesn’t come close to the best in class.
The rival Bose and Sony models are streets ahead in terms of audio performance. It’s not that they sound bad, just that they can’t compete with the similarly priced competition and let’s be clear, these are not particularly cheap headphones.
You could make a case for buying the Beats Studio3 over the Sony WH-1000XM3 or Bose QuietComfort 35 models, only if they were significantly cheaper. As they are not, it’s really hard to recommend these to anyone other than die-hard Beats fans. But, there’s plenty of those around, so these will undoubtedly sell well.
Simply put, you can get a better product for the same expense if you’re willing to look elsewhere.