What's better than a pair of headphones with active noise reduction? Especially for those of us who commute between home and work by public transport, or who have to travel a lot on a daily basis, appreciate modern headphones with active noise suppression. With the recently unveiled Studio3 Wireless, Beats wants to capture the loyalty of this user base. You can find out whether the long development time has borne fruit in our test of the Beats Studio3 Wireless.
- ✓Very good active noise suppression
- ✓Very long battery life
- ✕No sound via cable without rechargeable battery
- ✕Earpads not replaceable
- ✕Lacks full functionality with Android
Release date and price
Whether you like Beats headphones or not, you'll often see the little "b" logo on many headphones as you walk down the street. So Apple's subsidiary must be doing something right. Interestingly, however, there is a target group where the headphones have not been so well received so far, and these are the users who rely on active noise reduction to suppress the environmental noise electronically. In this market of high-priced models, Bose's QuietComfort 35, Sony's MDR 1000X and Sennheiser's PXC 550 dominate, and if you compare the Beats Studio3 Wireless with these three competitors, the manufacturer's recommended retail price of $349.95 is on a par with the competition.
Design and build quality
One of the reasons why Beats aren't so common in this environment is the fact that Beats has held on to Studio2 Wireless for almost four years. But now the successor, the Studio3 Wireless with Pure ANC, will also find an open ear for this target group.
Optically, however, not much has changed in the proven design language that Beats uses. Except for the company logos on the outside of the earcups and two clasps on the headband, our test device is matt black. As is typical for Beats, the Studio3 wireless headphones are available in five other colors.
Since, as the name suggests, these are over-ear headphones that can also be connected wirelessly to smartphones via Bluetooth, the necessary operating elements and other connections must also be attached to the headphones. Beats has cleverly incorporated these into the design, so that they are not visible at first glance. The logo on the left earpiece serves as a play/pause button and can also be used to answer or end phone calls. To change the volume, press the areas above and below the logo. A small LED bar shows the current charge status. Beats uses a Micro-USB charger and an audio cable connector.
Beats uses the power button to turn on and off active noise reduction. Press this switch twice in quick succession and Pure ANC is turned on or off.
As a special feature, the Beats Studio3 Wireless has Pure ANC on board in addition to the W1 chip for Apple iPhone users from version 7 onward. By this term, Beats means not only active noise suppression via counterfrequencies, but also dynamic audio calibration in real time. For this purpose, the ear cups are fitted with inward-facing microphones to adjust the function for individual fit and headphone fit. HTC also uses a similar principle in its UltraSonic headphones for the U11, U11 Plus and U11 Life.
Apple's W1 chip makes it easy to connect to an iPhone 7 or later. Headphones equipped with this Bluetooth compatible chip are immediately recognized by the appropriate iPhones and can be connected immediately with a confirmation. If you use several iOS or macOS devices with an iCloud account, the identification is transferred to the remaining devices via iCloud by one-time pairing. Once set up on one device, the Studio3 Wireless from Beats can be used with an iCloud account immediately on several devices. Practical, but not for Android users. The only thing that remains is to use the classic pairing method. You don't need to search for NFC in Beats headphones.
As always, a test of headphones must be preceded by the fact that the sound impression is a very subjective, situational and music-related impression. The human ear is subject to the weather conditions and with increasing age, frequencies are perceived differently than in youth. For me personally, a balanced sound over the frequency bands is important. Bass should support, but not be superimposed over midrange and treble. For my taste in music - rock, pop and R&B - the Studio 3 of Beats is for the most part well suited. Compared to the earlier Beats models such as the studio of the first generation, Dr. Dre's company has greatly reduced the dominance of the bass.
But for a certain well-known rapper, a neutral sound setting is not quite suitable. So you can sense that the Beats Studio3 Wireless sometimes miss the sound range across all genres of music, and that the mid-range pitches are overlaid by the bass. But again, the bass is not as quite as dominant as it used to be. If you compare only Beats headphones like Solo3 with Studio3, the Studio3 is probably the best Beats headphones ever in terms of sound. But in comparison to the competition, the Bose QuietComfort 35, the Sony MDR 1000X and the Sennheiser PXC 550, all three of which I have been able to test or use as primary headphones, the Beats Studio3 Wireless are close to these three, but can't beat them. My colleagues Pierre Stepien and Luca Zaninello also say after a few days with the Beats Studio3 Wireless that they are really good, but that the emphasis on bass is still noticeable.
When it comes to battery power Beats leaves a very good impression with the Studio3, which Pierre and Luca also confirmed to me. Both of them used the Studio3 for several days in a row in the office and on the road, and didn't have to recharge the battery once. During my test with varying volumes and activated Pure ANC, the Beats connected via Bluetooth with the Sony Xperia XZ Premium lasted a total of 18 hours. Coupled with an iPhone 8 Plus, they lasted a little longer, just under 20 hours, thanks to the W1 chip.
As good as the battery life is, the need for a Beats Studio3 wireless is completely dead when the battery is at zero percent. Studio3 will then remain silent even when connected to the audio source with the supplied audio cable. In this case, a power source must be quickly connected via MicroUSB. Beats promises that thanks to Fast Fuel rapid charging, the battery can be used again within 10 minutes for 3 hours. Helpful, but more sensible and offered by all other modern Bluetooth headphones, would be pure analog operation without battery.
Beats took a long time to complete Studio3 Wireless. For fans of the brand and for iPhone users, whose iOS-device has the W1 chip, the Studio3 Wireless are very well suited. The Pure ANC suppresses ambient noise very well and protects the user very effectively from the environment in conjunction with the closed headphone layout. The battery life enables us to enjoy a long distance flight to Australia in peace and quiet. It's more likely that the smartphone switches itself off before the Beats Studio3 Wireless runs out of juice.
Unfortunately, the hard optimization on Apple products also limits the target group of beats. The in-line remote control integrated in the cable only works with Apple products and is useless on products without the Apple logo. And there's the uselessness when the Beats Studio3 Wireless runs out of steam. One could have stayed consistent and omitted the jack plug completely, just as many smartphone manufacturers have already banned on the smartphone side.
In the end, you should trust your ears the most when it comes to headphones. Go to a store where you can connect your own smartphone to the Studio3 Wireless and try it out. Then you can judge according to your subjective impression, whether these headphones meet your needs.