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Beats Studio review

Andrew Williams

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Beats Studio
  • Beats Studio
  • Beats Studio
  • Beats Studio
  • Beats Studio

Summary

Our Score:

7

Pros

  • Comfortable
  • Mix of noise cancellation and isolation works well
  • Head-hugging look an improvement

Cons

  • Thick sound harms separation
  • Harsh upper mids

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Key Features

  • Active noise cancellation
  • Folding cups
  • Removable cable
  • 20-hour battery
  • Over-ear design
  • Manufacturer: Beats by Dr Dre
  • Review Price: £269.99

What are the Beats Studio headphones?

The Beats by Dre. Studio have, for years, been the top-end model in the highly-recognisable Beats range. And now they've been given a refresh for 2013 and beyond.

The price hasn't changed, £269.99, and for that you get a pair of great-feeling, good-looking headphones that feature active noise cancellation to make them even more commute-friendly. These are the best-sounding Beats headphones we've tried, too, but as ever with Beats headphones the sound quality doesn't entirely match the price.

Beats Studio - Design and Comfort

Beats by Dre. has simplified the Beats Studio look in this new reincarnation. Where the previous model had cups that stuck out a way from the side of your head, these stick pretty close.

Any design suggestion that these are headphones for the music studio seems to have vanished, besides the name, as the design here is clearly formulated with the commuter in mind. And really, that's no bad thing.

These are reasonably light ANC full-size over-ear headphones that are quite streamlined and classy in their lines, but there are enough loud Beats design inflections to let them sit happily among their brothers.

The trademark mix of black and red colouring is here, along with the classic 'b' Beats signifier on the rear of each cup. Their entire outer part is glossy plastic. It's eye-catching, but doesn't entirely fit with a £270 pair of headphones. And it attracts more fingerprints than a CSI crime scene. Beats Studio 1

That said, build quality seemed perfectly fine during testing, and the Beats Studio feel sturdier than the Wesc Chambers Premium by RZA, which are lower-cost Studio rip-offs.

We would like to have seen slightly higher-grade synthetic leather used on the ear pads. It's smooth and soft, but is clearly fake when protein leather often looks pretty convincing these days.

The Beats by Dr. Dre Studio headphones do provide solid comfort, and most people will find them a more pleasant wear than the on-ear Beats Solo HD. However, the Beats Studio headband is the Beats standard one, which is designed more for on-the-go use than pure comfort.

It's made of squidgy rubber rather than synthetic leather or fabric, intended to ensure the Beats Studio stay on your head, making them suitable for jogging - most over-ears headphones simply aren't. They also fold up for added portability, and Beats by Dre. supplies a semi-hard case.

You also get a trio of cables. There are the standard red audio cables, one with and one without a remote, and a microUSB to charge the internal battery.

Beats Studio

Like the active noise cancelling Bose QC3, the Beats Studio need charge to operate, so if the battery dies so do your tunes. However, you'll get a solid 15-20 hours of playback off a charge. And unlike the previous Studio set, they use an integrated rechargeable battery rather than AAAs.

Beats Studio - Noise Cancellation

The execution of the noise cancellation feature is pretty neat in the Beats Studio. There's a little button on the right earcup that switches the headphones on and off, and underneath it sits a little 5-light battery level indicator.

The Beats logo on the left cup is a subtle button that acts as a push-to-hear control, cutting out both the music and noise cancellation to make hearing your surroundings easier. There doesn't seem to be an auto-off function, and we often returned to the Beats Studio to find them dead, having forgotten to switch the things off.

Beats by Dre.'s noise cancellation is good, but not amazing. There's not the eerie silence that Bose's QC15 can produce, but this also means the Beats Studio don't create the same feeling of in-ear pressure that more intense ANC headphones can.

They do leave a constant hiss, which is quite apparent in quieter music, though - but we imagine few Beats buyers will end up listening to too many solo violin pieces. Beats Studio 3

We do wonder whether this easy-going ANC is deliberate, too. The Beats Studio really use a mix of cancellation and passive isolation to block out the outside world. And it works pretty well. They make good public transport headphones.

Beats Studio - Sound Quality

As is common with the Beats-range headphones, where they start to fall down is when we point a critical ear towards their sound quality.

However, they are the best-sounding Beats by Dre. headphones we've used in recent memory. The trademark bass skew is here, but it's much less destructive than we heard in the recent Beats by Dr. Dre Mixr.

The Beats Studio don't boom in the same way, and that is a good thing. Instead, the bass and low-mid emphasis makes these headphones sound 'thick', in a manner that's more closely comparable to the sound signature of the Beats Solo HD.

We're not all that enamoured with this approach to the low-end. It's better than a boomy mess, but the bass-mid thickness doesn't make a great show of music with low or sub-bass (that's the real chest-rattling stuff) and has a pretty serious effect on sound separation.

The Beats Studio sound is wide enough for a full-size closed headphone, but a lack of separation stops the soundstage from coming across as particularly expansive or intricate.

There's also an odd harshness to the upper-mids when the volume is raised at all high. With anything but the smoothest of recordings, vocals can cut through with an unpleasant edge.

Electronic music sounds pretty good through the Beats Studio, as it manages to minimise the effects of these headphones' sonic shortcomings. But more challenging arrangements show up their issues.

The Beats Studio are fine-sounding headphones, but they don't have the qualities that separate a good £100 headphone from a good £270 one. We expect a little more finesse at the price.

Should I buy the Beats Studio headphones?

There's quite a lot to like about the Beats Studio. They're comfortable, they're flexible and - in terms of their lines at least - they are more innocuous than the Beats Studio of old.

A mix of active noise cancellation and simpler isolation means they fare pretty well on public transport.

However, several aspects of both the sound and design don't seem to quite match up with the price. The glossy plastic finish can look a little cheap, especially when laden with fingerprints, and the thick sound, complete with harsh mids/treble, doesn't have the finesse we expect at the price.

They're sure to win a bunch of fans, but we think that even bassheads will prefer the more refined Sennheiser Momentum, which also have better low and sub-bass performance.

Verdict

The Beats Studio improve upon their predecessors with simpler active noise cancellation and a more streamlines design. They're enjoyable headphones, but thanks to a few sound issues we'd recommend checking out a few other sets for becoming part of the Beats brigade.

MORE: Best noise cancelling headphones to buy 2014

Overall Score

7

Scores In Detail

  • Design & Features 8
  • Sound Quality 6
  • Value 6

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erictexas

August 23, 2013, 3:22 pm

nothing against Beats, but I’ve seen some other great buys for great sound at the same price

Fraser Stewart

August 23, 2013, 7:03 pm

7/10 is being very generous. The price to quality ratio is very poor. My Sony-V55s at £40 out do these headphones in terms of sound quality.

Eliezer Teku Peralta

October 23, 2013, 6:38 pm

7/10 because of the upper mids. My Somic ST 2688 professional dynamic headset out performs this and it's a lot more comfortable to wear.

Fraser Stewart

October 24, 2013, 1:01 pm

Sounds very subjective. But I found the midrange to be very recessed on these headphones. It was like listening to music through cotton wool.

Although, to be fair, my ears are more accustomed to open-back designs. So closed back headphones generally sound more wooly to my ears. But the beat studios just sound even more wooly.

The thing that annoys me most is that these are advertised as studiophile headphones.

Nobody should ever use these headphones in the studio anywhere.

datkidarice

November 1, 2013, 8:59 pm

I recently returned my Beats (Monster Logo) Solo HD Red headphones due to the cushion coming apart that supports the headphones on the inside. Now, I thought this process was going to be a simple one...I was wrong. Not only does Beats no longer manufacture the Beats product with Monster, which means, I won't be getting the same product that I originally purchased, it also means there's a good possibility that the quality of the headphones that would be sent to me would be sub-standard in relation to the VALUE of my original headphones. Not only did your organization send me a pair of headphones that were sub-par in quality and standard but they are a different color in relation to my original pair and they also appear to be USED AND NOT NEW. How unacceptable is this! If your strategic planning is based on sales, than that's fine but your product is suffering based on the quality of the item that I received. The sad part about this is that, I'm probably going to be shipped/mailed another pair of mediocre quality headphones...again. I truly hope that his is not the case. In closing, I would like to say that there are three marketing strategies that I know of...
1) Sales
2) Product
3) Consumer oriented
Which strategy does Beats by Dr. Dre adhere to?

Denny Crane

March 13, 2014, 9:48 pm

I've tried these...things... and was pretty surprised at the high rating, here. Then, as I noticed how far down you had to scroll to get to how they actually SOUNDED, I realized- they care more about appearance than audio fidelity. These awful headphones muddy up everything I played. These are for teenagers who are into image and confuse bass with quality. It's no wonder that "Beats by Dre" were originally sold by Monster... yes, the same company famous for the $120 hdmi cables.

Big Felt

March 31, 2014, 1:59 am

Beats customer service is one of the worst dishonest people I ever dealt with.

Big Felt

March 31, 2014, 2:01 am

If you don't get a warranty and buy em from Best Buy you're screwed their customer service is horrible

Goody Good that's how it started Fuckin Best Buy $ 300 head phones no best buy warranty after 15 days. Beats told me to send them to them and they said that they would send me a replacement one step better . It came and it was One step down. they told me that their declaimer says they will send what ever they feel you need WTF

sdl65

May 10, 2014, 1:07 pm

Lots of hype. Style over substance. I'll stick with my Bose all day long.

Reggie Hooks Jr.

July 5, 2014, 9:07 pm

I am an engineer and have to say these headphones are definitely worthy the price. Now it is a mighty high price, but they do not disappoint, and I sat in Best Buy and listened to everything to make sure. Bose are cool, but the ANC is not worth the sacrifice in comfort and, yes, Beats look much better than anything else out there. Bose joints are just plain ugly. Sony makes a few cool looking headphones, but they sound horrible; no low boom, way to much high freq... If you think these headphones make your music feel muddy try listening to none MP3 music.

Sam Sirrieh

July 30, 2014, 6:24 pm

I got them last week and they are on the way back to where they came form. I do not understand how and why they are any better than the $25 headphones you buy form other stores. I tell you why!!! It's all in the head, these companies find a way to convince the rest of the idiots out there (92%) that they are the best, Save you money and go buy yourself a nice earbud headphones. They are small, don't heat your ears, and sounds 100% better than the above.

FreshBeatsHere

August 15, 2014, 6:08 pm

I use beats and they are the best headphones for producing!!

Guest

December 17, 2014, 5:00 pm

de

Guest

December 17, 2014, 5:01 pm

dee

Guest

March 24, 2015, 1:17 pm

No. They really aren't!
Post links to your music please so we can all mock it relentlessly for your clueless comment about low quality headphones and how great they are for production.

Guest

March 24, 2015, 1:18 pm

The price is too high for terrible quality headphones - and they price is actually low for a set of good production cans.

Bose are atrocious. Easily one of the worst audio equipment manufacturers in the world.

" If you think these headphones make your music feel muddy try listening to none MP3 music"

What does that mean? You're very unlikely to hear the difference between 320 MP3 and CD quality WAV format unless you've got a treated room and good studio monitors

Maria Evelyn Cecil

July 2, 2015, 5:37 pm

I hate the hiss! And it's so annoying you can't turn the noise canceling off. But all in all I kinda like them, they're comfortable and nice to look at. Hella happy with the chargeable battery. Sort of do and do not agree with the shitty costumer service stories. In all honesty, I went to one of the apple resellers in my city because of the hiss. And when I asked them if that was normal and because of the noise canceling they told me my headphones didn't have noise canceling, that the his wasn't normal and that I should contact apple care! WTF.

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