New Beats Studio Buds Offer Great Noise Canceling but Middling Sound

You’ll stand out with bold colors and branding

Key Takeaways

  • The new Beats Studio Buds offer Apple’s proprietary chip, which makes syncing with iOS devices easy. 
  • The noise-canceling on the Buds is among the best I’ve ever tried and is about as good as those on the AirPods Pro. 
  • The Buds can’t match the sound quality of either the AirPods or the AirPods pro.
Someone wearing Beats Studio Buds

Beats by Dr. Dre

There’s a lot to love about the new Beats Studio Buds, which feature top-notch compatibility with Apple products and excellent noise canceling. 

However, the Buds are entering a crowded marketplace for noise-canceling earbuds, with seemingly every audio company constantly releasing new models. I recently tested the Studio Buds against Apple’s AirPods and AirPods Pro. While the Buds offer a stylish alternative, they can’t quite match the generally high sound quality of the Airpods. 

At $149.99, the Buds fall between the cost of the lower-end Airpods and the Airpods Pro. But the Buds offer noise-canceling that’s nearly equal to those of the Airpods Pro. 

"The best part of the Buds is that, like Airpods,  they contain Apple's W1 chip, which allows it to pair automatically with your Mac or iOS device just by holding the case nearby."

Quality Look and Feel

The Studio Buds continue the brand’s long tradition of high-quality manufacturing. The first thing I noticed was the large but solid-feeling charging case which resembles an elongated version of the one used on the AirPods Pro. It has a satisfying, no-slip texture on the plastic and comes in a choice of white, red or black to match the Buds. 

The case offers wireless charging. The Buds claim to provide up to eight hours of battery life per charge, although I was able to get closer to six in practice. This is about the same as the battery life on my AirPods Pro. The charging case holds an additional 16 hours of charge for the Buds. 

The Buds themselves are light enough in the ear but don’t feel so fragile that they will be broken by dropping them. The earbuds contain strong magnets which help orient them inside the case, a process that would otherwise be tricky. 

I found the fit of the Buds to be slightly less comfortable for long periods than the AirPods. The Buds comes with several sizes of replaceable ear tips to let you experiment with a more comfy fit. 

The look of the Buds is definitely bold while you are wearing them. The devices look large, poking out of your ears, the company logo isn’t particularly subtle, and the Buds are meant to be eye-catching. Whether you like that or not is a matter of personal taste, but I prefer the more minimalist appearance of the AirPods. 

The best part of the Buds is that, like AirPods,  they contain Apple's W1 chip, which allows it to pair automatically with your Mac or iOS device just by holding the case nearby. After spending too much of my life trying to pair Bluetooth devices, this feature alone is enough to make the Buds a serious must-buy contender. 

Once paired, the Buds offer a lively sound for most musical genres. The pleasingly precise audio performance was marred by the fact that the earbuds sound slightly tinny compared to many competitors on the market, including both the AirPods and the AirPods Pro.  

The Buds sound best with contemporary genres like hip hop and pop music with a heavy bass boost. Classical and alternative songs I listened to didn't fare as well, with the audio range dropping off sharply. 

Punching Back at Noise

The active noise cancellation in the Buds is among the best I’ve ever tried, tying with the AirPods Pro in their ability to block sounds. Sitting in a noisy room with several people talking at once, I was able to block out their voices and concentrate on work while wearing the Buds. 

Someone holding a set of Beats Studio Buds with the charging case nearby.

Sascha Brodsky / Lifewire

The noise-canceling also came in handy on a hot summer day when I was sitting in front of an air conditioner and trying to enjoy some music. The noise-canceling blocked out the drone of the a/c, and the notes of the song came through clearly. 

The noise cancellation can’t match the far more expensive AirPods Max, although the comparison isn’t fair because the Max headset is an entirely different form factor. 

For those seeking stylish earbuds with excellent noise-cancellation and good battery life, the Buds offer an intriguing option. But if audio quality is a primary consideration, I’d recommend spending a little more money and buying the AirPods Pro.

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