After multiple rumors and media appearances, the Studio Buds were announced with great fanfare in June 2021. These are Beats’ first true wireless active noise cancelling headphones and they’re a bit of a UFO within the Californian brand’s audio offering, as they’re the first products to ditch the Lightning port and compatible with Google Fast Pair and Android Find My Device.

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So it’s a nice hand out to Android users, but unfortunately comes with some frustrations for Apple regulars. Beyond the active noise reduction, the Studio Buds are fairly standard headphones that stand out from the myriad of similar products on the market.

The Studio Beats are available since July 20, 2021 and sold at a guide price of 149.95 €.

Our test was conducted with firmware version 1A174.

Manufacturing & accessories

The Studio Buds contrast drastically with the aesthetics of the Powerbeats Pro, the other pair of true wireless earphones sold by the Californian brand. The imposing BTE design, primarily designed for sports use, is replaced by a discreet design very similar to that of Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Pro, namely olive-shaped earphones that fit in the ear. They look well made and relatively solid. They’re also IPX4 certified, so it’s safe to use them in the rain or during sports that don’t involve total immersion.

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Each earbud has two magnets that allow them to be securely attached to their storage case, but that doesn’t prevent them from being easily removed from their case with one hand. Like the headphones, the case and the hinge for opening it feel solid. The case is significantly larger than the AirPods Pro, but has the advantage of a matte finish that looks and feels much better.

Thanks to their light weight (about 5g) and small size, the Studio Buds offer overall good comfort. They can be worn for long periods of time without any particular discomfort. The venting system built into the earphones is also a big help, as it limits the feeling of pressure, the “corking” effect that is usually seen on in-ear headphones. Of course, a fitting session is de rigueur (three pairs of different sized eartips are provided) to maximize comfort and ensure at the same time the proper functioning of the active noise reduction.

<!–[if IE 9]><!–[if IE 9]> Dénués de capteur de proximité, les écouteurs ne disposent d'aucune mise en pause/reprise de la lecture automatique.

Lacking a proximity sensor, the headphones have no auto-pause/resume feature.

All of this doesn’t make the Studio Buds absolute models of comfort. Smaller people are likely to experience some discomfort/pain in the concha area of the ear cup, as the earphones rely on this area for their otherwise good fit. As with most headphones of this type, a trial run is necessary to see which side of the fence you’re on before making a final purchase decision.

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User experience

Beats have designed their headphones to be just as enjoyable to use on an iOS device as an Android one. This is evident from the moment you pair them, which is just as quick on both OSes, with a connection window appearing when you open the case. The Studio Buds are also Find My and Android Find My Device compatible, so they can be easily found regardless of which smartphone is being used.

<!–[if IE 9]><!–[if IE 9]> Il est possible d’utiliser un seul écouteur, qui bascule alors en mono lorsque le second est placé dans le boîtier.

Only one earbud can be used, which then switches to mono when the second earbud is placed in the case.

Each earbud is flanked by a mechanical button performing the same actions. It is therefore impossible to get lost: one press to pause, a double press to go to the next track, three presses for the previous one. The buttons also allow you to manage calls, change listening modes and activate the phone’s voice assistant. Unfortunately, it is not possible to control the volume with these buttons. These have a very short travel, so you don’t have to push the earphones into your ear every time you press them.

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Les Studio Buds communiquent en Bluetooth et sont compatibles avec les codecs SBC et AAC.

Studio Buds communicate via Bluetooth and support SBC and AAC codecs.

Unlike AirPods and other Beats products, Studio Buds don’t have an H1 or W1 chip, so they don’t have some of the features that are unique to the Apple world. For example, it’s impossible to share audio with other headphones and they can’t be synced between all devices via iCloud. This last point is especially frustrating since the Studio Buds don’t have multipoint functionality: you have to go through the Bluetooth menu every time you change sources, or pair the headphones using the button inside the case.

<!–[if IE 9]><!–[if IE 9]> Les deux premières captures proviennent d’un appareil sous iOS 14.6, les deux dernières d’un appareil sous Android 11.

The first two shots are from an iOS 14.6 device, the last two from an Android 11 device.

That said, the Studio Buds haven’t forgotten about their parent company and have a few features in store for it, such as deep integration with iOS Control Center or native Siri integration (voice-activated when Google Assistant asks for a long press of one of the buttons)

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They also know how to automatically enable Dolby Atmos rendering when it’s available in Apple Music. On Android and iOS, we experienced some connection issues characterized by some pretty nasty crackling, especially on the subway during rush hour when many Bluetooth devices surrounded us. The rest of the time, the headphones were flawless in this regard.

According to our measurements, the Bluetooth communication latency amounts to 285 ms. Without compensation, this value translates into a strong lag between sound and image, and therefore extremely uncomfortable during video playback and gaming. Like many others, Beats’ headphones are fortunately able to set up automatic compensation on a stream from video playback applications such as Disney+, Netflix or YouTube, thus allowing viewing in good conditions. You’ll have to give the game a miss, though.

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<!–[if IE 9]><!–[if IE 9]> Délai de réponse impulsionnelle en Bluetooth.

Bluetooth impulse response time.

The era of Beats-style bass bloat is well and truly over, and the Studio Buds prove it once again

.The manufacturer’s true wireless headphones retain a certain appetite for the low register, while offering a controlled, warm and pleasant sound reproduction.

<!–[if IE 9]><!–[if IE 9]> Mesure de la réponse en fréquence (normalisée à 94 dB SPL à 1 kHz). Avec réduction de bruit active (violet), sans réduction de bruit active (noir)

Frequency response measurement (normalized to 94 dB SPL at 1 kHz).

With active noise reduction (purple), without active noise reduction (black)

The Studio Buds do indeed deliver very deep and well-defined bass. Although the processing is relatively flattering at this level, there’s a nice sense of impact and a very solid foundation that makes the bass sound very immersive. You can feel the attack and resonance of the drums on the large percussion instruments, as well as the bass and synth lines. The lovers of the basses and the most fastidious will be able to detect a small lack of precision, and thus of legibility on the demanding pieces, with many sources/instruments officiating particularly in this area. Nothing very dramatic though.

Let us also specify that the choice of a listening mode has its incidence on the reproduction of the bass and the global sound rendering. The latter are more prominent when the active noise reduction is deactivated, giving the sound a much rounder and warmer aspect… but which finds its limits when the content is already generous in this zone (the slight problem of precision mentioned above then becomes a little more problematic). There is unfortunately no integrated equalizer to compensate for this overweight. With active noise reduction engaged, bass is a bit wiser and listening is slightly more pleasant.

<!–[if IE 9]><!–[if IE 9]> Mesure de la réactivité des membranes : ondes carrées à 50 Hz

Measuring diaphragm responsiveness: square waves at 50 Hz


While the bass is effectively enhanced by these headphones, the mids and highs are not left out. The voices and the first instruments stand out very well. The highs lack a bit of finesse, sometimes amplifying [s] and [ʃ] sounds and making hi-hat hits a bit too heady at times, but we appreciate the generous extension to the highest frequencies. This contributes precisely to one of the strong points of these headphones: stereo reproduction. The soundstage is reproduced in a particularly natural way, extending significantly in width as well as in depth. The positioning of each sound object in space is also clearly visible. We feel that the manufacturer has taken care to ensure that the Studio Buds can sublimate the binaural virtualization of Apple’s Spatial Audio, recently added to Apple Music.

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<!–[if IE 9]><!–[if IE 9]><img src=”https://dyw7ncnq1en5l.cloudfront.net/assets/2021/07/15/1626354564488/newebfrontstyleguide/build/img/svg/lazyload-placeholder.svg” alt=”Harmonic distortion measurement (normalized to 94 dB SPL at 1 kHz)” />

Harmonic distortion measurement (normalized to 94 dB SPL at 1 kHz)

Active Noise Reduction

Studio Buds are Beats’ first headphones with active noise reduction. For a first attempt, they do pretty well, but there are a few things that keep them from being on par with the big boys like the WF-1000XM4 and AirPods Pro. Thanks to their in-ear format, they offer good passive isolation, capable of attenuating surrounding sounds. For example, it’s quite difficult to hold a conversation with the earbuds screwed into your ears without engaging the noise reduction.

<!–[if IE 9]><!–[if IE 9]> Mesure d'isolation : référence (noir), isolation passive (gris), réduction de bruit active (violet), en mode Transparence (orange).

Isolation measurement: reference (black), passive isolation (grey), active noise reduction (purple), in Transparency mode (orange).

Like their AirPods Pro cousins, the Studio Buds only have one noise reduction mode. It works well on low-frequency sounds like engine noise and road noise, but is less effective in the midrange. Voices and keyboard clicks in particular are not attenuated very much, which can be problematic in an environment similar to an open space. In addition, activating the noise reduction feature triggers an audible hiss when no sound is played through the headphones. This could quickly become distracting for someone using these headphones just to shut out the world.

The Transparency mode is quite successful. Of course, the sound in general is a little muffled and the highs are absent, but the tones are correctly restored and it is quite possible to hold a discussion with the earphones in your ears.

Strong points

  • Remarkable stereophonic reproduction.

  • Sound reproduction is controlled and pleasant to listen to.

  • USB-C port for charging.

  • Good autonomy.

Weaknesses

  • Perfectible sound precision, lack of finesse of the highs.

  • Lack of effectiveness of the active noise reduction in the mediums.

  • Fair quality of the hands-free kit.

  • No volume control on the headphones.

Conclusion

on a testé on a aimé

Even if they don’t excel in any field, the Studio Beats manage to establish themselves as convincing true wireless headphones, capable of satisfying their future purchaser on both Android and iOS. If there are reasons to fall for them, notably their great sound performance, there are nevertheless competitors that are a little more accomplished. We’re thinking of the Galaxy Buds Pro or the Freebuds Pro, offered at a relatively similar price, or the very affordable Freebuds 4i. Apple lovers with a bigger budget will be better off with the AirPods Pro

, which are better in every way. It’s up to each of us to choose one of these models according to our needs. Sub-Notes

  • Manufacturing & accessories
  • Comfort & fit
  • User experience
  • Battery life
  • Hands-free kit
  • Latency
  • Audio
  • Active noise reduction