Review: Beats Studio 3
9 years ago, Apple made the big announcement to acquire Beats Electronics and Beats Music. Fast forward to 2023 and we still have Beats products on the market which is surprising since Apple has their own lineup of headphones and speakers. Perhaps Apple wanted to keep their premium products with the usual Apple fit and finish to their own branding while Beats maintains its hip image. While that certainly helps in figuring out which audio product is best for you, sometimes, the choice can be tricky when you are looking for a higher-end model. The Beats Studio 3 with its $349 USD ($439 CAD) price is one such example. Let’s see how this pair of headphones fares in a pretty crowded market.
Beats Studio 3
The Beats Studio 3 is on par with other similarly priced noise-canceling headphones on the market, only really distinguished by design and color options. While a solid product, you may want to wait for the next iteration of the Beats Studio to see whether Apple does something really special with the brand.
- Interesting design and color options
- Competes with other similarly priced noise cancelling headphones on the market
- Not functionally different from similarly priced noise-canceling headphones on the market
What’s in the Box?
The Beats Studio 3 wireless headphones come with a carrying case and a 3.5mm RemoteTalk cable. The included USB charging cable is of the microUSB kind which is just a little reminder as to how long the Beats Studio 3 has been around. You also get a quick start guide and a warranty card.
Apple released the Beats Studio 3 way back in 2017 and while headphones can grow into being timeless pieces if they have impressive audio quality, it’s still important to know what features you’ll be getting to see if you can squeeze out every ounce of performance per dollar.
Apple W1 Chip
Having built-in Bluetooth, the Beats Studio 3 is a pair of headphones you can pair up with iOS, Android, and Windows devices. However, you won’t be getting your best bang for the buck unless you have an iOS device. Borrowing from Apple’s older AirPods products, the Beats Studio 3 has a built-in Apple W1 chip. This proprietary chip improves power efficiency, Bluetooth stability and eliminates the occasional stutters you’d normally get from Bluetooth pairing as long as you pair it with a supported Apple device (running iOS 10 or later).
While the W1 chip is certainly better than nothing, the chip is a bit dated once you compare it with the H1 chip found in the AirPods Max or the H2 chip present in the AirPods Pro 2. I wouldn’t call the W1 chip a dealbreaker but if you can’t find the Beats Studio 3 on sale, you’ll essentially be paying full price for something that lacks cutting-edge technologies like spatial audio and other audio improvements.
Pure Active Noise Cancelling
Active Noise Cancelling or ANC is the key reason as to why this pair of headphones is priced the way it is so make sure you really need this feature. The over-ear design is fairly comfortable thanks to the plush ear pads and does a decent job in blocking out noise. But if you want to reduce ambient sound even more, switching on the Pure ANC feature can help a great deal if you don’t mind trading away some battery life. If you pair the Beats Studio 3 with an iOS device, you also get the added benefit of conveniently toggling the ANC setting by double-clicking the power button.
The Beats Studio 3 comes with a 3.5mm cable which might be a little useless considering most modern devices don’t even have a headphone jack. But if you are still rocking an older iPhone or iPad, you can take advantage of the added controls found on this cable. The RemoteTalk cable features dedicated volume buttons as well as a multipurpose center button for answering or declining calls. Holding that center button can bring up Siri too.
The Beats Aesthetic
Apple’s audio products don’t really give you many color options making the Beats Studio 3 an attractive proposition if you like some splashes of color. You can get an all-white design or pick from two variants of black. You may also consider the iconic red or black/red design or blue or shadow gray options. These color options give the Beats Studio 3 a nice urban and hip look.
Although the microUSB port might put a lot of potential buyers off, the Beats Studio 3 at least boasts decent battery life figures. With the ANC feature turned off, Apple claims you can get close to 40 hours. Using ANC cuts the battery life in half which isn’t too bad especially since a short 10-minute charge can add 3 extra hours of non-ANC playback.
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Overall Thoughts: Beats Studio 3
The real selling point of the Beats Studio 3 in 2023 is the design and color options. Newer and similarly priced noise-cancelling headphones from the competition will outperform the Beats Studio 3 in the audio quality department but it’s still an interesting look because it helps paint a fuller picture of a potential successor if it’s in development.
Imagine a Beats Studio 4 with USB-C, the H2 chip, and other Apple-esque sprinkles thrown in. That could very well be something worth paying $350 USD / $440 CAD especially if you find the AirPods Max too costly to stomach. However, that’s still a theoretical scenario and there’s no telling what Apple’s plans are with the fledging brand. But if you want a piece of history, the Beats Studio 3 is a decent buy if you have an iPhone or iPad and can find the headphones at half price.
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