Review of the Beats Studio Pros
There are a myriad of ways to listen to audio, and the manner in which you listen depends on the current situation. If you are in an area without others, you could use a HomePod, Sonos, or even just the speakers on the device. However, if there are others around you, say on a train, in an office, or even at home, you will likely need to use some sort of headphones.
The type of headphones that one chooses can depend on use case. If you go out exercising you may want some super light headphones, whereas if you are at home you may not mind something a bit larger. These could be some on-ear or over-the-ear headphones.
I recently replaced my Beats Studio Pro headphones with a pair of Beats Studio Pro headphones, before we dive into the Beats Studio Pro, let us take a brief look at my own history with headphones.
My Headphone History
Throughout my life I have owned an innumerable number of various headphones. These have ranged from very basic wired headphones, to some Koss over the ear headphones, to a wide variety of Apple headphones, like the EarPods, AirPods, and a couple of Beats Headphones.
My purchase of the Beats Studio Pros are not the first pair of Beats headphones that I have purchased. In fact these are the third pair of Beats that I have purchased. My previous Beats headphones were the Beats Solo 3 Wireless that I reviewed back in 2016. The second pair were the Beats Solo Pro, which I reviewed back in 2019.
I had intended on waiting until the 2nd generation of AirPods Max were released, but unfortunately that was not possible because one of the ear pads on my Beats Solo Pros started to come off. This has not been the only issue with the Beats Solo Pros that I have experienced.
The first issue has been that I have had with the Solo Pro is that the right ear cup sometimes stops working. I can usually get this working again by tapping fairly hard on the inside of the ear cup.
A second issue that I experience is that if I enable the Noise Cancelling there is a distinctive hum that makes even attempting to use Noise Cancelling difficult to handle.
The last issue that I have experienced is that the outside padding has rubbed off. As far as I can tell this is from the temples of my eyeglasses rubbing against the ear pad.
Now, let us move onto the Beats Studio Pros themselves, starting with the box.
One of the areas where Apple is focusing on is using recyclable materials. At their "Wonderlust" event on September 12th, 2023, Apple indicated that they are attempting to have all of their products be completely carbon neutral by 2030. One of the ways that this can be accomplished is by using recyclable materials.
The box that the Beats Studio Pros come in is a completely different shape than the previous Beats boxes. The outside looks as though it is made of recycled material. It has a texture that is consistent with recycled material. Beyond this, there is no plastic on the box at all. The art that represents the headphones is actually a paper-based item and it has been made from recycled products.
The Beats Studio Pros come in four color options, Sandstone, Navy, Deep Brown, and Black. Regarding the colors, I am not a fan of the Sandstone, due to it likely getting dirty easier than the others. Neither the Deep Brown nor the Navy are to my liking, so by default I got the Black ones, but to be honest I prefer the Black headphones.
The Beats Studio Pros are over-the-ear headphones, which means that they cover the entire ear. This is new for me, since the Beats Solo 3 and Beats Solo Pros. Both of these headphones were on-ear, meaning that they just sat on the ear.
Ear of the ear cups on the headphones folds. This is good just for storage, and is very similar to both of the previous beats that I have owned. When you unfold the ear cups and put them into their locked position, there is a very satisfying snap that allows you to know that they have been locked into place.
When you look at the inside of the headband on the left side, you will see the words "Left Ear". This is the only side that has any markings on it. This allows you to easily determine the proper orientation for the headphones.
There are two ports on the Beats Studio Pros, a USB-C connection and an analog audio port.
Setting up the Beats Studio Pros is very similar to the experience of setting up any of Apple’s headphones. All you need to do is power on the Beats Studio Pros and your iPhone will recognize them and offer that you connect them to your device.
One difference between the Studio Pro and other Apple headphones is that it has a couple of additional screens. The second screen that you will see, after the headphones have connected is an informational screen about adjusting media controls. The third screen will actually allow you to choose how many times you need to press the "b" button to end a phone call. The default is "twice", but you can opt to only press it once to end the call.
The Beats Studio Pros have two buttons. The first button is a power button which are used to power on and off the headphones. The second button is the "b" button on the left ear cup which is used for play/pause, skipping forward, skipping backwards, and ending a call. You can adjust the volume up and down using buttons that are directly above, and below, the "b" button.
For volume adjustment you can either click the button to adjust the volume a single increment, or you can hold it down in order to adjust it multiple increments.
For me, it has been an adjustment to get used to the volume being back on the left side. This is opposite of the Beats Solo Pros, but it is the same orientation as the Beats Solo 3 Wireless headphones. I am sure that I will get used to it, but it is an adjustment, just like when I went from the Solo 3 Wireless to the Solo Pros.
The case of the Beats Studio Pros is a pretty good quality. The case is zippered that allows you to store your Beats Studio Pros along with additional items. The case has the ability to stand on its own, so you can easily keep the case in a place where you keep your headphones and you can even place them in the case every time you are finsihed with them.
Within the case you will find a couple of slots for cables. When you buy a pair of Beats Studio Pros included with be a USB-C cable, as well as an analog audio cable. There is also a zippered pouch where you can store additional items. There is not enough room to put anything massive in the zippered pouch, but you could put some additional items in there.
It is possible to fold the case in a way to be able to get a bit more access to the zippered section. This is done by folding the two top flaps outwards. This does provide a location to put cables.
Even though the case is a quality case, I would have liked to have it be a bit more expandable so I could more easily see what might be in the zippered pouch without needing to fold the flaps backwards.
Weight and Fit
One of the first things that I noticed with the Beats Studio Pros was the weight. I initially thought that Studio Pros were significantly lighter than the Solo Pros, but in fact there is only a 7 gram difference between the two. The Studio Pros are 260 grams while the Solo Pros are 267 grams. This is only a difference of 2.6%, which is neglible.
It took me a bit to figure out why the new Studio Pros seem lighter and I think it comes down to the distribution of the weight. While the two devices are close in weight, the Studio Pros seem to have more even weight distribution. What this does is it makes the headphones more comfortable to wear for longer periods of time.
One of the issues that I did run into with the Solo Pros is that they clamped down on my ears a bit, which could make them a bit uncomfortable to wear for long stretches of time. This clamping also meant that the templates of my glasses rubbed against the ear pads.
Overall the Studio Pros do feel lighter, even if they are in reality only marginally lighter. Let us move onto Power and Charging.
Connecting to Devices
As mentioned in the Setup section, the Beats Studio Pros have a standard setup for Apple devices. One thing that the Studio Pros does not have is automatic switching. Automatic Device Switching is a feature introduced in 2020 with the release iOS 14, iPadOS 14, and macOS Big Sur. With Automatic Device Switching, headphones that support the feature will automatically connect to your other devices if audio or video begins.
The Beats Studio Pros do not have support for Automatic Device Switching. This is likely due to the headphones not having a W1 chip in them. Instead, The Beats Studio Pros have a proprietary chip that provides Fast pairing with both Apple and Google devices.
For me, this is not a problem at all. I have never really liked the Automatic Device Switching because when I did have it enabled it would switch to other devices when I did not want them to. This included when I was active listening to some audio and accidentally scrolled to some other media on an app, or if a video automatically played with audio, it would switch. This quickly became too annoying so I disabled it on all of my devices and headphones. So, not having it is not a problem at all.
Power and Charging
One of the things that I have had to get used to with the Beats Studio Pros has been that there is a physical power button. This is a change for me since both the Beats Solo Pro and Beats Solo 3 Wireless headphones automatically turned off when you folded the ear cups. This is not the case with the Beats Studio Pros. Instead, there is a power button that is used to turn on and off the Beats Studio Pros. The power button has additional functionality, but that will be covered in a bit.
One of the more recent changes for Beats headphones, as well as Apple-branded headphones, is the use of USB-C. This is definitely a change over the Beats Solo Pros, which used a Lightning cable for charging, and the Beats Solo 3 Wireless headphones had a micro-USB connection for power.
On the Beats Studio Pros you actually have an array of five lights. These are used to indicate approximately how much battery power is left. You might think that with five lights that each light indicates an additional 20% of charge, but that is not my experience. As an example, as I am writing this my Studio Pros have a charge of 77%, but the first four lights are full and the last one is much dimmer, but still not entirely empty.
You can easily see the approximate battery life by pressing the power button once. This will light up the battery LEDs for a few seconds and then turn off. If your headphones are low, you can charge for 10 minutes and get about 4 hours of battery life with the "Fast Fuel" (really fast charging). This is great for those times when you do not have a lot of time to charge but need to charge your headphones.
The inclusion of USB-C is great, not just because it is a standard and you can use any USB-C cable for charging, it also has additional functionality, in particular it provides an additional function, lossless audio.
One of the enhancements of the Studio Pros over the previous headphones is the ability to listen to audio using the USB-C cable while connected to a compatible device. This can include a Mac, an iPhone, iPad, or any other lossless capable device.
When your Studio Pros are connected via USB-C you can actually choose from three "sound profiles". Each of these sound profiles has their own use case. These profiles are:
- Beats Signature - balanced tuning for music
- Entertainment - elevated experience for movies and games
- Conversation - designed for phone calls and podcasts
I suspect that each of these profiles will change the frequencies that are louder. As an example, for the "Conversation" sound profile the higher-end of the range will be louder, because that’s where the human vocal range lies. Similarly, for the "Entertainment" profile, I suspect that spatial audio will be used to provide better emphasis. Lastly, for "Beats Signature", this is obviously going to be emphasizes various aspects of each song.
The sound profiles are selectable by clicking and holding on the power button. The profile that is currently active can be determined by the number of power lights shown.
In order to use the sound profiles you must be connected to a device via USB-C. These profiles do not work while connected wirelessly. This is because the power button is used for powering on and off the Beats Studio Pros while wirelessly connected. You can read more about the optimized sound profiles on Apple's support article Beats Studio Pro USB-C audio and EQ-optimized sound profiles
Many of Apple’s headphones including the Studio Pros, the Solo Pros, and 2nd generation AirPods offer three different audio modes. These are "Transparency Mode", "Noise Cancellation" and "Off".
Transparency mode is designed to allow you to hear both the audio that you are listening to as well as your surroundings. This mode is useful if you need to be able to hear your surroundings while still listening to your audio.
Everything around you generates sound waves. There are those instances when you need to be able to block out external noise. For these instances Noise Cancellation may be worth having. All of the headphones mentioned above have support for Active Noise Cancellation, or ANC. The way that ANC works is by listening to the sound around you and creating an inverse sound wave. When this happens a significant portion of the external sound is eliminated so you can hear the audio that you are listening to.
You can easily switch between these modes pressing the power button in quick succession. The Beats Studio Pros have a feature that my Beats Solo Pros did not, the ability to customize which modes are toggled when you double-click the power button.
By default the settings only Transparency Mode and Noise Cancellation modes are enabled, but you can specify which ones to toggle between. This is done by using the following steps:
- Open Settings.
- Tap on your Beats Studio Pros.
- Under "Button Cycles Between", select the modes that you want to cycle between.
There are a couple of things to note about this setting. The first is that you must specify at least two modes to toggle between. The second thing to note is that if you have all three modes enabled, the order in which they will cycle is "Noise Cancellation" first, "Transparency" second, and "Off" last.
I have only been using my Beats Studio Pros for about a week, therefore I have not had enough time to determine how well the battery in works over a long period of time. The Beats Solo Pros have a similar battery life to the Beats Solo Pros. The rare rated for 40 hours, with Transparency and Noise Cancellation off. When you enable Transparency Mode or Active Noise Cancellation mode, the battery life will be reduced.
This makes sense given that both ANC and Transparency Mode require processing. In the case of ANC it is to cancel out the external noise, while Transparency requires that processing to amplify the sound around you.
99.9% of the time I do not turn on Active Noise Cancellation nor Transparency Mode. During my testing, I did enable both modes to make sure that they did indeed work, and both modes functioned as expected.
Overall Sound Quality
Unless you are a professional audiologist or review many audio products for a living, it can be a difficult task to quantify the difference between similar headphones. I will be the first to say that I am not a professional audiologist nor a professional audio reviewer.
Beats are typically known for emphasizing the bass of a track. When I first started using the Studio Pros it seemed like there may be less of an emphasis on bass. However, I do not think anything has changed. In fact, I think there may be the same amount of bass in songs as my old Beats Solo Pros. I think there may be two primary causes for the difference between the Studio Pros and Solo Pros.
The first difference is likely in age of the headphones. My old Beats Solo Pros, as previously mentioned, do have some audio issues. The ear pad falling off of the right ear does not help the sound quality. Plus, the right ear cup stops working from time to time.
The second, and more likely difference is the fact that the new Studio Pros are over-the-ear, while the Solo Pros are on-ear. Initially you might not think that this could cause much of a difference, but it can. Instead of having all of the audio directed towards your ear canal and having some of it bounce out, as was the case with the Solo Pros.
I do not often make or take phone calls on my phone, but there are some people who do call me. Phone calls on the Beats Studio Pros have a bit too much echo on them. While on phone calls, I could hear myself echoed back, which is not the experience that I have had with other Beats headphones, nor any of Apple’s other headphones. While on a phone call, I looked at the microphone setting and it was set to "standard". I did try switching it to "Voice Isolation" it had no effect on the sound quality. I hope that a firmware update can correct this.
I did not try connecting directly to the phone either via audio cable or via USB-C cable to test, but that may be something I do in the future if this continues.
Personalized Spatial Audio
In May of 2021 Apple announced that the some tracks on Apple Music would be getting a new feature called Spatial Audio. Spatial Audio is a technique of recording music that makes the audio that you are listening to seem as though it is coming from all around you. Spatial Audio makes audio sound as though it is all around you, not just from the left and right, as it would with stereo headphones.
Starting with iOS 16.0 and iPadOS 16.1 Apple introduced is a new feature called Personalized Spatial Audio. Personalized Spatial Audio will allow you to scan your left and right ears, using the true depth camera to create a personalized audio profile exactly for your ears. When you do this a custom Spatial Audio profile will be created just for your ears, which will make the experience significantly better.
There are actually two Spatial Audio modes, "Fixed" and "Head Tracked". "Fixed" mode will enable spatial audio and it will be consistent the entire time. Meanwhile, the "Head Tracked" mode will adjust the audio as you turn your head. This is used to provide the illusion of the sound coming from a particular device.
There are a couple of requirements for this feature. The first thing is that you need a pair of AirPods Pro (1st or 2nd generation), AirPods Max, AirPods (3rd generation), Beats Fit Pro, or Beats Studio Pro, in order to use this feature.
The second thing is that you need to have a device with Face ID. This is needed to be able to personalize the scanning of your ears. This means that the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus do not support Personalized Spatial Audio. To begin the setup of Personalized Spatial Audio perform these steps:
- Open the Settings app.
- Tap on your 3rd generation AirPods, AirPods Pro, or AirPods Max.
- Scroll down to Personalized Spatial Audio.
- Tap on Personalized Spatial Audio. This will bring up an information screen.
- Tap on Personalized Spatial Audio to begin setup. A detailed information screen will appear.
- Remove the AirPods from your ears.
- Tap on the Continue button. The Front View Capture screen will appear.
- Tap on the Start Front View Capture button.
- Scan the front of your face, following the instructions.
- Tap Continue to start the Right ear capture.
- Capture your right ear using the True Depth camera.
- Once completed tap the Continue button to begin the scanning of your left ear.
- Scan the left ear similar to how you scanned your right ear.
- Tap the Done button to complete the personalization.
Once you have finished scanning your personalized Head Tracking profile will be saved. At first glance it may seem like the process would take a while, but in reality it is a fairly quick process and it only needs to be done once. Once a Personalized Spatial profile has been created it will be saved in your iCloud account so it can be used on all compatible devices automatically.
One thing that I have noticed is that Personalized Spatial Audio is sometimes automatically enabled on Dolby Atmos tracks while using Apple Music. When it is enabled the "Fixed" option is used. You can enable the "Head Tracked" option within Control Center, if you so choose.
Overall, I like the Beats Studio Pros. Even though they are only slightly lighter than the Beats Solo Pros, they feel lighter when wearing them. Beats Studio Pros are not an inexpensive purchase at $350. The Beats Studio Pros have Active Noise Cancellation, which can allow you to block out external noise. For those times that you need to amplify the outside noise, you can also use Transparency Mode.
The Beats Studio Pros have a USB-C connection. The USB-C connection has two functions. The primary function is for charging, The second function is to be able to listen to audio over USB-C. When you do this, you can use one of the Sound Profiles for that have been optimized for Voice, Entertainment, or Music.
Having to power off the headphones can be an adjustment, but it is likely that you will quickly get used to having to power them off and on. If you are looking for a pair of over the ear headphones, the Beats Studio Pros are ones that you might want to consider. But, if you are on a lot of phone calls, you may want to find another pair of headphones if echo is a problem for you.