Compared to their predecessors, the Studio Buds, the Beats Studio Buds + offer a number of improvements that are so successful that they turn a good pair of headphones into an even better pair. Although the gap between these and the Apple AirPods 2 Pro is still significant, it has become far smaller than was the case with the previous model.
For just under 200 euros, you get an alternative to the AirPods Pro 2 that can definitely be taken seriously, even if some comfort features such as Auto Pause, wireless charging or a fit test are not included. On the plus side, these True Wireless in-ears are far more Android-friendly and can therefore be used more flexibly than comparable models from the parent company.
- Sound (with slight limitations in the treble)
- Improved ANC and sound quality
- Battery life
- Wearing comfort
- Only few configuration options
- No wear sensor / no auto pause
- No wireless charging
- Spatial Audio not as flexible to use as Apple AirPods Pro 2
Beats’ Studio Buds + are True Wireless in-ears with great sound quality that directly compete with the AirPods Pro 2 from Apple, but are around 100 euros cheaper. On top of that, they are generally open to use with Android, which makes them more flexible to be used in day-to-day life.
Who are the Beats Studio Buds + aimed at?
The Beats Studio Buds + are aimed at those who are looking for alternatives to the stalk design à la AirPods who would also like the same feature set for iOS and Android.
Beats Studio Buds + package: Here’s what you get
In the fully recyclable packaging, you will find the Beats headphones resting in their charging case, four pairs of silicone earpieces (XS to L), a short USB-C charging cable (approx. 18 cm) as well as the usual written materials including stickers and a trial subscription to Apple Music.
Design of the Beats Studio Buds +
These Beats are available in three colours – or rather three designs – because in addition to black with a gold logo or cream, these headphones are also available with transparent housings. We were familiar with the transparent smartphones and headphones from Nothing. We opted for the transparent version when buying them from apple.com, and this gave us a glimpse of the inner workings of the in-ears (IPX4) and the charging case.
The case fitted well in the hand, but at 73 x 52 x 26mm, it is not one of the slimmest, so they might not fit in the pockets of tight trousers for transport. The headphones and the case lid are securely locked in place by strong magnets.
Wearing comfort of the Beats Studio Buds +
When it came to wearing comfort, we could not complain. Choose between the different-sized earpieces, then hold the in-ears by their “bridge” and turn them downwards so that the driver openings slide deeper into the ear canal. Unfortunately, there is no option to check whether they fit properly via a fit test in an app or the system settings. The only way to do this is in the old-fashioned way: trial and error.
How easy are the Beats Studio Buds + to use?
Apple are known for developing devices that are easy to use. This also applies to their Beats models: all the functions of the Beats Studio Buds + always worked reliably – from the first pairing to the controls.
Unfortunately, the controls were severely limited, and it is not possible to change much. Only the press-and-hold gesture can be swapped from noise control (left or right – with the option of a voice assistant) to volume control. You can also choose whether to end calls by pressing once or twice.
That was definitely not enough for us. The two comfort features, “Switch ANC/Transparency” and “Change volume”, cannot be used at the same time, which was a bit of a disappointment.
Touch commands are not available either, you have to press in the classic way, and this has advantages and disadvantages. The biggest point of criticism would be the fact that pressing on the in-ear earpieces inevitably changed the fit. However, this was limited, thanks to their good fit. The advantages were the “accuracy” and reliability in the implementation of the control commands.
Of course, you can also use the Beats Studio Buds + via voice assistant; both Siri (“Hey Siri”) and the appropriate alternatives were supported.
Bluetooth connectivity of the Beats Studio Buds +
The Beats Studio Buds + use Bluetooth version 5.3 and the SBC and AAC codecs. Indoors, the wireless link was stable to the extent that we were able to listen to music two rooms away without any dropouts. In open spaces, it was possible to cover more than 35 metres.
Pairing was quick and easy on both platforms: Simply open the case, and a pop-up appears with instructions for further setup steps. If it doesn’t work right away, you can reach for the pairing button, which is located under the charging case lid.
Apple, or rather Beats, make switching between multiple players easy. Thanks to one-touch pairing, a connection was quickly established with any device connected to one’s iCloud account (from iOS 16.4). Within a few seconds, the headphones switched the active connection when we clicked on the Bluetooth settings.
The same applied to Android: In addition to Google Fast Pair, the Beats Studio Buds + Audio Switch were compatible, and this was basically the same as Apple One-Touch Pairing and required a Google account and Android devices with Android OS after version 8.
By the way, the Beats Studio Buds + do not support multipoint, i.e. the ability to be connected to multiple players at the same time.
Is it worth installing the Beats App for the Beats Studio Buds +?
If you are using iOS and macOS, the configuration options are integrated into the system settings, provided you have a reasonably up-to-date model with the latest operating system. Therefore, an app is not necessary.
On Android, you have the option to change some functions with the Beats app, but there isn’t much adjustment available on iOS. Unfortunately.
As previously mentioned, you can alter the press-and-hold gesture, rename the headphones and check the battery status of both the in-ears and the case. Of course, to activate your voice assistant or tracking, you also need to grant the appropriate permissions.
There’s not much more you can do with the Android app, and you only really need to activate it if you want to make future firmware updates.
It’s a shame that Beats restricts the tuning options so much. If you’re looking for headphones that can be customised to your own detailed needs, you should take a closer look at the Technics EAH-AZ80 or the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3.
The battery: How long do the Beats Studio Buds + last?
Beats claims six hours of battery life with ANC or transparency mode active and nine hours on one charge without. The case can then charge the empty Studio Buds + three times, which means a running time of 24 hours or 36 hours. In practice, we managed over seven hours with active noise cancelling.
These are good values, so you can easily listen to music all day with the Buds +. If the battery does run out, five minutes is enough for another hour of music playback, thanks to Fast Fuel.
One drawback: the Studio Buds + do not support wireless charging, so you’ll always have to use a USB-C cable.
How good are the noise cancelling and transparency modes?
The passive noise cancellation was already good to very good when the Studio Buds + were properly fitted and locked, but when the single-stage noise cancelling was added, the built-in electronics canceled out a wide range of noises. It was mainly the low-frequency components that disappeared, while the mids and highs experienced a lighter suppression. Compared to the previous model, Beats have once again improved the technology. The manufacturer claim that the new ANC has been improved by a factor of 1.6. We couldn’t measure that, but there was a perceptible difference.
The transparency mode was also said to work twice as effectively as that of the previous model and convinced us just as much: external noises reached the ears naturally, without phaser or flanging effects. We were curious to see how Beats would compete with the Apple AirPods Pro 2 in these disciplines. Here we found that Apple’s premium headphones were ahead, which was not surprising. But still, Beats are already pretty close, except for the background noise, which was much more noticeable than with the AirPods Pro 2, especially when transparency mode was activated.
How good do the Beats Studio Buds + sound?
It was amazing how little the current model still had in common with its often criticised predecessors in terms of sound. Back then, there was only one thing that mattered: thick bass! The Beats Studio Buds + can provide that, but thanks to a few acoustic “modifications”, the entire sound image seemed airier, tidier and more detailed.
The bass was present and came across as punchy, including the sub-bass parts. However, the upper bass and lower mid-range seemed to be pulled back so that hip-hop and electronic tracks conveyed a tight and focused foundation.
The midrange seemed tidy and managed to bring out details well without being too bold or cutting. On tracks where many acoustic instruments are playing, especially, the Buds + made it possible to “hear”, distinguish and delimit them clearly and distinctly.
Although the highs were crisp and more potent compared to the mids, they still reproduced sharp sibilance softly enough so that the threshold to cutting sharpness was never crossed.
The Beats headphones did not fail in terms of stereo width and depth either. Although both were never as three-dimensional as you might be familiar with from open over-ear headphones due to their design, panning, movement, and opening reverberation space could be tracked well to very well.
Of course, the Beats Studio Buds + were also capable of Spatial Audio, although unlike the Apple AirPods Pro 2 – you can’t enable this in the settings.
Phone calling with the Beats Studio Buds +
According to the manufacturer, the microphones have been enlarged by three times compared to their predecessor, and this should result in crystal-clear calls. We couldn’t confirm this in practice, but we were always intelligible to the person we were talking to, even though external noise was muffled.
- Ear couplingIn-ear
- Transducer principledynamic
- Weight without cable5 g each, case 49 g
- Cable length18 cm
What's in the box
- 4 pairs of ear tips (XS, S, M, L)
- USB-C charging cable
- Charging case
- Available in black / gold, ivory, transparent
- BT version: 5.3
- BT codecs: SBC, AAC