Beats Studio 3 are in reality Apple headphones. There have been a few changes since the company took over, most notable among which is the use of Apple’s W1 chip.
Its inclusion gives the Beats Studio 3 some technological advantages over the best noise-cancelling headphones in some ways.
Design - Beats Studio 3 Review
The Beats Studio 3 may be Apple headphones, but not in looks. They’re not glossy white as you might expect. The Beats branding and aesthetics are still present and alongside it, their street-cred too.
The design still uses plenty of plastic, with a prominent ‘b’ logo stamped on each ear. The overall aesthetic is more streamlined and sits flatter against your head compared to the clunky first-gen Beats.
The Matt Black version are entirely black and subdued enough not to draw any attention. The headphones are also available in Shadow Grey, Blue, Porcelain Rose White and Red.
The headphones fold smoothly; and look like they can withstand reasonable wear and tear.
The plastics I can live with since it helps to keep the weight down, something that’s favoured by the Bose QuietComfort 35 II, too. The only time the Studio 3s feel a little tacky is on pressing the buttons on the left ear – the click is annoyingly loud.
They’re very comfortable to wear, the foam ear cushions envelop your ears well, squishing flat against the sides of your head like pillows. I found the Beats Studio 3's are comfortable over longer periods, with no problems at all.
Beats Studio 3 – Features
The Beats Studio 3 are straight-up wireless and noise-cancelling headphones that lack any fancy ‘smart’ features, such as the Sony WH-1000XM2’s motion-tracked automatic ambient noise adjustment. This isn’t a bad thing, to be honest I’d rather headphone makers got the basics right. To me, this comes by way of a Bluetooth connection and active noise cancellation (ANC) for blocking background noises.
The battery has a Fast Fuel feature, which provides three hours of playback in 10 minutes. They are fitted with a micro-USB connection which seems like an odd choice as the Studio 3s come from Apple, which has insisted that Lightning is the only physical connection you need on an iPhone 7 upwards.
As for battery life, you can get around 22 hours of play time with ANC on (40 with it off) – but only with Apple devices. With non-iOS gadgets, the Beats Studio 3 achieved about half that. Meanwhile, the Sony WH-1000XM2 offer 30 hours (ANC on) on a full charge, no matter the device you’re using.
It’s the same with the connection, pairing is almost instantaneous on an iPhone or iPad and the connection remains rock-solid. There’s even a ‘seamless switching’ feature: people on iOS 10 and iOS 11 can use the Beats Studio 3 to take calls on an iPhone, then watch a film on a MacBook, all without the usual dance of pairing/unpairing devices.
The Beats 3 really don't cater much for Android, the Beats Studio 3 took an average amount of time to connect to my Samung Galaxy S8. Occasionally, they didn’t show up in the Bluetooth pairing menu, or didn’t always want to connect when they were visible. I also experienced dropouts in areas of high wireless interference, in busy public places.
Sound quality - Beats Studio 3 Review
The sound quality and noise-cancelling performance are on par whether you are using iOS or Android.
Noise cancellation isn’t the best, but it’s still very good. While the Studio 3s aren’t up there with the Bose QuietComfort 35 II, these headphones will happily block out the majority of plane and train sounds.
Audio performance is also pretty good; the sound profile is far more mature and accessible than the bass-dominant approach for which Beats was known. There’s a strong sense of dynamism and rhythm. Te sound is crisp yet eloquent and treble is nicely balanced.
Bass has been deliberately reduced, although I’d still say these headphones favour the low-end, it’s clear that plenty of effort has been made to keep things from sounding muddy and keeping the sound powerful and taut.
If anything, it’s the mid-range that could benefit from some improvement. The emphasis on the lower-mid makes the sound a little thick. It isn’t a huge issue, but lower voices come across with less texture than I would like.
Verdict - Beats Studio 3 Review
If you own an Apple devices then the Beats Studio 3 may be the right choice for you. For Android users, who won’t benefit from the boost of the Apple W1 chip, the experience is distinctly average. The Sony WH-1000XM2 or Bowers & Wilkins PX offer a greater number of features and better sound, for similar money
However, for those who own an iPhone, iPad and iMac, and use these devices to listen to iTunes, these wireless noise-cancelling headphones are a great choice. The Beats 3 have excellent connectivity and battery life as you would expect from an Apple device.