The Beats Studio Pro offer much of the function of Apple’s AirPods Max for cheaper, but sound and comfort are bettered by Sony and Bose in this competitive price range.
Price When Reviewed
Best Prices Today: Beats Studio Pro
It has taken Beats four years to update its premium over-ear headphones, but the design department didn’t contribute much.
The Beats Studio Pro improve upon 2019’s Beats Studio 3 Wireless in both name, sound quality, and features, but the look is very similar to the Beats headphones that have adorned heads around the world for more than a decade.
Although Beats is owned by Apple these days, the Studio Pro are designed to appeal to both iPhone and Android phone users with features that cater to both platforms.
It makes the Studio Pro a solid choice if you don’t want to spend loads more on the older AirPods Max as they are $349.99/£349.99, but at this price the Sony WH-1000XM5 or Bose QuietComfort 45 are better options.
Design & build
Not quite over-ear fit
Quite tight on large heads
Plastic shows dirt
I have a hard time telling the Beats Studio Pro apart from any previous Beats headphones. They still look good, thankfully, but after so many years, a design change wouldn’t go amiss.
That’s especially true given these are not the most comfortable over-ear headphones. First, they are not quite over-ear, as the ear cups are a little too small to completely go around the outside of my ears to sit on my head as the design intends.
Dominik Tomaszewski / Foundry
Instead, the soft cushioned material hugs the edges of the top and bottom of my ears, meaning I got sweaty ears quite quickly. After an hour or two I had to take the Studio Pro off as those parts of my ears began to hurt.
The ear cups on some of the best headphones such as AirPods Max, Sony WH-1000XM5 and Bose QuietComfort 45 all completely envelope my ears and are more comfortable for longer periods of wear.
The Studio Pro’s plastic construction has a nice matt finish but does creak under bending. They’re not the most premium feeling plastic cans. The dark blue pair I reviewed showed fingerprints and oils remarkably fast and clearly. If you don’t want to see how gross you really are, don’t buy blue, black or brown – go for the sandstone colour.
You can adjust the headband on either side, and the part that sits against your head is a smooth rubber. Both earcups are emblazoned with a Beats ‘b’ on either side, and the left ‘b’ acts as a play/pause physical button you must click. It also has volume up and down above and below it on the circular surround.
On the right earcup is an on/off and noise cancelling toggle button along with a five-light battery indicator. You also get a 3.5mm headphone jack and USB-C port for charging and audio. It’s great that you also get both these cables in the box, along with a lovely soft zip carry case the headphones fold down to fit into.
Well balanced sound
Lossless audio over USB-C
Spatial audio support
Although Beats headphones are known for their bass-heavy sound I found the Studio Pro to have a nicely balanced sound that complements a lot of genres. Rock, pop, hip-hop and even classical sound great through the 40mm drivers.
There’s not too much in it between how these Apple-made headphones sound compared to 2020’s AirPods Max, but the latter do sound better when streaming Apple Music thanks to clearer tuning and frequency separation. It’s not that the Beats sound muddy, they just don’t sound quite as good, and the audio has less depth.
I rarely felt disappointed in the sound quality when using the Studio Pro as my main headphones for several weeks – not something I could have said of previous Beats, which always leant too hard into the bass. These do too, but not to an overpowering degree. They have a bit more zest and character than the Bose QC45, but the Bose sound fuller overall.
Dominik Tomaszewski / Foundry
The Studio Pro handle The Dealer by Nilüfer Yanya well despite the busy mix, bringing the bass, guitar, and drums to the fore when needed.
Duality by Slipknot hits you with the force the band intended, though there is the slightest hint of distortion, even at 75% volume. These headphones can get very, very loud.
De La Soul’s Stakes Is High sounds great – in fact, if hip-hop is your jam then the Studio Pro are a superb choice. The attention to the low end really pays off, similarly heard on Nas’s N.Y. State of Mind where the bass and piano samples are prominent but the space in the mix is allowed to breathe.
If using Apple Music, the Studio Pro can playback Spatial Audio tracks, and also support head tracking in apps such as Apple TV+ and Netflix. They are nice to have features, but I still feel tracks sound much better without Spatial Audio, especially on decent headphones like this.
Apple Music supports lossless audio quality, but can’t output it to headphones wirelessly, one of Apple’s most annoying audio foibles. But the Studio Pro have a neat trick up their sleeve – they can play lossless files when connected to an audio device via USB-C.
Blur’s ‘Barbaric’ played over USB-C on Apple Music using a Samsung phone sounds wonderful with excellent audio quality. Plugging in in this way disables noise cancelling and transparency modes though, and it’s annoying Beats doesn’t provide a USB-C to Lightning cable for iPhones.
It’s also annoying that plugging in to listen to audio via USB-C charges the headphones, as this how they normally charge. You might not want to run your phone down while listening to music, and the whole thing feels a bit clunky.
Noise cancelling & smart features
Decent noise cancellation
Excellent transparency mode
EQ modes only over USB-C
The best update along with sound quality here over previous generations is the excellent active noise cancellation and transparency modes that bring the Studio Pro in line with AirPods Max and the in-ear AirPods Pro.
ANC is great, blocking out most outside sounds thanks to six microphones listening for ambient noise and counteracting it. I had no trouble hearing music and podcasts on the ever-noisy London Underground. The reason the ANC isn’t as good as AirPods Max or Bose is because of the fit here, which isn’t completely over-ear.
However, like all AirPods, you can’t control the level of ANC.
Three of those mics sort you out for the excellent transparency mode, allowing you to hear your surroundings or talk to people without taking off the headphones (though you should, of course, in the name of politeness).
Dominik Tomaszewski / Foundry
Those mics must be of good quality because callers also sound excellent through these headphones, making them a good choice if you do a lot of hands-free calls or need to plug in to an audio jack for video calls.
The Studio Pro, like the Beats Studio Buds+, don’t have Apple’s H1 or H2 chip. Instead, they use the ‘Beats Proprietary Platform (gen 2)’. This means the Studio Pro lose AirPods smarts such as auto switching between Apple devices, but more annoyingly, wear detection, so the headphones don’t automatically pause or play music when you take them off or put them on.
It also means that although there’s support for Apple’s Find My and Google’s Find My Device network, the lack of H chip means you’ll only ever see where the headphones were last connected to a device, not where they might have moved to.
The proprietary platform instead caters to ease of iPhone and Android connections, working seamlessly with the latter’s Fast Pair software to quickly pair to Android phones and others set up with the same Google account.
You also don’t get any wireless EQ controls, even those there are controls in iOS and the Beats companion app for Android. The only way to get a choice of EQ is plugged in via USB-C, and even then there are only three presets you can toggle through with the on/off button in a method so undiscoverable I had to look it up on Apple’s website.
Hands-free Siri is handy with iPhones, and Android voice assistants can be called on by pressing holding the ‘b’ button.
Battery life & charging
40 hours without ANC/transparency
24 hours with ANC/transparency
Battery life on the Studio Pro is solid at 40 hours if you don’t use the ANC or transparency modes, but you should and will, so it’s actually 24. I found I didn’t have to charge them much at all, but I am a relatively light user – a couple of hours here and here. I don’t sit using headphones eight hours a day straight.
Charging is via the included USB-C cable, with a ten minute charge giving you four hours of playback from 0%. You can see the battery life natively on iOS or via the Android Beats app battery widget.
As mentioned earlier, they automatically charge when plugged into a phone via USB meaning your handset gets drained when you probably don’t want it to be used on keeping the headphones topped up.
Dominik Tomaszewski / Foundry
Price & availability
The Beats Studio Pro cost $349.99/£349.99, putting them at the premium end of the consumer over-ear headphones market.
You can buy them direct from Beats or Apple globally. They’re also for sale in the US from B&H, and in the UK from Currys.
The Studio Pro are in direct competition with the $399/£379 Sony WH-1000XM5 and the $329.99/£319.95 Bose QuietComfort 45, though you can find the latter for about $249/£249 at the time of writing.
2020’s superb Sony WH-1000XM4 are also still a top alternative when you can find them for under $200/£200.
And although the Apple AirPods Max came out in 2020 and still cost the original price of $549/£549, they fit and sound better than the Studio Pro, have better ANC, and play nicer with Apple devices.
Check our how we rate the top 10 best headphones in the world.
The Beats Studio Pro are good headphones but suffer from poor fit, cheap feeling plastic construction, and features like lossless audio and EQ over USB-C that Beats should have better integrated for people with iPhones.
As wireless over-ears, I would recommend going for the Sony WH-1000XM5 or Bose QuietComfort 45 instead for pure audio and noise cancellation performance.
But if you like the look and feel of the Beats brand and prefer a full, bassy sound and headphones you can plug in with a headphone jack or over USB-C that also have smart features that cater for Apple and Android devices, the Studio Pro are worth a look – though maybe wait till they’re on sale.