Price: $349 (£349.99 / AU$529.95)
Colors: Black; Deep Brown; Navy and Sandstone
Battery life (rated): Up to 40 hours; 24 hours (ANC enabled)
Water resistance: None
Weight: 9.17 ounces / 260 grams
The Beats Studio Pro are the latest over-ear noise-canceling headphones from one of the most iconic names in audio. These are a direct successor to the Beats Studio3 Wireless, which makes a lot of sense when you see and hear them — they’re almost identical.
What Beats has done this time around is improve the active noise cancelation power and boosted battery life, both of which were sorely lacking in the Studio3 Wireless. Quick charging provides around four hours of playback from a 10-minute charge (handy if you’re about to board a flight and forgot to charge them) and they come with both the USB-C port and 3.5mm jack that were missing on Apple’s similarly spec’d AirPods Max.
That said, after spending some time with them, the AirPods Max still feel like the superior product — especially, when you can find them for just $30 more when they’re on sale in the US.
Overall, the Beats Studio Pro deliver that fun, bass-thumping audio experience with a few important upgrades, but ultimately their narrow sound, lack of an IPX rating, heat-prone foam and exorbitant price tag prevent them from scoring top marks in our testing.
Beats Studio Pro review: Price and release date
The Beats Studio Pro were announced on July 19 2023 and are available to buy at most major retailers and Apple’s website starting on July 20 2023.
In terms of price, the Beats Studio Pro come in at $349 (£349.99 / AU$529.95), which feels pretty expensive for what’s on offer — the headphones, a soft carrying case, a 3.5mm audio cable and a USB-C to USB-C cable.
You can make the argument that the Beats Studio3 Wireless also came out at that price nearly six years ago while nearly everything else has risen in price since then, but that price puts them in direct competition with some of the best wireless headphones like the Sony WH-1000XM5.
I’m not sure the Beats Studio Pro deliver a performance on par with the likes of the Sony WH-1000XM5, especially when it comes to noise cancelation and audio reproduction. But those feelings could change when we start to see these go on sale sometime in the next 12 months.
Beats Studio Pro review: Design
If looks could kill, the Beats Studio Pro would be wanted for murder. They offer a sleekness to their look that makes them fit most head shapes without issue. Critical-listening headphones like the Sennheiser HD800 sound great, but wearing them anywhere outside of your home would make you look like a psychopath. The Studio Pro, however, was designed to be so effortlessly stylish that anyone, anywhere can wear them and not look awkward.
Despite a premium look, however, the actual industrial design is a bit underwhelming. The vast majority of the headphones are plastic, which helps keep them light, but also makes them feel a bit cheap in the hand. The hinges are metal, which is great, but the only thing holding the earcups to the band is a small bit of plastic. Accidentally sit on them one time and it’s easy to imagine them breaking.
Inside the headphone, Beats is using a two-layer diaphragm on its custom 40mm speaker driver. A 25% increase to its Neodymium magnets helps the Beats reach a lower bass level than its predecessors and upgrades to the built-in microphones improve call quality.
The two issues I see from a design standpoint are the lack of an IPX rating and the non-detachable earpads. Sweat will very easily permeate the absorbent-feeling earcups, and those will likely degrade over time. That became such a large issue with the Beats Studio3 Wireless that now there’s a whole third-party market for Beats replaceable earpads.
Both of these were key considerations for Beats to make — and they do seem to be given some thought — but were ultimately not put into the final product.
Beats Studio Pro review: Comfort
The nice benefit of the nearly all-plastic design of the headphones is that they’re incredibly lightweight and don’t sit heavy on the head. All the weight is really put into the earcups, which means the top band feels really comfortable.
Similarly, the cushions themselves now feel softer and more pliable than in previous generations. In short bursts, I think the headphones are actually very comfortable.
Unfortunately, though, if you plan on using them for more than 45 minutes to an hour, you’re going to notice some new unintended consequences of the new material. To wit, the material really isn’t breathable in the same way that the AirPods Max are, and that can cause them to heat up faster and retain that heat while you’re listening to them. After a half-hour or so, you’ll feel that heat in the inner foam, right where your ears sit inside the earcups.
If you’ve struggled to find over-ear headphones that you could wear for hours on end and still be comfortable, I don’t think the Beats Studio Pro will do anything to dissuade you.
Beats Studio Pro review: Controls
Like previous generations, you can control playback using the pad on the side of the headphones. Pressing the large ‘b’ button controls music (pause/skip/back) depending on how many times it’s been pressed, and you can control volume by pressing above or below the ‘b’ button. The multi-function button on the right earcup turns the headphones on and off, switches between listening and EQ modes, checks battery life and pairs your device. It sounds like a lot, but the functionality doesn’t take long to get used to.
When it comes to connecting them to a phone, tablet or laptop, you’ve got three options — there’s a classic 3.5mm headphone jack; a USB-C port that can connect the headphones to a computer or tablet; and there’s built-in Bluetooth.
When you have the option, I recommend connecting it via USB-C. Not only will you get a slight uptick in sound quality, but you can change the default sound profile to one of three options that are suited for music, entertainment, and phone calls, respectively.
Like most Beats products, the Studio Pro are designed to be compatible with Android and iOS devices and have a few features that you’d find on first-party products. On iOS that includes being able to use the command “Hey Siri” to summon the virtual assistant and multi-point pairing with Android and Chromebook devices. It’s nice to see Beats staying platform agnostic this far into its ownership under Apple.
Beats Studio Pro review: Sound quality
The Beats Studio Pro are a return to Beats’ signature sound — that bass-heavy thumpiness you might remember from a decade or more ago. Songs like “Flowers” by Miley Cyrus will hit you upside the head with the bass, but it comes at the expense of details at the midrange. Nearly every song I listened to on the headphones over a Bluetooth connection followed suit: there’s some fun bass, but ultimately the loss of detail in the midrange never felt worth the tradeoff.
Worse, there’s a noticeable amount of sibilance when you drift towards the upper trebles — and that could make snares and high pitches sting if you’re listening at a higher volume. A great example of this is the Bob Marley classic “Three Little Birds” where the cymbal plays on every off-beat, which just becomes painfully obnoxious after about a minute.
Songs that I streamed from Amazon Music and Spotify also had a narrow sound to them. I didn’t come into it expecting open-back headphone levels of depth, but the Studio Pro makes it feel like the instruments are right next to your ears without any real separation.
To try to get a good feel for what the headphones were capable of, I re-listened to Macklemore’s 2017 album Gemini. In each track, the bass came through loud and clear with some songs actually putting out some juicy sub-bass frequencies that I could feel. That said, Macklemore himself sounded sharp and nasally — more than he usually does, I mean — which made some tracks wholly unlistenable.
Where things improved slightly is when I threw on some spatial audio tracks or returned to listening to them via a USB-C connection. “September” by Earth, Wind and Fire (an absolute classic in my headphone testing playlist) sounded great in Dolby Atmos on Apple Music. The trumpet arpeggios are lofted above the mix and the added head tracking feature helps make the track feel more alive. It’s the way this song was meant to be heard.
In short, these headphones are fun for bass-lovers, but if you like a more balanced sound quality you’re better off elsewhere.
Beats Studio Pro review: Active noise cancelation and transparency mode
The Beats Studio Pro’s active noise cancelation is in the good-but-not-great category. It’s strong enough to block out someone talking in the background, but not strong enough to overcome noises like engines or subway trains.
One thing that greatly helps the noise cancelation is the material of the pads themselves: they offer some light passive noise reduction. Even with noise cancelation turned off completely, audio and the passive noise reduction of the earpads can blur outside noise.
All that being said, I don’t feel like the active noise cancelation on display here rivals the likes of the Sony WH-1000XM5, Bose QuietComfort 45, AirPods Max, or even the AirPods Pro 2. If you want top-tier noise cancelation, those are the models to go for instead.
What’s nice here, however, is transparency mode — a feature that allows you to hear what’s going on around while still playing your music. It’s a feature that all the newer Beats earbuds have and has now made its way to Beats’ flagship over-ear model.
Beats Studio Pro review: Battery life
Beats places battery life at around 40 hours with ANC turned off and around 24 hours with it on. That number feels about right based on mylistening experience, but it will change depending on how loud you like your music. (I was probably only able to squeeze about 18 hours of playback time from a charge, but that was listening at a high volume while testing for levels of distortion.)
Need a quick hit of juice before getting on a plane? The Studio Pro can get up to four hours of a playback from just 10 minutes on a charger.
Beats Studio Pro review: Call quality and connectivity
Despite some major improvements in the area, call quality is just fine on the Studio Pro. In my testing, call quality over Bluetooth wasn’t able to surpass the speakerphone of the iPhone 14 (our test device) and paled in comparison to holding the phone up to my ear.
You can expect better sound quality when connected to a laptop via USB-C, but the microphones are susceptible to picking up ambient noise in the background like ambulances. Without stronger noise reduction on the microphones, I won’t be using these as my go-to headphones for the next conference call.
Beats Studio Pro review: Verdict
There’s definitely an audience out there for the Beats Studio Pro. Folks who work from home and can stay connected via USB-C to their laptops and tablets — especially if those tablets have Apple Music with Dolby Atmos spatial audio — will surely like them. The noise cancelation is good enough to drown out neighborhood noise and the call quality is just OK.
That said, for travelers or music purists, I’m not sure these are the best fit. Beats has shown us that its earbuds can do balanced sound quality with a wide soundstage — but the Studio Pro are specifically designed to bring back that thumping bass.
Ultimately, without better noise cancelation or better long-term comfort, and at this steep sticker price, the Studio Pro feel like a low note on Beats’ five-year-long upward trajectory.