The new Beats Studio Buds+ took the internet by storm when the earbuds launched in May, but I must admit that I was not a fan at first glance. The see-through design looked bizarre compared to the bright-coloured Beats Studio Buds that stand out in the crowd.
However, my distaste for the transparent look instantly faded when I opened the grey box. What I thought looked strange brought me back to my childhood when see-through phones and computers were all the rage.
Not only did I fall in love with the design, but the sound quality and Active Noise Cancelling (ANC) surpassed previous models Beats has released in the past few years. Beats, owned by Apple, offers the Studio Buds+ for $169.99, but the transparent design is the latest to join two other colours – black and ivory. I recently spent the past week using the Beats Buds+ to see if the earbuds live up to the hype, and here are the results.
I popped in the earbuds the moment I opened the box and started using them, which was great to have a fully charged pair on my commute home. The Beats Studio Buds+ lasts a little more than six hours with ANC on, a feature known to drain the battery, but the device will last for nine hours without it.
If the charging case is completely powered up, you can enjoy 36 hours of playback. This is compared to Apple’s third-generation AirPods, which provide up to 30 hours of listening with the charging case, six hours without ANC and five hours with.
Like other Beats earbuds, these include fast charging that powers them up with one hour of playback in just five minutes. The hours of power are major upgrades to the Beats Studio Buds, its first truly wireless pair, which had up to 24 hours of battery life. This is likely due to the case being 50 per cent larger and the batteries in the earbuds 16 per cent bigger.
Sound quality is at the top of the must-haves when seeking out earbuds. The Beats Studio Buds+ sounds almost up to par with the AirPods Pro. The tech automatically plays spatial audio for available tracks mixed in Dolby Atmos for multidimensional sound and clarity.
Beats state on its website that the Studio Buds+ uses a dual-layer speaker design, providing balanced bass levels with lower distortion. And it claims ‘three new acoustic vents improve audio precision and gently relieve pressure for a more comfortable all-day fit.’
I have heard other Studio Buds+ owners think the bass does not live up to what they expected from Beats, but it is an upgrade compared to the company’s previous earbuds. Beats offers Studio Buds Fit Pro, designed to endure rigorous workouts, whereas the transparent Studio Buds + were made for just listening.
I notice the sound becomes muffled when running on a treadmill – like I am in a wind tunnel. However, voice calling sounds very clear, which is great for chatting while walking around New York City.
I must admit that I am a newcomer to ANC, so the first Beats Studio Buds were like a dream when I first tested the feature. The Studio Buds+ has improved ANC, ideal for a busy commute through Manhattan, but the feature does not block out everything.
However, this might not be so bad for those living in a city – you must hear cars honking at you while crossing streets. I do appreciate how easy it is to switch between ANC and Transparency. You just need to hold the side of the earbud.
Beats state that Studio Buds + delivers up to 1.6 times more powerful ANC and up to two times better Transparency than its predecessor – and it shows. However, unlike the sound quality, the ANC and Transparency do not match Apple’s AirPod Pros offer.