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Beats Studio Pro review: B-tier premium over-ear noise-cancellers

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The Beats Studio Pro are the iconic brand’s most fully featured over-ear headphones yet but fall short of the best in their class


  • Impressive sound quality
  • Decent noise cancellation
  • Classic Beats design


  • Only support SBC and AAC
  • No wear detection
  • Limited customisation options

Having spent several years trying to crack the true wireless earbuds market, Beats has finally updated its over-ear headphones range with the addition of the Beats Studio Pro.

The Studio Pro aren’t a huge design departure from the Beats Studio 3 Wireless but a new transparency mode, Spatial Audio with Dynamic Head Tracking and lossless audio over USB-C make them the iconic brand’s most fully featured headphones yet.

They’re also its best-sounding over-ears and their adaptive noise cancellation does a decent job of allowing you to enjoy your music in peace. They aren’t outstanding in any one department, however, and are held back by limited customisation options, a lack of high-resolution codec support and the absence of wear detection.

No doubt they’ll sell well because they’re Beats, but superior audio quality and ANC can be found for similar money elsewhere, with the Sony WH-1000XM5, Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless and Bowers & Wilkins PX7 S2 all above them in the pecking order.

Beats Studio Pro review: What you need to know

The Beats Studio Pro are the fourth iteration of the company’s maiden release, the Beats Studio, which were created in conjunction with consumer electronics manufacturer Monster Cable and first hit shelves in 2008. Those headphones were powered by a pair of AAA batteries and connected to your phone or MP3 player via an analogue audio cable – a stark reminder of just how far headphones have come in a relatively short period.

Five years later, the Beats Studio (2013) added a rechargeable battery and made some notable tweaks to the design but it wasn’t until 2017 that the series went wireless with the Beats Studio 3.

Beats Studio Pro review - headphones on books

The Studio Pro are The Next Episode in the perennially popular series but have ditched the  Apple W1 chip used by the Studio 3 in favour of second-generation proprietary Beats silicon. Since Apple already has over-ear headphones for iPhone users – the AirPods Max – it makes sense that its subsidiary should take a more ecosystem-agnostic approach with its flagship release and the Studio Pro are designed with both iOS and Android compatibility in mind. That said, there are a few differences between the Studio Pro experience on the two platforms and these will be discussed later.

Regardless of the device you connect to the Beats Studio Pro, you’re getting a pair of headphones that operate wirelessly over Bluetooth 5.3, support the SBC and AAC codecs and offer up to 24 hours of audio playback with noise cancellation or transparency engaged. Without any sound control options active, you’re looking at around 40 hours of playtime, with ten minutes on charge providing four hours of listening and the headphones fully charging from empty in roughly two hours.

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Beats Studio Pro review: Price and competition

The Beats Studio Pro are available in Black, Navy, Sandstone and Deep Brown, and will set you back £350; a princely sum, but one that’s in line with most of their flagship over-ear noise-cancelling rivals. The Sony WH-1000XM5 are our current pick of the bunch thanks to a combination of excellent sound quality, comfortable fit and smart noise cancellation. They launched at £379 last year but have seen a couple of price drops and can be picked up for £319.

Further competition comes from UK manufacturer Bowers & Wilkins. The B&W PX7 S2 have a more limited range of features than the XM5 but make up for this in the design and audio quality departments. At the time of writing, you could grab a pair for £279, which is £100 cheaper than they were at release. Sennheiser’s Momentum 4 Wireless also cost £279 – down from their list price of £300 – and put in a stellar performance on the audio front. Their assertive, insightful sound is complemented by an attention-grabbing battery life of 60hrs.

The Bose QuietComfort 45 are another popular option and deliver the most effective noise cancellation on the market. You can find the QC45 hovering around £250, reduced from their launch price of £320. It would be remiss not to also mention the Apple AirPods Max, which integrate into the tech giant’s iOS ecosystem seamlessly, support Spatial Audio and put a hefty dent in external sound. They’ll put an even bigger dent in your bank balance, however, with a price tag of £549.

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Beats Studio Pro review: Design

Beats drafted in British fashion designer Samuel Ross to consult on the Studio Pro but radical overhaul this is not. The Studio Pro look very similar to the 2017 model – a smart move given the popularity of their predecessor. The most obvious changes are sensible ones: Beats typography has been removed from the top of the headband and the name of the headphones is no longer split across the two brushed metal sections linking the headband to the earcups. What’s left is a pair of headphones that are boldly minimalist in appearance but immediately identifiable by the Beats logos on the outer sections of their earcups.

Those earcups don’t swivel but are instead connected to the headband by hinges that fold inwards, allowing you to collapse the cups in on one another so the headphones can be easily stowed in their carrying case or a pocket. This is a design detail I appreciate but I wasn’t convinced by the Studio Pro’s build quality. Their stiff plasticky frame feels a little cheap and creaks when moved and the hinges emit a disturbingly loud crack when folded.

Despite this, the Studio Pro held up perfectly well during testing. They may not feel like a luxury purchase but the earcups have been upgraded with new “UltraPlush” memory foam cushions wrapped in vegan-friendly leather and proved durable and comfortable over the course of a couple of months. It’s worth noting, however, that the cushions are not replaceable, reducing the potential lifespan of the headphones dramatically.

The cups themselves are relatively small. They sat snugly around my ears without cramping them and, once on my head, they remained there without budging thanks to the considerable amount of clamping force they exert. However, they left a limited amount of room for my ears to breathe and this led to them getting rather hot and sweaty on sunny summer days. Those with larger ears may simply find the cups too small for comfort.

Beats Studio Pro review - headphones folded and being held in hand

Beats has stuck with physical controls for executing various commands. A small “system” button on the lower portion of the hanger joined to the right earcup is used to power on the headphones, initiate pairing and cycle between noise-cancelling modes. It sits above five small LEDs that show you the status of your device, although you won’t be able to see these when wearing the Studio Pro, so you’ll have to rely on sound prompts instead.

The Beats logo on the left hanger doubles as a button that handles audio playback and track navigation. A single press plays or pauses audio, two quick presses skip to the next track, while three quick presses take you to the previous track. Pressing and holding the button engages your voice assistant, and iPhone owners will be happy to discover that hands-free Siri is supported as well.

Beats Studio Pro review - 3.5mm and USB-C ports

Volume is increased by pressing the top of the circular section around the Beats logo while pressing the bottom half turns the sound down. All of these commands work well enough but the system button is located in a somewhat unintuitive position and the horrible plastic click that accompanies every press on the B logo is jarring.

The Studio Pro support both 3.5mm and USB-C connections and ports for these are found on the left and right earcup, respectively. Beats includes a 3.5mm to 3.5mm and USB-C to USB-C cable in the box and there are pockets for storing these in the accompanying case. That case doesn’t look or feel as premium as the one that came with the Studio 3, nor is its outer shell hard, so it doesn’t offer the same level of protection. It is eminently portable, however, and a lot more compact than the cases that come with the Studio Pro’s key rivals.

Beats Studio Pro review: Features

The Studio Pro support both one-touch pairing with iOS devices and Google Fast Pair if you’re on Android. Both worked as intended, with the headphones connecting rapidly to my iPhone XR and Google Pixel 6a and maintaining a stable connection throughout testing.

Auto-switching between connected devices is supported on Android but sadly there’s no multipoint pairing on iOS. This means you’ll have to manually change sources when required, which is frustrating, although Beats says it’s exploring options to add device switching to iOS.

Beats Studio Pro review - headphones folded on carrying case

Find My on iOS can be used to play a sound through the headphones to help you locate them if they’re turned on and have been misplaced nearby, and it will also display the last location in which they were on and connected. Android owners can use Find My Device or the Locate My Beats option found in the Beats Android app to similar effect.

That app is bare bones when compared with rival headphone manufacturers’ apps. It displays battery life, lets you rename your device, set which noise control mode is in operation and which modes are assigned to a double press of the system button. You can also select whether a single or double press of the B logo ends a phone or video call but that’s the extent of your options.

Beats Studio Pro review - Android companion app

There are no EQ presets, no graphic equaliser to tweak the sound manually, nor any quality-of-life options like being able to adjust how loud you can hear your own voice on calls or turn on wear detection, as the Studio Pro don’t support that. The absence of the latter feature is a real head-scratcher given how commonplace it’s become on expensive models such as this.

There’s no dedicated Beats app for iOS either but, as with Apple’s AirPods headphones, all of the above can be accessed via iOS’ usual settings menu along with the ability to set up and toggle on Personalised Spatial Audio. Doing so requires you to capture some images of your head and ears using your iPhone’s camera but this is a simple enough task and only takes a couple of minutes.

Beats Studio Pro review - charging case and connection cables

The Beats Studio Pro house new digital MEMS microphones that use a machine-learning algorithm to filter out background noise while on calls. Beats claims they’re able to enhance voice clarity by up to 27% when compared to the Studio 3 Wireless, although this isn’t something I’m able to verify. I can say that there’s still a bit of work to be done on the call quality front, however.

Things worked great when using the Studio Pro in a quiet home environment. I was heard clearly enough to converse freely with colleagues during team meetings and one-to-ones and external sounds never became distracting. But the headphones didn’t fare as well while I was on the move or in louder, more hectic circumstances. Wind noise was the worst offender, impacting others’ ability to make out the nuances of what I was saying, although Siri seemed unperturbed as she continued to execute commands and answer queries successfully.

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Beats Studio Pro review: Audio performance

Right out of the gate, the Studio Pro are at a disadvantage to headphones like the Sony WH-1000XM5, Sennheiser Momentum Wireless 4 and B&W PX7 S2 as they don’t support high-resolution Bluetooth codecs. They’re the same as their AirPods Max cousins in this regard but as those headphones are made specifically for use with iPhones, which are limited to AAC, it’s less of a loss for those cans.

Despite the codec limitations, I was rather impressed by the Studio Pro’s sound. Beats has a reputation for heavily boosting bass to appeal to a specific target market and has been loved and lambasted in equal measure for doing so. Here, however, I feel like it’s got the balance pretty much spot on.

Beats Studio Pro review - headphones with one earcup folded in

The default sound profile delivers robust, well-defined low frequencies without them sounding bloated or muscling in on the mid-range. That mid-range offers plenty of detail and there’s decent clarity to treble articulation, too, although the Studio Pro don’t shine as brightly as the B&W PX7 S2 at the very top end.

Taking a trip down memory lane with a 90s Summer Hits playlist on Apple Music, the drums and guitars on The Offspring’s Pretty Fly (For a White Guy) were suitably punchy, while the lead vocal, female interjections and supporting vocals were all integrated cohesively.

The bassline on the Vengaboys’ Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom!! bounded along with an infectious energy but was neatly kept in check, while the recently departed Steve Hartwell’s lyrics on Smash Mouth’s All Star were reproduced crisply and with plenty of character.

Beats Studio Pro review - headphones on wooden surface

Apple’s Spatial Audio is supported across both iOS and Android and successfully creates a surround sound-like experience when listening to or watching Dolby Atmos content. Beats says it’s “like being surrounded by 64 speakers”. It’s not quite that immersive but the soundstage while listening to No Diggity by Blackstreet and Beats co-founder Dr Dre was certainly more spacious and the positioning of different elements of the song highly convincing.

Those on iOS can take advantage of Dynamic Head Tracking and Personalised Spatial Audio – one of the key differences between the Android and iOS Beats Studio Pro experience. I can’t say I noticed a huge difference between the Spatial Audio before and after I’d personalised it, but the head tracking works exceptionally well.

It was able to register very slight movements and reposition the audio accordingly, doing so smoothly to retain a consistent sonic presentation. I prefer fixed Spatial Audio when listening to music but if you’re watching Atmos content, having sound follow your movements can be quite engaging.

Beats Studio Pro review - headphones plugged in via USB-C

Head tracking won’t work if you’re connected via the Studio Pro’s 3.5mm or USB-C port, but using the latter unlocks two features that are otherwise unavailable: lossless 24-bit/48kHz audio via the Studio Pro’s in-built DAC and three EQ profiles.

The difference in audio quality over USB-C and Bluetooth was noticeable but not huge, with finer details drawn out slightly more distinctly over the wired connection. The headphones need to be turned on when using them over a wired connection, so you can’t plug them in as a way of using battery but they do charge while connected over USB-C, so you can listen and top up simultaneously, which is handy.

Including EQ profiles solely for USB-C listening is an odd decision and the method for working out which of the three is currently active is a bit baffling too. You switch modes by pressing the system button on the right ear cup twice, and the mode you’re in is reflected by the number of illuminated lights below the button. One signals you’re in Beats Signature mode, which is balanced for music, two represents the Entertainment profile with its more bombastic tuning, while three denotes Conversation mode, which emphasises vocal frequencies.

Beats Studio Pro review - LEDs illuminated in USB-C EQ mode

Given you can’t see the LEDs when the headphones are on your head, you need to set the profile before putting them on and will probably need to take them off again if you start listening to or watching something else and want to swap modes. It’s a rather inelegant solution when a voice prompt could have simply told you which profile you’re switching to.

I found the EQ settings themselves a bit of a mixed bag. The Entertainment option was a little overblown at both ends of the sonic spectrum so I stuck with the better-balanced Signature profile for most video and audio content. I did switch to the Conversation profile for longer meetings, however, as it made speech clearer and easier to listen to.

Beats Studio Pro review: Noise cancellation and transparency

Four microphones handle the Studio Pro’s noise cancellation, which is of the adaptive variety, meaning that it adjusts automatically based on the level of ambient sound around you.

The quartet of mics go about their business effectively and are aided by the tight seal the earcups create around your ears. A significant amount of low-end clamour is blocked out passively before the ANC further dampens whatever distractions you come across. The low thrum of an aeroplane’s engine was a lot less prominent with noise cancellation engaged and the continuous hum of air being circulated through the cabin was practically inaudible.

At home, distractions outside my window were reduced to non-issues except for the high-pitched barking of a young pooch in a neighbouring flat. The Studio Pro served me well while commuting too, attenuating a pleasing proportion of the noise made by passing traffic, the London Tube and my fellow commuters.

Beats Studio Pro review - left view of headphones on table

They do have a couple of blind spots, however. The first is higher-pitched sounds like tannoy announcements. Being able to hear these while on a train or plane is not necessarily a bad thing but the Studio Pro don’t handle mid-range and treble nuisances nearly as well as those lower down the frequency spectrum. Second, they pick up quite a lot of wind noise. This became rather distracting in blustery conditions, so I found myself switching noise cancellation off entirely and simply relying on the passive attenuation provided by the tight fit of the headphones.

Neither the Sony WH-1000XM5 or the Bose QC45 are as affected by wind as the Studio Pro and are better options if effective ANC is your primary concern. The Beats Studio Pro’s new Transparency mode is a match for just about any other I’ve used, however. The external sound it pipes in sounds natural and there’s no hint of the low-level buzzing that accompanies similar modes on many other headphones.

Beats Studio Pro review: Verdict

I found quite a lot to like about the Beats Studio Pro. The design is simple, striking and unmistakably Beats, the sound lively and engaging, while Spatial Audio and the ability to charge the headphones while listening to lossless audio over USB-C are very welcome. Their foldable design, sensibly proportioned case and rock-solid connectivity further strengthen their appeal.

The overall package doesn’t feel as classy as the price tag demands, however. Superior noise cancellation is available on a number of alternatives, a couple of which cost less than the Studio Pro. Limited codec support means high-resolution streaming over Bluetooth is a no-go, the materials used feel cheaper than they should for £350 headphones and the absence of features that have become industry staples, such as manual EQ customisation and wear detection, is disappointing.

Those shortcomings would be a lot easier to overlook were the competition not so fierce or the Studio Pro not as expensive. They’ll likely fly off the shelves due to the cultural cachet of the Beats brand but, for me, they sit in the second tier of premium over-ear noise-cancelling headphones.

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