The Beats Studio Wireless’s – Intro
Beats have always been the most successful brand of headphones, for better or worse. While on one hand they have the support of many major artists and athletes, they also have lacklustre sound compared to other headphones of a similar price. If you walk on the street you’ll undoubtedly see waves of people wearing Beats By Dre headphones, whether on their ears, or around their necks. Beats are definitely the new “people’s choice”. Do they live up to the hype? How do the new Beats Studio Wireless’ stack up?
Beats Headphones are first and foremost an art piece. They are designed beautifully, and the apple-inspired design makes it look the part, even for the price tag. Stop right now. If you have around $400 and you want the best possible looking headphones, buy these. You may even be able to get them for a bit cheaper by clicking here to get them discounted on Amazon.com. I can almost guarantee that you won’t find a better looking headphone for this price. The headband may not be the comfiest, but the grippy finish combined with the clamping force allow the headphones to be used while running. I wouldn’t worry about it falling off your head.
Build quality is stellar as well. Although it is made of plastic, the metal finish is almost indistinguishable from the real deal. The leather pads look really nice, and everything seems to be put together nicely. The foldable design is very useful for portability, and the hinges that allow this are sturdy and provide nice feedback. There is very little to fault for design and build quality for beats – this is the strong point of both beats and its owner, Apple.
These are bluetooth headphones, and bluetooth pairing is the same as any other bluetooth headphone – no W1 chip here. Usually with great bluetooth headphones, comes great battery problems. Luckily, since these are over ear headphones, there are a ton of batteries in it, capable of keeping the ‘phones thumping for over 12 hours. However, what is annoying is that the noise cancellation and DSP is in series with the rest of the headphone, so once the battery dies, you can’t just plug in a 3.5mm cable and use it as a wired headphone. This also means that once the battery wears to nothing, you won’t be able to use these headphones at all, shortening the usually very long lifespan of this headphone. While many headphones can last ten years and up, I’d be surprised if the battery in these lasted for 4.
Adaptive Noise Cancelling and DSP
The Beats Studio Wireless’s also come with Adaptive Noise Cancelling, ANC for short. The Adaptive Noise Cancelling means that the headphone uses multiple microphones, and sends a inverse wave to your ears. This means it actively cancels the incoming noise. This is a great feature, especially in crowded places like an office, or even out in town. However, you can’t turn off the ANC, as it is in series with the rest of the circuitry. This means that even in a silent room, you can hear the hiss of the ANC, which, might I add, is ridiculously loud – the loudest I’ve ever heard. Also inside these headphones is Beats’ proprietary DSP software. Although they market this as a feature, it’s really a cop out. While they could have put big drivers for big sound, they just added a DSP, which stands for digital signal processing. This means that for the big sound, they just reduce the amount of treble and mids, then boost everything up to 11. Although this is indistinguishable from the proper way to the casual listener, it’s almost comical how much the DSP alters the sound.
These are not comfortable headphones. The clamping force of these headphones is insane, and begins to hurt your head and ears just half an hour into listening. The upside of such strong clamping force is that they stay on your head no matter what. This means you can run, and exercise with these on without them falling off. Another upside to this clamping force is that the isolation is increased. This means you’ll hear less of whats around you and more of what you want to hear – your music. The headband is also quite stiff and uncomfortable. It’s made of a sort of rubbery texture, but isn’t nearly enough padding. I found that after a few hours, the top of my head starts to hurt, as the rubber texture is very small. This is all done in the name of design, as felt padding would have ruined the aesthetic of the headphone.
This is probably the most important one, and possibly the most overlooked one by this brand. Turning the headphones on, you immediately hear the hiss that the noise cancelling emits. This is definitely noticeable, and can sometimes ruin a quiet song. Any classical music immediately sounds like it’s been recorded in the 20’s with the hiss. If you listen to music loud enough, the hiss becomes less noticeable. On to the sound of music. These headphones are definitely for the younger generation, who listen to pop, rap, and R&B. Most overpowering on these headphones is the bass. It hits, and it hits hard. This is a basshead headphone, and provides that thump so many people crave today. Sub-bass is there, but it’s not pronounced, unlike the midbass – thats where this headphone put its power towards. It’s slightly muddy in the bass and the mids, but not overtly so, like the previous monster beats. The mids are subdued, but somehow still a bit muddy. The highs sparkle, giving the cymbals and hi hats the volume they deserve. All of this makes for a V shaped frequency response, something that many of the younger generation will enjoy. Personally, I prefer a square root shaped frequency response, so these headphones are definitely not for me.
The Adaptive Noise Cancelling on the Beats Studio Wireless’s are good, but not incredible. The isolation of Bose headphones far surpass the isolation on these. If you are a frequent flyer, these will do okay, but Bose headphones are similarly priced and offer much better Active Noise Cancelling. If you want to use your Beats Studios as isolation only headphones, theres a mode for that too. In this mode, it works very well, still not as good as Bose, but the level of isolation is much better than in normal music+ANC mode. The “hiss” is also much more subdued than in Music+ANC mode, almost unnoticeable. One interesting thing to note is that the DSP also works on the ANC, as the bass are cancelled more than the mids. Overall, the isolation is good, but there’s a gaping design flaw in the fact that you can’t turn ANC off.
The Beats Studio Wireless’s are good looking, trendy headphones, perfectly suited for commuting, exercising, or office use. The noise cancellation is good, and the sound will be fine, if not exciting for many people. However, if you don’t need the shiny looks and the noise cancelling, get something like the Audio Technica M70x’s instead (click here to view on Amazon.) Overall, the Beats Studio Wireless’s are an improvement over the first Monster Beats, but not by much, and still output the same lackluster sound the company is so famous for. If you’ve got $400 and you want nice looking headphones which will give you that bassy thump, these are the perfect buy.