Beats headphones are known for their big bass but can a more subtle sound win over the fans? Read our Beats by Dre Wireless Studio review
These are the second iteration of the Beats Studio Wireless (2014) headphones and there's been a complete redesign both inside and outside.
Along with this new design comes new challenges - as Bluetooth technology advances so to does the competition, with Apt-X now becoming the standard the pressure is on for wireless headphones, like the Parrot Zik, to provide the same level of audio quality that can be found in their wired counterparts like the Beats Studio and Beats Mixr.
Beats by Dre Studio Wireless: Design
For starters there's a new design, Beats by Dre has completely revamped its Studio range with a new look and while it's certainly not as eye-catching as before we prefer this more subtle appearance.
If we had any negatives it would be in the materials used - with headphones like the Philips Fidelio L1 costing far less, it seems odd to pay almost double for something made almost exclusively from plastic.
The Beats Executive were a prime example of what would happen if the company did branch out into more durable materials and we wouldn't say no to seeing it expand to the rest of the range.
Beats by Dre Studio Wireless: Comfort
This brings us rather neatly to the next consideration - while headphones have to look good, the main reason you're spending hundreds of pounds is because they'll sound incredible and you can wear them every single day.
In this regard the Studio Wireless' excels - they're extremely comfortable thanks to the redesigned ear cups and we found long stretches of listening were more than possible without any pinching or aching.
Beats by Dre Studio Wireless: Durability
Despite the use of plastic you'd be hard pressed to break these headphones, they feel well-built and extremely well put together and while they come with their own hard case we'd actually have no problem just popping them in a bag.
Oddly if there was one area that could have done with improvement it was the inline remote on the wires, as with the last pair they just felt cheap and susceptible to eventual wear and tear. Thankfully though you'll mostly be using these wire-free so it's more a niggle than anything.
Beats by Dre Studio Wireless: Sound quality
This is where things get interesting. First things first, they sound fantastic, especially at volume. Much in the same way that the harder you push a racing car the more it grips to the road, the louder you have the Studio Wireless cans, the better they sound.
Bass actually feels reduced over last year's version and for some that'll come as a relief, instead the mid-range has been given a boost considerably resulting in a clearly more balanced sound.
This works well for most music but oddly it felt like the clarity of each section was reduced as a result meaning that even high-resolution audio lacked the intricate punch it usually does.
This problem becomes considerably worse at lower volumes thanks almost entirely to the noise-cancelling.
Last year's version suffered from a very faint hissing sound at low volumes, unfortunately this hissing sound has actually increased in this year's model.
What this means is that when listening to music at low volume, or types of music that feature low or quiet sections it becomes blazingly apparent of a hissing sound in the background.
It's not enough to put you off but you'll need to ask yourself is just how much value the ability to block out ambient noise.
On a slightly more positive note, the new Beats by Dre Studio Wireless headphones now feature built-in batteries which means you can recharge via micro-USB. This also has the added benefit of a significant boost in battery life so you'll be able to get easily 9-12 hours of constant listening before needing to plug them in again.
Beats by Dre Studio Wireless: Verdict
In many ways the 2014 Studio Wireless headphones are markedly better than the previous versions.
They're lighter, stronger and they look great, they're extremely comfortable and perform well over Bluetooth.
The audio is divisive: if you preferred the huge bassy sound that has become synonymous with Beats headphones then we'd recommend the previous year's model, if however you're looking for a more balanced sound then 2014 is your year.
Where the big decision comes though is with the noise-cancelling, it works incredibly well but you'll be hard-pressed not to hear that quiet hiss when listening at low volumes.
Niggles aside, this is a great pair of cans, if you don't mid paying for the Beats name.
Beats Studio Wireless release date: out now
Beats Studio Wireless price: £330