Beats released its latest over-ear cans, the brilliant Beats Studio Pro, in July. Most tech journalists, including me, were excited to see what the ultra-popular brand was working on since the launch of the Beats Studio3 a few years back. The Studio Pro both over and under-delivered these expectations, but no matter how mixed my emotions are, I can't seem to get away from it.
It's not like there is anything fundamentally wrong with the Beats Studio Pro; on the contrary. Created by Beats Principal Design Consultant Samuel Ross, the physical design of the headphones is superb. They are sleek and exceptionally well-built, as well as being highly portable, thanks to their foldable design.
Plus, if the three months I spent lugging it around, folding and unfolding the cans all the time, the Beats Studio Pro is also pretty durable. I like that satisfying click and the seamless curve of the band when the arms are fully unfolded. The colour choices are also on point; like previous iterations, you know instantly the Studio Pro is Beats. And everyone else around you does, too.
Some design choices I could live without, like the small and undetectable on/off button or the fact that, for some reason, the USB-C cable included in the box is a different colour and feels stiff. For a product that puts so much emphasis on design harmony, having this god-awful cable as part of the package feels like a slap on the face, especially because you can hear the cord dangling about.
I read a lot more about the Beats Studio Pro since its release and saw reviewers criticising Beats for falling behind the competition in terms of sound quality and especially ANC performance. While I agree with some of this criticism – active noise cancellation could certainly be more refined – I also believe that people dig into the Studio Pro for no reason.
Well, what they are doing is digging into Beats through the headphones. Don't get me wrong – it's important to offer criticism, but only if it's constructive. As I said in my review linked above, the sound profile of the Beats Studio Plus headphones is geared towards fans of lively, energetic music with peppy treble and resonant bass. Mid is better than it used to be on the Beats Studio 3, but still imperfect.
The performance certainly isn't bad enough to warrant such an onslaught of bad press. Many reviewers point out that the performance is only subpar because of the higher asking price, but thankfully, you can buy the cans for cheaper these days (they were half-price in the US on Amazon Prime Day 2).
They sound good for people who might buy the Beats Studio Pro, who I'd assume aren't the audiophile kind but people who like their headphones to sound lively and look fabulous. And the Studio Pro does both of those things.
Despite its shortcomings, why is it my go-to noise-cancelling over-ear headphones? I can't tell. I have tried many noise-cancelling headphones since I reviewed the Studio Pro, and often use the Apple AirPods Pro 2 if I need something smaller, but Beats' over-ears always find their way back in my bag.
Maybe it's the combination of styling and substance or the sound profile that's clearly balanced enough to tickle my auditory system the right way. Whatever it might be, I doubt I'll stop using the Beats Studio Pro anytime soon. At least, until the next iteration comes around, which will hopefully happen sooner than last time (the Beats Studio 3 was launched six years ago).