Beats Studio Buds Plus review: premium wireless earbuds with improved sound, longer battery life, enhanced ANC and Transparency modes and more. They are pretty good value for money, too.
Being a massive fan of the Beats Fit Pro (and a regular fan of the Beats Powerbeats Pro), I looked forward to testing the Beats Studio Buds Plus, especially after we were briefed about the headphones. On paper, it looked like the Beats Studio Buds Plus could take on the best wireless earbuds these days, the Sony WF-1000XM4. Always the sceptical, I didn't jump to conclusions too soon and tried to manage my expectations as best as possible.
Now that I used the Beats Studio Plus for a while, I can confirm the earbuds exceeded my expectations. They deliver amazing sound throughout the spectrum, offer longer battery life, better fit, improved active noise cancelling performance and more. You also get multi-pairing and upgraded microphones, all in the same compact housing we all know and love. Should you upgrade? Read my full Beats Studio Bud Plus review below to find out.
[First reviewed May 2023]
Beats Studio Buds Plus review: price and availability
The Beats Studio Buds Plus were launched on 17 May 2023 and are available to pre-order now from Beats for a recommended retail price of $169.95 (approx. $136/AU$255), with shipping starting from 13 June 2023. There is a $20 price increase compared to the Beats Studio Buds, although those were released two years ago, and prices have increased in general, so it's not surprising.
There are three colourways: Black / Gold, Ivory and Transparent, the latter of which is in line with the latest trend in consumer electronics (see also: Nothing Ear (2) review). Covers that show the internal electronics of products have been a thing a couple of decades ago, I guess it was time for this trend to return.
Beats Studio Buds Plus review: specs
- Battery life: Up to 36 hours of listening time with ANC/Transparency Off (9 hours of earbud usage with three additional charges from the case), Up to 24 hours of listening time with ANC/Transparency On (6 hours of earbud usage with three additional charges from the case)
- Charging: 5-minute charge = up to 1 hour of playback (ANC Off), Full system recharge (buds + case) = 2 hours (USB-C to USC-C charging cable included in box)
- Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.3, Class 1 Bluetooth
- Active noise cancellation: Yes, (adaptive to fit)
- Transparency mode: Yes
- Weight: Buds – 5g (per bud), Case 49g (without buds)
- Dimensions: 15.6mm (h) x 21.6mm (w) x 19.8mm (d)
- Microphones: 6
- Water rating: IPX4 (buds only, case isn't waterproof)
Beats Studio Buds Plus review: what's new
The Beats Studio Buds Plus are built on the Beats Proprietary Platform (gen 2) chips, an updated version of the one producing sound on the Beats Studio Buds. Although the acoustic profile has been refined, the main acoustic benefits come from the proprietary transducer with brand-new acoustic venting and boost ANC and Transparency modes.
The microphone system has been redesigned, too, to tweak noise suppression and voice targeting for more intelligible speech and to better ANC and Transparency modes. The Beats Studio Buds Plus are said to have 1.6x more effective Active Noise Cancellation and 2x better Transparency through the updated, more powerful microphones.
As for fit, Beats improved this by allowing more ventilation inside the ears. This is said to keep your ears cooler, allowing you to wear the buds for longer without discomfort. The Beats Studio Buds Plus also come with a new set of extra small ear tips, so even more people can find a good fit.
Finally, the Beats Studio Buds Plus significantly enhanced battery life without impacting product design (same weight), size (same size), or ergonomics. The battery capacity in both the earbuds and the case is now 50% better. As always, the Beats Studio Buds Plus deliver native ecosystem benefits for both Apple and Android customers (i.e. system agnostic).
Beats Studio Buds Plus review: performance
The acoustic performance of the Beats Studio Buds Plus blew me away. They are the most affordable Beats products (bar Beats Flex), yet they provide crystal clear sound reproduction across the spectrum.
Active noise cancellation has been significantly improved thanks to the new mics and the tweaked algorithm. ANC doesn't just surround you; it envelopes you. I had the pleasure (...) of putting the ANC to the test on a jam-packed train from Bath Spa to Southampton Central, which takes around an hour.
At some point, I removed the Studio Buds Plus from my ear because I thought the music was coming from my phone. No, it felt like it was coming from behind me – like when you sit around a pair of premium speakers in a quiet living room. My brain couldn't process that such small earbuds could provide such full-bodied sound.
The ANC on the Beats Studio Buds Plus is adaptive to fit, unlike the Beats Fit Pro's fully adaptive approach (although that's built on the Apple Silicone platform, not Beats' proprietary Gen 2 chip). Yet, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't find anything I could criticise about ANC performance on the Studio Buds Plus.
The acoustic profile of the Beats Studio Buds Plus is pleasing to the ears. No matter what type of music or audio I threw at them, the buds coped with it well. Better than well, actually. I detected no fall-off in quality anywhere in the spectrum; lows are just the right amount of punchy, with a lively midrange and ample treble.
But it's not the individual components of the sound that impresses me; it's the overall acoustic of the Beats Studio Buds Plus. All tones come in at the right height and volume, giving you the impression the band is in the same room as you. I often lifted my head to see if anyone else heard the trumpets flaring while listening to Stan Getz's Corcovado. Surely, they must have!
Another aspect of the Studio Buds Plus I was thoroughly impressed with is volume. They monitor sound in the ears, letting you know if you're listening to music too loud; however, even at lower settings, the sound is clear and audible, especially with ANC on. Even during that dreaded train journey mentioned above, I didn't have to raise the volume above 20 per cent (25 per cent, tops) of the total volume of the phone.
The fit is also brilliant. The Beats Studio Buds Plus might lack the wings of the Beats Fit Pro, but they slot in your ears perfectly. I often struggle with my left ear, as it refuses to take any sized ear gels, but I didn't even have to change them on the Beats Studio Buds Plus – they fit perfectly straight out of the box.
I conducted a few calls using Beats Studio Buds Plus. The earbuds let in some ambient sound when used for calls – probably for safety reasons – but this doesn't mean others on the call can hear these noises. In fact, the person I talked to said I sounded like I sat in a quiet meeting room, despite being in the middle of the afternoon traffic in Bournemouth, with buses zooming past me every two seconds.
Beats Studio Buds Plus review: verdict
There is very little – if anything – not to like about the Beats Studio Buds Plus. The earbuds might look almost identical to their predecessor, but the sound performance is elevated, thanks to the improvements in active noise cancellation, microphone and algorithm tweaks, and the updated chip.
The Beats Studio Buds Plus represent excellent value for money. Sure, they aren't cheap, but considering how amazing they sound, the premium built, the additional features and the operating system agnostic nature of the buds, they are worth every penny.
If I can offer any criticism – and brace yourself, I'll be splitting hairs here – I'd say it's not the easiest to lift the Studio Buds Plus out of the case, as the smooth surface is hard to grab and that some people might like to adjust the level ANC. However, I appreciate that Apple/Beats prefers to make decisions for their users (seemingly, most people are okay with this approach).
I loved using the Beats Studio Buds Plus and will keep using them in the future. For everyday music listening, there isn't another pair of wireless earbuds I'd recommend more in this price range. Highly recommended!
Beats Studio Buds Plus review: also consider
It's hard not to mention the AirPods Pro in this Beats Studio Buds Plus review – after all, they are excellent wireless earbuds for iPhone owners. They sound great, the noise cancellation is strong, and the secure yet comfortable fit means they work well when exercising too. They might be beaten in certain areas by newer earbuds, but they're an excellent package, especially with money off. Read Matt B's full Apple AirPods Pro review.
If you're an Android user, consider the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2. For anyone who has already bought into the Samsung Galaxy ecosystem, the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 are a fantastic choice and a significant improvement on the first generation. You get good sound, and the noise-cancelling does a tremendous job of cutting out distracting noise. The battery is less impressive, but it'll still be enough for most people day-to-day. Read Yasmine's full Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 review.
Finally, it'd be a shame, not to mention the original Studio Buds here. They come with most of the functionality of the AirPods Pro but also offer easy pairing and Find My support on Android. Their flaws are minor overall, and they are cheaper than their successor. Read James' full Beats Studio Buds review.