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Beats Studio Buds: The Ultimate Everyday Earbuds You Didn‘t Know You Needed

In the fast-paced world of personal audio, true wireless earbuds have quickly become the go-to choice for on-the-go music lovers. And in this crowded market, the Beats Studio Buds have emerged as a top contender with their compelling blend of features, performance, and value. As a digital technology expert with over a decade of experience testing and reviewing audio gear, I‘m convinced these unassuming little buds are the dark horse pick for best everyday earbuds on the market.

Launched in June 2021 as a $149.99 entry in the Beats by Dre lineup, the Studio Buds aimed to deliver a "universal" true wireless experience for both iOS and Android users. Now almost two years later and commonly found on sale for $99, they‘ve more than delivered on that goal. Whether you‘re an iPhone diehard, a Samsung superfan, or agnostic to your mobile tech, the Studio Buds just work – and they work really darn well!

Punching Above Their Price

Let‘s start with the elephant in the room: $99 for a pair of noise-canceling wireless earbuds with this many premium features is an absolute steal! As recently as 2019, you‘d easily pay upwards of $200 for the honor of ANC and a wireless charging case. But Beats has managed to cram an impressive amount of tech into the Studio Buds at a very palatable price.

For under a Benjamin, you get all of the following:

  • Active Noise Cancellation (ANC): Using a combination of outward-facing and inward-facing microphones, the Buds continuously adapt to and block out ambient noise
  • Transparency Mode: When you need to hear your surroundings, a press of the "b" button on either bud activates the external mics to mix outside sounds with your audio
  • IPX4 Rating: Both buds are sweat and water resistant, so a little rain or intense workout won‘t short them out
  • USB-C & Fast Fuel Charging: The case charges over USB-C and provides a total of 24 hours battery life, with a 5-minute "Fast Fuel" charge giving you an hour of extra playback
  • One-Touch Pairing: The Buds can automatically pair to your Apple or Android device with a flip-open of the case and share pairing across devices signed into the same iCloud account
  • "Hey Siri" & "Hey Google" Support: Invoke your virtual assistant of choice hands-free to make requests, send messages, and more
  • Find My Integration: Locate lost buds using the Find My app on iOS or Find My Device on Android

To put that in perspective, let‘s compare the Studio Buds to some popular competitors:

Feature Beats Studio Buds Apple AirPods Pro Sony WF-1000XM4 Samsung Galaxy Buds 2
MSRP $149.99 $249.99 $279.99 $149.99
Active Noise Canceling
Transparency Mode
Water/Sweat Resistance IPX4 IPX4 IPX4 IPX2
Wireless Charging Case 🚫
Earbuds Battery Life 8 hrs 4.5 hrs 8 hrs 5 hrs
Total Battery Life 24 hrs 24 hrs 24 hrs 20 hrs
Custom Fit 3 tip sizes 3 tip sizes Foam tips 3 tip sizes + wings
Bluetooth Version 5.2 5.0 5.2 5.2
Supported Audio Codecs SBC, AAC SBC, AAC SBC, AAC, LDAC SBC, AAC, Scalable

*AirPods Pro and Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 battery life with ANC on

You can see the Studio Buds go toe-to-toe with pricier competitors while undercutting them significantly on MSRP. And that value proposition only improves when you can regularly find the Beats on sale for $99 or less. For most people, the minor advantages of the AirPods Pro or Sony WF-1000XM4 in noise canceling and sound quality aren‘t worth the hefty price premium.

Pushing The Boundaries of Bud Design

Aside from packing in premium tech, the Studio Buds also manage to do so in an extremely compact, pocketable form factor. At 5.1 grams per bud and with a 2.8 x 1.9 x 1.1 inch case, these are some of the smallest and lightest ANC earbuds you can buy. To put that in perspective, the AirPods Pro buds weigh 5.4 grams each with a much larger 2.4 x 1.7 x 0.9 case. And the Sony WF-1000XM4 tip the scales at a beefy 7.3 grams per bud with a gargantuan case that measures 4.7 x 2.6 x 1.5 inches!

Despite that smaller size, the Studio Buds still manage to pack 8.2mm dual-element diaphragm drivers, a three-mic array for calls, and all the necessary sensors for automatic ear detection. That‘s an impressive feat of miniaturization!

The buds‘ vented acoustic design is also expertly tuned by the audio engineers at Beats to deliver powerful, balanced sound with the brand‘s signature punchy bass. "Beats has managed to shift away from the all-bass-all-the-time sound profile without losing its identity," notes Chris Welch in his review for The Verge. "The Studio Buds still put out a healthy kick in the low end, but it no longer overpowers the rest of the frequency range."

Part of that stellar sound can be attributed to the custom acoustic platform Beats developed for the Studio Buds. By precisely directing airflow from the 8.2mm drivers through an intricate two-chamber housing and optimized nozzle, the Buds are able to deliver powerful yet controlled bass along with excellent clarity in the mids and highs. It‘s an impressive technical achievement for buds this size.

As for comfort, I found the Studio Buds practically disappear in your ears after a few minutes. The smooth, tapered design sits securely without putting undue pressure on any part of your ear. And with three sizes of soft silicone tips included, it‘s easy to find a tight seal for optimal noise isolation and audio quality. "They‘re so lightweight and fit so securely that they‘re barely noticeable when you‘re wearing them," notes Patrick Holland in his review for CNET.

While the glossy exterior plastic can pick up fingerprints, the overall fit and finish of the Studio Buds feels very premium with satisfyingly clicky buttons and a magnetic closure on the case. They may not have flashy touch controls or wear sensors, but the physical controls are reliable and easy to use without looking. The lack of stems or wing tips also gives the Buds a very discreet, professional look in your ears – perfect for the office or Zoom calls.

Break Free From Brand Lock-in

One of the biggest selling points of the Beats Studio Buds is their platform agnostic approach. By eschewing Apple‘s proprietary H1/W1 chips, the Studio Buds are able to offer a very similar experience on both iOS and Android. That means features like one-touch pairing, battery status, Find My integration, and hands-free voice assistant actually work on Android phones – something you won‘t find on AirPods!

On Android, you can download the Beats app to unlock additional features and customization. The app lets you customize the "b" button function, switch between noise control modes, pick an alternate voice assistant, and more. You can even enable Dolby Atmos if your device supports spatial audio. "The companion Android app for the Studio Buds is clean and simple with a minimal set of features," notes Jay Peters in his review for The Verge. "You can switch between noise cancellation and transparency mode (or turn both off), and there‘s a fit test you can do to see which eartips fit best."

At the end of the day, that cross-platform support is a win for everyone. iOS users can enjoy their usual creature comforts while Android fans finally get a pair of buds that properly tie into their devices. It‘s about time we break free from walled gardens and proprietary protocols when it comes to something as universal as listening to music!

Battle-Tested Battery Life

While the Studio Buds‘ 8-hour battery life (6 hours with ANC) may not set records, it‘s solidly above average for the true wireless category. The case packs an additional 16 hours of juice for 24 hours of total playtime. That‘s enough to get you through a full work day or even a short weekend trip without hunting for an outlet.

In practice, I was consistently able to use the Buds heavily from morning to night without running out of steam. And that‘s with a mix of music streaming, podcasts, Zoom calls, and idle time in transparency mode. Many reviewers have noted similarly stellar battery performance. "The battery easily lasted through a day full of constant use in testing," said Billy Steele in his review for Engadget. "I was even able to rely on the Studio Buds for two full work days before I had to dock them in the case."

When it does come time to top up, the USB-C case can deliver a full charge in about an hour and supports fast charging for quickly topping off. So even if you do manage to drain them down to zero, a quick 5-minute charge will give you about an hour of listening time. That fast charging is a serious quality-of-life upgrade if you‘ve ever forgotten to charge your buds before a flight or workout.

Making a Case for Convenience

While battery life is important, ease of use and integrated features are equally critical to the everyday earbuds experience. And the Studio Buds excel here with thoughtful touches throughout the pairing and control schemes.

Flip open the case near your iPhone or Android device and a prompt to pair will automatically pop up on screen, just like AirPods. Once connected, the buds will automatically link to any other devices signed into the same iCloud account for easy switching. On iOS, you can also see battery status, noise control modes, and even use the Find My app to track down lost buds.

"The pairing process is AirPods-easy on iPhone with one-touch setup and syncing across iCloud devices," said Chris Welch in his review. "On Android, it‘s not much harder at all: You just hold the pairing button on the case for a few seconds and they show right up in your Bluetooth settings. After that, removing the buds from the case will automatically connect them."

The on-board controls are also very intuitive with the multi-function "b" button on each bud. A single press plays/pauses, a double press skips tracks, a triple press goes back, and a long press cycles between ANC and transparency modes. You can also customize the long press to activate your voice assistant of choice on either platform. It‘s a smart, flexible system that covers all the core functions without overloading you with complex tap patterns to memorize.

Tuning Out the World in Style

At the end of the day, the true test of any noise-canceling earbuds is how well they block out the outside world so you can focus on your music or calls. And I‘m happy to report the Studio Buds pass that test with flying colors! The active noise cancellation is very impressive for the size, effectively drowning out the low hum of HVAC systems, traffic, and airplane engines. It‘s not quite on the level of the AirPods Pro or Bose QuietComfort Buds, but it‘s more than sufficient for creating a quiet bubble in most situations.

Transparency mode is similarly impressive, offering a very natural pass-through of outside sounds without too much hiss or artificiality. "Transparency mode sounds as natural here as on the AirPods Pro, which I‘ve found to be the best in the business in that regard," notes Chris Welch in his review. It‘s great for having a quick conversation or hearing your surroundings without removing the buds.

Aside from noise control, the overall sound quality of the Studio Buds is excellent for the price. The custom 8.2mm drivers deliver powerful, punchy bass that stays controlled even at higher volumes. Mids and trebles have great presence and clarity for a lively, engaging sound. And the balanced tuning works well across a variety of music genres from hip hop to rock to classical.

Call quality is also top-notch thanks to the beamforming mics and digital signal processing. Your voice comes through loud and clear on the other end, even in noisy environments. "Everyone I called with the Beats Studio Buds was able to hear me without any issue," notes Patrick Holland in his review. "The earbuds did a good job of not picking up any ambient noise around me."

The Smarter Choice for Most

All in all, the Beats Studio Buds check all the right boxes for a pair of everyday true wireless earbuds. They sound great, last all day, and offer useful features on both iOS and Android. The noise cancellation is effective without adding too much bulk. And the sleek, understated design looks professional in any setting.

At the end of the day, I keep coming back to the Studio Buds as my go-to recommendation for most people. They just work, no matter what phone or device you‘re using. They aren‘t weighed down with extraneous features or gimmicks. And they deliver serious bang for your buck, especially at the discounted $99 price point.

If you‘re an iPhone user who wants the absolute best integration and noise cancellation, the AirPods Pro are still the gold standard. And if you‘re an audiophile who demands the utmost in sound quality and codecs, the Sony WF-1000XM4 are worth the premium. But for the vast majority of people who just want a great all-around pair of buds that work with everything, the Beats Studio Buds are the smarter choice – and will leave a lot more cash in your pocket to boot!