Topping the Beats line for the best part of three years, the Beats Studio 3 Wireless headphones combine the brand’s signature style with new Pure Active Noise Cancelling and a high stamina battery.
As befits their lifestyle pose, they come in a wide variety of finishes, including camo, black, red with silver trim, white and gold, and ‘Shadow Grey’. We auditioned the latter. With gold logo and contrasting black and tan leather band, they’re nothing if not ostentatious.
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Beats Studio 3 Wireless review: Features
Usability is fine, although these cans lack the touch panel finesse we’re used to on rival wireless headphones. The Beats logo on the left cup acts as a Play, Pause and track change button, with volume control above and below.
Providing connectivity is Apple’s W1 chipset. This is optimized for quick pairing with iOS gear, but we had no problem tethering an Android device either.
Battery life is generous, running to around 22 hours with noise cancelling engaged. A 10 minute charge will give you enough juice for 3 hours playback, while 90 minutes will have you fully charged.
Pure Active Noise Cancelling activates automatically when you turn on the headphones.
You can switch it off by double-pressing the power button. This effectively doubles battery life in the process. There’s a little LED indicator by the power button which reveals how much gas is left in the tank.
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Beats Studio 3 Wireless review: Performance
On first inspection they may look like you’ve nicked them from Trump’s bathroom, but sonically the Studio 3’s are a good deal more tasteful.
They certainly don’t suffer from a surfeit of bass (long held as a defining trait for the brand). It’s the mid-range that dominates instead.
The title track from Apocalyptica’s Cell-o (Amazon Music HD), suffers a little from this tubby bias, and it threatens to curtail the frantic fiery strings of this pummelling instrumental.
This is not to say they won’t drop deep. Take the Money and Crawl (Green Day, from Father of All…) lays the beat down like Conor McGregor.
Similarly, Hardwired (Metallica, title track from ...To Self Destruct) plays like the worst hangover you’ve ever had. You can feel these Beats marching down your ear canal, elbows out. It’s pretty cool.
That said, there’s something a bit on the nose about the presentation, they’re more confined than airy.
The good news is they react well to higher quality streams, offering up more edge and energy as you improve the source. Sugar Youth (same Green Day album) lacks bounce on Spotify, but the same track in UHD on Amazon Music HD, positively blazes. Tidal and Qobuz subscribers will probably also benefit.
When it comes to noise cancelling, we’d rank these Beats below the class leaders. But their Pure Active Noise Cancelling tech is more than able to muffle generic hubbub, by dynamically adjusting to what’s going on around you.
If you’re looking primarily for isolation on the morning commute though, they begin to struggle. Loud transients still have a tendency to break through.
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Beats Studio 3 Wireless review: Comfort and accessories
The headphones fit snug to the head, which gives them a cool streamlined appearance. The ear pads are synthetic leather, but soft as Mr Whippy’s finest. They’re comfortable, although after a few hours your ears will begin to sweat.
They ship in a hard plastic pill-box, and are bundled with a 3.5mm RemoteTalk audio cable, USB charging lead and a belt clip. The pivoting ear cup design means they fold down to an agreeably small size.