Beats Studio3 Wireless, which went public before its launch in September, 2017, is the last one Beats headphone launched after Apple's introduction to W1 wireless Bluetooth chip. And it is also a new product using Apple's W1 wireless program after Airpods, BeatsX, Solo3 Wireless and Powerbeats. With Beats Studio's highest positioning as usual, and with the new adaptive noise canceling Pure ANC, this product is officially priced at RMB2,888 yuan in China, yet actually the price by online sellers is about RMB1,800 yuan. By the way, we would like to express our appreciation to the Soomal reader for providing the test device.
Appearance and function
Multiple colors are selective for Beats Studio3 Wireless, which can be checked out on apple.com if anyone is interested in. Since we are barely familiar with the last several products of Beats Studio, there will not be contrast between them. Nevertheless, Beats Studio3 Wireless's surface material looks like that of Solo3, and its weight is much lighter than the old products. From the perspective of placement, Studio3 adopts a round and relatively thick hard case, which is because the device can be rolled up inward, but the speaker can not be laid down to 90 degree. The headphone is comfortable to wear, with an inward pressure not so big. Its ear pads have better breathable leather than those of MDR-1000X by Sony, so it will not feel so stuffy in a same environment.
Beats Studio3 Wireless is designed quite simple, without any showy part except for the on-off dot. The adaptive noise canceling Pure ANC is opened in default, and it can be switched by double clicking the on-off key after powering the headphone on. Besides, when connecting to Macbook, there will be a switch under mac OS. With noise canceling opened, the nominal headphone working time is 22 hours, while without the function, it can be up to 40 hours. Beats Studio3 Wireless adopts fast fuel¡ªa 10-minute charge gives 3 hours of play (as for Solo3, 5 min. of charging, 3 hours of playback). We forgot to test this term after the device fully charged.
The middle of the letter b on the left part can be pressed down both shortly and long. Short pressing is to play or pause music, and to answer or hang up calls, while longer one can activate Siri. The upper and lower part of the letter b can be pressed to adjust the volume. The headphone also supports the wired working-mode with 3.5mm audio cables, in which the headphone must be powered on whether with Pure ANC opened or not. Without any power, the wired working-mode can not be workable.
Beats Studio3 Wireless uses a new adaptive noise canceling technology, which is named Pure ANC by Apple. The official explained the general function as actively external noise blocking and real-time audio calibration. In terms of automatically responding to individual fit and optimizing sound output, we cannot figure out any way to test and verify. In addition, how can the active noise canceling be adaptive? The authority did not explicate it, but we did something to verify, though it may not absolutely reflect what the real Pure ANC is. The following experience part will have some discusses.
There is no official parameter information about the speaker of Beats Studio3 Wireless, and as is estimated, the element size may be within 40mm. Nevertheless, throughout the headphone's composition, there are two things special. Firstly,the pickup microphone for adaptive noise canceling is quite difficult to find, so it can only be assumed that the pickup is hiding in a crack somewhere or in the tiny opening above the logo b. Yet such invisible design of pickup mic for active noise canceling is rare to see. Secondly, pay attention to the marked part under the speaker in the picture. This part is made of thin rubber instead of plastic, a design so familiar but unable to call to mind. The finding indicates that there is a special design for the acoustics structure of the speaker's backside space, which is different from either the ordinary open back cabinet or the common hard closed and half-closed back cabinets. This design avoids voice leaking.
Here comes the experience and test part. The referential object is Sony MDR-1000X, with the comparison of both sound quality and noise canceling effect. The test was carried out by matching up iPhone X with Beats Studio3 Wireless, and vivo Xplay5s with Sony MDR-1000X, ensuring that the Beats Studio3 Wireless was working in AAC mode and MDR-1000X in apt-X mode. An A35 was also used to match with MDR-1000X, making the earphone work in LDAC mode.
There is a bug that we have to mention¡ªBeats Studio3 Wireless actually works in SBC mode under mac OS. Then how can we make sure the headphone's working mode will be AAC when matching with iPhone? In fact, similar with Solo3, Beats Studio3 in AAC mode has a speaker output power much bigger than that in SBC, so it is quite easy to distinguish. The bluetooth connecting code of mac OS in the current general is really troublesome, huh? In our earliest reviews we found it unsupportive for apt-X, but later on it corrected(without beta version).
Experience of adaptive noise canceling: From Bose QC20, we fell in love with such hearing experience from premium noise canceling headphones. Only wearing the headphone, without music, shows us the sound of the world after noise canceling. And comparing to QC20, MDR-1000X and QC35 have a noise canceling ability even stronger. So which level is Beats Studio3 Wireless in? At first we kept using it in a room. Then on, we opened the window and there were noises of wind and tires of cars one to two hundred meters away. The headphone could absolutely block them. But compared with Sony MDR-1000X, it is weaker to cancel noise in mid-to-high range. If you fry an egg, open a range hood, or make a simple conversation with it worn on, you will find that although Beats Studio3 Wireless is pretty good, better than the Space One by Porshe Design we tested recently, it performs a little bit worse than 1000X in the covering range of noise canceling, mostly in mid-to-high range. If the bass intensity increases, its noise canceling ability in bass will also be weaker than 1000X. Certainly, when a cat runs at full speed on a wooden floor, all we hear will be a really light sound of the friction between nails and woods.
We wore the headphone onto a road and beside a subway, and then we seemed to experience the so-called Pure ANC of Beats Studio3 Wireless. You can clearly feel the difference of noise canceling intensity strength in different directions within different noise intensitiesloudness. The simplest recurrence is to face with the traffic flow when being 90 degree to the road. At that moment, the noise canceling ability in bass becomes obviously stronger, seemingly reaching at the level of 1000X, as the noise in bass, from the starting of engines of big buses or even trucks, can be almost cleared out. Then what is the difference of noise canceling intensity? Turn to one side, put the noise source on the direction above 60 degrees, and you can find the noise canceling intensity decreasing apparently. In other words, the noise canceling effect at the time will not be that good, and even some sound of talk can be heard. The shift of intensity will be completed in about 3 to 4 seconds. We cannot guarantee this is absolutely the adaptive noise canceling claimed by the official.
Referring to strong noises in a subway or beside a road, the noise canceling ability of Beats Studio3 Wireless is really close to that of Sony MDR-1000X, except that its noise canceling is a bit weaker in bass. And in mid-range and treble, their performances isare slightly different. The Sony still has some noise in treble under a strong noise condition, and of course the noise canceling in mid-range and treble covers a wide range. The sound in treble after noise canceling seems to be amplified, namely the inversion signal being heard, with delicate sounds of flowing cars. However, the Beats sounds very quitevery quiet, without the noisy background of machines, but its noise canceling intensity in mid-range and treble is a bit weaker than Sony. With the ordinary noise indoor or the lateral noise, Beats will shift to a relatively weak noise canceling intensity. By this time, its noise canceling level can be considered as apparently worse than that in the strong noise canceling mode. Is this design adaptive or a bug? Or is it for the sake of safety? Generally speaking, Beats Studio3 Wireless's strongest noise canceling ability is extremely close to MDR-1000X, and its noise canceling ability in treble is slightly weaker.
Sound quality performance: Beats Studio3 Wireless seems to use the DSP and headphone amplifying module similar with Solo3 Wireless. This "amplifier" has high efficiency and big output power. Comparing with either Bose QC35 or MDR-1000X, this set of amplifier set is really good. But please remember, the working mode must be AAC. Fortunately, the amplifier can be opened even in the wired mode, so we can also use it in wired mode.
The sound style of Studio3 Wireless is different with that of Sony 1000X. Although Sony makes special earbuds, it is prudent on making headphones. Comparing to such American style as Bose and Beats, 1000X sounds fairly restrained and calm on the contrary. However, Studio3 Wireless is absolutely a much-improved Solo3. In general, except for its bass being too thick, Beats Studio3 Wireless performs well in almost every aspect.
Maybe you can remember that, we mentioned that Beats Studio3 Wireless's performance in treble was not better than Solo3 in the review of MSR-7SE recently. You can also look up the review of a 24k Gold headphone by Monster we wrote several years ago soon after Beats and Monster broke up. That headphone of 24k Gold has a fairly good element speaker unit quality, so its resolution must still be one of the top level headphones among those priced beyond RMB1,000 yuan. Therefore, it is not surprised to see such performance of Beats Studio3 Wireless.
Overall, the sound style of Beats Studio3 Wireless is really soft, or too much soft, with delicate sound in treble and great resolution, though the sound's density is not so good. As for dynamic, because of both the vibrating diaphragm and the amplifier, Studio3 performs better than 1000X, with a loose rather than restrained sound. In mid-range, Studio3 keeps its softness, while being a bit too loose and soft comparing with traditional neutral sound. Sony 1000X performs favorable in mid-range, with a sound clear and compact, and its resolution is better. The two styles are quite different yet MDR-1000X owns a deficient dynamic thickness in mid-range. If Studio3 works in wired mode or its Pure ANC is closed, its imaging sound in mid-to-high range and mid-range will be improved in terms of dynamic.
In the aspect of bass, Studio3 has a typical Beats style, sounding fairly thick from the low-to-mid frequency, with a great abundance and a really slow transiency, and its sound is relatively soft. Perhaps thanks to its structural design of the speaker's backside, Studio3 performs well in the depth capacity in low frequency. However, as its transiency is quite slow, it only fits the low frequency sounds with adequate abundance but token drums, or those explosive sounds in games and movies. With its great depth capacity and abundance, Studio3 is a model of hardcore. But when used to listen some normal music, the headphone's bass has a strong impact on the low-to-mid range, making the sound becomes too loose, and even some performances in mid-range can be considered divergent.
From the perspective of the overall performance of Studio3 Wireless, even for those who hold a traditional audio view, the only thing that troubles is the style in bass. Its performance of details, style and dynamic whether in mid-range or treble can make the headphone worthwhile as a normal headphone of abroad brand in the level of RMB1,000 to 2,000 yuan (about $179 to $299). Undoubtedly, it can notcannot be compared with the traditional open-back Hi-Fi stereo headphones due to different sound styles. For people who like Hip-hop, movies and games, or who listen to the contents with scarce bass, Beats Studio3 Wireless is a headphone with an ancient retro-style and soft sound. As for Sony MDR-1000X, it is a headphone with a well-balanced style, being steady and clear in transiency, which is much more similar to a traditional Hi-Fi headphone.
As a member of Apple family, it can also be accomplished by Studio3 Wireless to take advantage of the iCloud account and switch between devices. These days we've got an Apple TV 4k and we found this operation workable on it as well. It would be a great choice to watch a movie at night. With active noise blocking, in fact Studio3 Wireless's battery capacity can only be regarded as normal, not so outstanding as Airpods. Still, Apple makes obvious optimization on AAC mode. If in SBC mode, the headphone's performance will drop off dramatically, and the output gain of amplifier must fall down. As a result, actually, its performance in wired mode is worse than wireless mode(for no need of power, no amplifier), but since the amp can also be opened in wired mode, the performance in wired mode is quite good. In terms of adaptive noise canceling, when with strong noises, Studio3 Wireless's performance is a bit weaker than Sony MDR-1000X. And with weak noises, its noise canceling effect is worse than that with strong noises.
All in all, Beats Studio3 Wireless seems to be priced a bit lower than the old Beats Studios. Its overall performance is quite good. If we buy it with official prices, Solo3 at RMB2,288 yuan or Studio3 at RMB2,888 yuan, the choice must be Studio3 for higher cost performance. And the actual selling prices, however, are both RMB1,000 yuan lower comparing to the Chinese official selling prices. In the comparison with the main force of Bose and Sony in noise canceling, Beats Studio3 Wireless's performance is a little bit worse than QC35 and MDR-1000X. Is the sound quality in superiority? There are both shining points and weaknesses. Studio3 Wireless is advantaged in the combination of element speaker unit quality and amplifier driven forcepowering; but its thick taste needs to be adapted, which is not suitable for classical music and traditional record. Among similar headphones, however, Bose makes the sound style of its own products so mature, well-performed in mid-range but deficient in treble resolution, and the adaptability to music is better than that of Beats. Although Sony, with the help of LDAC, tends to the quality-oriented neutral style, we do not think it presents its best ability especially through the speaker and amplifier of MDR-1000X.