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Beats Studio Buds Plus
What we like
What we don't like
Beats Studio Buds Plus
We’ve reached a point in wireless audio where mid-range and flagship earbuds perform similarly. Performance alone isn’t enough to make a product stand out anymore. A product has to be different. Beats understands this, and the Beats Studio Buds Plus marry premium features with the option of a unique translucent finish. This eye-catching design will turn heads, but are the buds any good? Find out in our Beats Studio Buds Plus review.
Beats Studio Buds Plus review: What you need to know
- Beats Studio Buds Plus: $169 / €199 / £179 / CA$229
Rumors swirled about the Beats Studio Buds Plus before their May 19, 2023, release date. These Apple-owned earbuds came almost two years after the original Studio Buds.
This time, Beats stayed the course with its Studio Buds Plus. These share the exact dimensions as their predecessors. Rather than reinvent the wheel, Beats added a translucent colorway to set the earbuds apart. This is also the first time Beats offers four ear tip sizes for its buds, ranging from extra-small to large.
An IPX4 rating protects the Studio Buds Plus from sweat and water splashes, and this matches the Studio Buds’ durability. Beats also retained its single, multifunction button control for each earbud. While touch controls are usually more versatile, buttons are easier to operate with gloves. Plus, sweat drops won’t accidentally trigger touch commands mid-workout.
Like the Studio Buds, the Studio Buds Plus support Google Fast Pair and work with the Beats app for Android. You get audio switching on Android and Chromebook devices, so you can hop between sources without digging into menus. Google’s Find My Device network recognizes the Studio Buds Plus, too.
iPhone owners get a few extra perks from the Studio Buds Plus, including hands-free “Hey Siri” and Apple Spatial Audio. You can also toggle ANC on or off from the Control Center. Apple Find My lets listeners locate the buds on a map, play a sound through either bud, and get directions to their last-known location. Unlike some Apple and Beats earbuds, battery optimization and audio sharing aren’t in the Studio Buds Plus’ feature set.
As before, the Studio Buds Plus charging case accepts USB-C and doesn’t have wireless charging. Beats improved the battery life of its earbuds and charging case. The buds last six hours on a single charge with ANC, a one-hour improvement over the Studio Buds. Using ANC, the case provides an extra 18 hours of listening time, totaling 24 hours of playback. With Fast Fuel charging, five minutes of charging nets one hour of playtime with the buds.
The Beats Studio Buds Plus are available in Transparent, Ivory, and Black/Gold, and they cost $169. You can find the earbuds on Beats’ and Apple’s websites or from popular brick-and-mortar stores like Best Buy and Target.
What I like about the Beats Studio Buds Plus
First and foremost, I love how these Beats earbuds look. Beats thought beyond its typical vibrant colorways and delivered a new, eye-catching translucent finish. Let’s face it, people are already comparing the Studio Buds Plus to the Nothing Ear 1 and Ear 2 for their transparent finishes. As a Nothing Ear 1 owner, I found Beats’ frosted translucent design more interesting than Nothing’s. The frosted veneer did me in. Using the Studio Buds Plus surfaced my memories as a kid playing with my frosted purple Game Boy Color.
Looks aside, these earbuds are comfortable. I could wear them for four hours and only removed them to air my ears out, not because I experienced discomfort. Further, I liked how the multifunction button on each bud is above the Beats logo. This mechanism didn’t place pressure down my ear canals like other earbud buttons. Your mileage may vary, but I felt the Studio Buds Plus fit my ears and stayed in place better than the flagship Google Pixel Buds Pro and Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro. While I didn’t need the XS ear tips, they’re a great inclusion that accommodates more ear shapes than the Studio Buds.
Google spatial audio sounded great through the Beats Studio Buds Plus and was easy for me to set up.
Identical to the first-gen Studio Buds, the Studio Buds Plus have the same pocketable size that works with most pants and shorts. The case is a little larger than the AirPods Pro (2nd generation) but takes up less room than the Nothing Ear 2 case. It’s great to see Apple retained the USB-C charging input; now, if only it would add that to its AirPods and iPhones.
When I opened the Beats Studio Buds Plus case, a notification on my Pixel 6 prompted me to connect to the buds. This one-step pairing process made setting up the Studio Buds Plus a breeze. The Pixel 6 even prompted me to download the Beats app to get the most out of the earbuds. This experience was almost identical with an iPhone, except there is no Beats app for iOS. Instead, it’s baked into the phone’s Settings app.
The Beats app for Android is pretty sparse, as are the iOS Setting app options. Although the single button is limiting, Beats makes due and gives you some control over it. With an Android device or iPhone, you can customize the press-and-hold command. This allows you to control volume, cycle between listening modes (ANC, Off, or Transparency), or access your phone’s smart assistant.
The Beats Studio Buds Plus’ spatial audio worked on an iPhone when streaming videos from Max and when paired with a Google Pixel 6. Head tracking isn’t supported on either operating system. Seeing how head tracking disorients me, this isn’t a significant loss.
Beats’ noise canceling has improved, but it’s still not a selling point of the earbuds. The ANC does little to quiet the noise from a passing train and general street noise. I tested the ANC in a controlled environment by playing the track Locomotive Train Sounds through my Sennheiser x Massdrop HD 6XX while wearing the Beats buds. Under these circumstances, the ANC quieted low-frequency sounds more than the Nothing Ear 1 but not nearly as much as the AirPods Pro 2.
Sound quality, while not historically Beats’ strong suit, is good with the Studio Buds Plus. In typical Beats fashion, the earbuds boost the bass. When I listened to the song 27 Club by Raleigh Ritchie, the earbuds’ sub-bass sounded louder than the AirPods Pro (2nd generation). This frequency response also made lower-pitched vocals stand out more than I expected when listening to ODIE, Tyler, The Creator, and Bob Vylan. Interestingly, I also noticed the AirPods Pro (2nd generation) sounded louder than the Studio Buds Plus at the same volume level.
Lastly, the larger microphone capsules make a big difference when comparing the Beats Studio Buds to the Studio Buds Plus. The larger mics on the Studio Buds Plus suppress background noise very well. To record the mic sample below, I stood outside with cars passing by and some light wind. Although my voice sounds a bit muffled at the beginning of the sample, you can understand what I’m saying throughout the demo. Given how cars and semi-trucks passed me the whole time, I didn’t expect this. There were also birds chirping in a tree above me, which don’t come through in the recording.
Beats Studio Buds Plus microphone demo (Non-standardized):
What I don’t like about the Beats Studio Buds Plus
The Beats Studio Buds Plus lack features I’d expect to see from $169 earbuds, like wireless charging and automatic ear detection. The Nothing Ear 2 and Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 cost less than the Studio Buds Plus and include wireless charging. Without automatic ear detection, I manually paused playback before removing the buds. This wasn’t a huge deal, but I’ve grown accustomed to ear detection in earbuds starting at $150, and Apple certainly has the technology to execute this.
While it’s nice that the Beats app exists for Android users, the Studio Buds Plus could benefit from more software features on iOS and Android. Mainly, I’d like to see an ear tip fit test and a custom equalizer. With an ear tip fit test, you don’t have to run through the guess-and-check method to ensure you’ve grabbed the proper tips. A custom EQ, or even a bass slider like the Pixel Buds A series have, would do wonders for the Studio Buds Plus. I expect a little more control over how the earbuds sound at this price point. Alas, you can always download a third-party EQ app instead.
The Studio Buds Plus lack some expected features like auto play/pause and wireless charging.
While these earbuds are good for iPhone and Android phone owners, they would be even better with aptX. We’ll probably never see aptX from an Apple or Beats product, but support for this Bluetooth audio codec would reduce audio-visual lag on Android. There was a noticeable lag when streaming videos from HBO Max and YouTube on a Pixel 6, especially when I paused and resumed a video. This just doesn’t happen on Android phones when you stream over aptX.
Another thing that irked me was how difficult it was to remove the earbuds from the case. Pinching the housings to remove the buds occasionally took a few tries. Further, I found it all too easy to confuse the left and right earbuds. During this Beats Studio Buds Plus review period, I accidentally inserted the left bud into my right ear and vice versa. These aren’t make-or-break issues, but they cheapened the experience.
Beats Studio Buds Plus specs
|Beats Studio Buds Plus|
Earbud: 20.5 x 18.5 x 15 mm
Case: 72 x 51 x 25.5 mm
Class 1 Bluetooth
Battery life (Listening time)
Earbuds, ANC on: 6 hours
Case and earbuds, ANC on: up to 24 hours
Earbuds, ANC off: 9 hours
Case and earbuds, ANC off: Up to 36 hours
Custom acoustic platform
Vent system for pressure equalization
Apple Spatial Audio (no head tracking)
Apple Find My
Google Find My
Audio Switch (Android/Chromebook and iOS)
One-step pairing (Android/iOS)
Ear tip selection
XS, S, M, L
iOS 16.4 or later
Android device running 8.0 or later
May 19, 2023
Should you buy the Beats Studio Buds Plus?
The Beats Studio Buds Plus are very good earbuds, but they’re not a great value. Yes, you get ANC, USB-C charging, and a compact fit, but you can find this from plenty of earbuds that cost less than $169. What makes the Studio Buds Plus special is how they work on Android and iOS, and that they’re from Apple. Since these buds play both sides of the fence, they miss out on quintessential Apple features like battery optimization and automatic switching on Apple devices.
Ultimately, a big reason to buy the Studio Buds Plus over the competition is that they look fantastic and strike that nostalgia nerve. Plain and simple. Beats nailed the frosted translucent finish. Rather than looking into the future like Nothing’s clear, transparent design, the Studio Buds Plus remind us of our past and, more importantly, things about our childhoods. That alone will be reason enough for many listeners to want the Studio Buds Plus.
That said, if you prefer the more futuristic look of Nothing’s buds check out the Nothing Ear 2 ($149 at Amazon). These more affordable earbuds have noise canceling and a stemmed design that’s easier to remove from the case. The Nothing X app has a three-band EQ and a few customization options. Nothing’s earbuds and case have IP54 and IP55 dust- and water-resistance ratings, respectively.
If you’re invested in Apple’s ecosystem, I recommend saving for the AirPods Pro (2nd generation) ($199 at Amazon) over the Beats Studio Buds Plus. The noise canceling, sound quality, and feature set are all better than Beats’ earbuds. Plus, with the AirPods Pro (2nd generation), you get MagSafe wireless charging. The stemmed design may not be for everyone, but if you can wait for these to go on sale, they’re the best buds for iPhone.
Finally, for earbuds that work well on Android and iOS and don’t cost more than $100, I recommend the Jabra Elite 4 ($79 at Amazon). These buds have ANC, a custom EQ in the mobile app, and a comfortable fit. You get aptX support, which is great for Android users, and multipoint connectivity. The latter lets you connect to two devices at once, something none of Apple or Beats’ earbuds support.
Beats Studio Buds Plus review: FAQs
The Studio Buds Plus are good workout earbuds due to their IPX4 water-resistant build and secure fit. Check out the Beats Fit Pro if you want an even more stable fit.
The Studio Buds Plus cannot connect to multiple devices at once. For that, you’ll need earbuds with Bluetooth multipoint.
Yes, you can track the Beats Studio Buds with the Apple Find My app, Google Find My Device app, or directly through the Beats app for Android.
No, the Beats Studio Buds Plus stay in place once you find the right ear tips. Beats provides XS, S, M, and L ear tip sizes.
With ANC on, the Studio Buds Plus last six hours on a single charge, and the case provides an extra 18 hours of listening time. Turning off ANC gives you nine hours of battery life on a single charge, with the case supplying an extra 27 hours of playtime.