Beat Studio3 Wireless: Will new colours be enough to entice?

The Beats Studio3 Skyline edition comes in Midnight Black, Crystal Blue, Desert Sand and Shadow Gray. — Picture courtesy of Apple
The Beats Studio3 Skyline edition comes in Midnight Black, Crystal Blue, Desert Sand and Shadow Gray. — Picture courtesy of Apple

KUALA LUMPUR, March 22 — Not too long ago Apple added new colours to its Beats Studio3 headphones, and dubbed them the Skyline Collection.

The four new shades are Midnight Black, Crystal Blue, Desert Sand, and Shadow Gray. Besides new colours, the collection sets itself apart with gold accents for a refined look.

Apart from the colour refresh, the headphones themselves haven't changed specs-wise. Its main selling point is its Pure Adapative Noise Cancelling (Pure ANC) that shuts out the sound, enhancing your listening experience.

It also comes with the W1 chip for Bluetooth connectivity — the same chip that's on Apple's AirPods. That means seamless pairing with any Apple device.

Apple also claims that the headphones have very impressive battery life — with up to 22 hours with ANC turned on, and 40 hours if you turn it off.

First impressions

Beats headphones often get a rap for being pricey while using components that don't always justify the price tag.

The Studio3 in Midnight Black (which was the unit I reviewed) certainly looked luxe and will likely be the most popular of the collection.

While it looks good, there's a lot of plastic for something that costs upwards of RM1,300. The plastic makes it lighter, sure but it makes for less durable headphones.

To not scratch or damage the plastic, you'll probably have to keep it in the case that comes with it. It's a fairly solid-looking case but it has no inner pockets to store cables — which is a bit disappointing.

As for cables, there is a charging cable (micro-USB, really?), an aux cable for 3.5mm jacks with a button for taking calls (but newer iPhones don't have those jacks?) and that's it.

Day-to-day use

The over ear design makes it comfortable enough to wear for longer periods, and proves helpful in keeping the sound out.

Setup was super-easy with Apple devices — pairing is a breeze and should you switch from one Apple device to the other, settings are saved in the cloud so transferring is a cinch.

It's not quite as smooth with non-Apple devices but I encountered no real issues. The advantage for Apple users is that you can control the ANC from your device, while Android users can only use the physical button for that purpose.

As for charging, you can get a lot of juice in just a few minutes of charging. Ten minutes can get you three hours which makes this a timesaver, especially for someone who listens to music and travels long-haul a lot.

The Beats Studio3 combines comfort with a seamless connection to Apple devices. — Picture by Erna Mahyuni
The Beats Studio3 combines comfort with a seamless connection to Apple devices. — Picture by Erna Mahyuni

On normal weeks, I'd only need to charge every 3-4 days with ANC on, that's about 20 hours give or take. Not far from Apple's estimate.

Without ANC on, I could make it stretch to just about over a week. Since I work at a desk from home, it gave me lots of time to glue myself to said headphones.

To its credit, I could wear the headphones for a decent amount of time and not feel encumbered. Even with the cartilage piercings I have along my ear (which made it a pain if I used on-ears) the headphones were comfortable.

Music to your ears?

I was expecting a more bassy sound as this is the Beats line we're talking about. Interestingly the bass is a lot more subdued and instead the approach is a more middling sound across the low-to-high ranges.

The mid is probably where these headphones sound the best — it's not too great at the lowest or highest bits. It seems tweaked fairly well for vocals, however and there's nice clarity if not a lot of warmth.

So these aren't the consumer bass-otimised cans Beats are known for but that's to be expected as noise-cancelling headphones are more a traveller's companion than anything.

As for how well they kept the noise out, they did a good job in that aspect especially with the headphone fit combined. If you're the type who likes napping with cans like these on — they're comfortable enough you could manage it.

Final thoughts

If you're firmly embedded in the Apple ecosystem, you'd be better off with these no question. The seamless connection experience is pretty great but if you're not on Apple fan, it's a bit of a toss-up.

In this price range, you have Sony, Sennheiser and Bose. If you're already paying over RM1,000 for a pair of headphones those brands might offer more premium builds for arguably better sound quality.

If you're looking for a hassle-free experience and happen to be an Apple user, Beats is it. Otherwise, it's still a contender if you want a pair of headphones that look good and stay comfortable for long durations.

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