Review: Beats Studio Buds Plus – Breaking the Stereotype

The all-transparent variant of the Studio Buds Plus sport a striking look.
The all-transparent variant of the Studio Buds Plus sport a striking look.

We independently review all our recommendations. Purchases made via our links may earn us a commission. Learn more ❯

The Beats Studio Buds Plus offer a unique design and solid all-round performance.

General Usage
85%
Rank #2
Audiophile Usage
65%
Rank #19
Tested with Sparrow System 1.0

Score Breakdown

Click the label to navigate to the section.

Case

91%

Earbuds

83%

Software

73%
What We Like 😍
  • Transparent variant design stands out
  • Ergonomic case design with good case battery life
  • Comfortable to wear for longer periods
  • Excellent microphone performance
  • Above-average ANC performance
  • BT multipoint
  • Pleasing, fun tuning with no harshness
  • Good staging and imaging
What We Don't Like 🤢
  • Outdated AAC codec
  • The push button is awkward to use
  • ANC and Transparency mode fall behind class leaders
  • Limited customization features
  • Colored tuning might not appeal to neutrality-seekers
  • Not the most resolving TWS IEMs in the bass and treble regions

Where to Buy

Introduction

Beats is known for a specific sound signature – the good ol’ V-shaped tuning with boosted bass and treble, whereas the mids are nowhere to be found. This stereotype has become associated with the brand and is much maligned within audiophile circles. So far, Beats couldn’t care less.

Well, the sales are good, and many people love their products, so why bother change?

Surprisingly, the Beats Studio Buds Plus promise something new. Beats claim to have used a new driver and tuning method to provide more sound clarity and definition.

Is it all marketing speak, or do the Studio Buds Plus offer meaningful improvements over their predecessor? Time to delve deeper.

Case
91%

Battery
93%

  • Battery Life: 27 hours (no ANC), 18 hours (ANC)
  • Connector: USB Type-C
  • Wireless Charging: No
  • Battery Capacity: Not specified

Battery life is outstanding, with the case holding 18 hours of extra charge. This takes the total battery life to about 24 hours (with ANC on). I have to charge the Studio Buds Plus once a week.

Unfortunately, the Studio Buds Plus do not support Qi wireless charging. So the type-C port is the only option.

The carrying case has an ergonomic shape, making it easy to carry around.
The carrying case has an ergonomic shape, making it easy to carry around.

UX
93%

  • Can be opened easily with one hand: Yes
  • Pass the shake test: Yes
  • Light Indicators: Shows charging state and shows battery

The case can be easily opened with one hand. The buds themselves are held magnetically with strong magnets.

The LED on the front shows the case’s estimated battery level and lights up while charging. Minimalist but not very informative.

There is only one LED indicator on the case to display remaining battery estimation and charging status.
There is only one LED indicator on the case to display remaining battery estimation and charging status.

Design
100%

  • Shape of the case: Rectangular with rounded edges
  • Material: Plastic (colored or transparent)
  • Build Quality: Premium

The transparent variant of the case shows all the internals through a smoky-white shell. The carrying case is sturdy, and the lid opens and shuts smoothly.

There is no wireless charging on the Beats Studio Buds Plus.
There is no wireless charging on the Beats Studio Buds Plus.

Portability
63%

  • Weight: 49g (case only), 59g (with earbuds)
  • Volume: 7.2 cm x 5.1 cm x 2.55 cm = 92.9 cm cu
  • Portability: Good

While the carrying case is relatively large, the slim profile makes it easy to slip into pockets. The moderate weight also helps with portability.

Earbuds
83%

Battery
85%

  • Battery Life: 6 hrs (with ANC), 9 hrs (without ANC)
  • Charge Time (10 mins): 120 mins playback time

The earbuds last about 6 hours before they run dry (with ANC on). You can turn off the ANC and get 9 hrs on a single charge.

The Studio Buds Plus need about 1.5 hours to charge fully, but you can get up to 120 minutes of playback time with just 10 minutes of charge.

The small earpieces almost disappear when worn.
The small earpieces almost disappear when worn.

UX
95%

  • Control Mechanism: Mechanical
  • Touch Accuracy: N/A
  • Control Symmetry on both earbuds: Yes
  • Mono Use: Yes, both sides

There is a mechanical “push button” on the back of the Studio Buds Plus, right above the Beats logo. Unfortunately, the button is awkward to use while wearing. They are very reliable, on the other hand, as there is feedback after every action.

The controls can be disabled or tied to specific settings via the app.

Design
95%

  • Profile: Low
  • Material: Plastic
  • Comfort: Outstanding
  • Fit: Outstanding

The Beats Studio Buds Plus have a relatively unique design.

It’s hard to describe the shape, and it’s difficult for me to tell the right earbud from the left at a glance. You do get a “feel” for the shape over time, but it is still not the most intuitive design language.

The touch panel is unreliable, so I keep it off.
The touch panel is unreliable, so I keep it off.

Fortunately, the fit is excellent. The earpieces almost disappear into the canal, and once inserted correctly, they are stable even when running or riding a bike, for example.

The stock tips are decent, but I found an even better fit and sound with the Spinfit CP-1025.

Three vents around the earbuds act as acoustic vents to regulate airflow within the housing and alleviate pressure buildup in the ear canals.

The microphone array is upgraded on the Studio Buds Plus, resulting in better voice pickup and noise suppression than the last model.

Mic
88%

  • Noise Cancellation: Good
  • Voice Pick-up: Outstanding

The mic has excellent voice pickup, even in crowded places. In very noisy environments, the voice may sound a tad drowned out. However, you can select the active microphone from the app for better voice pickup.

Mic performance is excellent on the Beats Studio Buds Plus.
Mic performance is excellent on the Beats Studio Buds Plus.

It works really well, as you can hear from the mic demos. Wind noise is not canceled as efficiently, but that’s a challenge for any microphone.

Mic demo

Sound
63%

  • Driver: Dual-layer diaphragm dynamic driver
  • Sound Signature: Warm, laid-back
  • Bass: Average
  • Mids: Good
  • Treble: Average
  • Sound Detail: Good

The Beats Studio Buds Plus utilize an upgraded “dual-layer diaphragm” for the driver. Unfortunately, that’s all the information we get about the driver, but from the sound, it seems like a noticeable upgrade over the predecessor.

The Beats Studio Buds Plus have a bass-boosted V-shaped tuning with recessed lower-mids.

Frequency response graph of the Beats Studio Buds Plus. Measurements conducted on an IEC-711 compliant coupler.
Frequency response graph of the Beats Studio Buds Plus. Measurements conducted on an IEC-711 compliant coupler.

That description seems like a typical “Beats tuning” again, but there are noticeable differences.

Firstly, the bass rise starts around 250Hz. As a result, bass bleed into the midrange is mostly absent. Moreover, the mids start an early rise to counterbalance the otherwise sizeable boost in the sub-bass. The mid-bass is relatively thin sounding, resulting in the bass lacking texture and palpable slam.

What this means is that despite a strong sub-bass emphasis, the mids do not sound drowned out or too recessed on the Studio Buds Plus.

There is lower-mid recession, as noticed in Porcupine Tree’s The Sound of Muzak. The upper-mids are nicely balanced, though, and female vocals sound smooth and engaging.

The midrange is not neutral, but it sounds pleasant with no hints of shout or shrillness.

The treble does not roll off too early, which helps in making cymbals and hi-hats noticeable without turning overbearing. It’s not the most exciting or detailed treble in a pair of TWS IEMs, just enough to inject energy into tracks while not veering near peakiness.

Another surprising aspect of Studio Buds Plus is the staging and imaging. Instruments sound well spread out, while cardinal orientation is spot-on. Ordinal positioning is not as accurate, while instrument separation is above average.

Dynamics are on the softer side, which I attribute to the use of older, lower-resolution codecs. The sense of compression never goes away, though it’s not as offensive as the Samsung Galaxy Buds2, for example.

The ANC only filters out low-frequency noises, and high-frequency noises are reduced less effectively. This results in high-pitched sounds coming through, which can sometimes be jarring.

Connectivity
98%

  • Audio Codec: AAC
  • Bluetooth Version: 5.3
  • Bluetooth Chip: N/A
  • Auto-connect when: Case lid opened
  • Average drop-outs in an hour: 0-3 times
  • Multi-point connection: Yes

Multipoint support is present, and it is seamless switching between an Android phone and a Windows PC. The latest Bluetooth 5.3 and class 1 support is here, resulting in a long connection range and exceptional stability.

Waterproof
75%

  • IP Rating: IPX4

The IPX4 rating means that the Beats Studio Buds Plus are secure from minor splashes and water sprays, but there is no dust protection.

Software
73%

  • Available on: Android, iOS
  • No EQ presets
  • Find My Beats
  • Auto-Pause: none.

There is no auto-wear detection. The ANC can only be turned on/off or switched to Transparency mode, with no adjustment in-between. The app offers few features for users, lacking even mere EQ presets.

The Beats app does not offer any EQ or DSP presets.
The Beats app does not offer any EQ or DSP presets.

Conclusion

The Beats Studio Buds Plus are not without flaws. The ANC and Transparency modes could be better, the app is kinda useless, the AAC codec is a letdown in 2023, and the tuning may not appease discerning audiophiles.

Fortunately, their tuning is surprisingly enjoyable despite the coloration, and they nail the most important aspect, i.e., getting the basics right. If I am to summarize the Studio Buds Plus in one word, they are “solid” all around.

For once, the unthinkable has happened, as I find myself recommending a Beats product! I have to give credit where it’s due. Ah, well, there is a first time for everything.

 

Leave a Reply