I have a confession to make; Iím now a member of the ďmy mom bought these for me headphonesĒ club. Yes, I picked up a pair of Beats headphones.
I spend most of my day in front of my computer, but I'm also away from my desk quite frequently. While I work, I like to listen with a pair of corded headphones. However, they tend to get caught on my office chair plus I frequently forget to take them off when I get up which leads to a lot of pulled cords.
I finally had enough and decided to pick up a pair of around the ear Bluetooth headphones. I didnít need noise cancellation but itís often a mandatory feature on this style of Bluetooth headphone.
I heard some good things about the AKG K845ís and picked up a pair for myself. If I were to describe them Iíd have to use the ďNĒ word - Yes, theyíre too damn Neutral. While they do allow you enjoy music in a way you couldnít before, the bass was too neutral and I usually wished they had a bit more oomph to them.
Next up, where the Parrot Zik 2.0ís which I reviewed here. They are powerful with bright trebles and deep bass - I had a lot of fun with them. They also had outstanding build quality and just look amazing. However, they were also very expensive, overly complicated and just lacked a certain something in the sound quality department. To be honest though, at $400 USD/$430 CDN, it was mostly the cost that kept me from buying a pair for myself.
After that, I decided to give the Beat Studio 2.0 Wireless a try. While they normally cost about the same as the Zikís, I found a pair for $300 (taxes included) and decided to pull the trigger.
You can get the Studioís in a variety of colours but I opted for the matte black ones mostly because they look low key. If you want something less subtle, itís also available in many other colours like white or red with a white logo along with many other colours.
The matte finish is menacing in a good way but I wonder how durable it is. Many electronics have a clear coat on them to protect them from scratching too easily but the Studioís seem to lack that.
Fit and finish is decent - while theyíre mostly made from plastic, they donít groan or creak when you handle them.
Theyíre not weighty but at the same time, theyíre just heavy enough so that they donít feel cheap.
The parts that touch your head are all covered in a soft-touch finish.
Theyíre quite comfortable though like many headphones, the ear cups can get a little warm after a while. Otherwise I was very happy with the fit. They clamp with enough pressure to stay on your ears when you move around but not so much that theyíre uncomfortable. They also donít make much noise when youíre moving around.
I like how they can fold down in case you want to put them in a carrying case. The Zikís donít fold down. Then again, the Zikís can swivel sideways which makes them more comfortable to leave on your neck.
The hinges are metal but rest of the headband feels like itís plastic
Speaking of that, they come with their own carrying case. Itís very thin and light. You could argue that it feels cheap but then again, making the case feel more expensive would add bulk and weight. If youíre comparing, the Zikís only come with a fabric bag.
Compared to the Zikís, the Studios are much simpler. On the left side are the volume buttons above and below the ďbĒ logo.
The logo itself handles playback controls; You press it once to play or pause, two times to skip to the next song or press once and then press and hold to fast forward. Three times skips to the previous song while pressing twice and then holding the third rewinds.
It can also put the Studios in pairing mode if you press and hold it for a few seconds.
I appreciate how this simplifies the controls but at the same time, having to press the same button multiple times is kind of confusing too.
The buttons have a nice click when you press them. I prefer them over the Zikís touch sensitive ones which can be unpredictable at times.
Thereís also a jack in case you want to use them as wired headphones.
On the right is the power button, battery level indicator and the MicroUSB charging connector.
Pressing the power button will show the battery level.
Unlike most noise cancelling headphones which allow you to turn the noise cancellation off, the Studios only allow you to turn the music off so that they become the worldís most expensive ear protection. I donít have a problem with this but there are times I wish I could turn the noise cancellation off.
I tried the Studios with my iPhone 6 Plus and my desktop computer. I didnít notice much difference in sound quality between either device.
While I try to be unbiased when I review, I have to admit I had some preconceived notions on how the Studios would sound. I figured they strong bass that would drown everything else out.
Sometimes itís nice to be wrong. While the Studios definitely arenít bass neutral, the bass is nice and juicy without being overpowering.
Treble is also nicely tamed. Heck, theyíre actually kind of warm sounding.
Aside from the boosted bass, the only other part that really sounds different is that vocals sometimes have a tiny hint of reverb on them.
Anyways, while they donít sound perfect, theyíre actually very well behaved and not at all what I was expecting. Theyíre surprisingly grown up sounding.
Compared to the Zik, they actually have tighter bass while and warmer trebles.
While they can get insanely loud, they distort badly at maximum volume. Still, the point where they begin to come apart is way louder than Iíd ever listen to them at so this isnít something to be too concerned about.
If you listen to them indoors, you'll notice that the noise cancellation results in an quiet but audible rushing sound. It reminds me of when youíre using noise cancelling headphones on a plane only the rushing sound is much quieter.
Depending on what youíre listening to, you may not notice them but if youíre indoors youíll hear it during quiet passages. This is why Iím surprised that you canít turn the cancellation off.
I didnít get a chance to compare them head-to-head with the Zikís but the noise reduction is pretty effective.
Beats claims 12hrs of battery life. I didn't test them for 12 hours straight but I feel that this number is pretty accurate.
Considering their price, Iím disappointed that the battery isnít removable.
While itís not perfect, I was pleasantly surprised by the Beats Studio Wireless grown up sound.
Theyíre comfortable and while the controls are a little too simple, theyíre easy to use.
The body is mostly plastic but it has quality finishes plus it feels well put-together.
My only complaint is that the retail pricing. In the US, theyíre $379 (less desirable colours go on sale for $269) while in Canada theyíre $399CDN (usually on sale for around 350).
Thatís similar to what the Parrot Zik 2.0ís go for. While I also feel the Zikís are a bit expensive, dollar for dollar, Iíd go with the Zikís. The Studioís arenít ugly or cheap looking but the Zikís design have that certain something that give it the edge.
I also think the Zikís with their strong sound will also appeal to more people.
Still, I like how you can fold the Beats up when youíre not listening to them. This is important since it makes them more bag-friendly since I donít like to wear headphones if Iím not actually listening to them.
Another advantage of the Beats is that they have superior battery life. Both will make it through the day but the Beats are a better choice if you need a little bit more (like on a long flight).
In the end though, considering what I paid for them, Iím pretty happy with them.
3.5 out of 5 Howies:
- Decent sound quality
- Included carrying case
- Folds up for storage
- Easy to use
- Canít disable noise reduction
- Noise reduction causes hiss
- Battery isnít removable