Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you
Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you

Beats over-ears are back with spatial-ready Studio Pro

It’s been years since Beats updated its over-ear headphones, but there’s a new pair on the way as the Studio 3 shift into the Studio Pro.

Five years. That’s how long it’s been since we first checked out the most recent pair of Beats over-ear headphones, the Studio 3, and my how time has changed.

In headphones — in technology — five years is a long time, and a practical eternity. It’s unusual for a product to not see an update in a stretch of time that long, with headphones often maxing out at 2-3 years before receiving a refresh, and often getting one much, much sooner. Sometimes yearly.

But five years is where Beats has left the Studio 3 wireless noise cancelling headphones, a solid pair of over-ear/around-ear headphones and the largest in its line-up, sporting big pads, the Beats foldable design, lots of volume, surprising balance, and a style of noise cancellation that adapts to your surroundings.

Back then, they were among the top of the game. These days, it’s not exactly the same.

There’s so much more competition in the active rise cancellation space, and some of it even comes from the owner of Beats, Apple.

Fortunately, Beats is finally refreshing things, as the Studio 3 becomes the Studio Pro. So what’s new?

What’s coming in the Beats Studio Pro?

A big new pair, the Studio Pro will retain some of the look of the previous Studio models, but just refresh things slightly.

Leather pads are still part of the design with a new plush cushion, while metal sliders sit in the plastic headband, and the whole thing still delivers a fold-up design, something high-end headphones have been pushing away from in recent years. Take the Sony WH-1000XM5 which traded in a fold-up design compared to what was offered on the 1000XM4.

The new Beats pair is more than just a refined look, with changes to the inside, as well.

There’s a custom 40mm driver inside with more attention paid to the distortion levels, sporting what the company says is practically none at high volume, and a digital processor inside to balance the sound and optimise the frequency response.

Beats is keeping the fully adaptive noise cancellation technology on-board to monitor sounds around you and filter things out, while a transparency mode is also here, a new feature that will allow sounds of the outside to bleed in and let you hear what’s going on.

Helping this will be updated microphones targeting voice specifically, and there’s also more support with Android as well as iPhone, supporting “Find My Device” on both the Apple and Google platforms.

Interestingly, Beats is also supporting a Type C cable for listening to lossless audio on devices. While the Type C cable can charge the Studio Pro, it can also be used as a way of listening to a supported device, switching to a digital mode and playing back lossless audio for something like Apple Music’s high-res audio feature.

In short, the Beats Studio Pro is supporting a feature much like what’s in the Focal Bathys, which can be plugged into a phone, tablet, or computer using a Type C USB cable and listen to audio that way. There’s even a 3.5mm headphone jack in case you prefer to plug in that way.

Unplug either cable and the Studio Pro will work over Bluetooth entirely, but if you have an iPhone and Apple Music subscription, these headphones will also support spatial audio with dynamic head-tracking.

Yes, just like the AirPods Max, this is a pair of headphones that can track your head’s position as you turn it left to right, and change the sound to match the direction your head is aimed. We’re not yet sure if Android is supported here — our guess is no, and Android spatial audio support is still patchy at best — but this is one more pair of headphones supporting the Atmos format with head-tracking, and the second Beats pair to get the tech after last year’s Fit Pro.

“Beats cemented its cultural legacy with the release of the original Studio headphone in 2008,” said Oliver Schusser, Vice President of Beats and Apple Music.

“With Beats Studio Pro, we’ve refined the design and completely reengineered the headphone to bring consumers our most impressive over-ear offering yet,” he said. “Studio Pro keeps Beats’ promise of delivering music as the artist intended, continuing our storied heritage as a premium audio brand.”

It’s all coming in a pair of headphones offering as much as 40 hours of listening, though only with noise cancelling switched off. Turn ANC on and the battery drops to 24 hours, which is about normal but not quite as high as others, beating the 20 hours on the Bose 700 NC, though nowhere near the maximum of 60 on the Sennheiser Momentum 4.

Australian pricing and availability

Locally, Australians can expect to find the Beats Studio Pro for $529.95 when it does arrive, though the question of “when” is one the company hasn’t quite answered just yet.

Apple’s online store notes the Studio Pro is on the way, but there’s no actual release date beyond “coming soon”.

That said, with all the activity overseas and an expected launch date of August in the US, we’d expect the Beats Studio Pro will launch in Australia then, a month before the arrival of a few new iPhones, no less.

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