Beats Studio Buds finally launch – and they're cheaper than the AirPods Pro

A girl wearing the Beats Studio Buds in red.
(Image credit: Beats)

The Beats Studio Buds may be the most-leaked true wireless earbuds in recent memory, and now they've finally been officially announced – and they're cheaper than the Apple AirPods Pro.

The latest Beats earbuds come with active noise cancellation, an IPX4 water-resistance rating, and one-touch pairing for both iOS and Android users – a first for any Beats headphones.

We've been testing them for ourselves, and while you'll have to wait for our full review for a definitive verdict, we're pretty impressed with the Beats Studio Buds so far. 

In spite of all those useful specs, the Beats Studio Buds aren't as pricey as many of their competitors. 

The Beats Studio Buds are available to preorder now, with an official release date coming "this summer" (so anytime between now and the end of August for readers in the southern hemisphere) – and they'll cost $149.99 / £129.99. Australian pricing and availability is yet to be confirmed, but that works out to around AU$190.

That's much cheaper than we were expecting – we were ready for a price tag closer to that of the Powerbeats Pro, which cost $249 / £219 / AU$349 at launch.

Spatial audio smarts

The Beats Studio Buds look very different to the brand's previous true wireless earbuds, the Powerbeats Pro, eschewing the large earhooks in favor of a sleeker design. 

Coming in red, white, and black, these sleek-looking buds come with silicone eartips and a lightweight build, as well as a tilted acoustic nozzle with vents to relieve pressure on the eardrum. 

For fitness mavens, an IPX4 water resistance rating means the Studio Buds can withstand a little sweat or rain – though you won't be able to take them in the shower after your workout.

Each bud features a multi-function 'b' button, which allows you to play/pause your music, skips songs, answer and end calls, and toggle between the active noise cancellation and Transparency modes.

So, how will they sound? According to Beats, the Studio Buds will deliver a "powerful" and "balanced" performance, thanks to 8.2mm dual-element diaphragm drivers. These drivers are coupled with a two-chamber acoustic design, which Beats says allows for "outstanding stereo separation and low harmonic distortion across the frequency curve". 

Best of all, they'll automatically play Spatial Audio for tracks mixed in Dolby Atmos, allowing you to experience immersive, cinematic sound through your earbuds – though this particular feature is only available to Apple Music users currently.

In our tests so far we've found that the Studio Buds boast a lively sound that elevates both the low and high ends of the mix, for a toe-tapping result – unlike previous Beats headphones that blasted you with thumping bass. 

beats studio buds in white

(Image credit: Beats)

While the Beats Studio Buds are $100 / £120 cheaper than the Apple AirPods Pro, they do share a few features, including active noise cancellation (ANC). 

In ANC mode, the earbuds should block out annoying environmental sound, while ensuring that your music still sounds clear thanks to an algorithm that "monitors the source file while simultaneously correcting and cleaning audio-compromising artifacts at up to 48,000 times a second".

There's also a Transparency mode, which can be accessed by long-pressing the 'b' button, allowing you to hear your surroundings via external-facing microphones that mix the sound of your environment back in with your music. 

These dual-beam forming microphones are also used during phone calls, and according to Beats, can filter out wind and obstruct external noise for greater clarity.

As for the battery life, Beats says the Studio Buds deliver eight hours of playback, with a further 16 hours in the charging case, though that number drops to five hours onboard and 10 hours with the case with either ANC or Transparency mode turned on.

That's not the best battery life we've seen for noise-cancelling earbuds – the new Sony WF-1000XM4 offer eight hours onboard and a further 12 hours from the charging case, for instance. 

Still, the Studio Buds do come with some neat quality-of-life features that could earn them a place among the best true wireless earbuds of 2021, including support for FindMy in iOS and Find My Device on Android, allowing you to locate your buds if you misplace them. 

Olivia Tambini

Olivia was previously TechRadar's Senior Editor - Home Entertainment, covering everything from headphones to TVs. Based in London, she's a popular music graduate who worked in the music industry before finding her calling in journalism. She's previously been interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live on the subject of multi-room audio, chaired panel discussions on diversity in music festival lineups, and her bylines include T3, Stereoboard, What to Watch, Top Ten Reviews, Creative Bloq, and Croco Magazine. Olivia now has a career in PR.