Beats has come a long way in just a few short years. What started as the brash brainchild of Dr Dre and producer Jimmy Iovine was bought by Apple in 2014 and, since then, has grown up considerably. While it originally had a reputation for earth-shattering bass at the expense of all else, its sound has become considerably more refined. Want proof? Just look at some of its current offerings.
The Beats Studio Buds are a demure little offering, with muted branding and a comprehensive feature set. Want something a little more exercise-friendly? The Beats Fit Pro are more fitness-focused but still offer active noise-cancellation and both iOS and Android compatibility.
Want to find out which Beats earbuds would suit you best? Let's have a look and see...
Battery (buds): 5 hours
The Studio Buds mark a change of direction for Beats – out goes the brash branding and bass-heavy sound, in comes a more demure look and refined sonic performance. They're affordable, fit well and work with Android too, making them a compelling alternative to the pricier AirPods.
- Agile, neutral bass
- Spacious soundstage
- Remarkably small earpieces
- Slightly harsh treble
- No on-device volume control
Battery (buds): 6 hours
Another pair of Android-friendly Beats, another easy recommendation to make. They're sportier than the Studio Buds, more colourful, and just downright more fun. They fit even more securely and boast the same pleasing sound. Sporty? These are the Beats for you.
- Enjoyable, lively sound
- Comfortable, secure fit
- Work seamlessly
- Excitable edge to treble
Beats Studio Buds vs Beats Fit Pro: price
The Beats Fit Pro are the more premium pair of the two. They launched at £200 / $200 / AU$299, a price which has so far held firm. Keep a lookout though – headphones (especially true wireless earbuds like these) are prime candidates for price drops come sales time, so keep your eyes peeled come Amazon Prime Day and Black Friday.
At £130 / $150 / AU$200, the Beats Studio Buds are a fair bit cheaper. Again, their RRP hasn't dropped in price since their release, but they could well be first in line for a discount come sales time.
**Winner: Beats Studio Buds**
Beats Studio Buds vs Beats Fit Pro: design
Whatever you might criticise Beats for, you can't say the brand doesn't put in the work when it comes to designing products. The Studio Buds are very well thought out – the ergonomically tilted acoustic nozzle features a laser-cut micro-vent to help ensure pressure relief on the eardrum, and with three silicone eartip options in total, there's decent scope to find the right fit. In fact, we found they fit well without even switching the pre-fitted eartips.
The eartips taper from the rounded capsule buds to a thinner pill shape – like a switch – where the 'b'-branded multi-function button meets driver housing. This isn't just an aesthetic flourish; it helps promote the twist-to-lock method of fitting them.
There's only a single LED to indicate battery life and when the buds are pairing with a device, however. This could be made more obvious at a glance, but it's a minor quibble on the design front.
Another quibble is that the Studio Buds don't have any volume controls on the buds themselves, but the Fit Pro do.
The Beats Fit Pro also bring their A-game in terms of design. The earbuds are lightweight, comfortable, and even more secure than the Studio Buds thanks to the wingtips that tuck into your shell-likes. This makes sense, given they're aimed at sports use, though their IPX4 rating splash- and sweatproof rating (the same as the Beats Studio Buds) could be higher considering their sport headphones status.
They're more eye-catching than the Studio Buds too and come in seven finishes (including the limited edition Kim Kardashian-tie-in colours) compared to the Studio Buds' six.
For their flashier finishes and more secure design, the Fit Pro take this round.
**Winner: Beats Fit Pro**
Beats Studio Buds vs Beats Fit Pro: features
Beats is owned by Apple, but you'll be pleased to know both pairs don't discriminate against Android. Unlike Apple's own AirPods (the AirPods 3 or AirPods Pro 2, for instance), the two Beats buds here have their own app so Android users can customise their experience further.
The Android app enables features such as one-touch pairing, Ear Tip Fit Test, battery status and customisable controls – all of which were previously exclusive to iOS users. Android users with Apple Music also benefit from Spatial Audio. But that's not the whole story.
Because the Beats Fit Pro use Apple's H1 chip (also found in the first-gen AirPods Pro), they do have some features that only iOS users can enjoy. These are audio sharing with other Beats and Apple earbuds, auto-switching between devices, hands-free Siri and dynamic head tracking when listening to Spatial Audio tracks. In fact, the Beats Fit Pro is, so far, the only non-Apple product to feature full Spatial Audio with dynamic head tracking.
The Beats Studio Buds don't have the H1 chip and so miss out on auto-switching between devices and dynamic head tracking, but they do retain the other features.
Both pairs have three listening modes – Active Noise Cancelling (ANC), ANC off and Transparency mode – which you toggle between by long-pressing the 'b' multi-function button on either earpiece, or via the Bluetooth menu on iOS. You can also personalise the 'b' button to change the volume.
The Fit Pro win for battery life, giving you six hours of use from the buds plus another 21 from the case. The Studio Buds's figures are five and 10 hours, respectively. Both benefit from a five-minute Fast Fuel charge to give you an hour's use.
**Winner: Beats Fit Pro**
Beats Studio Buds vs Beats Fit Pro: sound quality
The Studio Buds were the first pair of Beats to really appeal to us. Why? The sound quality. Gone is the bass-heavy profile in favour of a more nuanced approach.
They still pack an expansive bass floor, but it never clutters up the mix. The low end is grippy and times pretty well, with plenty of texture. They score highly in terms of spacious presentation and placement too, even handling more frenzied tracks with aplomb.
They are bettered by the best wireless earbuds at their level in terms of detail and refinement, however, and their midrange sounds slightly harsh in places.
Fittingly for a fitness-focused pair, the Beats Fit Pro sound lively and enjoyable whatever you throw at them. They're not as neutral as Apple's AirPods range, with things reined in amiably at both ends of the frequency spectrum.
Songs time well, with basslines that go deep without ever overpowering the balance. They have excellent timing and punch, and a very pleasing presentation that ties the music together cohesively, resulting in a great sense of drive.
The Fit Pro's treble can be a little bright sometimes, especially at the upper ends of the volume scale. But things never sound too sharp or uncomfortable – you can listen happily for hours.
**Winner: Beats Fit Pro**
Beats Studio Buds vs Beats Fit Pro: verdict
So there you have it. Beats might still enlist the A-listers to promote its wares (current ambassadors include Kim Kardashian and LeBron James), but it's moved away from its bass-at-all-costs approach. And both pairs of Beats earbuds prove that this is a very positive move.
The Studio Buds are an affordable AirPods alternative with a great feature set for iOS and Android users alike. They're bettered by their more expensive stablemate in every area except price, but they remain an excellent choice for anyone looking for Apple features on a budget who doesn't care for a fitness-friendly fit.
The Beats Fit Pro are just better all-rounders, though. They sound better, fit better, and have a couple of extra features (for iOS users) that elevate them above most of the crowd. If you can afford them, they're worth the extra outlay.
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