AT first glance, the Studio Wireless looks like the black sheep of the Beats family.
Aesthetically, the firm has pursued an uncharacteristically restrained approach. Its routine visual vocabulary of brash, fashion-conscious colours may be its hallmark, but its latest headset exhibits a more subdued, mature approach to design. With a matte black finish, the only identifiable brand sign is the ‘b’ on each cup and ‘beats’ emblazoned on the top of the headband.
The minimalist appearance is not the only digression from the Beats formula. For years, the brand has been easily identifiable by its powerful bass performance, with a succession of earphones overemphasising the bottom end. By contrast, the Studio Wireless reigns in the low frequencies and gives long overdue attention to the treble, previously an afterthought of any Beats mix.
The wireless phones still give a full, rounded bass performance compared to most headsets, but no longer are your ears subjected to a throbbing pulse with every note. It is a signature that ably complements rock, dance and rap tracks, still sending a shiver down the spine without threatening to pierce the eardrums.
The overall sound profile is bombastic and recreates the thrill of a concert experience, which is ideal for many. Some listeners, though, seek out a faithful representation of a studio recording and may be taken aback about how Beats continue to favour the low-end in every track, delivering a gig-style sound.
The battery life is very good in both wireless and wired performance. The former will give around 12 hours of playtime while the latter will extend the life of a full charge by a further eight hours. Pleasingly, Beats have also introduced an automatic power-off feature, a boon for the forgetful among us who simply fling their earphones into a bag without switching them off manually.
The price tag of the Studio Wireless is considerable, however, and sonically, there are other headphones on the market that achieve a similar performance for around £100 less. Yet sound is only part of the package that constitutes a new Beats headset - for some, they are as much a fashion accessory as it is an audio device. Whether you share that view will likely sway your decision to fork out that little bit extra, but Beats have taken an interesting and impressive new direction with the Studio Wireless.