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Beats Studio 3 Wireless/Bluetooth Headphone review

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The Studio3 was sitting there at the Apple Store, looking very tempting in its impressive "special edition" packaging, and I even got a 5-minute listen to the demo unit using my own iPhone. The demo sounded kinda thick - even a bit muffled, but the extra sweetening they added on the high end made it listenable.


I've had a few Bluetooth headphones now, but not a Beats wireless, so I was curious what the potential of this headphone might be for quality listening, given that I'd re-tune it a little with my equalizer. The conclusions are in the review text, but one thing I can say up front is that while they get the middle frequencies about right through their ANC-plus-Bluetooth codecs, the extreme lows seem to have excess distortion. The extreme highs fare better, but I can't judge how much negative impact the DSP's have on those highs versus how much quality if any is lost in the basic design.


One issue that popped into my head while writing this review is the so-called Loudness Wars. I wonder if the trend in many new headphones to have a recessed lower treble is actually compensation for the Loudness effect, to push the strong forward voices more to the background. Pure speculation there....



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I added comments to the original review about EDM music, and a list of 16 EDM tracks I tested with EQ on and off, to compare the Studio3 to v-moda's Wireless2. The Wireless2 wins on deep bass solidity and impact, but the Studio3 may (or not) do better otherwise.

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I found some good news about the Beats Studio3 Wireless headphone, insofar as I hadn't planned to try using it with a good DAC because the headphone had no true passive mode, i.e. where all electronics in the headphone are turned off.


Plugging in the supplied audio cable with the headphone off turns the headphone on, with ANC also turned on. I immediately turn ANC off with the double-click, and despite the headphone's power still being on, I assume it's not in Bluetooth mode since the audio cable is plugged in.


Whatever the case, and using the AQ DragonFly Red as the DAC/headphone amp, the overall sound got smoother, the treble less harsh, and the bass firmer. The deep bass tones around 30 hz that were distorted in Bluetooth mode now sounded like 30 hz bass tones.


This may not be the final word on the Studio3, but I'm pretty confident now, at least using judicious EQ, that this headphone can serve as a Bluetooth portable for casual listening, and as a home-system headphone.

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