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The 7 Best Beats Headphones for Bass Lovers

Listen to music the way the artist intended with these expert-recommended cans and buds.

best beats headphones
Staff, Courtesy of Beats

Even if you’ve never owned a set of Beats headphones, chances are you know what they sound like. The distinctive bass-heavy, in-your-face tone of the original “Beats By Dre” wired and Studio wireless headphones has become the industry standard since 2008. Back then, the most expensive “cans” were aimed at the audiophile crowd—the people who wanted their music to sound exactly like it did in the recording booth. Beats changed that, and in doing so they caught the imagination of everyone who wanted more dynamic sound, from party DJs to the hardcore inhabitants of CrossFit boxes.

Today, Beats isn’t a single headphone; it’s a whole line of audio products. The company is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Apple—but you don’t need an Apple product to enjoy Beats headphones or IEMs (in-ear monitors, known to most of us as earbuds). Everything shown here is Android-compatible. We’ve taken a look across the wide range of Beats products to match them with the demands of your specific lifestyle and activities.

The Expert Jack Baruth, an audiophile with more than 33 years of listening experience with high-end headphones and stereo equipment, has been obsessed with personal audio since he first connected a set of Sennheiser 480s to a 20-bit Denon CD player in 1989.

What To Consider

Headphones or Buds?

The days of walking through the first-class cabin of a commercial flight and seeing a dozen traditional Beats headphones are gone. Thanks to Apple’s AirPods and Samsung’s Galaxy Buds, more people are choosing in-ear monitors, or earbuds, over a conventional set of headphones. And why not? They’re less bulky both in your bag and on your head, they seal better against external noise, and they don’t advertise to the whole world that you’re wearing headphones.

While all of the above is true, it doesn’t mean you should automatically ignore a conventional set of wired or wireless headphones. For starters, there’s no pressure in your ear canal when you wear headphones, and you won’t get that tired or sore feeling in your ear that many people know intimately after a long run or workout with earbuds. The sound quality will always be better with conventional headphones because in many ways the fidelity of what you hear is directly related to the amount of air the speakers can move, and the power available to them—both areas where headphones are better than earbuds. Last but not least, you’ll never lose half a set of full-sized headphones down a storm drain or spend 20 minutes searching for them in a backpack.

Wired or Wireless?

When everything else is equal, wired headphones will always sound better. With modern smartphones, however, going wired is no longer an option. None of the high-end iPhone or Android smartphones have a headphone jack now, so you’re forced to go wireless, which many people prefer anyway due to the freedom it provides.

Traditional wired headphones connect to your smartphone or music player via a stereo plug, usually ⅛-inch in size. (The larger ¼-inch size is found in audiophile systems.) Wireless headphones connect to your phone or player via Bluetooth. Both Apple and Android phones have Bluetooth connectivity, however, since Beats is an Apple company, some of its products have additional features that work over Bluetooth with an iPhone.

Thankfully, the sound quality of wireless options has improved in the past decade, although audiophiles listening to lossless-compression classical music with a set of wired Focal Elears via a dedicated tube headphone amp, still won’t want anything to do with even the best wireless options.

How We Evaluated

I evaluated these Beats products in accordance with their designed mission. I started by listening to an original set of Beats over-the-ear headphones before moving on to the company's current offerings. That means, though I didn’t expect audio-quality miracles from the earbuds, I did consider how well they stay in the ear during physical activity. For each product, I considered design, listening time (battery life), price, and whether the headphones offer a quick charge (or what Beats calls Fast Fuel).

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Best Sound Quality
Beats Studio3

Key Specs

  • Listening Time: 22 hours; 40 hours with noise cancellation off 
  • Fast Fuel: 10-minute charge provides 3 hours of playback
  • Noise Canceling: Yes 

To enjoy the highest quality possible of your favorite music, over-the-ear headphones are a must. They block external noise while providing plenty of room for large, high-fidelity audio drivers to reproduce music the way it was intended to be heard. Beats is no longer in the business of making conventional wired headphones in its Studio range, but it is still offering a wireless over-the-ear option with the Studio3. These have the Apple W1 chip for the best Bluetooth music quality, and they fold for easy storage. There’s also the included RemoteTalk cable which converts the Studio3 to conventional wired headphones with a built-in microphone, perfect for joining Zoom calls on short notice. (You’ll still need a charge in the battery.) If you have room in your carry-on bag, these will be the most relaxing choice for long flights.

  • Sound quality
  • Long battery life
  • Combination of over-the-ear insulation and pure Adaptive Noise Cancelling (ANC)

  • Size
  • Weight
  • Not suitable for vigorous exercise
Best for iPhone Users
Beats Fit Pro

Key Specs

  • Listening Time: 6 hours; Up to 24 hours with charging case
  • Fast Fuel: 5-minute charge provides 1 hour of playback
  • Noise Canceling: Yes

The payoff for Apple’s acquisition of Beats can be found with the Beats Fit Pro, which has three unique features that work only with Apple products: Audio Sharing for multiple listeners on a single phone, Siri integration via the Apple H1 headphone chip, and dynamic audio tracking that monitors the listener’s head position and adjusts to provide the sense of being in a larger listening arena. Consider these a fairly traditional alternative to AirPods (or Samsung buds) with a “Beats” bass-heavy tone. The “Fit” in the Fit Pro comes from their ability to adjust the way they fit in your ears via a bendable “wing,” so if you’ve had trouble keeping other earbuds in during exercise or while commuting, you’ll want to give these a look.

  • Special Apple features
  • Adjustable fit

  • Cost
  • The special features of the H1 headphone chip won’t work with Android devices
Best for Fitness Freaks
Beats Powerbeats Pro
$169.95 (32% off)

Key Specs

  • Listening Time: 9 hours ; Over 24 hours with charging case 
  • Fast Fuel: 5-minute charge provides 1.5 hours of playback
  • Noise Canceling: Yes

If you’re primarily interested in using your earbuds for exercise, your search should start and end here with the Powerbeats Pro, which has several beneficial features aimed at the CrossFit crowd and beyond. Unlike most of its competitors, and even Beats’s own products, the Powerbeats have adjustable over-the-ear hooks to keep your earbuds in place no matter what. They’re also sweatproof.

That’s not all. You can use either earbud individually—a real lifesaver for folks who jog or exercise around traffic or in a city. Each earbud has its own volume control. And the H1 headphone chip enables Audio Sharing and “Hey, Siri” for users of Apple products. Living the active life? Bring these along.

  • Apple product integration
  • Individual ear usability
  • Secure-fit ear hooks for vigorous exercise

  • Not quite the same sound quality as the more upscale Beats Fit Pro
The Wired Choice
Beats EP
$79.95 (38% off)

Key Specs

  • Listening Time: Battery-free for unlimited playback
  • Fast Fuel: N/A
  • Noise Canceling: No

Want the “Beats sound” without the wireless features? The EP is your sole choice. It’s an “on-ear” headphone, meaning it won’t surround your ear with an insulating layer, so it’s easier to hear what’s going on around you. (It’s also possible for others to hear what you’re listening to, so keep that in mind.)

With no batteries and no active circuitry, the EP doesn’t have the noise cancellation, Siri integration, or Audio Sharing of other Beats products, but you’ll also never find yourself short of charge. These are great headphones to use with your laptop or dedicated audio devices. The integrated microphone also makes them ideal for Zoom calls or Internet phone use. Last but not least, they’re some of the most affordable Beats you can buy.

  • No batteries
  • No complexity
  • Usable for Internet conferencing and calling

  • No active features
  • Won’t work with modern smartphones
  • No fold-up storage
Best Earbud Value
Beats Studio Buds
$99.95 (33% off)

Key Specs

  • Listening Time: 8 hours; up to 24 hours with charging case
  • Fast Fuel: N/A
  • Noise Canceling: Yes

The Studio Buds are designed to work well with both Apple products (natively, no app required) and with Androids (using the Beats App). On-ear controls allow you to change volume and terminate calls without taking the phone out of your pocket. So what’s the difference between these and the Pro buds? There’s no Apple H1 chip here, which means you miss out on certain features like spatial tracking (sound adjustment as you turn your head), but “Hey, Siri” is still supported. Battery life isn’t quite as robust. Also, these buds fit like Galaxy Buds or AirPods; there’s no special adjustment “wing.” On the positive side, they’re light, compact, and available in three colors.

  • Lower cost than Pros
  • Simpler operation
  • Android compatibility

  • No Apple-specific features beyond Siri
  • Fewer adjustment options
Best Affordable Choice
Beats Flex
$49.95 (29% off)

Key Specs

  • Listening Time: 12 hours 
  • Fast Fuel: N/A
  • Noise Canceling: No

The Beats Flex is the most affordable entry in the Beats universe, but there’s more to it than that. They’re optimized for all-day wear with a connecting cable and automatic shut-off feature; simply pull the buds from your ears and they snap together magnetically on your chest, turning off the music until you’re ready to pick up where you left off. The Flex earbuds also offer a fourth ultra-small eartip, so for some people these will be the only Beats buds they can consider. The Apple W1 headphone chip enables Audio Sharing and a Find My Headphones feature. While “Hey Siri” isn’t supported, just a quick press of the left bud will wake up the Apple assistant for further instructions. As fuss-free daily-use earbuds, these are highly recommended. And the price is right.

  • Price
  • Snap-together shutoff
  • W1 chip functions

  • Sound quality won’t match the higher-end Studio or Pro buds
  • Not everyone likes the connecting cord
Best Hassle-Free Workout Buds
Beats Powerbeats
$111.19 (26% off)

Key Specs

  • Listening Time: 15 hours 
  • Fast Fuel: 5-minute charge provides 1 hour of playback
  • Noise Canceling: No

Like the Beats Flex, the Powerbeats use a connecting cable and charge via a Lightning cable rather than providing independent buds in a charging case. You get 15 hours on a single charge, and a five-minute quick charge can add up to an hour to that time. Adjustable ear hooks keep them planted during your workout, and twin microphones make the Powerbeats suitable for Zoom calls or phone conversations. A press of the left earbud activates Siri on Apple devices. Apple’s H1 chip assures maximum-quality Bluetooth connectivity for the best possible sound, but audiophile Beats fans will want to look at the Pro buds or over-the-ear headphones. If you can live with the connecting cord, these are a decent alternative to the much pricier Powerbeats Pro.

  • Won't slip off during workouts
  • Long play time

  • Connected earbuds aren’t to everyone’s liking
  • Can’t charge from the case
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