Apple AirPods Max vs Beats Studio 3: Comparison (2024)

Odi Productions May 13, 2024
4 People Read
Apple AirPods Max vs Beats Studio 3 side by side in hand

Disclosure: Some of the links in this article may be affiliate links, which can provide compensation to me at no cost to you if you decide to purchase. 

In this article, I'm going to share my HONEST Apple AirPods Max vs Beats Studio 3 comparison in detail, after personally owning both products for years. I have thoroughly tested each of these headphones, and aim to offer a critical opinion from the perspective of an audiophile and professional music producer.

I'll be comparing these two head to head on categories like price, comfort, features, battery life, noise cancelling, and sound quality.

Then at the end, I'll share which is the better overall value for the money, and my overall recommendation on which you should buy.


Apple AirPods Max vs Beats Studio 3 Price Compared

At the time of this writing, the Apple AirPods Max are priced at $549 retail, but can be found brand new for $519 on Amazon.

(Want to save up to $74? Order the Renewed Version on Amazon below which is currently around $445.)

The Beats Studio 3 retails for a whopping $349.95, but can be found on Amazon for as low as $159 brand new, about $40 cheaper than Solo 3.

(Want to save $14 on Beats Studio 3? Order the Renewed Version below for around $145 instead.)

Overall, the Beats Studio 3 wireless is a whopping $360 cheaper than the AirPods Max at current market prices.


Order HERE for the LOWEST PRICE AVAILABLE 

(Do NOT pay retail): 

Save up to $74 on the AirPods Max with Renewed below:

Save up to $14 on Beats Studio 3 with Renewed below:

Disclosure: These links may provide a discount and in return, give us a commission in order to run the website 🙂


Comfort

Beats Studio 3 Wireless headphones on scale weighing 261.8 grams

Let's start this head-to-head comparison with the comfort category.

  • Apple AirPods Max Weight: 387.8 grams

  • Beats Studio 3 Weight: 261.8 grams

The AirPods Max weighs in at a whopping 387.8 grams on my scale, 48% heavier than the comparable over-ear Beats Studio 3 Wireless, coming in at only 261.8 grams.

Considering the constant effects of gravity, weight plays a significant role in over-ear headphones that will be weighing down on your head throughout the day.

I can certainly feel a difference with the AirPods Max weight, which is one of the heaviest headphones I have tested.

That said, the AirPods Max's suspension headband design helps to alleviate a lot of that top-of-head pressure.

Two areas that I find the AirPods Max comfort to be inferior to the Beats Studio 3 is the less comfortable earpad cushion material and more clamping force.

I find myself only being able to wear the AirPods Max for about 45 mins to 1 hour before they feel uncomfortable, due to the weight, clamping force, and warmth.

Meanwhile, I could wear the Beats Studio 3 for 1-2 hours or more.

Is the Apple AirPods Max or Beats Studio 3 better for working out?

Personally, I would always choose the Beats Studio 3 over the AirPods Max for working out. The AirPods Max is too heavy, encumbering, and frankly too expensive to be moving around with. Since the Studio 3 is currently $360 cheaper than the AirPods Max, I would feel less anxiety if they were to get damaged in some way. The Studio 3 is also 48% lighter than the AirPods Max, which translates when moving in the gym.

Apple AirPods Max Comfort: 3.5 out of 5

Beats Studio 3 Comfort: 4.0 out of 5

Winner: Beats Studio 3


Features / Battery Life / Noise Cancelling

Apple AirPods Max inside of Smart Case

Features

The AirPods Max are more feature-rich than the aging Beats Studio 3, with better Active Noise Cancelling, better microphones for phone calls, and support for Spatial Audio and Dolby Atmos.

The AirPods Max feature Apple's H1 chip compared to the Beats Studio 3's W1 chip, also created by Apple. The newer H1 chip has improvements in connectivity, performance, and battery life.

Looks

This will probably be a controversial take, but I actually prefer the pragmatic look of the Beats Studio 3 over the more modern AirPods Max.

My main gripe with the AirPods Max is that the square-ish earcups are a bit too large in proportion, whereas the Beats Studio 3 sports a familiar oval shape that is just the right size when covering the ears.

Now if you asked me which design is more distinct on a display case, no doubt that goes to the AirPods Max.

But wearing both on the actual head, I find the Studio 3 is more proportionate, understated, and svelte to my eye at least.

Apple AirPods Max vs Beats Studio 3 Battery Life Comparison

The Beats Studio 3 has slightly longer battery life than the AirPods Max:

  • Apple AirPods Max Battery Life: Up to 20 hours

  • Beats Studio 3 Battery Life: Up to 22 hours

The reason why the AirPods Max is rated at 2 hours less battery life, despite having a newer Apple H1 chip over the W1, is that it has more features like more powerful Active Noise Cancelling and Spatial Audio.

Turning these features off can extend the AirPods Max battery slightly longer, perhaps surpassing the Studio 3.

AirPods Max vs Beats Studio 3 Noise Cancelling: Which is Better?

Being a much newer technology, the Apple AirPods Max has more sophisticated Active Noise Cancelling and superior performance compared to the older Beats Studio 3.

While the Beats Studio 3 noise cancelling is not bad for its time, the newer AirPods Max will block out noise better on a flight, such as the engine noise.

Apple AirPods Max Features / Battery Life / Noise Cancelling: 4.0 out of 5

Beats Studio 3 Features / Battery Life / Noise Cancelling: 4.0 out of 5

Winner: Tie


Apple AirPods Max vs Studio 3 Sound Quality Comparison

Beats Studio 3 wireless in grey on desk

The Apple AirPods Max is superior in every category of sound quality compared to the Beats Studio 3.

The Studio 3 doesn't sound bad or offensive by any means, but it does sound fairly boring when compared to the breadth of competition from Apple, Sony, Sennheiser, Bose and others.

The main weaknesses of the Studio 3 are a rather anemic sub-bass response and poor dynamics, rendering music not that exciting or fun to listen to.

Sounds like snare drums lack the punchiness needed to bring the music to life.

Meanwhile, the AirPods Max doesn't have any glaring flaws or weaknesses, and has very good sound quality for a Bluetooth headphone.

The AirPods Max has a more mid-centric sound signature that is not my listening preference, but it does add body to vocals and brings out some very good detail.

When it comes to the technicalities like resolution and soundstage, the AirPods Max is in a league above the Studio 3, as expected.

Apple AirPods Max Sound Quality: 7.9 out of 10

Beats Studio 3 Sound Quality: 7.0 out of 10

Winner: Apple AirPods Max


Value

At the time of this writing, the Apple AirPods Max is a whopping $360 more expensive than the Beats Studio 3.

In fact, you could buy 3 brand new pairs of Studio 3 headphones for the price of 1 AirPods Max.

Now does that automatically make the Beats a better value?

Actually, the answer is no.

The AirPods Max may be prohibitively expensive, but it is pretty much better across the board when it comes to sound quality, active noise cancelling, and features.

It's in a tier above when it comes to arguably the most important features.

So that in turn justifies the price jump, but with the Studio 3 being so "cheap" today, this category ends up a tie.

Apple AirPods Max Value: 3.0 out of 5

Beats Studio 3 Value: 3.0 out of 5

Winner: Tie


Apple AirPods Max Overall Rating: 7.4 / 10

  • Sound Quality: 7.9 / 10

  • Comfort: 3.5 / 5

  • Features / Battery Life / Noise Cancelling: 4.0 / 5

  • Value: 3.0 / 5

  • Total: 18.4 / 25


Beats Studio 3 Overall Rating: 7.2 / 10

  • Sound Quality: 7.0 / 10

  • Comfort: 4.0 / 5

  • Features / Battery Life / Noise Cancelling: 4.0 / 5

  • Value: 3.0 / 5

  • Total: 18.0 / 25


Overall Winner: Apple AirPods Max

Apple AirPods Max in Space Grey on computer keyboard

This comparison ended up being a lot closer than it needed to be, mainly because the Apple AirPods Max currently costs 3x the price of the Beats Studio 3.

Despite the massive price difference, if you can afford the AirPods Max, then I would personally choose it over the Studio 3 due to the much better sound quality and noise cancelling performance.

The Studio 3 still has its merits, and I would pick it if I just wanted an affordable over-ear noise cancelling headphone for working out specifically, not wanting to risk my $500+ AirPods Max.

Overall, if sound quality and noise cancelling are your top priorities, the AirPods Max is in a different league and worth the dough.

If you're open to wireless earbuds, my personal pick under $200 would be the Apple AirPods Pro 2 if you can get them on sale for that price.


Order HERE for the LOWEST PRICE AVAILABLE 

(Do NOT pay retail): 

Save up to $74 with Renewed below:

Save up to $14 with Renewed below:

Disclosure: These links may provide a discount and in return, give us a commission in order to run the website 🙂


Frequently Asked Questions

Is Apple AirPods Max better quality than Beats headphones?

Although the Beats brand is also owned by Apple, the Apple-branded AirPods line of headphones and earbuds is higher quality and typically more expensive than their Beats counterparts. The AirPods Max is better quality overall than any of the Beats Studio offerings.

Are AirPods Max sweat resistant?

No, the AirPods Max earpad material of "acoustically engineered memory foam and mesh textile" are not sweat resistant.

Is Beats owned by Apple?

Yes, the Beats brand was acquired by Apple on August 1st, 2014, to the tune of $3 billion. Today, Apple still sells headphones and earbuds under the Beats brand, separate from their own line of AirPods-branded consumer audio products.


How We Tested and Our Methodology

RecordingNOW.com is a 100% independent publisher with over 10 years of experience testing and reviewing consumer electronics and headphones.

We currently purchase the products we test with our own money, and are not paid by any company or manufacturer to influence our opinions or decisions.

After purchasing the product, we conduct up to hundreds of hours of detailed hands-on testing in a controlled, acoustically-treated environment.

ODi Productions is our resident expert and author of this article, with 10 years of experience as a professional music producer, tech journalist, and audiophile.


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Disclosure:  Some of the links in this article may be affiliate links, which can provide compensation to me at no cost to you if you decide to purchase.