Beats Studio 3 vs Sony WH 1000XM4: Comparison (2024)

Odi Productions May 14, 2024
32 People Read
Beats Studio 3 vs Sony WH 1000XM4 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 Beats Studio 3 vs Sony WH 1000XM4 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.


Beats Studio 3 vs Sony WH 1000XM4 Price Compared

Overall, the Beats Studio 3 wireless is $119 cheaper than the Sony WH 1000XM4 at current market prices for brand new.

Beats Studio 3 Prices

  • Retail: $349.95

  • New: $159

  • Renewed: $145 (save up to $14)

Sony WH-1000XM4 Prices

  • Retail: $348.00

  • New: $278

  • Renewed: $215 (save up to $63)


Order HERE for the LOWEST PRICE AVAILABLE 

(Do NOT pay retail): 

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

Save up to $63 on the Sony WH-1000XM4 with Renewed below:

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


Comfort

Sony WH 1000XM4 weighing 251.6 grams on scale

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

  • Beats Studio 3 Weight: 261.8 grams

  • Sony WH 1000XM4 Weight: 251.6 grams

Both of these headphones are the lightest ones I have tested in the over-ear wireless with noise cancelling category.

The Sony WH-1000XM4 is lighter by just 10.2 grams on the same scale as the Beats Studio 3.

To showcase how light these headphones are for their class, the AirPods Max weighed in at 387.8 grams on the same scale, 48% heavier than either the Beats Studio 3 or Sony WH-1000XM4.

I find both of these headphones very comfortable to wear, in large part due to their light weight.

The headband padding and leather earpad cushions is more plush on the Sony's than on the Beats Studio 3, so I would give the edge in comfort to the Sony WH-1000XM4.

Pressing on the Sony WH 1000XM4 leather earpad material

Is the Beats Studio 3 or Sony WH-1000XM4 better for working out?

I find both of these headphones to be equal when it comes to working out in the gym or running. The Sony WH-1000XM4 has better noise cancelling if that's your priority, but it can also make strange noises if you are moving around too much with it on. Also, the Sony's are over $100 more expensive so just exercise caution when moving around with them on.

Sony WH 1000XM4 Comfort: 4.5 out of 5

Beats Studio 3 Comfort: 4.0 out of 5

Winner: Sony WH 1000XM4


Features / Battery Life / Noise Cancelling

Holding Beats Studio 3 Wireless headphones in hand

Features

The Sony WH-1000XM4 was released in 2020, whereas the Beats Studio 3 Wireless was released in 2017, and the newer Sony's do have more features comparatively.

Sony WH-1000XM4 comes with its own dedicated smartphone app with EQ and further customizations and controls.

In addition, it has a transparency mode called "Ambient Sound", that utilizes mics on the earcups to pickup and have outside sound passthrough.

Meanwhile, the Beats Studio 3 lacks its own dedicated app, and transparency mode.

Both headphones do have Active Noise Cancelling, but the Sony's are more adaptive and sophisticated technology.

Neither headphones support the very latest features like Spatial Audio or Dolby Atmos.

Looks

Personally, I prefer the overall look and design of the Beats Studio 3 over the Sony WH-1000XM4.

When worn on head, the Sony's are a bit too bulky for my liking, due to the earcups being very large and sticking out from the sides too much.

Meanwhile, the Studio 3 is much more form-fitting and flattering when worn.

Both can be fairly understated and minimalistic with the right colorways chosen.

Beats Studio 3 vs Sony WH 1000XM4 Battery Life Comparison

The Sony WH-1000XM4 has 36% longer battery life than the Beats Studio 3.

  • Beats Studio 3 Battery Life: Up to 22 hours

  • Sony WH-1000XM4 Battery Life: Up to 30 hours

This is pretty impressive considering all the advanced features that the Sony's possess that the fairly simpler Beats do not offer.

It's important to note that both headphones will last longer with their active noise cancelling turned off.

Beats Studio 3 vs Sony WH 1000XM4 Noise Cancelling: Which is Better?

The newer Sony WH 1000XM4 has more effective and sophisticated adaptive noise cancelling compared to the Beats Studio 3 Wireless.

I find the Sony's to have some of the best active noise cancelling that I have tested, and are very effective for airplane travel, or working in an office or coffeeshop alike.

This makes sense considering that the Sony's are 3 years newer and utilize external-facing mics to pickup ambient sound.

Also, these mics allow the Sony's to have a "transparency mode", which is another feature that the Beats do not have.

Meanwhile, the Beats Studio 3 has a more "simple" active noise cancelling, that resembles a low-level white noise. I still have found the Studio 3 noise cancelling to be usable on planes, but not at the level of these Sony's or Bose.

Sony WH-1000XM4 Features / Battery Life / Noise Cancelling: 5.0 out of 5

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

Winner: Sony WH-1000XM4


Beats Studio 3 vs Sony WH 1000XM4 Sound Quality Comparison

Side view of Sony WH-1000XM4 in black on desk

What is a little ironic about these two headphones is that they actually share more similarities when it comes to their sound quality than differences.

Both have a bloated emphasis on the upper bass region, creating some muddiness in the lower mids.

Neither has particularly wide soundstages, and definitely no depth either, creating more of a "2D" effect compared to the "3D" effect of true audiophile-quality gear.

What is perhaps even more surprising, is that the Beats Studio 3 has a more balanced and neutral sound signature than the Sony WH-1000XM4!

Beats, a brand historically known for being bass-heavy, was "beat" at its own game by Sony, a brand with an illustrious history when it comes to both consumer and pro audio.

That's the opposite of what I expected going into this.

Now with the major critiques out of the way, both of these headphones sound quite good for what they are, which is Bluetooth wireless headphones with noise cancelling.

Overall, the Sony's have a more engaging and "fun" sound with superior dynamics and punch. The Beats sound fairly "boring" in comparison.

I actually really prefer the treble on the Beats Studio 3, it is not as veiled as on the Sony's and has the slightest hint of sparkle in the vocals.

But the glaring weakness of the Beats is that it really lacks dynamics, so sounds like snare drums just don't have that same punch, everything sounds fairly flat and not impactful.

Also, at higher volumes I think I am hearing some distortion in the Beats, whereas the Sony's seem to be able to handle more and keep its composure.

I wish both had more sub-bass extension, and less upper-bass emphasis. The neutral sound signature on the Beats Studio 3 is actually preferable, but the Sony's execution and components is simply better.

Sony WH-1000XM4 Sound Quality: 7.9 out of 10

Beats Studio 3 Sound Quality: 7.0 out of 10

Winner: Sony WH-1000XM4


Value

At the time of this writing, the Sony WH-1000XM4 is $119 more expensive brand new than the Beats Studio 3 Wireless at current market prices.

So why does it score higher on value?

Simply put, the Sony WH-1000XM4 is actually extremely competitive even at its higher price point, considering the newer XM5 (released in 2022) is now available at just under $400.

So compared to the XM5, the XM4 is about $120 cheaper, while still having class-leading active noise cancelling.

The Beats Studio 3, on the other hand, is fairly "cheap" coming in at under $160 currently, but is not very competitive in the noise cancelling or sound quality department compared to today's options.

Still, for the money, the Studio 3 presents an intriguing option compared to wireless earbuds in the price range, which it does have the ability to contend with for sound quality and noise cancelling.

Sony WH-1000XM4 Value: 4.0 out of 5

Beats Studio 3 Value: 3.0 out of 5

Winner: Sony WH-1000XM4


Sony WH 1000XM4 Overall Rating: 8.6 / 10

  • Sound Quality: 7.9 / 10

  • Comfort: 4.5 / 5

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

  • Value: 4.0 / 5

  • Total: 21.4 / 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: Sony WH-1000XM4

Holding Sony WH-1000XM4 headphone earcup

It's a clean sweep for the Sony WH-1000XM4 over the Beats Studio 3, despite being over $100 more expensive, it is simply a better overall package today.

For that extra $100 or so, you're getting world-class adaptive noise cancelling, better sound quality, more features, longer battery life, and slightly more comfort.

The Sony's have the inherent benefit of being 3 years newer, and thus capitalized well on advancements in technology with great execution.

What surprised me the most from this comparison is finding out that the Beats Studio 3 actually had a more neutral sound signature than the Sony's with superior treble, but the lack of dynamics and "boring" sound really hurt its potential.

The newer Beats Studio Pro released in 2023 are a much fairer match for the Sony WH-1000XM4.

Either way, there are better sounding wireless noise cancelling headphones today that are also worth a look, such as the Sennheiser Momentum 4.

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 $14 with Renewed below:

Save up to $63 on the Sony WH-1000XM4 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 Sony or Beats headphones better for noise cancelling?

In my testing, Sony headphones have superior adaptive noise cancelling performance to Beats headphones. The technology seems to be more sophisticated, utilizing external mics to adapt to outside noise, and also offering a transparency mode. I prefer to use Sony's noise cancelling when traveling on airplanes and other noisy environments.


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.