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AirPods Studio vs AirPods Pro (2021): Are Apple’s First Over-Ear Headphones Worth Waiting For?

Apple is said to launch its first over-ear headphones soon called AirPods Studio. To no one’s surprise, the rumor mill is in full gear, churning out a ton of maybes. That includes their release date, features, and price, among other things. The question now is, how do they compare to the current lineup’s top-of-the-line model, aka the AirPods Pro? We compile what we know so far and put the two up against each other.

Just to be clear, the specs of the AirPods Studio below are based on rumors, so take them with the proverbial grain of salt. Even their name itself isn’t set in stone just yet.

AirPods Studio vs AirPods Pro Comparison Chart

ModelAirPods StudioAirPods Pro
Active Noise Cancellation (ANC)YesYes
Transparency ModeYesYes
Battery Lifen/aUp to 5 hours
Charging Casen/aUp to 24 hours of additional battery life
Quick Chargingn/a5 minutes for up to 1 hour
ConnectivityBluetooth 5.0 (or newer)Bluetooth 5.0
ControlsVoice, TouchVoice, Force Sensor
Water Resistancen/aIPX4
Release Date20202019
ColorsWhite, BlackWhite


Apple might use premium leather for the AirPods Studio.

AirPods Studio vs AirPods Pro Design
The AirPods Pro (in photo) only comes in white, but the AirPods Studio could be available in both white and black.

When it comes to the AirPods Studio’s design, there isn’t much to go by. However, it’s safe to say they’ll sport the iconic Apple look.

Citing “people familiar with the matter,” a Bloomberg report did say they’ll rock a “retro look” with oval-shaped, swiveling ear cups and metal arms to connect the headband.

It also mentioned that the Cupertino brand will roll out two versions with different materials: one with leather and another with lighter fabric. In other words, there could be a model geared toward fitness buffs. Just how comfortable they’ll be is still up in the air.

Adding to that, it said that the cans could be modular as well. That is to say, they might have replaceable headband padding and ear cups. Think along the lines of the Apple Watch and how it can be customized from its case to its band. If this turns out to be true, then you could probably switch between the leather ear cups and the ones made with more breathable material. That way you can go from casual listening to fitness and vice versa.

Now Apple has never released the AirPods in any other color besides white, but that could change soon. That’s because the AirPods Studio just might come in white and black, if the icons in 9to5Mac’s exclusive report is anything to go by (more on that in a bit).

Seeing as they have different form factors, it’s hard to compare the two in terms of design. At any rate, the AirPods Pro are true wireless in-ear headphones that have stems housing force sensors. It also goes without saying that they’re available only in white.

Sound Quality

Judging by their name, the AirPods Studio could be targeted at audiophiles.

AirPods Studio vs AirPods Pro Sound Quality


The AirPods Pro (in photo) and other iterations of the line aren’t exactly made for high-fidelity listening.

Apple never really did aim at audiophiles with its AirPods, but from the look of things, it’s getting right on it starting with the AirPods Studio. If it’s going that route, the option to go wired is more or less mandatory on these cans, which are presumably wireless.

Typically, Bluetooth compresses audio, resulting in reduced audio quality. The AirPods Studio are going to need a codec that’s on par with aptX HD if they’re going purely wireless. And if their moniker stands for studio quality, they’re going to have to step up their game. Long story short, a wired connection or high-quality Bluetooth codec is required for high-res audio.

According to 9to5Mac’s sources, the AirPods Studio will feature a custom equalizer. As the story goes, you can access it once you pair them with an iOS or macOS device. Low-, medium-, and high-frequency adjustments are said to be available.

Meanwhile, the AirPods Pro are capable of producing rich sound and clear vocals, as everybody probably knows by now. Building on their predecessors, their new in-ear design really helped in upping their overall audio quality. On top of that, Adaptive EQ adds a lot to the whole listening experience. For the uninitiated, the feature tunes music to the way your ears are shaped for a more immersive and full-bodied sound.

Again, the AirPods Studio and AirPods Pro are difficult to compare on this front at the moment. That’s because info on the former’s sound quality is scarce at best right now. At the very least, there’s a good chance the over-ear headphones can provide better isolation. But just like the other details on hand, that isn’t a sure thing yet. After all, some in-ear headphones do have a comparable degree of isolation.

Controls and Other Features

Rumor has it that the AirPods Studio will know whether you’re wearing them on your head or neck.

AirPods Studio vs AirPods Pro Controls and Other Features


The AirPods Pro (in photo) are powered by Apple’s H1 chip, and the same could go for the AirPods Studio.

The word in town is the AirPods Studio will have active noise cancellation or ANC and Transparency mode, just like the AirPods Pro. They’re also expected to have Apple’s H1 chip under the hood. Putting two and two together, it’s not a stretch to believe they’ll have hands-free “Hey Siri” support and improved connectivity and battery life—compared to the original AirPods with a W1 chip, that is.

As 9to5Mac reports, the AirPods Studio could also feature head and neck detection. That means they’ll know whether you’re wearing them or resting them around your neck. The consensus is they’ll play or pause audio when they’re on your head or pause and stay powered on when they’re on your neck. What’s more, they’re said to route left and right audio channels automatically. Put differently, they can tell where your left and right ears are and adjust accordingly, regardless of which direction you put them on.


After Apple’s success with the AirPods true wireless earbuds, the AirPods Studio are a godsend if you’re in the market for over-ear headphones with the same branding.

Between the two, you’re really deciding on form factor. If the AirPods Pro’s in-ear design isn’t your thing, then go with the over-ear AirPods Studio. And the same goes in reverse. That may be oversimplifying things, though.

At that, the AirPods Studio may have a few advantages based on the bits of info pieced together so far. For starters, they might feature a custom equalizer. They could also have the option to be used wired.

On the other hand, the AirPods Pro are among the best true wireless earbuds with ANC and Transparency mode with decent audio quality to match. They’re also relatively more affordable, assuming the AirPods Studio’s rumored $349 price tag proves to be true.

However, we’d go with the AirPods Studio if we had to choose. The custom equalizer and the idea of a modular design sound too good to pass up. If they’ll support wired connection, then that’ll just seal the deal.

If you’re on board with that, then you might have to wait until September. Most of the details about the AirPods Studio are from the source code of iOS 14. That means they’ll probably hit the shelves once the full release of the operating system is out. Fun fact: Apple was first rumored to unwrap the cans during its 2020 Worldwide Developers Conference or WWDC, but needless to say, that didn’t pan out.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, remember to take these with a grain of salt.

Sources: Bloomberg, 9to5Mac


📌 When is the release date of the AirPods Studio?

The AirPods Studio may launch sometime in September or fall, but nothing’s official yet.

📌 What’s the difference between the AirPods Studio and AirPods Pro?

The AirPods Studio are expected to be over-ear headphones with a customizable equalizer, while the AirPods Pro are in-ear headphones.

📌 Are the AirPods Pro worth it?

Yes. The AirPods Pro have decent sound quality and excellent active noise cancellation or ANC. They’re especially worth getting if you’re already in the Apple ecosystem.

📌 Does Apple make black AirPods?

No. Just like the AirPods Pro, most models are available only in white. However, there’s a possibility that the rumored AirPods Studio will be available in black and white, according to speculations.

Last update on 2022-05-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Vincent Lanaria

Senior Editor, researcher and writer passionate about running, cooking, and how technology mixes with the two.