At this point, Samsung has a lot of experience in making true wireless earbuds. While the company flexed its design muscles early on with the Galaxy Buds line, it hasn’t always nailed the details. It bounced back quickly with its second iteration, the Galaxy Buds+, and since then, Samsung has continued to refine its aesthetics, improve sound quality, and add handy features. It even found time for a polarizing open-wear model with the Galaxy Buds Live.
While the Pulses Live were Samsung’s first earbuds to include active noise-cancellation (ANC), the open design rendered the feature ineffective. The company finally delivered true ANC with the Galaxy Buds Pro, which debuted early last year, but there was room for improvement in both noise-cancelling and overall audio quality. Now Samsung is back with version 2.0 of its flagship earbuds, the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro ($230). Not only is this set smaller and more comfortable, but it also showcases the massive profits the company has made over the past year and a half. However, the most appealing features are reserved for Samsung loyalists.
- good sound
- To fit better
- Improved ANC
- Samsung exclusive features
- Battery life
- call quality
- Touch controls make fit adjustments difficult
Overall, the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro share a similar design to last year’s Buds Pro, but there are a few notable changes. First, this new model is 15 percent smaller than the 2021 version, meaning it fits better in your ear and is more comfortable for longer periods of time. Additionally, Samsung added a vent on the inside of each earbud to relieve pressure. Of course, the tiny stature means they nest snugly in your ear and allow very little protrusion from the side of your head. It’s a design Samsung adopted for its earbuds early on, and subsequent models have continued to be satisfyingly slim.
The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro have a soft matte finish, while the Galaxy Buds Pro were a glossy affair. I prefer the former as it feels more comfortable and isn’t a fingerprint magnet. It doesn’t necessarily offer more grip, though, and both surfaces didn’t compromise touch controls. The included charging case for the Buds 2 Pro is covered with the same matte finish, so it feels nice too. Like the Buds Pro, this model is IPX7-rated, meaning you can submerge the earbuds in up to three feet of “fresh water” for up to 30 minutes, according to Samsung.
The touch controls are mostly mirrored on both earbuds. There’s single-tap to play/pause, double-tap to skip forward, triple-tap to go back, and a customizable touch-and-hold gesture. This long press can be used to change the sound controls – ANC/Ambient, ANC/off, or Ambient/off – or to summon Bixby, activate Spotify, or adjust the volume (bottom left, top right). If you don’t want to sacrifice some of those other features for volume, there’s an additional Labs option that lets you double-tap the front edge of the earbuds to adjust audio levels.
It’s a little tricky to master, but I didn’t have any serious edge-tapping issues once I got the hang of it. The real trouble with the touch controls comes when trying to adjust the fit of the earbuds. The Buds 2 Pro fit snugly, but like all true wireless models, you’ll need to periodically reposition them in your ears. Because of the sensitivity of these touch panels and the small size of the buds, it’s easy to make a mistaken tap if you’re just trying to reset. It happened often enough to make the last two weeks very frustrating.
software and features
As with previous Samsung earbuds, all features and settings for the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro are accessible via the Galaxy Wearable app on Android devices. Unfortunately, the company remains consistent with the latest models by not offering an iOS version. Samsung used to have onr, which made its buds a great option for both operating systems, but that hasn’t been the case for a while. You can still use the earbuds with Apple devices but lose some of the more attractive features in the process.
In the app, you get the battery percentages for both the earbuds and the case at the top. The main screen also gives you access to the sound controls so you can see which mode is active (ANC, Off or Ambient Sound) and make a change using the software if needed. Just below there are options to enable/disable Voice Detect, 360 Audio, Touch Controls and Find Lost Earbuds. Voice Detect is Samsung’s new feature that can detect when you’re speaking and automatically activate surrounding sounds while lowering the volume for quick conversations.
By default, the tool returns to normal levels 10 seconds after you stop speaking, but you can set this time to five or 15 seconds. During my testing, voice recognition worked well and doesn’t seem as easily tricked by coughing as the Sony version of the feature. It continues to work when connected to my MacBook Pro, not just a Samsung or Android device. However, I prefer Sony’s method of pausing the audio entirely rather than just lowering the volume with the speak-to-chat tool. While convenient, Samsung’s co-optation of Sony’s feature isn’t as pleasant to use, despite the more accurate voice recognition.
Gallery: Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro review | 12 photos
Gallery: Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro review | 12 photos
The Galaxy Wearables app also offers more detailed settings such as EQ presets, an earbud fit test, reading notifications, hands-free Bixby, ambient noise during calls, in-ear detection for calls, seamless connection with some Samsung devices, neck stretch reminders, and Labs Features. There’s a lot packed into this software. It’s all pretty self-explanatory, but I’d like to note that a second Labs tool is a gaming mode designed to minimize latency.
There is also an accessibility section where you can adjust the left-right balance. Here you can also choose to keep ANC active when you remove an earbud (the Buds 2 Pro turns it off by default) and adjust the volume and tone of ambient noise for your hearing. Some support for ambient noise amplification isn’t new to earbuds, but it’s nice that Samsung offers a degree of customization here.
One item that is still a work in progress is LE Audio. Samsung mentioned this during its recent event, stating that this feature allows you to capture 360 degrees of ambient noise while streaming or recording. For example when you stream live. Not many details have been shared other than that the feature will arrive later this year. The Buds 2 Pro will also support Bluetooth LE, the next-gen wireless audio standard that’s on the way after its 2020 launch.
Samsung’s earbuds have never really impressed me with the sound quality. They ranged from fair to good, but never really great. Well, for the first time, the company has wowed this jaded headphone reviewer. The Buds 2 Pro pack plenty of bassy punch with a pleasantly open sound that’s both rich and full of detail and clarity. The low-end is also deep and nuanced, not just a heavy dose of thunderous boom.
Many earbuds offer a balanced sound with good bass. What separates the great from the good is usually the subtle details, which can be difficult to reproduce for something so small. Samsung does this with a combination of a 10mm woofer for the low-end and a 5.3mm tweeter to help the highs cut through. Across a range of genres, this setup allows for outstanding clarity and depth, keeping the songs layered and immersive rather than compressed and chaotic. Amanda Shires’ vocals, for example, seem to float over every song on her latest album take it like a man
A big part of the improved audio quality is the 24-bit/48kHz Hi-Fi sound processing. Samsung’s new Seamless Codec (SSC) allows you to transfer 256 times more sound data from your device to the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro. On the previous model, 24-bit audio was converted to 16-bit when it reached the earbuds. A swipe to Android developer settings confirmed that 24-bit/48kHz did indeed come from the Galaxy S21 FE 5G, which I tested the Buds 2 Pro with, but there was no mention of the bitrate. This number would be an indication of the overall quality.
https://www.engadget.com/samsung-galaxy-buds-2-pro-review-160057740.html?src=rss Galaxy Buds 2 Pro review: Big sound in a tiny package