OnePlus, you’ve outdone yourself. No, really. I didn’t expect the OnePlus Buds Pro to be sound so frickin’ good!
So yeah, the Buds Pro is my favourite OnePlus product of 2021. Nothing might have generated all the hype with its design but when it boils down to the meat of any audio product – the sound quality – OnePlus Buds Pro just sucker punches the Ear 1 into oblivion. In fact, the Buds Pro’s sound is so good that I believe it is a better sounding product than the OPPO Enco X and nearly 99% as good as the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro.
Intrigued? Well, allow me to wax eloquent.
Table of Contents
I am not going to waste any time, let’s just talk about the sound signature. OnePlus goes for a very fun, energetic tuning that reminds me immediately of the V-Moda Crossfade Wireless. No, these aren’t a distinctly V-shaped tuning, but the mid-bass has so much slam and the low bass has so much weight, that you immediately get the sense that OnePlus’ sound engineers were trying to replicate the sound of a bigger sounding pair of headphones.
Essentially, if I compare it directly to the OPPO Enco X, the OnePlus Buds Pro sacrifices some of the resolution that the Enco X manages to retrieve from its dual driver setup to add more energy to the low end. And, I absolutely love that approach to tuning because it makes it sound unique.
For example, let’s take a song like Chinnama Chilakamma from Meenaxi. It is a thumping number with ample bass notes and fairly extended highs as well. In the same song, the OnePlus Buds Pro does sound darker than the Enco X and the Galaxy Buds Pro, but that’s because it has so much energy in the bass. And, this bass co-exists peacefully without bleeding into the lower mids. And, the decay is minimal, almost negligent.
In comparison, the Enco X offers more detail in the mids and the highs, with a slightly better extension. The Buds Pro does have a slightly faster roll off in the high end compared to the Enco X. Now, what the Galaxy Buds Pro loses out massively in the low end thump, it more than makes up with its fantastic soundstaging, imaging, and tonality in the same song. Basically what this means is that instruments sound very close to their natural tone and the Galaxy Buds Pro creates a wider space in your head to make your instruments sound like they are far away.
By the way, talking about imaging, that is one area where the OnePlus Buds Pro sort of falls behind the other two. It is not bad but in any complex composition with multiple instruments such as – The National Anthem by Radiohead – the Enco X and the Buds Pro keep it cleaner.
And, for what it is worth, by virtue of their tuning, the Galaxy Buds Pro and the Enco X sound more pleasing and are better-suited for long listening sessions. The OnePlus Buds Pro, especially if you listen to it at high volume, can get fatiguing after a while. Oh, and these can get really, really loud. I doubt if you should listen to these anywhere above 70% volume. Anyway, if you listen to a lot of Guetta, Avicii, Nucleya, and the likes, the OnePlus Buds Pro is going to blow you away with the energy that you will find missing in Samsung and OPPO’s options. If EDM is your jam, the OnePlus Buds Pro should be your fam!
Now, the OnePlus Buds Pro also supports the LHDC codec. I tested it on my Mi 11 Ultra, and oddly, the codec alters the sound signature to actually mess with the bass really badly. It started sounding bloated and unclean. I don’t know why that happens, but it is super annoying. So, LHDC is actually pointless on the OnePlus Buds Pro, which is the exact opposite on the OPPO Enco X, which benefits from the higher resolution. By the way, I did ask OnePlus, and they said OnePlus phones will soon get LHDC support in a future software update.
I also tested Dolby Atmos support on the OnePlus Buds Pro, which is currently limited to OnePlus phones. Dolby Atmos didn’t really work on my Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra. Barring that slight inconvenience, this is another area where OnePlus has hit it out of the park. I tried Kraftwerk’s Trans Europe Express on Apple Music with a OnePlus 9R, and the Dolby Atmos effect was almost as good as what I experienced with the AirPods Max on an iPhone. Therefore, even for movie watching, the OnePlus Buds Pro sounds very good. Fun fact, this Kraftwerk song has a tune that was also used in a very popular Bollywood movie song. Hit the comments section and tell me the name of the song.
To sum it up, the OnePlus Buds Pro is definitely in my top 5 best sounding pair of truly wireless earbuds overall. And, it is going to be my de facto recommendation for any basshead.
Mic and Latency Test
When it comes to the mics, in my testing, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro – despite not having a stem – sounds the cleanest and most natural. The OnePlus Buds Pro came in second with the Enco X lagging behind it.
Now, if you are a gamer, I’d suggest you keep a pair of wired earphones for that specific purpose because 0ms lag is better than any lag. Right? But, if you insist, between the three, the OnePlus Buds Pro had the least latency in my testing. But, that’s with OnePlus phones and the Gaming Mode only.
Design and Comfort
To talk about the design of the case, it has a pretty average build. Made entirely of matte plastic, it does creak a bit. And, the hinge mechanism is not very smooth either. This is definitely one area where OnePlus has cut costs to make it more affordable. Although, the cavities where the earphones are slotted are nicely arranged and the magnets are strong enough to hold them in the case. They do lock in place rather neatly. And, most importantly, you get IPX4 certification for the case as well, which is absolutely rare.
As for the design of the buds, they look very similar to the AirPods Pro in terms of design. However, OnePlus’ Pro model distinguishes itself by offering a dual tone finish, a matte plastic top half and a glossy plastic bottom half. It does look very cool, I must say. Anyway, you get a very short bore and I doubt your aftermarket tips will fit it perfectly. But, the Large tips in the box managed to secure a nice fit for me. You also get Medium and Small sized tips. Finding the right seal is vital for the optimum bass punch.
I found the OnePlus Buds Pro to be comfortable for long listening sessions and it doesn’t fall out of the ears easily either. Plus, there’s IP55 rating, which will ensure that these earphones won’t go bust even if they are covered in sweat after a vigorous exercise session.
Controls and App
However, if you need to control your music, you will have to pinch the stems, another feature borrowed from the AirPods Pro. While I do appreciate the tactile click that you can hear when the stem is pressed once to Play music, I did find it inconvenient to wrap my pudgy fingers around the stem. But, it works really well. And, you have double click, triple click, and long press for different controls, which you can also configure individually from the Hey Melody app. Plus, there is Wear Detection that lets you Play/Pause music when you take the buds out of your ears, which works seamlessly too.
Talking about the app, it works only with non-OnePlus phones. Because in OnePlus phones, all the options are supposedly integrated within the Settings app. But, for some odd reason, I couldn’t find the settings at all. Anyway, the Hey Melody app lets you do a whole bunch of things from changing the Noise Cancellation levels to Firmware Updates. However, there are a couple of unique features.
- The Zen Mode Air feature lets you listen to start playing White Noise in the form of calming nature sounds that you can pick from a selection off. This is a nice touch. Was useful when I was writing this review.
- Plus, there is a specially tuned OnePlus Audio ID that creates a custom EQ based on your hearing capabilities after running a hearing test. Although, I found that it generally altered the sound signature heavily and it generally sounded bad after the tuning.
Talking about an equaliser, the Hey Melody app doesn’t really offer one, which is a pity.
ANC and Transparency Mode
OnePlus did make huge claims about the efficiency of the noise cancelling (NC) tech. And, I am happy to report that at Max NC setting, the OnePlus Buds Pro cancels out more ambient sound than the Galaxy Buds Pro and the Enco X. The Smart mode works well too, to switch dynamically between Light NC and Max NC. I actually found the Transparency mode pretty natural sounding too. There were no unnecessary peaks in ambient audio due to the processing and it was pleasant throughout.
As for the battery life, you get your standard 5 hrs on the buds with ANC on. In my testing, at 70% volume on AAC codec, I got around 4 hours and 44 mins of continuous playback, which is good. The case holds up to 23 hrs more. Most importantly though, you get 10 hrs of playtime with 10 mins of fast charging. Plus, there is support for Qi wireless charging as well.
Should You Buy the OnePlus Buds Pro?
The OnePlus Buds Pro are priced really well and offer a fun, engaging sound signature with enough details to even appeal to a hardened audiophile looking for bass monsters. You know what? I’d like to place my bet on the fact that, in a blind test between the OnePlus Buds Pro, Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro, and the OPPO Enco X, most general audiences will gravitate towards the OnePlus. This is definitely a great product by OnePlus and I would definitely recommend it over the OPPO Enco X, for sure. In the next edition of the OnePlus Buds Pro, I’d like OnePlus to improve the build quality of the case, offer an equaliser setting in the app, and maybe add a balanced armature driver to further improve the sound signature.
What would your suggestions be? Let me know in the comments section below.