2021 has started off with a bang for the premium truly wireless earphones category. We recently reviewed the excellent sounding OPPO Enco X and guess what? There’s already a product that does even better in terms of sound. Yes, I am talking about the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro.
Let’s get down to my very detailed review of the Galaxy Buds Pro – Samsung’s new flagship truly wireless earphones that come with dual drivers and active noise cancellation.
Design and Fit
The Galaxy Buds Pro comes in three colours Silver, Black, and Violet. We have the Silver unit, and the charging case has a matte finish. It is tinier than the Galaxy Buds Live’s box for sure and makes it more pocketable. Also, the rounded corners and smooth feel makes it comfortable to hold in the hand. Moving on, we have a type-C port on the rear. And, there are a couple of LED indicators, one on the front that indicates the battery charge level of the case and one inside that gives you an idea of the charge on the Buds.
Now, unlike the OPPO Enco X’s case you will have to try really hard to flip open the lid of the Galaxy Buds Pro with your thumb. The best solution is to use two hands. In any case, the mechanism doesn’t feel as smooth and tactile as the AirPods Pro or the Enco X’s case. Although, that is the downside of the form factor of the Buds Pro, which doesn’t have a stem.
Once you open the lid, you’ll see the Buds nestled inside the cavity, specifically carved out for them. I must say this, on many occasions, I unwittingly put the buds in the wrong slots. Although, the lid won’t shut with the buds in the wrong slots. So, that’ll tell you, you are doing something wrong.
Now, the Buds themselves have a glossy exterior, and in silver it is sort of blinding. I’d rather go for the Black variant of the Buds Pro. The vent on the rear is a mic mesh and chamber for minimising wind noise in calls or while recording audio. You’ll notice another air vent on the inner matte finish portion. This one exists to reduce “occlusion for spacious audio” as per Samsung.
But, how’s the fit you ask? Well, it was excellent for my ears. After finding the right tip from the three sizes that you get inside the box, you must lock it in properly to ensure it doesn’t cause discomfort or fall off. That said, if you have a small concha then you might find these uncomfortable to wear. I also performed the vigorous head shake test and the Buds Pro didn’t fall off from my ears. Yup, the fit is pretty secure. And, not to mention, you also get IPX7 rating, which means the Buds Pro can be submerged under a metre of water for 30 minutes.
Connectivity, Controls and App Support
It goes without saying that, you can make the most of your Buds Pro if you have a Samsung device. The moment you open the case, your Samsung phone throws up a card asking you to connect to the Buds Pro. The connection was absolutely rock solid on my MacBook Pro, Galaxy S21 Ultra, iPhone 12, and the Note 20 Ultra. Not once did I have a connection drop.
The app support is great for the Buds Pro. You can use the same, great Galaxy Wearable app to switch between the ANC and ambient noise mode, change the equaliser setting, switch on the more advanced features such as the new 360 Audio feature, and much more. In fact, Samsung also offers widgets for its earbuds that let you quickly glance at the battery level of the case and the buds, or cycle between the different ANC modes.
As for the controls, the earbuds have a touch sensitive surface. Tap once to pause the music and double tap to change the music. Apart from this, you can also customise the long touch function, individually for the left and the right earbud, from the Galaxy Wearable app. Here you can set it to increase or decrease the volume, which is great.
Another way to control your Buds Pro is using Bixby. It works really well. What also works well is the option to switch between paired devices. Although, you can only do that from the connected device and not from the Buds Pro, which is a letdown. Samsung also offers Seamless Switching between Samsung devices. Which means, if you are watching a video on a Galaxy Tab and get a call on your Galaxy phone, it will automatically switch to the call. I tried replicating this with a Note 20 Ultra and the S21 Ultra, and it was pretty iffy if you ask me. But, I guess I’ll have to try it with a tablet to test it properly.
While everything is great as far as connectivity is concerned, I have to mention this:
- You do not get all the enhanced features on an iPhone. You cannot update the firmware, change the long touch function, or fiddle with any of the settings that is available on the Galaxy Wearable app.
- There’s no automatic play/pause feature when you remove the earbuds from your ear or wear it back again.
Sound Signature and ANC
The major reason why the Buds Pro has the ‘Pro’ moniker is because it offers active noise cancellation. Samsung claims the Buds Pro can block out 99% of the external background noise at 118.43Hz. However, numbers aside, I found it effective enough to block out extremely low frequency hums and absolutely ineffective for human voices, even after cranking up the volume. It is definitely not the best ANC you can find on a pair of truly wireless earbuds, that much I can tell you. The AirPods Pro and the Sony WF-1000XM3 do it better. The Buds Pro is only slightly better than the OPPO Enco X.
That said, the ambient sound mode on the Buds Pro is just fantastic. When the mode is switched on, the Buds Pro – very naturally – amplifies the environment sound around you.
By the way, I forgot to mention, there’s a new Voice Detect function that recognises your voice — thanks to the new Voice Pickup Unit inside the buds — and automatically reduces the volume of the music. This ensures you don’t have to remove buds if someone interrupts you, while you are listening to music. It helps keep the conversation going. It is not a novel feature considering most of Sony’s ANC products already offer a similar option but it has been implemented really well on the Buds Pro. I also like the fact that you can cycle between 5/10/15 seconds for the Voice Detect function to switch off once the conversation is over.
Finally, coming to the sound signature of the Buds Pro. It is – how do I put it – like the young kids say – LIT AF! The Buds Pro has a dual coaxial dynamic driver setup in each earbud – a 6.5mm tweeter and a 11mm woofer with support for the AAC codec for most devices and the Scalable codec Samsung phones. Regardless, the Buds Pro offers a soundscape that is immediately immersive, dynamic, and detailed. I was taken aback by the amount of weight in the sound, something that I’d heard only in the Sennheiser Momentum TWS 2.
You will be absolutely impressed by the crisp and clean reproduction of the high end. The backing guitar in Foo Fighters’ Waiting on a War from their new album Medicine at Midnight, sounds so beautiful. And, thanks to the way the Buds Pro are tuned, when the song starts rising in crescendo after about the 3:18 mark, you will be able to distinguish between Dave Grohl’s voice, the accompanying drums, bass guitar, and the other cacophony of instruments. The imaging is plain excellent.
But, if you listen to a lot of atmospheric Post Rock bands such as Sigur Ros or Mogwai, I can assure you that the Enco X offers a wider soundstage and it sounds more airy. That’s where OPPO’s partnership with Dynaudio seems to come in handy.
Moving on, thanks to the dedicated 11mm woofer, the low end on the Buds Pro has a lot of bite and the right amount of attack. The bass performance where it beats the Enco X fair and square. In Mirza by Nucleya, you will appreciate the quality of the bass. It is evident that the bass and the treble are slightly more attacking compared to the mids in the Buds Pro’s overall sound signature.
Overall, it is a nice and warm V-shaped sound signature, which is well-suited for most genres. I’ll put it out there, the Buds Pro has my most favourite sound signature on a pair of truly wireless earbuds to date. Yup, I prefer it over the Sennheiser Momentum TWS 2, AirPods Pro, Sony WF-1000XM3, and the OPPO Enco X.
As for the new 360 Audio feature that works in conjunction with Dolby Atmos, it is available only on Samsung phones running OneUI 3.1. I’ll be honest, while the head tracking is accurate, I found it quite average. The AirPods Pro’s Spatial Audio mode is definitely more engaging and effective for sure.
Mic Quality, Latency and Battery Life
You have two mics on the Buds Pro. Coupled with the mic mesh chamber, working as the windshield, the call quality of the Buds Pro is fantastic. Indoors, in a quieter environment, the AirPods Pro continues to be slightly better with its mic quality. It sounds fuller and cleaner. But, when you are out and about, the mics can cut out the wind noise in a far better fashion
Now, if you are a gamer, Samsung has a gaming mode in beta that claims to reduce the audio-video latency. And, it does a fairly decent job too.
With ANC on and at 80% volume, I got around 4 hours and 30 minutes of continuous playback. This is very close to the 5 hours advertised by Samsung. You can also charge it at least thrice using the case. The case also supports wireless charging, in case you were wondering.
Should You Buy the Galaxy Buds Pro?
As you can probably tell by now, I am a fan of the Galaxy Buds Pro’s sound signature. In fact, I can live with every single one of its flaws just because it sounds so good. Samsung, just shut up and take my money. Because, these are going to be my go to pair of TWS buds until something better comes along. So, obviously, even at its asking price of about Rs 16,000, the Buds Pro gets an immediate recommendation from me, especially if you are using an Android phone.
If you are on an iPhone, I’d suggest the Jabra Elite 85t or the Airpods Pro instead. Mostly because, you don’t get all the cool features on the iPhone. If you want the best ANC, the Sony WF-1000XM3 is the way to go. And, if you want the best sound on a budget, the OPPO Enco X is the way to go because it is at least Rs 6,000 cheaper than the Buds Pro.
What do you think of the Galaxy Buds Pro? Do tell us in the comments below.