Topic: – Samsung Headphones – Samsung Galaxy Buds Live Review 2021
With so much attention being placed on the Samsung Buds Pro, it’s easy to overlook its cousin, the Samsung Buds Live. Offering a different listening experience to the pros but still coming with active noise cancelling, in a unique ‘bean’ design, at only $170, it’s $30 less than the $200 Buds Pro.
So, is it worth it? Well, here I’ll be taking you through an unboxing and setup, going through its features, its pros and cons, and finally giving you my verdict on whether I think they’re worth buying. Welcome to My TechHypes Blog.
Let’s get into it. Straight out of the box we have the case of the earbuds itself with the earbuds already charged and inside it. There’s also the little white box which contains the USB-C charging cable and a pair of extra-large wingtips, with the regular wingtips already pre-installed on those earbuds.
The case itself is really well designed and it’s really small which is nice so it’s easy to fit in your pocket, and whilst it is really flash and shiny I think it will be a little bit of a fingerprint magnet going forwards.
Opening the case itself is really satisfied with the lid being magnetically sealed so it opens and closes really firmly. Looking at the buds themselves they really are unique and well designed. You’re certainly not going to mistake these for a pair of Air pods any time soon.
Setting these up couldn’t be easier. All you need to do is turn Bluetooth on your phone and then open up the case. Your phone will then show a pop-up confirming connection. Tap on connect and you’re done.
Now if you’ve got an iPhone you will need to go and download the Buds app to help with that connectivity but it’s fairly straightforward in that app as well. It is also worth downloading the Samsung Wearable app which gives you a whole bunch of extra features with these earbuds, which I’ll get to later.
Now the design of these relies on a very specific fit in order to get good sound and getting that fit was, for me, not easy. Plenty of others must have voiced similar concerns because Samsung themselves even released a video showing people how to put them in.
Samsung Headphones – Samsung Galaxy Buds Live Review 2021
Surely that should tell you something? In order to cater for different ear sizes, Samsung also provides a set of large wingtips in the box along with the regular wingtips that are pre-installed on the buds themselves. Now I tried both and it was the regular wingtips that were the most suited to my ears.
I do have quite small ears though for reference. Samsung has also released bud sleeves for those that find the buds too small for their ears. You do have to request these directly from Samsung though. Why they weren’t in the box by default if the fit is such an issue is puzzling.
After much trial and error, I finally managed to get an okay fit such that it was comfortable and audio quality was acceptable, I’ll get more on the audio quality later. It certainly wasn’t easy adjusting them to fit properly.
I’m sure there will be different mileage for different people as it fundamentally comes down to how compatible the buds are with your ears. For me, it just took a while. Once in place the speaker grills, which are at the base of the bean, sit over your ear canal rather than in it like traditional earbuds resulting in an open sound stage.
This has an effect on the audio quality also and I’ll get to that in a bit. I will say that once they were in they were very comfortable to wear. They’re not wedged in your ear, they just kind of sit there, nestling in your outer ear.
As a consequence of that though I certainly won’t go running with them as they never felt secure although I would have no issues listening to them whilst I walked or commuted to work.
Decent Battery Life
Now the battery life of these is actually pretty good in its sector. You’ll get about 5 hours and 15 minutes with active noise cancelling turned on. They do quote about six hours, but five hours 15 was about what I was getting.
If you turn active noise cancelling off you’ll get about eight hours without it. You’ll get roughly another two charges with the charge in the case itself. If you compare that to the competition, the Air pods for instance also give you five hours of airplay but they don’t have active noise cancelling.
The Jabra 85T will give you about five and a half hours, with ANC. Air pod Pro only give you four and a half hours, and the Sony WF-1000XM3‘s will give you about six hours, or eight hours without ANC.
So compared to the market, battery life here is actually pretty good. Charging here is either done using the provided USB-C charging cable, although as I said before you don’t get a charger in the box so you’ll have to have your own, or plug it into a PC, or something else similar to charge it. It also comes with wireless charging so you can charge the case using some QI wireless charger you might have around.
If you have a Samsung phone that has reverse charging, such as the S21, then you can use your phone to charge the charging case of the buds too. Connectivity-wise, Bluetooth here was quick to start and connecting was fast and easy. That Bluetooth connection is rock solid. I had no audio lag or delay whilst playing games or watching Netflix on my phone.
I didn’t get any dropped audio either. I also managed to get about 35 meters away from my phone before the connection started to fail and the audio stopped, but as soon as I got back within range it started playing again, and that was great.
Samsung Headphones – Samsung Galaxy Buds Live Review 2021
They’re a lot better than a lot of other earbuds that I’ve tried. If you and a friend both have Samsung earbuds then you can both pair your earbuds with a single phone so you can both listen to music at the same time.
Now, this is a Samsung ecosystem only perks though so you can’t do it if you don’t have a Samsung phone running one UI 2.5 or higher. I don’t have another pair of buds to test this with but I’m sure it’s a useful feature for someone, somewhere. Maybe if you’re on a bus together and don’t want to talk to each other, but you want to listen to the same music instead, but not talk to each other because you’ve got headphones on so you can’t hear each other! Again, I’m sure it’s a useful feature out there for someone.
A feature that would be far more useful is multi-point pairing now this is where you can pair your headphones with two devices at the same time. This is a super useful feature where I can have my headphones connected to both my computer and my phone at the same time so no matter whether I get a zoom call on my pc or a call on my phone or I want to listen to music on either, the sound all comes through my headphones. It’s a great feature.
So it’s a shame that these headphones don’t have that. To be honest, though there are only some that do, if I’m spending close to a couple of hundred bucks on a pair of headphones I’d want that feature. I’d consider that a missed opportunity there Samsung.
Good Sound Quality
Now we’re on to sound, and the sound quality here is so reliant on fit, with even minor changes in the position of the earbuds having a significant effect on sound quality. Housing 12mm dynamic drivers tuned by AKG, these buds should, in theory, provide some good sound, and wearing the earbuds in the way that Samsung intends actually produces fairly decent lows and bass considering it’s an open design, but it’s the mid and highs that really suffered here with the sound coming across as quite tinny. It’s a feature that is normally associated with poor quality speakers or in-ear headphones with a poor seal.
Now you can compensate for that a little bit using an equalizer. The Samsung wearable app provides six presets to cycle through to try and help with this but there is no custom option to allow you to tweak beyond those six settings.
However, if you’re listening to music on the likes of Spotify you can use the equalizer in the app instead, either using their presets or your own custom settings to find what works best for you. It does help but it’s no substitute for audio playing through a good pair of sealed in-ear earbuds or over-ear headphones.
I did also notice that even the slightest movement in your ear of the earbuds significantly affected the sound quality and you’d find yourself having to readjust their position. I got others to try this as well just to see if it was just me and they came back with similar results.
These certainly aren’t earbuds for the active. And whilst we’re on the subject of active, and sound, these earbuds do come with active noise cancellation. So it is worth pointing out that it is just ‘on’ or ‘off’. There’s no pass-through.
So you can’t hear your outside when you’ve got activated cancelling turned on. There’s also no adaptive active noise cancelling. With some more expensive headphones, you can choose the level of noise that you want to cancel which is quite useful if you’re walking through the middle of city traffic and stuff like that.
So with these headphones, it is just on or off. Having noise cancelling in an open earbud design, it’s an odd choice. Most active noise-cancelling headphones rely on passive noise cancelling too. They rely on a good seal in your ear canal, or if they’re over-ears, sealing over the ear as well.
So with these being open there just isn’t that. So, given this, it is impressive that Samsung can get any kind of ANC working at all, but there is so much sound leakage in an open design. It does work slightly to mute your surroundings, but nowhere near as good as a properly sealed pair of earbuds.
It’s just not that effective, and to be honest I’d just switch it off so you can get the extra battery life. I actually got better noise-cancelling from a good pair of in-ear earbuds, with a good seal, that rely on passive noise cancelling.
The mic is one area that these buds do excel in. Each earbud has three microphones, two outward-facing, one inward-facing. To summarize all the science stuff behind it all it’s basically using all these mics to work out what the sound outside of you is, and what you’re saying, and then cross-referencing that to work out what it should try to cancel out and what it should preserve.
It’s even using bone conducting technology to help clarify your voice, and this all happens in real-time, it’s some pretty clever stuff! But that matters for squat though if it doesn’t work.
Now the mobile app that accompanies these earbuds adds significant value on top of the features that come with the ear pods out of the box. So, aside from the features in the app that we’ve already gone through, such as the active noise cancelling and the graphic equalizer, you can change some of the touch controls in the app, but certainly not all of them.
Samsung Headphones – Samsung Galaxy Buds Live Review 2021
All of the basic functions are fixed. So single tapping the earbuds will allow you to play and pause the music. Double tapping will allow you to play the next track or answer or end a call. If you triple tap it will play the previous track, and if you long-press it will do either a custom action or reject an incoming call.
It’s that custom action that you can actually choose what you want it to do. Now the custom action of the long press is selectable in the app. It’s not completely custom though because you can only choose from a list of options.
So you can choose between adjusting the volume up or down, which I think is really useful, triggering Bixby, so for the three people in the world that have Bixby, I’m sure they’ll be very happy with that one.
Toggling active noise cancelling on or off and also launching Spotify. Activating Spotify with a touch of your earbuds sounds really useful but then you can’t change your volume with your touch controls because you just got it set to use your Spotify action instead.
So it’s useful, and then kind of not! Personally, just using it for adjusting the volume was what made the most sense, and probably will for most people. The app also allows firmware updates to the earbuds themselves and that’s a good thing as we have seen Samsung rolling out firmware updates as they incrementally improve the earbuds so it’s great to be able to have that option, and it’s something certainly that you wouldn’t see in cheaper earbuds.
So at the end of the day should you buy it? That’s hard! I really wanted to like these. The audio on these is awesome and I really do mean that, but only if they fit properly and therein lies the problem. No matter what I tried I could not get them to fit in my ears in the way that Samsung intended and still get good sound.
The issues with getting the fit right do seem to point to a design that just isn’t working well for a lot of people. So it will be interesting to see if Samsung persists with the design over time. For me, the form factor created way too many compromises that never made the buds a top choice in any category.
Too open for the noise cancelling to be effective. Not a good fit for activewear, and not a right fit for audio in general. I love that Samsung is trying to be innovative in this space and not just being another Apple clone, but it just hasn’t worked here, at least not for me. So what to do?
Well, if you can try a pair, give them a go. If they do fit you properly, which as I’ve said, in my experience, is pretty hard to get right, and then I think you’ll be more than happy. However, for everybody else, the truly wireless earbud market is incredibly competitive now so there’s plenty of other fish in the sea to pick from that deliver a significantly better experience than Buds Live.
If you can stretch your budget looks to the likes of even Samsung’s own Buds Pro. They’re $200, so they’re only $30 more expensive. The Jabra 85T‘s are $230, and the ever-excellent Sony WF-1000XM3‘s, ’re $228. All of these offers sound quality that are levels above this, with noise-cancelling that actually works, in a form factor that is far easier to work with.
Now I deliberately haven’t included Apple options here as, let’s face it, if you’re using an iPhone you’ll probably get Air pods, and if you’re not using an iPhone, well, then it doesn’t really make sense to buy Air pods.
Now if you’d rather save money here though then you can get a good pair of in-ear earbuds, with better sound, and passive noise isolation that actually works better than the ANC in Buds Live, such as the Anker Sound core Liberty Air 2 Pros. A bit of a mouthful that one! They’re only $130, or you can even look at the non-pro versions of those, without ANC, and they’ll cost you $80. There’s also a plethora of cheap wireless earbuds in the market sub $100, although to be honest many of them offer some pretty poor audio.
For me, the pick of the budget bunch, that I personally use, is the Pamu Slides. The mic is okay, and the sound quality, for the price, is good. They fit well too with a number of silicon tips to choose from. The Pamu Slide Mini’s, which are the same headphones as these but in a smaller case, ‘re only $39 at the moment.
These are great and at that price, they’re a steal! If I was going to the other end of the spectrum, my pick of the expensive bunch would be the Sony WF-1000XM3‘s. Sony has been making some great headphones for years now and these are no exception. Great battery life and awesome sound.
I am placing the purchase links to all the headphones that I’ve just mentioned in the down below if you want to go and check any of those out.
|1.||Samsung Galaxy Buds Live||Check Amazon|
|2.||Jabra 85T||Check Amazon|
|3.||Sony WF1000XM3||Check Amazon|
|4.||Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro||Check Amazon|
|5.||Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2||Check Amazon|
I do hope this has helped you decide if the Samsung Buds Live is right for you. If you’re still here then please, press the notification bell, so you’re notified about new blogs as and when I post them. It really helps me build up my website so that I can keep writing a blog like this, for you. Thanks!
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