It’s not often I get to review headphones that are truly unique. I was really happy to get my hands on Samsung’s new Galaxy Buds Live. These bean-shaped buds practically disappear into your ear, creating a flush fit that’s subtle, and this alone differentiates them from most other earbuds out there.What else do Samsung Galaxy Buds Live have going for them? How about a 21 hour battery life and noise cancellation?
In this review I’ll take a look at the key features of these ear buds, how well they work, how they sound and whether I’d recommend them for you.
Samsung Galaxy Buds Live review
You can use these buds via a simple Bluetooth connection from any device, but Samsung would rather you manage them using the Samsung Buds app.
The earbuds will connect to the last device you link them to when you open up the case. If they don’t connect automatically or do you want to pair to a new device, put the earbuds in, then touch and hold both earbuds for three seconds until you hear a beep. Then go to your phone’s Bluetooth settings menu and look for your Galaxy Buds Live.
The app gives you a look at battery life for both the case and buds, EQ settings and lets you customize some settings.
Ergonomic design & flush fit
Because these nestle in the part of your ear known as the concha, or the area just outside your ear canal, there’s no need for silicone ear tips, so if you dislike having stuff jammed in your ear canal, you might really like these. So no ear tips, but what you do get is a pair of silicone discs that can help expand the buds so you can get a tighter fit. There is one on the buds and a larger size in the box.
I found they fit pretty well in my ear. They are quite slippery and fiddly to grasp; they are extraordinarily round and slippery, and if you don’t have a good grip on them they are way too easy to drop. I will say, the fit is outstanding and seems comfortable even after long-term use.
Noise cancelling is the act of your headphones listening for sound around you and then using technology to digitally cancel out external noise before it makes it into your ear. Noise cancellation should be simple and straightforward, and essentially allow you to focus more on your music or your listening without exterior sound bleeding in. For the most part noise cancellation is an on/off proposition. With noise cancelling off, you should be able to hear what’s going on around you. With noise cancelling on, you should be enveloped in a virtual cone of silence.
I have to say I was really disappointed with the noise canceling. I tested the Buds Live with audio on low and I noticed virtually no difference on or off, and that is a huge problem for me. I’ve tried dozens of headphones and earbuds, and proper noise cancelling makes a massive and very noticeable difference. Here, in the Galaxy Buds Live, the setting might as well not exist at all. I was able to hear all external noise around me at the same level whether the setting was on or off.
These earbuds have simple equalizer settings that can adjust the overall sound of the music without too much fuss. The options are called normal, bass boost, soft, dynamic, clear, and treble boost.
Again, I was disappointed with the EQ options. I flipped around among the various equalizer settings while listening to music, and found the differences between each of the settings so subtle as to be practically not noticeable at all. For that reason, I left the EQ settings at normal. I was also quite surprised that there’s no simplified options for just adding more bass or adjusting the settings myself; you must choose only one of the preset options.
Overall sound quality
I’m happy to say these earbuds do sound great and have killer bass. The overall sound is finely tuned and well balanced. They create a nice full sound that sounds like it’s coming from all around your head, not just beaming into your ear canals. You can check out my test playlist to see what music I tried out on the Buds Live. Overall I can’t make any complaints about the sound quality. They sound really, really good and are a joy to listen to.
These earbuds come with simple touch controls, a single top or pause, a double tap will play the next track, or answer or a call. A triple tap will skip backwards, and touching and holding the buds will decline a call, or you can program this touch option to do whatever you want in settings.
Find my earbuds
A common and handy feature is the ability to find your earbuds. Oddly though, for this feature to work, need to be actually connected to your phone or device. If they aren’t connected, this feature. This seems a bit odd; chances are if I am connected to my earbuds they are likely in my ears or right next to me. If not, I likely have have no idea where they are, so to say I need to connect to the buds to find them doesn’t work. Now I will make note that I am using to use with an Apple iPhone, and the experience is likely different if you are using them with a Samsung phone.
Battery & charging
Battery level will show both in the app, and on the case. The small button on the exterior of the case will glow red, yellow, or green to give you battery level at a glance. If it’s red, you have less than 30% battery left, if it’s yellow, 60%.
When you charge the battery for the first time, or when the battery is completely drained, you need about 10 minutes of juice before they will start to work. The earbuds recharge using a USB – C cable. Samsung promises that you should get between six and 21 hours of battery life from these buds, depending on what you were using them for.
Overall review: Samsung Galaxy Buds Live
Overall I have mixed feelings about the new Samsung Galaxy Buds Live. I really like the fit and hideaway look of these buds, they are super subtle and you can even sleep on them if you really want to without them pressing into your ear or making you uncomfortable. I love the sound quality; the bass is killer, and everything sounds really great.
Under the heading of things I didn’t love as much, I do find the bean shape is very difficult to grip and grasp, and more often than I care to admit, I was trying to pop the beans out of my ears and would fling them across my desk accidentally. I also feel like the noise cancellation, which is absolutely an important feature, is instead hugely disappointing because it barely registers.
So can I recommend these for you? Based on the sound quality and the unique fit, absolutely. If you are purchasing your headphones primarily for the noise cancelling abilities, I think you should keep looking elsewhere.
Samsung Galaxy Buds Live sell for about $199CAD
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