Samsung is well known for its fully wireless headphones. For the past few years, she has released models in a similar format with in-ear fit, but this year she decided to experiment with the introduction of the Galaxy Buds Live headphones. They received a unique design with a bizarre body shape that resembles a bean seed, as well as an active noise cancellation system. How convenient it is to use such a model, how it sounds and whether it really knows how to filter out external noise, I will tell you in this review.
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Galaxy Buds Live Package Contents
Like previous versions, the new headphones come in a small cardboard box.
Together with them, the manufacturer puts in a charging case, replaceable cartilage clips in sizes S and L, as well as a USB Type-C cable for charging.
Design and case
Externally, the Galaxy Buds Live are completely different from all fully wireless earbuds currently on the market. Manufacturers mainly produce either in-ear models or earbuds with “legs” hanging from the ears, but Samsung decided to try something in between. This is how the form factor turned out, which, on the one hand, has a fit, like in the in-ear versions, and on the other, does not fit into the ear canal, therefore, it feels closer to the earbuds from use.
This was achieved due to the shape of the body, which repeats the shape of the auricle and, by a funny coincidence, resembles beans. At the same time, the Galaxy Buds Live’s dimensions are quite compact, they do not stick out from the ears, so it is rather difficult to accidentally hook them. When you periodically have to put on a medical mask, earbuds with “legs” are constantly at risk of being on the asphalt and this is annoying. With Buds Live, there is no such problem.
Here I will immediately note the fit, Samsung tried to make it universal, using interchangeable cartilage clips that create a small emphasis on the ear wall and prevent the headphones from falling out while wearing. But, as in other similar models, a lot depends on the physiology of the user. In my case, the right Galaxy Buds Live earbud sat down like a glove, and the left one occasionally wanted to be corrected. But both of them never fell out, even while running.
The headphones come in three color options: white, black and copper.
All of them have an external glossy almost mirror surface, which visually makes the case even more compact, although they are already small – 27.3 × 16.5 × 14.9 mm and weigh 5.6 grams. The inner part of the earbuds is made of matte plastic and there are also replaceable cartilaginous clips, painted to match the main body color.
As in previous versions, the charging case is made of plastic and painted to match the headphones. But this time Samsung has returned to using a matte finish, which has a very good effect on durability, the case is less scratched and dirty.
The case has become more square with rounded corners, so it still fits quite well in the hand. The dimensions of its case are 50.2 × 50 mm, but since the thickness has hardly changed (27.8 mm), it is not very convenient to carry it with you in your jeans pocket. The weight has slightly increased compared to the Galaxy Buds + charging case and now reaches 42.2 grams.
The headphone housing is IPX2 rated to withstand very small amounts of liquid. Basically, such certification implies that the device can be used for sports and it will not fail if sweat gets in. But even running in the rain is no longer recommended.
Connection, management and settings
The earbuds can be used with devices that support Bluetooth 5.0 or lower (using A2DP, AVRCP, HFP and SBC, AAC, Samsung Scalable codecs). I tried Galaxy Buds Live with different smartphones and laptops, connected to Galaxy Watch 3 and Samsung TV. In all cases, the connection was stable, without interference and out of sync. At the same time, switching between devices occurs almost instantly and does not require any additional actions.
To connect headphones to a new device, you need to insert them into your ears, touch your fingers to the outside of the case and hold for a few seconds. In this not the easiest way, they switch to pairing mode. For some reason, Samsung again ignores the opportunity to add a separate button to the charging case for this, which, in my opinion, is more convenient. Although I know a lot of users who are completely satisfied with the touch panel on the headphones, including this pairing method.
In addition to the first connection, touching the outside of the Galaxy Buds Live allows you to control playback:
- One touch – pause / start playback;
- Double tap – play the next song / reset the phone call;
- Triple tap – Play the previous song.
You can also assign an action to touch and hold the right or left earphone. By default, it launches Active Noise Cancellation, but you can choose to control the volume, launch the Bixby assistant, or the Spotify app instead.
But for this you need the Galaxy Wearable app, which is only available on Android and iOS. In it, in addition to control, you can customize the sound of the headphones by changing the equalizer settings, choose which notifications will be sounded, turn off the touch panel and download updates.
Galaxy Buds Live Sound
The headphone design uses 12mm drivers and a separate bass channel to boost bass. I listened to all Samsung TWS headphones, starting with Gear IconX, and looking ahead, I note that in Buds Live, the company has finally found the middle ground that brings this model to the first place in terms of sound among all the previous ones. The fact is that most TWS headphones in general try to sound level, thereby compensating for the lack of high or low frequencies. This also applies to the Galaxy Buds and the newer “plus” version, they have a good, versatile sound, but no more.
In the Galaxy Buds Live, Samsung engineers finally managed to deliver more distinct bass, which immediately removed the need to hold the mids and highs so that they no longer drown out the lows. Thanks to this, the sound of the new model has become more interesting. This is definitely not the level of an imaginary scene as in good full-size headphones, when the mass of audible details allows it to expand significantly. But already more alive than most fully wireless headphones, especially considering the size of the Buds Live and the new type of construction.
The headphones are great for everyday listening to music from a smartphone or laptop, they have good sound, a rather wide imaginary stage and finally decent bass for such a model. The sound character itself can be changed through the Galaxy Wearable app using the preset equalizer settings.
Separately, I note that the sound quality in Galaxy Buds Live is greatly influenced by the fit. Since the format of the case is rather unusual, at first you want to push the headphones deeper into the ear canal, in the manner of in-ear canals, but you should not do this, otherwise the speakers will overlap and the sound will become distorted.
Galaxy Buds Live are Samsung’s first TWS earbuds with active noise canceling, before that the company has always used an in-ear design, which in itself cuts out external noise quite well. But since the new model does not differ much from conventional earbuds in terms of noise isolation, the developers decided to add an active noise cancellation system (ANC) to it.
When we talk about this feature, we basically mean almost complete rejection of external noise, as in the full-size models. But in Buds Live, it can more or less cut off only the low-frequency range, for example, the hum of the road and the noise of the train. That is, not quite the noise reduction that users expect. I read quite a few reviews from early Galaxy Buds Live buyers and many of them complain about the poor noise reduction performance. Although Samsung honestly indicates in the description of the model that ANC in it cuts out up to 97% of unwanted unwanted sounds precisely in the low frequency range and refers to the UL certification issued by the independent laboratory Underwriters Laboratories Inc.
Therefore, in practice, Galaxy Buds Live users with ANC enabled can expect to reduce noise on the street from the wheels of passing cars or from a passing train in the subway, but it cannot cut off people’s voices, car signals and other high-frequency sounds. For city headphones, this is actually not bad, since moving around the city allows you to hear the environment, which is banally safer. But Samsung would clearly be worth positioning this feature so that it would be easier for users to understand that this is not the same ANC as in full-length headphones.
Even the previous Galaxy Buds + model, Samsung has improved speech transmission through headphones using two external and one internal microphone. In the new model, a bone conduction sensor was added to them, which improves voice transmission, since the latter is well transmitted through the tissues of the skull, but external noise is not. Accordingly, during a telephone conversation, the voice really began to be transmitted better.
Galaxy Buds Live battery life
Each earbud has a built-in 60 mAh battery, which provides up to 6 hours of listening to music with ANC or 4 hours of talking during a call. The complete case uses a 472 mAh battery, which allows you to recharge the Galaxy Buds Live three more times without having to look for an outlet. By the way, the headphones support fast charging, 5 minutes in the case adds about an hour of listening to music.
The case itself is charged via a USB Type-C port and wirelessly via Qi-compatible charging stations.
Pros: compact size; new format of in-ear headphones; interesting design; complete case; fast switching between devices; good sound quality as for the form factor; the presence of bass; voice transmission quality; autonomy; support for fast and wireless charging
Cons: noise canceling system could be better
Conclusion: Galaxy Buds Live are completely wireless earbuds from Samsung in a new form factor that combines in-ear comfort with an in-ear fit. In addition, as for the compact model, they received good sound quality with noticeable bass. But for those users looking for a headphone with an active noise canceling system that can significantly remove external noise, Buds Live will not work. The model has many advantages, but ANC is used here only in order to slightly smooth out the format of the earbuds, which is not able to cut out external sounds well. Therefore, Galaxy Buds Live can be recommended primarily to those who are looking for comfortable TWS headphones with good sound quality and understand the features of this form factor.
Galaxy Buds Live are completely wireless earbuds from Samsung in a new form factor that combines in-ear comfort with an in-ear fit. In addition, as for the compact model, they received good sound quality with noticeable bass. But for those users looking for a headphone with an active noise canceling system that can significantly remove external noise, Buds Live will not work. The model has many advantages, but ANC is used here only in order to slightly smooth out the format of the earbuds, which is not able to cut out external sounds well. Therefore, Galaxy Buds Live can be recommended primarily to those who are looking for comfortable TWS headphones with good sound quality and understand the features of this form factor.
- Compact size
- New format of in-ear headphones
- Interesting design
- Complete case
- Fast switching between devices
- Good sound quality as for the form factor
- Good bass
- Voice transmission quality
- Support for fast and wireless charging
- Noise canceling system could be better