I have never used Samsung headphones before – when there were still technology exhibitions, I twisted in my hands and tried to listen to new items, but in real life, Galaxy audio equipment passed me by. However, I couldn’t miss Buds Live! So I thought, seeing the box in the hands of Ilyusha Kichaev, I immediately took it away and began to use it in tandem with an iPhone. I was curious how comfortable the “beans” are in everyday life, whether they are better than AirPods Pro, what kind of sound quality is there, and in general, it is worth buying them or not. Now I’ll tell you everything, let’s fly!
The main question about headphones from others and colleagues: “Well, is it comfortable to wear?” It is amazing, but from the point of view of anatomy, the model is PERFECT. Here, too, there are very small nozzles – here they are, around the pad with contacts, but this is generally the only detail similar to ordinary headphones, whether it be AirPods Pro or something else.
In my entire career, I have not yet seen headphones of this shape, and the company’s engineers want to shake hands for courage: they tried and did not lose. I don’t even know what analogy to bring – when the shoes are sitting, the same magical feeling of comfort. You can walk with Live for hours – alas, I can’t do that with AirPods Pro. With the same things, it will be easy even during a long flight. The only thing: if other TWS headphones are easy to pick up by the microphone leg, then there are no legs here, you need to adapt – the earphone can be easily pulled out by pulling the upper part.
The headphones are available in three colours, all space: copper, as in the review, white, black – to be honest, I would choose black headphones. Live looks like the outfit of an imperial stormtrooper, or as an adaptation from the Institute (see Fallout Universe). Unusual shape, glossy finish, mesh and technological holes, everything is cool. It was necessary to completely get confused and make an equally unusual box – and it is surprisingly ordinary, small, fits in any pocket.
The claimed operating time is about 6 hours, the charging case gives three more charges, but together it is about 21 hours of work. An impressive indicator, in real life you generally forget that the headphones need to be charged. Of course, there is a USB Type-C here, any cables are suitable. Please note that the operating time depends on the operating noise cancelling system and the volume level. There is a quick charge, in five minutes you get about an hour of listening to music in the case.
The controls are familiar, touchpads on the left and right cups, there are additional features – they are configured via the Samsung Galaxy Buds application. Touch – pause or play, double-tap – rewind or answer a call, three-touch – previous track. Everything is logical and understandable. The action for pressing and holding is configured, I made a volume decrease on the left earphone, and on the right earphone, it is very convenient. I turn on noise reduction from the program, for me, it’s more logical.
Headphones are inserted into the case clearly and simply, they are magnetised on the fly, there are no problems. In addition to the cable, there are nozzles in the kit – to be honest, I haven’t changed them and I’m not going to, the standard ones came up.
In general, despite the futuristic design, there are no questions about use. The headphones are invisible, if you look at the person from the front, this raises questions – they shout to me, they say, Seryozha, what’s wrong with the article, and I just smile, as if it’s already Friday and I managed to drink half of the first glass of wine, and then there will be a few more. The situation is aggravated by a very good noise reduction system – if music is playing, then, in general, you are left alone with yourself, you can hear people’s voices, but the frequencies are cut and everything becomes very comfortable and good. Naturally, all these qualities make Buds Live an indispensable item for wearing with helmets and hats of all stripes. And one more thing: these headphones are awesome to sleep, meditate or play sports! There is no sweat protection, but even during intense exercise, they stay in place.
I also forgot one thing: there is wireless charging, I tried to use it with the Nomad stand, it works great.
The program for iOS is called Samsung Galaxy Buds Live (another name for Android), you need to install for three things.
Firstly, this is a firmware update for the headphones – everything is ok for me so far, but I think new versions will appear soon, and there will probably be new functions.
Secondly, there is a Labs tab, experimental functions – now this is pressure reduction using external noise. The idea is this: when the noise control is working, you may feel a little uncomfortable, and by letting in a little noise, the feeling of a closed space disappears and becomes very good. I turned it on and I liked it.
Thirdly, the program has its own equalizer, it works well, there are several presets, in the end, I still settled on the standard one.
I don’t think the utilities for iOS / Android are very different, the functionality is similar. There were no problems with connecting to iOS – by the way, you also need to put a program behind this for pairing. But there is a nuance: after the connection, two Galaxy Buds Lives will appear in the Bluetooth menu, one normal, the second with the LE prefix – if suddenly there is no sound, tap on Galaxy Buds LE. There are no problems with reconnecting, the headphones can work with a couple of devices, you can talk at one moment only on a smartphone or, respectively, a tablet.
Devices with a bone vibration sensor are no longer new, and Samsung has been experimenting with it for a long time. Meanwhile, in the Middle Ages, they would have been burned for such a thing – a special sensor converts the vibration of the bone into a voice signal (!). Why such a decision? Well, the complex shape made me dig into the archives – Apple uses a traditional design with microphone legs, Samsung decided to experiment.
The impression from use is twofold. On the one hand, what you said is heard by the interlocutors even if you speak in the wind. On the other hand, there is a kick effect, the voice is not entirely natural. Overall, AirPods Pro offer better voice quality, while Buds Live offer more stability. The main thing is that you can talk. It is likely that the voice quality will be improved with the firmware, because the sensor is likely to be updated.
It is curious that a microphone working with a bone conduction sensor is responsible for voice transmission, and two more microphones are installed on the outer part that work for the noise reduction system.
And here are also amazing solutions. A custom driver developed by AKG specifically for this model, 12mm is not a joke. It is clear, without electronics, we would not hear the nuances, the basses would have hammered everything, but the duet of hardware and software gives amazing results. In case you didn’t know, for 12mm in-ear headphones this is a very large speaker. The so-called Bass Duct is installed next to the driver, it seems to be a phase inverter, but it will be necessary to find out from colleagues from Samsung how this whole structure works, from the picture it is completely incomprehensible:
In general, the sandwich is arranged like this: in the upper part there is a battery, below a powerful driver, they are covered by a microcircuit with all controllers, the structure is protected by a plastic casing. There is a desire to learn more about the operation of the bone vibration sensor and how it is all tied to microphones – in the experience of operating the model, I will return to all this. Let’s talk about music. Again using the example of tracks and albums.
For a start, I would recommend Blank & Jones – Relax Edition 12, excellent tracks for quiet work. The “bads” work great here, the vocals are beautifully conveyed, I have no questions about detail. There is also no feeling that the driver leaves only the middle – there is no blur, a very pleasant general emotion.
The second number of Louis The Child is Here for Now. Take the Bittersweet track – here Buds Live convey bass well, but the middle is lost. It is not clear to whom to make claims, it could well have been so cool to prepare the master for posting in Apple Music. If you turn on this track, you will understand what I’m talking about – there is a lot of bass, vocals are lost. For fun, I turned on Drake – Passionfruit, everything is fine, and low magic, and in general everything is fine.
The third number wanted to listen to electronics, chose the album Synchronicity I, this is WhoMadeWho. Fine! In general, there are no questions. I liked the sound picture, the emotionality of the music, the transfer of effects, low frequencies.
Here’s another thing to say: the headphones support both the AAC codec – perfect for use with Apple technology – and the Samsung Scalable Codec codec. I have not come across the latter in real life, in the operational experience I will tell you more about using Buds Live with smartphones that support SSC. So far, these are only Samsung Galaxy Z Flip, Galaxy Fold, Note series (starting with Note 5) and Galaxy S series (starting with S6). You can read more about the codec here .
I listened to a Vox player with FLAC tracks on the iPhone, it was interesting to compare the same track in Apple Music and loaded into the program. I chose the Boston Common track, this is Fabric with Bonobo, alas, it is impossible to drive to a cult club, but you can listen to wonderful selections, I highly recommend them. So, if we take FLAC, it’s as if you are drinking water not through a straw, but in the usual way. No need to twist the volume, touch the equalizer, and generally other sensations. I highly recommend that you experiment with players – then Buds Live will open up to its fullest.
Live are comfortable, invisible, active noise cancellation is comfortable, with a human face, easy control, headphones are subject to software updates, there are no problems with connection, the set of codecs is correct. The operating time was good, the size of the case too. The quality of speech transmission is tolerable - but, again, with the release of the new firmware, the boominess can be softened or added to settings.
- They are very comfortable to work in - as for me, more comfortable than in AirPods Pro, the latter hurt my ears, and I could not get used to it.
- Wireless and fast charging (USB-C).
- Built Quality.
- Noise cancellation does not completely disconnect you from your colleagues in the office.
- Only IPX2 water-resistance.
- Sound quality.