I’ve been playing with the new Galaxy Buds Live for the last couple of days under embargo.
The Buds Live is exactly what you saw in the leaked photos online. I received a pair of copper beans (though they look rose gold) including the Galaxy Watch3 for early testing.
I am stating upfront that these are review samples, and not final products. They will be returned and destroyed. To be honest, in the time of corona, that’s the best thing for review units that are too unhygienic to pass onto another journalist. This is why ear/headphones are rarely fetched when we are done reviewing them.
Back to the Galaxy Buds Live. They come in a tiny compact box, same as the Buds+ box, but slightly smaller than the AirPods. They come with a USB-C charging cable.
The bean-shaped wireless earbuds remind me of when the AirPods first came out. Everyone usually has a lot to say about them before using it. That said, I do like the minimal design, however, I find them tricky to put on. Even after so many times.
PUTTING IT ON
At the beginning I didn’t know how to put them on. Although I think this is something I struggle with for a lot of wireless headphones that are not naturally shaped. It’s not intuitive and I still take a few tries to put them in my ears after two days.
You can clearly see the mesh of the tiny speaker grille so that part will sit in your ear canal and the padded bit sits on your ear. The top part on my ear is the bit that sometimes sits differently, depending on how I put them on. By the way, they have active noise cancellation (ANC).
They are comfortable when I get them right. Also, when I do get them right, I cannot wear it for extended periods of time, but the same can be said for anything sitting snugly in your ear for hours. It’s ideal for a tuning into a video call/meeting or a workout.
I used it for running on the treadmill and it did not fall off, despite me assuming they absolutely will fall off. It only fell off once accidentally because I didn’t put one of them in properly in my ear.
The sound quality is great. The box says “sound by AKG”, which before Samsung bought were excellent with audio. I have no fault with the quality of the sound. I like the controls in Samsung’s Galaxy Wearable app. The equaliser has presets like normal, bass boost, soft, dynamic, clear and treble boost. I’ve been enjoying listening to my music on dynamic, and clear for podcasts but depending on what I listen to, I will toggle the bass boost.
You can customise the touch controls for both left and right. They can be either voice command, volume down or up, Spotify or ANC. It supports single, double and triple tapping on the bean. If you don’t like these features, you can block all touch functions. There’s also a setting to have your new notifications read out to you.
ACTIVE NOISE CANCELLATION (ANC)
The active noise cancellation feature is brilliant if you use it for work and tuning into a video call or meeting and don’t want background noise. I used it when my gardener was using a power tool to block out the sound and it was great. I also have a noisy heater that it blocks out while sitting next to it.
Just a note about pairing, I managed to pair it on an LG and Samsung smartphone but partially on iPhone. It is compatible with the 11 Pro but it pairs over Bluetooth, and I can hear the sound on the app when I change a setting – like toggling ANC but audio doesn’t play via other apps. Not sure why. I couldn’t get it to work for Spotify, YouTube, Instagram or for calls.
When you remove the bean from your ear, sound does not pause like it does with the AirPods. I could hear my music playing until I put the buds back in the case. Not sure if this because I’m using a review sample.
When I walked two rooms away with solid wall separation from the paired phone that remained in my office, the sound got spotty and eventually disconnected. I expected the range to be better but I think it might be because it’s a review sample, and not the final product.
Overall, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live are a great option if you own a Samsung smartphone and looking for true wireless buds. Depending on ear shape like me, it could be comfortable or not. I’m still getting used to them and putting them in properly so that I get it right.
The Galaxy Buds Live is priced at R3999 will be available on Samsung’s new online store here: https://www.samsung.com/za/
Welcome to Wired to the Web. My name is Nafisa Akabor and I’m a technology journalist covering business and consumer tech for the last 13 years. I’m passionate about start-ups, smartphones, mobile payments, travel tech and electric cars. ✉️ firstname.lastname@example.org