There is a lot of technology hidden in these small ears, but the most interesting thing is definitely the fit. Read below whether the design also has consequences for comfort, and to what extent the sound quality can survive compared to the competition.
Price and availabilityThe Samsung Galaxy Buds Live were unveiled at the Galaxy Unpacked event on Tuesday, August 5. The ears will go on sale on August 6. The target price of the Buds Live is 189 euros. For comparison: that is 20 euros more expensive than the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus that appeared on the market earlier this year.
The new Samsung earphones are available in the colors Mystic Bronze and Mystic Black. Are you planning to order a Galaxy Note 20 Ultra? Then you get the Buds Live for free.
The Samsung Galaxy Buds Live appear in three colors: black, bronze, and white. All three models come with a charging case in the same color. However, the white version is not yet available in the Benelux. Although the charging cover is narrow, it is somewhat coarse in thickness. Skinny jeans will therefore not be very happy with the case.
There is a USB-C port on the back of the charging case, but it is also possible to charge the cover wirelessly. There is an LED light on the outside and inside, so you can easily and quickly know the charging status of the earplugs.
Where other manufacturers still copy the design of Apple’s AirPods, the Samsung design team has clearly started to develop something original. The Galaxy Buds Live look like kidney beans, and we have never spotted that look with wireless earphones. Whether the design is successful? There is probably no clear conclusion to draw, since each ear is different. It can even happen that a person’s left and right ear are already significantly different from each other.
Almost every ear from any manufacturer feels different in the left and right ear. However, the difference is quite minimal usually, but with the Buds Live it seems as if there are two completely different products in our ears.
Samsung recommends placing the Buds Live in the ear in a more vertical than horizontal position. Our right ear had no problem with that. On the left, however, the ear would not stay in the same position, with the result that it kept falling out of position.
There are two different shapes in the box of the Buds Live. One is somewhat rounder and larger, while the other is smaller and flatter. We will continue to test if a ‘solution’ can be found with one of the two.
If you have no problems with the fit of the Buds Live, then you are stuck with seriously good ears. The Buds Live are IPX2 certified, meaning they are fairly resistant to sweaty workouts and light drizzle.
It is impressive how much technology Samsung has managed to put into the Galaxy Buds Live. Each of the earphones has three microphones mounted, two on the outside and one on the inside. The speaker has a bass channel and a bundle of sensors, such as an accelerometer, infrared and a touch sensor. All this makes for a rich feature set.
Each of the earphones has touch sensors that can distinguish between a single, double and triple tap. Linked to this are the usual actions, such as play / pause and switching between songs. There is also a function that registers when you tap and hold the earpiece. You can set the linked function yourself with both caps. For example, increase / decrease the volume, launch Bixby or Spotify and more. Bixby works exclusively on Samsung smartphones (as expected), and Spotify only works with Android devices.
There is also support for active noise canceling (ANC). That is something that is often difficult to achieve with such small ears. What makes it even more difficult with the Buds is that they don’t really enter your ear canal, which is the case with many other earphones that support ANC. Samsung therefore had to tailor the ANC for these ears. According to Samsung, background noise below 700Hz (trains and buses) should be reduced by 97 percent, without hearing speech or announcements (at stations, for example).
Another area in which the Galaxy Buds must excel is in phone calls. As mentioned, there are three microphones, as well as a Voice Pickup Unit that uses the accelerometer to sense the movements of your jaw. With the help of bone conduction vibrations, the movements are converted into speech signals, so that your speech can be heard better on the other side of the conversation, even in noisy environments.
Samsung has implemented a multitude of functions to connect the Buds Live and in sync with your device, starting with Bluetooth 5.0. To provide a reliable audio stream, the Buds Live feature Samsung’s own Scalable Codec. This codec prevents the audio from being choppy by dynamically adjusting the bit rate, depending on the strength of the bluetooth signal.
Is the wireless connection weak? Then Scalable Codec automatically encodes the audio information with a higher compression ratio, so that the earphones can receive data without interruptions.
Audio quality sounded very pleasant in our first tests. Both the bass and treble felt very balanced. The AKGpowered 12mm speakers along with bass channel produce audio that is both clear and deep.
Samsung has added a ventilation grid to the Galaxy Buds Live. This should minimize the ‘dusty’ feeling you get after a long listening session.
The Samsung Galaxy Buds Live support fast charging. Buds Live should be back for one hour of listening pleasure in just five minutes. With a full charge, the earbuds are expected to last six hours and the battery cover can be fully charged more than twice, which means that with the Buds Live you can expect almost twenty hours of playtime when the case is fully charged. These numbers are comparable to what Apple offers with the AirPods Pro.
The Samsung Galaxy Buds Live are a seriously good pair of earphones for Android users. While they also work with iOS, you’re better off with AirPods if you have an iPhone thanks to better integration within Apple’s ecosystem.
The Buds Live offer a well-balanced sound that can be tuned by the Galaxy Wearable app, and the connection to our smartphone was also very stable during the test phase. The big point of doubt is the experimental shape and fitting of these ears.