Tech review: Samsung Galaxy Buds Live stands out in design and audio quality

The shiny bronze, touch-sensitive outer side of the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live will melt the hearts of fashionistas and turn heads.
The shiny bronze, touch-sensitive outer side of the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live will melt the hearts of fashionistas and turn heads.PHOTO: SAMSUNG

The true wireless in-ear headphones (TWH) market is getting boring in design. These days, regardless of brand, you expect to get two bulbous earbuds with a short or long stem and a pill-box charging case.

The Samsung Galaxy Buds Live (available on Amazon, Lazada and Shopee) bucks this trend. In fact, I was both amazed and puzzled when I unboxed it and was greeted by two shiny "kidney beans".

It comes in black, white and bronze (version tested), with a colour-matching charging case that looks like a wedding ring box. The case has a USB-C charging port and supports wireless charging.

The shiny bronze, touch-sensitive outer side of the earbuds (which looks rose gold at certain angles) will melt the hearts of fashionistas and turn some heads when you wear them.

On the non-shiny inner side of each earbud are two charging pins and a small grille. To wear the earbuds, insert the grille end into your ears.

Without any ear tips, I was worried if it would fit my ears. But the earbuds lock in nicely.

Even when I tried to dislodge the earbuds by shaking my head vigorously, they stayed snugly in place. They are also comfortable to wear for long periods.

However, it only has a water resistance rating of IPX2, which means it cannot withstand a lot of sweat or even passing showers. So, I would recommend not wearing them for your workouts.

Inside each earbud is a 12mm dynamic driver with a bass duct for enhancing lower-frequency sound, and air vents to reduce echoes. Three built-in microphones help pick up your voice clearly. It also features active noise cancellation (ANC).

While the Buds Live can be paired to more than one device, it does not support Bluetooth multi-point. In other words, you have to manually switch from one paired device to another.

You can use the Galaxy Wearable (Android) or Galaxy Buds (iOS) app to configure the Buds Live - from selecting the equaliser (EQ) preset to customising the tap controls.

 

By default, a single tap on either earbud pauses or plays a track, while a double tap skips a track and a triple tap returns to the previous track. A long press turns the ANC on or off. This control scheme is more intuitive than some TWH, which might need you to remember which earbud to tap or swipe for certain functions.

I find myself using the Dynamic EQ preset when listening to music. With this preset, I find the bass punchy, with clear vocals and a relaxed treble. If you prefer a more balanced soundscape, you can opt for the Normal EQ preset.

Call quality is crystal clear - I could be heard loud and clear at the other end, whether I was using my iPhone 11 Pro Max or a Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra.

On the downside, due to the relatively open design of the Buds Live, the ANC is not as effective as the likes of a Sennheiser Momentum TW2 or a Sony WF-1000XM3, both of which form a seal to the ear canal with their ear tips.

But the Buds Live does have a long battery life of up to six hours of music playback with ANC turned on. This is on par with the WF-1000XM3 and betters the Apple AirPods Pro, which lasts around 4.5 hours.

Not to mention, the $288 Buds Live is much cheaper than both genre leaders - the WF-1000XM3 is priced at $349 and AirPods Pro at $379.

FOR

- Innovative and exquisite design

- Great audio output

- Comfortable to wear

AGAINST

- Active noise cancellation can be better

- Only IPX2 water resistant

TECH SPECS

Price: $288

Drivers: 12mm dynamic

Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0

Weight: 5.6g (each earbud), 42.2g (charging case)

RATING

Features: 4/5

Design: 5/5

Performance: 4/5

Battery life: 5/5

Value for money: 4/5

Overall: 4/5

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