Galaxy Buds 2 Pro review: Big sound in a small package

At this point, Samsung has a lot of experience making true wireless headphones. Although the company flexed its design muscle early on with the Galaxy Buds line, it hasn’t always nailed the details. He rebounded quickly with his second opus, Galaxy Buds+, and since then, Samsung has continued to refine its aesthetics, improve sound quality and add practical features. He even found time for a polarizing open model with the Galaxy Buds live.

While the Live Pulses were Samsung’s first headphones to include active noise cancellation (ANC), the open design made the feature ineffective. With the Galaxy Buds Pro which debuted early last year, the company finally delivered true ANC, but there was room for improvement in terms of noise blocking and overall audio quality. Now Samsung is back with version 2.0 of its flagship headphones, the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro ($230). This set is not only smaller and more comfortable, but it showcases the massive gains the company has made over the past year and a half. However, the more enticing features are reserved for Samsung loyalists.

Galaxy Buds 2 Pro

Advantages

  • great sound
  • Best fit
  • Improved ANC

The inconvenients

  • Samsung Exclusive Features
  • Battery life
  • Call quality
  • Touch controls make adjustments tricky

Design

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro review

Billy Steel

Overall, the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro have a similar design to last year’s Buds Pro, but there are a few notable changes. First, this new model is 15% smaller than the 2021 version, which means it fits your ear better and is more comfortable for longer periods of time. Additionally, Samsung has added a vent inside each earbud to help relieve pressure. Of course, the small size means they fit nicely in your ear, leaving very little protruding from the side of your head. It’s a design that Samsung embraced early on for its headphones and subsequent models have continued to be satisfyingly slim.

The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro have a soft-touch matte coating where the Galaxy Buds Pro was a glossy affair. I prefer the former because it feels nicer to the touch and isn’t a fingerprint magnet. However, it doesn’t necessarily offer more grip, and neither surface impacted the touch controls. The included charging case for the Buds 2 Pro is coated in the same matte finish, so it’s also pleasantly tactile. Like the Buds Pro, this model is rated IPX7, which will allow you to submerge the earbuds in up to three feet of “fresh water” for up to 30 minutes, according to Samsung.

Touch controls are mostly mirrored on both earbuds. There’s a single tap for play/pause, a double tap for forward, a triple tap for rewind, and a customizable touch and hold gesture. This long press can be used to change the noise controls – ANC/ambient sound, ANC/off or ambient sound/off – or to summon Bixby, activate Spotify or control the volume (bottom left, top right). If you don’t want to sacrifice some of these other features for volume, there’s an additional Labs option that will let you double-tap the front edge of the headphones to adjust audio levels.

It’s a bit tricky to get to grips with, but I had no serious issues with edge tapping once I got the hang of it. The real annoyance with the touch controls comes when trying to adjust the fit of the earbuds. The Buds 2 Pro fit well, but as with all true wireless models, you need to reposition them in your ears regularly. Due to the sensitivity of these touchscreens and the small size of the buds, it’s easy to do an errant tap when you’re just trying to readjust. It’s happened often enough to get very frustrating over the past two weeks.

Software and Features

The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro are Samsung's best headphones yet, and it's not even close.  Thanks to a huge improvement in sound quality, better noise cancellation and a host of convenient features, it's the company's most comprehensive true wireless product to date.  But even with all its winnings, the best is still reserved for the Samsung faithful, which means it's only a great option for the owner of one of the company's devices.

Billy Steele/Engadget

Like previous Samsung headphones, all features and settings of the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro can be accessed through the Galaxy Wearable app on Android devices. Unfortunately, the company remains consistent with recent models by not offering an iOS version. Samsung used to have onr, which made its buds a great option for both operating systems, but that hasn’t been the case for a while now. You can still use the earbuds with Apple gear, but you’ll lose some of the more attractive features by doing so.

In the app, you’ll get battery percentages for the headphones and case at the top. The main screen also gives you access to noise controls, so you can see which mode is active (ANC, off or ambient sound) and make a change with the software if needed. Just below, there are options to enable/disable voice detection, 360° audio, touch controls and finding lost headphones. Voice Detect is Samsung’s new feature that can tell when you’re talking and automatically turn on ambient sound while lowering the audio volume for quick conversations.

By default, the tool will return to normal levels 10 seconds after you stop speaking, but you can also set this time to five or 15 seconds. In my testing, Voice Detect worked well, and it doesn’t seem to be as easily fooled by coughing as Sony’s version of the feature. It also continues to work when I’m connected to my MacBook Pro, not just with a Samsung or Android device. However, I prefer Sony’s method of completely pausing the audio rather than just lowering the volume with its Speak-to-Chat tool. So while it’s convenient, Samsung’s co-optation of Sony’s feature isn’t as pleasant to use despite its more accurate voice detection.

Gallery: Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro review | 12 Pictures


The Galaxy Wearables app also offers more detailed settings such as EQ presets, headphone fit test, playback notifications, hands-free Bixby, ambient sound during calls, in-ear detection for calls, seamless connection with select Samsung devices, neck stretch reminders and labs. Features. There are many things in this software. It’s all pretty self-explanatory, but I’ll note that a second Labs tool is a game mode designed to minimize latency.

There’s also an Accessibility section that lets you adjust the left/right balance. Here you can also choose to keep ANC active when you remove an earbud (the Buds 2 Pro turn it off by default) and you can adjust the volume and tone of ambient sound for your hearing. Support for amplifying environmental audio is not new to headphonesbut it’s nice that Samsung offers a degree of customization here.

One item that is still in the works is LE Audio. Samsung mentioned this at its recent event, explaining that the feature will let you capture 360 ​​environmental sounds while you’re streaming or recording. For example, if you are streaming live. There weren’t a ton of details shared, other than the fact that the feature is coming later this year. The Buds 2 Pro will also support Bluetooth LEthe next-generation wireless audio standard that’s on its way after being introduced for the first time in 2020.

Sound quality

The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro are Samsung's best headphones yet, and it's not even close.  Thanks to a huge improvement in sound quality, better noise cancellation and a host of convenient features, it's the company's most comprehensive true wireless product to date.  But even with all its winnings, the best is still reserved for the Samsung faithful, which means it's only a great option for the owner of one of the company's devices.

Billy Steele/Engadget

Samsung’s headphones have never really impressed me with the sound quality. They ranged from very good to good, but never really great. Well, for the first time, the company has won over this jaded headphone reviewer. The Buds 2 Pro pack plenty of bass punch with a pleasantly open sound that’s both full and filled with detail and clarity. The low end is also deep and nuanced, not just a heavy dose of thunderous boom.

Many headphones offer balanced sound with good bass. What separates the good from the good is usually in the subtle details that can be hard to replicate for something so small. Samsung does this with a combination of a 10mm woofer for the low end and a 5.3mm tweeter to get the treble through. Across a range of genres, this setup allows for stellar clarity and depth, keeping songs layered and immersive rather than compressed and messy. Amanda Shires’ voice, for example, seems to float above every song on her latest album. Take it like a man.

A big part of the improved audio quality is the processing of 24-bit/48kHz Hi-Fi sound. Samsung’s new Seamless Codec (SSC) allows 256 times more sound data to be transmitted from your device to the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro. On the previous model, 24-bit audio was converted to 16-bit the moment it reached the headphones. Swiping to Android developer settings confirmed that 24-bit/48kHz was indeed coming from the Galaxy S21 FE 5G I used to test the Buds 2 Pro, but there’s no mention of bitrate. This number would be an indication of the overall quality.

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