Ever since Samsung released its latest wireless earbuds with an unconventional “bean” design, one salient question has been lingering on our minds: How does it achieve noise cancellation when the device doesn’t even seal in your ears?
Before we get to that, props must be given where they’re due. The bean-shaped Buds Live is a serious departure from its contenders in its category, especially most wireless earbuds in the market are used by plugging straight into your ear canals. Just like the Korean smartphone maker claimed, the device — with silicone stabilisers — slots into the concha of our ears naturally and sits in our ears’ contours. No clips or extra fins are needed for any fastening.
Putting them in your ears, however, will take some getting used to as you need a slight twisting motion to lodge them into position. If you fear the device is going to slip while working out, fear not — the Buds Live features a sweat/water resistance rating of IPX2-rated so you can take them with you to the gym or even a jog in the light rain.
We’d be lying to you if we told you they provide the same stunning level of silence as the rest of the earbuds out there but the Buds Live still offers a decent job of muffling surrounding noises. The design with an in-built air vent makes the sound reach wider so the music doesn’t feel too “boxed in”. This eventually generates a slightly more dynamic and full-bodied audio quality.
For a device that doesn’t seal off completely, it manages to still kick out plenty of bass especially when you’re putting Nirvana on full blast. Just don’t expect detailed separation of tones or crisp acoustics when you’re putting on an unplugged version of Hotel California. To put it simply, pop or even rock lovers will find these pair of earbuds almost faultless.
Using these earbuds are pretty straightforward too as they feature similar tap controls to Samsung’s other earbuds. Single tap for pause/play, twice and thrice for skip track forwards or back. Also, you can customise what a long press does.
It’s only natural to compare the Buds Live with its sibling Buds Plus, since both pairs are tuned by AKG for similar sounds. Again, the Buds Live struggles when loud noises rise more than mid-to-higher pitches (like people talking or the TV playing faintly in the background) but the Buds Plus has more consistent isolation.
Moreover, the Buds Plus features a dual-driver system which capitalises the features of discreet woofers and tweeters, letting the vocals come through even more clearly. Although the battery life for Buds Live is no slouch — rated for up to eight hours of juice — the Buds Pus wins hands down with a stellar battery life rating of 11 hours (and 22 from the case).
And thanks to Samsung’s Galaxy Wearable app for iOS and Android, the Buds Live and Buds Plus share many of the same perks. You can fine-tune each buds’ sound with six EQ settings (normal, bass boost, soft, dynamic, clear, treble boost). With just a single touch, Spotify can also be activated. Connectivity-wise, the Buds Live is compatible with all standard Bluetooth devices, including Android, iPhones, iPads, Macs and Windows 10 devices.
All in all, the Buds Live is well-suited to be an everyday listening accessory since it's intuitive to use and pairs quickly with most devices. Taken as a whole package, there's still a lot to like about these earbuds if you can live with noise from the outside.
Call it an outlandish design concept that has gone mainstream but these kidney-shaped buds are definitely here to stay.
Samsung Galaxy Buds Live is retailing at RM699. Available in Mystic Bronze, Black and White. See more here.