Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro: Superb sound, but why won’t they fit me?

Tech review: These earbuds are so good it’s annoying that I can’t comfortably wear them

A Samsung Electronics Co. Galaxy Buds Pro earphones displayed at the company's Digital Plaza store in Seoul, South Korea, on Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021. Samsung is schedule to announce fourth-quarter earning figures on Jan. 28. Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg

A Samsung Electronics Co. Galaxy Buds Pro earphones displayed at the company's Digital Plaza store in Seoul, South Korea, on Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021. Samsung is schedule to announce fourth-quarter earning figures on Jan. 28. Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg

 

€239

I’ve been a fan of Samsung’s earbuds since the company unveiled the first set a couple of years ago. The original version didn’t have active noise cancellation, but you got a good-enough seal with the silicon tips that it wasn’t really missed most of the time.

They had good sound quality, a few easy-to-master touch gestures and a decent (for the time) battery life. Then followed the Buds+ and the Buds Live, the latter changing the design to an open-fit kidney bean shape. All had something to like about them.

And so we come to the newest addition to the range: the Galaxy Buds Pro. Shiny, sleek and with another design change, the Buds Pro address some of the annoyances of the Buds Live, namely the active noise-cancelling that felt a little pointless at times.

Samsung’s newest buds tick all the right boxes. They have noise-cancelling, they have silicon tips that you can swap out to get a better fit, and they seal all the noise out in a way the Buds Live with their open fit didn’t.

But (and there is a but) I found it difficult to get a good fit with them. This isn’t necessarily an issue just with the Buds Pro. Any set of earbuds that are slightly larger than normal cause a problem. With the Buds Pro, it seems the shape just won’t sit comfortably, meaning they fell out while exercising, even with changing the silicon tips.

That is, as people say, a “me” problem. Anecdotally, most people who tried the Buds Pro didn’t have the same issue with accidentally losing an earbud mid-jog. So, putting that aside, how do Samsung’s new buds stack up?

Well, actually. The sound is again provided by AKG, so you know what you’re getting here: punchy sound that performs as well for music as it does for podcasts. Could you get better, more detailed audio from more expensive wireless earbuds? Possibly, but, for most people, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro will do the trick.

The active noise-cancelling on the Buds Pro works well. It filters out most of the background noise from a daily commute – when we can do those again – or traffic while you’re out walking. Samsung promises immersive sound, with custom-built two-way speakers; it felt like it delivered on that promise.

The Buds have a few advanced features too, such as intelligent ANC with Voice Detect that will recognise when you are having a conversation and switches to ambient sound so you can hear better. It will also turn down the volume of whatever audio you are listening to, and focus the microphone on the person speaking to you. To enable that, you’ll need access to the Galaxy Wearable app.

The earbuds also come with 360 audio, which is designed to put you at the centre of the sound wherever you are, using Dolby Head Tracking technology.

You don’t need a Samsung device to get the best out of the buds, but it certainly helps. There are some features that are reserved for Samsung devices, like the device switching, or the 3D Audio, which requires the One UI3.1, as seen on the Galaxy S21 devices.

The Good Samsung has produced a decent set of earbuds here. The AKG-tuned audio works well for the average listener, with crisp vocals and rich sound, plus some additional advanced technology that all adds up to a pleasant listening experience. The buds are also IPX7 rated, so they will take a lot of exposure to water before they become tiny, useless paperweights.

The not-so-good Getting a good fit is more difficult than with previous versions of the Galaxy Buds – for me at least. They protruded more than I liked and, on a couple of occasions, shook loose.

Annoyingly, the Buds Pro doesn’work with the Buds app on iOS, which means you can only connect them through bluetooth. That means some of the more advanced features are unavailable to you, such as Voice Detect, as they require the Galaxy Wearable app to activate the feature. It also means you can’t reassign touch commands, or turn them off completely, unless you are using a compatible Android phone.

The rest The battery life in these buds is average, at five hours of playback with active noise-cancelling enabled, and 18 hours in total when the case is brought into play. Switching off ANC brings it to eight for the buds and 28 in total.

The Buds Pro are available in three colours: violet, black and silver.

Verdict A great-value wireless earbud choice for Samsung users.