After some rather disappointing headphones, Samsung is back with its new true wireless models, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro. In-ear and with active noise reduction, they have everything to face the heavyweights of the genre. We tested them for you.
Samsung is far from a newcomer to true wireless headphones. Nevertheless, the company took some time to launch its active noise reduction headphones. After a first version, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live , rather disappointing, the manufacturer promises to have corrected the situation with its Galaxy Buds Pro. This is what we will see in this full test.
Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro Datasheet
This test was performed with headphones supplied to us by Samsung.
A design halfway between Buds Plus and Buds Live
The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro are a bit of an offshoot of the Galaxy Buds Plus released a year ago and the Galaxy Buds Live released last summer. It must be said that these are in-ear headphones, like the Galaxy Buds Plus, but with an active noise reduction function. Also on the design side, Samsung’s headphones are a continuation of their two predecessors.
On the case side, the Galaxy Buds Pro clearly draw their inspiration from Samsung’s previous models, the Galaxy Buds Live. They are in fact housed in a square case with rounded corners, the shape of which recalls the box of a ring or a piece of jewelry. The case also fits very well in the hand or in a jeans pocket with its sides of 4.9 cm and its thickness of 2.7 cm, dimensions similar to that of the Buds Live.
It also opens without too much difficulty with one hand, even if we are far from the simplicity, almost playful, of the cases of AirPods or Google Pixel Buds [19459009 ]. Regarding the cover, Samsung offers a rather large hinge, but with a little play that lets fear a slight fragility.
Still on the case of the Galaxy Buds Pro, note that it is all matte plastic, with a color to match that of the headphones – black, purple or silver. We will find a simple Samsung logo on the top, a USB-C socket on the back and an LED indicating the remaining battery on the front. Another LED, inside, will indicate the charge level of the headphones when they are stored.
Regarding the headphones themselves, the Galaxy Buds Pro are in-ear models, like the Galaxy Buds Plus. Concretely, this means that the headphones will not sit at the entrance of the ear canal, like the Buds Live, but that they have silicone tips that fit inside the canal.
Three pairs of silicone tips are also offered by Samsung depending on your body type. We obviously recommend trying the different tips to make sure that you are using the most comfortable ones, but also those that offer the best passive isolation, and therefore the best sound reproduction.
Because the main interest of this in-ear format – even if it may annoy some – is indeed to provide convincing sound isolation so as not to be bothered by outside noise. Note, however, that Samsung has integrated a system of vents in its headphones, like Google with its Pixel Buds, to avoid the plug effect. Concretely, the Galaxy Buds Pro are not completely insulating, since they will let some of the noise pass through this vent.
For the aesthetic aspect of the headphones, they have the advantage of adopting, from the outside, the format of the Galaxy Buds Live. So these are not earphones in the shape of a cotton swab, but earphones that fit completely in the ear. They are rather inconspicuous, leaving only a glimpse of a shiny part in the ear. However, it will take a few tries to get them into the ear properly, as the setup is not the most intuitive.
Samsung has also decided to integrate a glossy surface on the outside, on the touchscreen, and a matte surface on the inside, against the ear. The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro are otherwise quite comfortable overall, although they can have a tendency to press on the conch. The headphones are suitable for sports with their IPX7 certification making them resistant to immersion to a depth of one meter. However, they are not perfectly fixed and can be caused to move slightly when you run.
Simple functions, but rather effective
To control the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro on a daily basis, it is once again through the tactile surfaces that it happens. Samsung has integrated one on each of its headphones. By default, it is thus possible to pause the music with one press, on the left or on the right, to go to the next track with two presses and to return to the previous track with three presses. Finally, a long press will allow the noise reduction to be changed between active cancellation and the surrounding mode.
However, these controls can be changed within Samsung’s Galaxy Wearable app. This is what will allow you to pair the headphones with the smartphone, even if they automatically go into detection mode when you open the case the first time. Within the application, you can thus modify the long presses, left or right. It is thus possible to select the volume increase with a long press on the right and the decrease with a long press on the left, but also the activation of the voice assistant, or the playback of a playlist on Spotify. However, these are the only controls that can be changed within Samsung’s application.
As we saw earlier, one of the main new features of these Galaxy Buds Pro is the integration of active noise reduction in addition to passive isolation due to the silicone ear tips. In fact, headphones offer several levels of noise reduction. We can thus take advantage of a classic passive mode, based only on passive isolation, but also of a surrounding mode that will allow you to hear outside noise, or an active noise cancellation mode. These last two modes can be set on several levels.
For the surrounding mode, the Galaxy Wearable application allows you to adjust the sound volume on four levels. For active noise cancellation, two levels are offered: high and low. Finally, a “voice detection” mode allows you to reduce the volume of the headphones and activate the surrounding sound mode when you speak. Enough to allow you to chat with someone face to face without having to take the headphones out of your ears if you wish. Classic mode then resumes automatically after ten seconds.
When it comes to the quality of active noise reduction, the Galaxy Buds Pro do much better than the Galaxy Buds Live released last year. That said, it’s no wonder the previous headphones were so bad at this point. But overall, the Galaxy Buds Pro offer a decent result. They effectively filter the midrange frequencies and part of the bass, even if the quality is far from the level offered by Bose QC Earbuds , AirPods Pro, Sony WF-1000XM3 or the Jabra Elite 85T .
Samsung is on the right track, but still has a long way to go before delivering truly convincing active noise reduction. As always, point noises have a hard time being filtered out, but even loud noises, such as a fan, traffic noise, or washing machine continue to be heard, even with a reduction level of. high noise.
Regarding the surrounding sound mode, it offers good sound reproduction of all the surrounding noises. However, even if the voice detection function is effective, it suffers from the same flaw as on the Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones: as soon as you start humming or even whispering the music you are listening to , the sound volume will decrease and transparent mode will activate. It’s not the most practical.
Among the other functions of the Galaxy Buds Pro, we can cite the blocking of the buttons in the application, to avoid pressing by mistake, the location of the headphones, which will emit a sound at high volume, or the balance between the right earphone and left earphone.
Regarding the wireless connection, Samsung relies here on Bluetooth 5.0. The headphones can also operate individually from each other. If one of the two is stored in the box, the second will take care of transmitting the two stereo channels in mono. Samsung also communicates on the compatibility of its headphones with multipoint Bluetooth. In other words, it is possible to use headphones connected to a smartphone and a tablet simultaneously. Convenient for answering a call while watching a video on a big screen.
However, this feature is limited, to say the least, as it is only available with Samsung Android devices. So you can only use it if you already have a Samsung smartphone and tablet under One UI 3.1 . Also, it cannot work with a computer. Suffice to say that it will only concern a very limited number of users.
Last point about the Bluetooth connection, its stability. Overall, the Galaxy Buds Pro don’t have too much trouble picking up the Bluetooth signal from the smartphone, even when it’s in a pocket. Nevertheless, by putting your hand on the smartphone, in jeans, the connection can become really capricious. This isn’t a huge flaw and is the case with most true wireless headphones, but it’s still noticeable.
Excellent sound quality
When it comes to delivering sound, Samsung hasn’t done things by halves. The manufacturer did not settle for a single transducer as was the case on the Galaxy Buds Live, but integrated two for each earpiece, as was already the case on the Galaxy Buds Plus. We are thus entitled to an 11 mm loudspeaker intended to reproduce the lowest sounds, and a 6.5 mm diameter loudspeaker, for the higher frequencies. In addition, Samsung specifies, as has been the case for several generations of headphones already, that the sound was designed in partnership with AKG, a brand of the Harman Kardon group that the Korean bought in 2016 .
As for the Bluetooth signal, the firm has played the card of sobriety. We are not talking about aptX or LDAC codecs here, as Galaxy Buds Pro are only compatible with the most popular audio codecs, namely AAC and SBC.
To test the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro, I used them connected to a Oppo Find X2 Pro by activating the AAC codec and listening to songs on Spotify in “very high” quality [ 19459035], equivalent to 320 kbps. With this configuration, the headphones offer very convincing bass and particularly detailed mids. This is notably audible on the track Bad Guy by Billie Eilish. The bass in the background is particularly present, without taking over the mids. Unlike the Galaxy Buds Live, the Buds Pro don’t go overboard with the bass.
On a calmer track like Come Away With Me , putting more emphasis on the mediums, Norah Jones’ voice is very detailed there too. But it is the high notes of the piano that stand out the most, with a lot of clarity. On Michael Jackson’s Thriller , there again the highs are present, but the rest of the sound field is also felt. The bass line in the background is well detached from the rest and the highs are particularly sharp.
Overall, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro deliver solid, very well-defined sound that doesn’t just wow the bass. Thanks to the two transducers, the headphones can easily detach the low frequencies from the high frequencies. Even on a more complex track, like Beethoven’s Symphony Number 5 , Samsung headphones manage to clearly define the different instrument bodies. The dynamics are there too, with a good distinction in volume between the phases played in piano or in forte .
For those who would prefer a more distinctive sound, especially in the bass, Samsung offers an equalizer within its application. This is not a band EQ, however, but a choice of six presets: Normal (on by default), Bass Boost, Light, Dynamic, Clear, and Treble Boost. Too bad you can’t fine-tune the EQ, for example using a five, eight or ten band EQ.
As for voice calls, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro offer good voice pickup, even in a noisy environment. In the middle of the street, they will succeed in filtering the hum of traffic even if more punctual sounds, such as the noise of a keyboard, will be more difficult for the person you’re talking to.
However, there is one major problem that I observed during my test, since with an Oppo Find X2 Pro, the call was constantly going between the phone speaker and the headphones for no logical reason. A problem that however did not arise with another Samsung smartphone, the Galaxy Note 10 Lite . The problem has been reported to the manufacturer and this test will be updated in the event of a response or a correction made.
Autonomy to match, without being incredible
Regarding the battery of its headphones, Samsung announces an autonomy of five hours with noise reduction (and eight hours without) with 13 or 20 additional hours thanks to the charging box.
For my part, I was able to use the headphones continuously at 80% volume and noise reduction off, in passive mode, for 7h20 before running out of battery. Specifically, the right earbud cut off after precisely 7 hours and the left earbud after another 20 minutes. We are therefore rather close to the autonomy announced by the manufacturer and at the top of the basket for wireless headphones.
To recharge the headphones in the case, this time it will take 1h20 before they go from 0 to 100% battery. However, they had already recovered 61% of battery life in just 30 minutes. After an hour and a half, the case had lost 33% of its battery, suggesting that it is capable of operating the headphones three times in total.