Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Live is their most ambitiously designed wireless earbuds yet with open-type ANC
Samsung’s kidney-like Galaxy Buds Live is their first open-type ANC wireless earbuds
Note: This article was first published on 6 August 2020.
Continuing the barrage of Samsung updates with their new Galaxy Note20 series, Galaxy Watch 3, Galaxy Tab S7, they’ve also unpacked a radically designed pair of true wireless earbuds and thus confirming the leaks of the Galaxy Buds Live.
Sculpted to reflect the curvature of your face and ears, the Galaxy Buds Live also somewhat resembles kidney beans have thus been nicknamed Galaxy Beans by the online community. But from photos of actual people using the ‘beans’, the Galaxy Buds Live actually seem like the most natural and unobtrusive design for earbuds to-date. No weird ear droops like on the AirPods or some weird ‘ear plugs’ sticking out of your ears. The Mystic Bronze colour, while Samsung’s new champion colour, is also closest to match most skin hues easily and that further lends weight to their design philosophy of making them look natural. Other colour options are Mystic White and Mystic Black.
Even the fit of the earbuds are different from most other buds that plug into your ear canal and try to achieve a good seal. Due to the radically different shape and design of the Galaxy Buds Live, these buds are snugly cradled within your outer ear areas as seen in the photo. If for some reason they don’t sit in as well as Samsung hoped (after all, everyone’s ear shape and size differ), there are two wingtip sizes to help get a better fit.
For audio delivery, the Galaxy Buds Live houses a fairly large 12mm driver that’s tuned by AKG (which Samsung owns) to push out good tunes across a wide audio spectrum and a spacious sound. Air vents are incorporated into the design to reduce the occlusion effect of spacious audio within the housing while an integrated bass duct helps to enhance low frequencies. This also makes the Galaxy Buds Live the first open-type earbuds in Samsung’s line-up and should give your listening experience some ‘breathability’.
Worried about external noise seeping in and ruining you listening session? Active Noise Cancelling (ANC) finally makes it to Samsung’s true wireless earbuds in the Galaxy Live Buds designed for open type earbuds. After all, these earbuds are meant to be worn everywhere and you don’t want to miss out on catching important conversations and announcements. In fact, it works to cut out the low-frequency rumbles of background noise and it has even received a UL certification (an independent testing and certifications body, who even govern benchmarks like 3Dmark) for being able to cut background noise up to 97% in these low bands.
Where the Galaxy Buds Live shares some aspects with the earlier launched Galaxy Buds+ is its three built-in mics (two on the outer side of the earbuds and one on the inner side) to give you a great call quality. In fact, Galaxy Buds+ one-ups its Buds+ brother by incorporating a Voice Pickup Unit that senses your jaw movement and helps translate these minor jaw vibrations into voice signals to deliver better sound quality to the other party. This is very much similar to how bone conduction earphones work as well, so it’s nice to see it being incorporated on the Galaxy Buds Live.
Controlling the earbuds are via touch and tap gestures on the top area of each bud. You can touch it to play and stop music as well as answer and reject calls. You can also customise in the Galaxy Wearable app the function to activate when you perform the touch-and-hold gesture — options include ANC, voice command (e.g. Bixby) and volume adjustment.
How long are the buds rated to last? Samsung says you can get 6 hours of play time with ANC enabled. Without ANC, it can fetch up to 8 hours of playback time. Now, this might not be a wow figure and can’t match the long uptime that we’ve tested with the Galaxy Buds+ (and rated for 11 hours), but it’s a decent figure.
Accompany ting the new Galaxy Buds Live is an equally catchy jewellery-inspired charging case to easily pocket true wireless earbuds. The charging case can also wirelessly charge the earbuds, so you can juice them cable-free. If you own a fairly recent high-end Samsung phone (Galaxy S10, Note10, S20, Note20), you could even charge the earbuds’ case just by placing it on the back of your phone, thanks to their Wireless PowerShare function. Supporting quick charging, you can get up to one hour of usage for just 5 minutes of charging. The total battery life of the Galaxy Buds Live with the charging case is up to 21 hours, inclusive of ANC usage.
Price and Availability
The Galaxy Buds Live has a recommended retail price of S$288, just a little more expensive than the Galaxy Buds+.
Choosing between the Buds Live and Buds+ is likely going to be a matter of design preferences. In terms of features, the call quality was already great on the Buds+, so we expect the Buds Live to be even better. ANC and Bixby support functions are also available on the new Buds+, so you’re potentially getting more out of it for just $20 more. Battery life with the charging case is status quo for both devices, but for the earbuds on their own, the Galaxy Buds+ will last longer. Here’s a quick comparison page between both models.
If you’re not already getting the Galaxy Note20 Ultra which qualifies for a free pair of Galaxy Buds+, these new earbuds are now available for pre-order and it will be available for collection from 17th August.
Full retail availability will commence from 21st August at major electronics stores and telcos.