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Samsung Galaxy Buds 2: Noise Canceling Headphones Under $150

Two years after the first Buds and one year after the Buds +, Samsung is renewing its “accessible” True Wireless headphones with Buds 2, which combines the strengths to emerge from tough competition. On paper, wireless headphones have it all. 

The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro. A first for the Korean manufacturer. Faced with the success of its high-end headphones. The company decided to renew the experience with a version with similar characteristics, but at a more affordable price, the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2.

The Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 is Samsung’s latest true wireless headphones. The headphones, however, have a lot of competition on the market, and even in the Samsung offer itself, because this manufacturer has shown as many as five pairs of truly wireless models in two years:

PROSCONS
Numerous touch controlsLow water resistance (IPX2)
Good bass for nano speakersMedium active noise reduction
Excellent passive insulation
Wireless charging of the box

General

$CHECK PRICE
BrandSamsung
TypeEarbuds
ReleasedAugust 11, 2021
ColorsWhite, Graphite, Lavender, Olive
Dimensions Earpiece: 17.0 x 20.9 x 21.1 mm
Case: 50.2 x 50.0 x 27.8 mm
OSAndroid, iOS, Windows, Mac OS
Weight6.3 grams
ConnectivityWireless, Bluetooth

It has been promising for some time that Samsung will update its Buds series of headphones. This time, the company listened to what its consumers want. On the one hand, we have an efficient design (a departure from the Buds Live style). On the other – the new gadget is stuffed with technology from more expensive models while maintaining a very reasonable price.

Galaxy Buds 2 has not changed that much compared to the first Buds, which does not mean they look the same. First of all – there are new colors, and the top box in all variants is white.

However, a lot of changes took place inside the headphones. The ANC system has improved here, which is now supported by machine learning to separate the sounds of the environment even better, thanks to which, for example, talking through the new Buds is much more pleasant.

The three-level volume control has been added to the ambient sound transmission function, and the delay has been minimized from 3.2 ms to 0.5 ms

Design

TypeIn-Ear
WirelessYes
Noise CancellingYes
Dimensions caseEarpiece: 17.0 x 20.9 x 21.1 mm
Case: 50.2 x 50.0 x 27.8 mm

For anyone who’s been used to Samsung headphones for a little over a year, the Galaxy Buds 2 doesn’t come as a surprise. It must say that the new Samsung headphones are in line with the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live or, above all, the Galaxy Buds Pro, whether by the design of the headphones themselves or of the case.

Samsung preserves the organic look for the shell of its True wireless headphones while introducing some subtleties. The early Buds and Buds + were round with a flattened outer face; the Live Buds looked like “beans,” while the Pro Buds were more like Maltesers. In the case of the Buds 2, the Asian manufacturer has opted for an olive shape. Coincidentally, olive green is also one of four shades offered, along with white, lavender, and graphite.

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The Buds Pro shows off a metallic dress while the Buds 2 are content with a shiny dress. Even if the two models look very similar, we notice that the Buds 2 has only two tiny holes to capture external sound while the Pro version is larger. For measurements, these headphones are even thinner than the Pro (17.0 x 20.9 x 21.1mm against 20.5 x 19.5 x 20.8mm). With specifications similar to the Pro model, Samsung manages to lighten each earpiece by 1.3g (5g x2) despite the persistence of a magnet to facilitate their storage. For the record, the first Galaxy Buds of the name measured 17.5 x 22.5 x 19.2mm. They are not the “lightest in the world,” but the lightest marketed so far by Samsung.

The product has no roughness. There are only two golden contacts for better conductivity during charging, a hole for the internal microphone (see below) and a tiny dark oval. The latter is, in fact, a sensor designed to detect whether the earpiece is inserted in the ear or not (a function that you also find in some competitors). As on its other models, Samsung keeps the flexible silicone tips. The Galaxy Buds 2 come in 3 sizes (small, medium, and large). As always, the intermediate version is installed by default. The app quickly checks that the correct size and position ensure optimal listening.

Unfortunately, these Samsung headphones are not IPX7 certified (water immersion up to 1m) like their big brothers, the Buds Pro. It will be necessary to be satisfied with the index IPX2, that is to say, “protection against the fall of water drops when the apparatus is inclined of 15 degrees compared to its normal potion”. To be clearer, you can sweat it perfectly during your sport or listen to music in the rain. However, swimming with Buds 2 is prohibited. In terms of comfort, these headphones have satisfied us. 

Features

MicrophoneYes
Music ControlsYes
Speaker2-way Dynamic w/ Powerful Bass
Audio codecsAAC, SBC, Scalable
MicrophoneYes
WaterproofIPX2
Voice AssistantSamsung Bixby

Let’s talk about the audio quality. These Samsung headphones result from a “ collaboration ” with AKG, a venerable Austrian manufacturer renowned for more than half a century in cinematographic and musical acoustics. Put it like that; these Buds 2 must be mind-blowing. Let’s calm down. Remember that AKG belongs to the Harman group… acquired in 2016 by the Samsung group.

That said, beyond the marketing and the ad effect, the Buds 2 have the most decent acoustics. The sound dynamics are satisfactory, even if the sound sometimes lacks a little precision. Despite a speaker dedicated to the bass, it is rather on the treble (therefore on the human voice) that the Galaxy Buds 2 are the best. 

For music lovers or the curious, it is possible to customize the sound color from the Android application. In addition to the normal mode, the equalizer offers a “bass boost,” “light,” “dynamic,” “clear,” and “treble boost” mode. This feature is great, but it is only possible if the sound source comes from the phone. Also, if both headphones are removed, the music is automatically paused. It will be reactivated using a short tap (on the right or left side).

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The Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 from a PC running Windows 10. The pairing was effortless, and the sound was amplified (by the Dolby Access app). While watching movies and TV series, the quality of the headphones on the voices was particularly noticeable. Without installing anything, Windows 10 indicated the battery level of the headphones. Unfortunately, we were unable to benefit from multipoint Bluetooth. However, a “light” version of multipoint exists. It’s called “Auto Switch,”… and it’s only compatible with Samsung devices (Galaxy Tab, Galaxy S, Galaxy Z, etc.).

The Buds 2 benefit from version 5.2 of the Bluetooth wireless standard with HFP, A2DP (better quality than HFP, because stereo), and AVRCP (to control your multimedia devices remotely) profiles. The AVRCP profile is useful for listening, for example, to your favorite Internet radio station from a PC. But beware: you must have compatible software (such as Groove Music preinstalled by Microsoft). Buds 2 don’t control VLC, for example. Watching videos, there is a small latency between lip movements and voice.

Noise Reduction

As the headphones are in-ear, the passive isolation is already excellent ( over 60% reduction in surrounding noise ). However, Samsung has equipped its Buds 2 (like the Buds Live and Buds Pro) with active noise reduction. RBA (Active Noise Reduction) is enabled by default on the application. However, noise reduction is automatically suspended when you remove an earpiece (for music playback or on the phone). It reactivates as soon as you put it back in place.

The exterior sound is really very attenuated. Noise with a certain sound pattern (squeaking of a train or washing machine) will be reduced better than loud voices, for example. In addition, the algorithm seems to be much more effective in reducing the bass than on the treble. With an ambient electro noise with big bass that makes the subwoofer throb and jazz playing on the mobile, the external bass was almost inaudible. On the other hand, the reduction is much less convincing with human voices (starting more in the treble). The application, unfortunately, does not allow any adjustment, unlike more high-end headphones.

Battery

Battery TypeLi-Po
Capacity61 / 472mAh
Battery LifeUp to 20 hours
Play Time5H (ANC On) / 7.5H (ANC Off)
Charging PortUSB Type-C
Qi Wireless ChargingYes

It is precisely by looking in the application’s settings that you find information on the batteries. An earphone thus has a battery with a capacity of 61 mAh, while the box provides 472 mAh of capacity. Theoretically, the box should offer almost 4 charges (472 / (61 x 2) = 3.87 exactly). In practice, it is rather 3 charges. With noise reduction activated, the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 offer an autonomy of 5 hours (volume at 30%). Without noise reduction, the headphones gain approximately 2.5 hours of battery life. Therefore, we are approaching 20h (with noise reduction) and 29 hours (without reduction) announced by the manufacturer.

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In terms of load, the user enjoys a lot of freedom. It can simply charge the box (including headphones) with the supplied USB-C cable ( without a wall outlet ). Another option is induction. Unlike the first Buds, the Galaxy Buds 2 indeed accept wireless charging. It is a technology that consumes a lot of energy but is more practical than conventional plugging / unplugging.

As the headphones require a permanent Bluetooth connection, remember that they consume energy outside their case. We rate it at 2% battery per hour. That is 6 minutes less autonomy every hour. In addition, the headphones can benefit from a fast charge from the box (charging or not). In the space of 10 minutes, they will recover 30% of their capacity or approximately 1 hour 40 minutes of music with noise reduction. 75% in 30mn. Time to take a break, and it’s off again for hours of music.

Connectivity

BluetoothYes 5.0 v
Bluetooth SupportedSBC,AAC
Multi-Device No
ConnectionWireless
Sensitivity97 dB
Range10 m

App

For mid-range True wireless headphones, Samsung had to offer as good, if not better, than the competition. The result is mixed. Already the application (Galaxy Wearable) is only compatible with Android. Rest assured, owners of iPhone and other iPad, you still have the possibility of using Buds 2. But you will not have access to any adjustment, of course (punishment from Samsung for choosing Apple). Then, installing the app requires Samsung to access your contacts, calendars, and SMS. Otherwise, no installation.

For users of Google’s mobile OS, the app offers three listening modes: “ active noise cancellation ” (enabled by default), “ off ” (passive reduction only), and “ surrounding sound.” With surrounding sound (Transparency with some competitors), the headphones pick up ambient sounds through two external microphones and the single internal microphone and broadcast it into the ear canal. Three levels (low, medium, and high) are available. As on other headphones, Samsung offers automatic headphone adjustment (precisely thanks to the triad of microphones).

Reading notifications can be activated aloud. In practice, a soft voice whispers “email” to you with each email received or “call” if you are telephoned. In order not to be hassled with messages while you enjoy Jul (or another artist), the applications allowed to speak are gathered in a list of checkboxes.

Price

The Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 have been marketed since August 27, 2021, in brands and specialty stores and on the official website of the Korean giant. For the price, it takes 149 USD for these headphones, the charging box, and a USB-C cable. They thus position themselves in competition with Oppo Enco X or Beats Studios Buds. It’s 60 USD less than the brand’s top-of-the-range, the Galaxy Buds Pro released earlier this year.

Conclusion

The Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 are arguably not the best TWS headphones. Still, they are certainly some of the best for Android and offer one of the best value for money around . They offer excellent passive isolation, very good active noise reduction, 20 hours of minimum autonomy, induction charging, fast charging, powerful sound especially in the bass.

Samsung’s headphones have a few small flaws and are less effective overall than their big brothers, the Galaxy Buds Pro, but the compromises made are quite consistent. On the audio quality side, the dual transducers provide excellent bass response. The noise reduction will prove to be effective in the majority of cases. The autonomy offered is in the average of competing headphones. The headphones are also very comfortable, with a compact body, and allow control of both noise reduction, playback or volume with responsive touch controls.

Compared to the big brother Buds Pro, these headphones share very good ambient noise filtration, similar transducers and excellent compactness / discretion. The Buds 2 simply have less refinements (no Dolby Atmos, no voice assistant, less battery life) than the top of the range from the Asian brand.

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