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Samsung Galaxy Buds Live review: Disruption in design and performance

The Samsung Galaxy Buds Live earbuds (Mystic Black) in their charging case   | Photo Credit: Divya Kala Bhavani

For about three years, earbud designs seemed limited to the variety of the AirPods with the protruding mics, and the basic designs where the wing-tip fits snugly in the ear. Frankly, concept designs other than these seemed gimmicky and impractical but then Samsung dropped the Galaxy Buds Live and these flashy little beans actually became the coveted audio accessory of the year.

Retailing for ₹14,990 the Buds Live occupy the midrange to premium vertical of earbuds and they live up to their promise. Out of the box, they are nestled in their glossy charging case, which, disappointingly is ABS plastic, putting off the premium target. The case itself is not a stunner to match what is within. A better design would have complemented the buds’ chromatic sheen, which are certainly an eye-catcher even when worn.

Specifications
  • Earbud dimensions & weight: 16.5 x 27.3 x 14.9mm; 5.6g
  • Charging case dimensions & weight: 50.0 x 50.2 x 27.8mm; 42.2g
  • Chipset: BCM 43015
  • Battery: 60mAh earbud ; 472mAh charging case
  • Quick charging: 60min play / 5min charging (Wired, Wireless, D2D)

The first time I tried the Buds Live, it took a couple of tries to get the fit right; essentially the speaker has to slide closer to the ear entrance while the wing-tip sits snugly within the arc. There is breathability to avoid excess moisture build-up for long stretches of wear time, which is a plus for the in-ear earbuds segment. I am a big fan of in-ear earbuds purely because they promise immersive sound but the invasive nature brought up by doctors always concerned me. The Buds Live, however, sit neatly without feeling too loose or dizzyingly tight. It helps that each earbud is just 5.6 grams, quite light given the deceptively heavy look.

If you are a Samsung loyalist, then you may already have the Wearable app — the system where you can oversee the connectivity and gadget performance of a connected wearable — but if you are dipping in from iOS or Android, the Galaxy Buds app lets you adjust the EQ as desired. Sporting Bluetooth v5.0 as a standard, make sure your smartphone is up to date, software-wise. Those simultaneously using a variety of Samsung gadgets — such as smartphones and tablets — can easily switch pairings between these devices. Those who have paired the Buds Live with devices from other brands will have to manually switch over, which isn’t too bad... just a couple of extra seconds.

The charging contacts, wingtip and touch-sensitive sensor on the inside of one of the Buds Live earbuds

The charging contacts, wingtip and touch-sensitive sensor on the inside of one of the Buds Live earbuds   | Photo Credit: Divya Kala Bhavani

Those who enjoy Bixby, Samsung’s virtual assistant, will see some remarkable improvements to the responsiveness via the Buds Live. In the companion apps, one can access, via the Labs section, the hands-free Bixby activation. And yes, this does marginally affect battery power.

Now, press play

Oh, the sound: great acoustics that elevate vocals to true-to-life clarity, offering an intimate audio experience. Thanks to the 12mm drivers with AKG tuning, look forward to high-fidelity and glitch-less listening. The dynamic bass levels are not too jarring and the snares have a hard knock while synths feel delightful.

The Samsung Galaxy Buds Live earbuds (Mystic Black) with the exterior touch sensor visible

The Samsung Galaxy Buds Live earbuds (Mystic Black) with the exterior touch sensor visible   | Photo Credit: Divya Kala Bhavani

The touch and tap commands are fairly easy to learn, ranging from single to triple taps. The Buds Live offer a game-upper in the form of Active Noise Cancellation which can be activated at will using touch commands. This is ideal for fitness regimes and streaming, sessions that don’t require external sounds.

The battery on the Buds Live is, as expected, powerful; it offers a pretty decent wear time. The battery case has a 472mAh capacity while each bud has 60mAh, enough for a solid few hours and a few workout sessions. Recharging takes just a few minutes, but I haven’t reached a point yet where the buds were fatigued.

This year saw a lot of entries into the earbud market, but none with the pull of the Galaxy Live Buds. Those who want the long-haul experience of cinematic sound can opt for these if ready to splurge.

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Printable version | Nov 29, 2020 1:39:51 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/technology/gadgets/review-samsung-galaxy-buds-live-2020-disruption-in-design-and-performance/article32943069.ece

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