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Image: Sam Rutherford

There are four – terrible – words that friends, family and acquaintances repeat to all of us in the technological “world” continually: “What mobile do you recommend?” When I listen to them, a chill runs up my spine from end to end. I begin to mentally list the 124,912 phones that have been presented by Xiaomi that year, I try to imagine what the photographic abilities of the bugger will be and I begin to prepare my endless argumentation in favor of this or that phone.

Well, if there is something that shudders me more than the above, it is that same question, but changing the word “mobile” for the word “headphones. And it is that despite the fact that there is an increasingly collapsed market of brands and models, few manage to get out of the same hackneyed and repeated designs ad nauseam, so it is inevitable to live with a feeling of already seen constant every time we see a new model of headphones. However, this is not what happened to me when testing the Galaxy Buds Live that Samsung presented last month. These headphones aren’t perfect, but they’re a breath of fresh air in a category in need of something like that. Having said this and having explained my philias and phobias to you, let’s go with the analysis.

The headphones shaped like … bean?

It is impossible not to start the review by commenting on the curious shape of these headphones. Yes, it is not a thing of the photos: without a doubt they are shaped like beans. Although the first thing I thought as soon as I saw them in the first leaked renders was “who will be able to wear something like this”, I have to admit that now I don’t dislike their aesthetics at all, although the black version seems notably prettier than the others two.

The structure of the helmets is rigid except for a small rubber fin that is in the upper internal part. If you want, you have the option of changing it for a smaller one to make it fit better. So far the customization options available.

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The headphones have a rubber piece on the top that you can change for a smaller one for a better fit.
Image: July Cherry

As they do not have a silicone tip that is inserted into the ear, I expected that these headphones would dance ostensibly when I moved or did some damage to me when adjusting them, but nothing could be further from the truth: the headphones held in place despite to make sudden jerks and to exercise with them on, although from time to time it seems necessary to put them back correctly. However, I never had the feeling that I was going to lose one without realizing it. If the only thing that worries you is that they do not move an inch when you exercise, you may have to try another type of headset.

Sadly, the shape of the Buds Live – as is the case with many other fixed-frame headphones – is not made for all ears, and some of the people I gave them to try were not entirely comfortable with them. . The good thing is that, if that is not your case, you will not even notice that you are wearing them. Samsung has reduced their weight to the maximum (5.6 grams) and that means that – if the shape of your ear allows it – you can spend hours with them without hardly realizing that they are there.

Admittedly, the touch controls that the Buds Live have are quite decent, although that does not mean they are infallible. The tactile part is located on the upper part of the headphones and it is possible to activate it by mistake when placing them in place, so if you use them for exercise you may end up accidentally stopping playback, although in normal conditions this does not usually occur. The fact that Samsung has simplified the controls also helps. With one touch you can stop or continue the playback, with two go to the song and with three go to the previous track. Best of all, we also have a long press command that we can configure to our liking with options such as activating active noise cancellation or managing the volume.

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The helmets only have IPX2 resistance against water, so avoid placing them in very humid environments.
Image: July Cherry

Amazing sound, but just enough noise cancellation

Samsung already demonstrated with the Galaxy Buds that it knew how to design good wireless headphones. Much of the blame is on AKG, who have been in charge of the sonic part and done a great job with those 12mm drivers.

The overall result is quite surprising. The bass line is powerful, but Samsung has avoided falling into the bad vice that many headphone manufacturers have of turning them up too and that in the end certain nuances of the songs are lost or the sounds are filled. With titles like Territory The Blaze’s basses are booming, but they also sound good on more subtle songs, like the bass line of Only Loveby Ben Howard. They also get a lot of detail out of the highs, like the different trumpet lines you can hear on Wonderful Worldby Otis Reading, although in other songs, as in Dream a Little dream of me from Ella Fizgerald, the highs have a little less travel.

Here is a warning that, although it may sound obvious, is quite important: it is essential to place your headphones correctly so that they sound good. This may seem like a crude obviousness to you, but fitting these headphones into place is tricky. When inserting the lower tip you have to make a small turn to center it correctly. If you don’t, you may hear the sound much flatter or the headset may not work. Even Samsung has prepared a guide on how to position them correctly.

Active noise cancellation, on the other hand, does not leave us with as good a taste as the sound of these headphones. If we turn this option on and off we can check that something It takes away from noise, but due to the physical design of the Buds Live, the ear is very little isolated from outside noise, so in the end Samsung’s active noise cancellation cannot work wonders either. In this section, it seems that Samsung still has some things to copy to Sony.

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The charging case has a fairly manageable size and weight.
Image: July Cherry

The extras

Connectivity is another of the strengths of these headphones. As soon as you take them out of the box they connect to the phone and as soon as you remove them from your ears the playback stops. They are compatible with Bluetooth 5, SBC and, if you have them connected to a Korean brand device, also with the Samsung Scalable Codec, which will help the data transfer work constantly so that you do not stop listening to the audio when the bluetooth connection is worse.

The Galaxy Wearable app —which we will need to connect the headphones to our mobile— allows us to equalize the sound with 6 predefined modes, but it also includes a couple of interesting functions. The first one is an option to find our helmets. If we activate it, a beep will begin to be emitted through them that will help us to locate them. The second is that we can activate a command so that Bixby, Samsung’s virtual assistant, is activated with our voice. It would be a lot more interesting if we could configure it to use other smart assistants (because let’s face it, no one uses Bixby), but Samsung doesn’t seem very much for the work.

Regarding their autonomy, there is little that we can hold against them. They hold a little more than 6 hours of reproduction with a single charge, and if you deactivate the active noise cancellation it is possible to go over 7. The case is capable of adding slightly more than two full charges to the headphones, so in total It stays around 20. In addition, they have fast charging (and wireless) so it is enough to plug them in for about 10 minutes to have about two hours of guaranteed playback.

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The magnet that holds the helmets could be a bit more powerful, but this is no drama either.
Image: July Cherry

Conclusions

I have to admit that I had many prejudices against the Galaxy Buds Live, but Samsung has taken them away one by one. This does not imply that we are facing perfect headphones. If you are looking for the best noise cancellation on the market or a headset with which to exercise vigorously, you probably have to try your luck elsewhere. But we must admit that Samsung has taken a risk and has managed to combine good sound with more than outstanding performance.

It is difficult to make a categorical recommendation as to whether or not they are a good buy. If you are doubting between the Galaxy Buds Live and the AirPods I think I would bet without hesitation on the Samsung ones. They have more autonomy, they come with a wireless charging case (which in the case of Apple you will have to pay separately) and they will hold on to your ear for much longer before falling. If the exterior design matters a little less to you, perhaps you should go for the Sony WF1000XM3. They will stand out noticeably from your ears, but in return you will have possibly the best active noise reduction on the market right now. And, in case your budget is somewhat tighter, possibly your best option is the Galaxy Buds +. You can continue to enjoy excellent sound, you will have the same equalization options and they will also fit your ear much better. And all this at a much lower price (up to 104 euros).

En resumen

  • Los Galaxy Buds Live funcionan tanto en Android como en iOS.
  • Su forma no es apta para todas las orejas. Si encajan bien en las tuyas los amarás, si no…
  • Su batería puede durar hasta 8 horas si desactivamos la cancelación activa de ruido y unas 22 con su estuche de carga inalámbrico.
  • Debido a la forma que tienen la oreja no queda completamente aislada, así que no esperes gran cosa de la cancelación activa de ruido.

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