The Galaxy Buds Live or what some have called the kidney bean has finally made its way on to store shelves for purchase, and Samsung may have done a great job with these earbuds. Taking a different approach from the Galaxy Buds +, these earbuds lend themselves to Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) and fitting in most ears with the exception of irregular ones. For some people, these buds will be the most comfortable and cost-effective buds on the market, being modestly priced at $169.
Here’s our review:
Design & Fit
I posted a few pictures of me wearing the Samsung Galaxy Buds on my Instagram Story feed, and one of the replies that I got back about these earbuds was, “kidney bean.” It is noted by many other tech reviewers that these buds definitely look like kidney beans. Samsung took a rather unique approach with these buds, and though there is some name-calling, they well appreciated.
The bean-shaped earbuds are slightly larger than the Galaxy Buds +, but not by much, and they sit directly on the outside of your ear canal instead of inside. The Galaxy Buds Live have two speakers that send music directly into the ear to help with bass leak, which is typically found in earphones with tips on them. The bottom part of these buds sits right inside your ears concha without going deep inside your ear canal. With this fit, there were many instances in which I felt as if they were going to fall out of my ears, but that was never the case. With my small ears, they fit snug without causing much ear fatigue. With these earbuds, you just simply have to get used to the way fit, but most ears will fit without any problems. To help with fitting, there are two wingtips included in the packaging.
The Galaxy Buds Live have touch controls that are up top that are sometimes hard to find, but also easy to hit when trying to adjust the buds for fitting. One feature that the Galaxy Buds have is the “jaw-sensing” microphones. Each bud features three microphones: two outward-facing and one facing inwards, the inward mic senses motion in your jaw, and when your jaw vibrates, that information is converted into voice signals to improve your voice quality. This feature works really well, and I was definitely impressed by the mic quality here.
The charging case is very compact and should fit in most pant pockets easily. The case also features wireless charging, so if you have the new Samsung Note 20, you can use it to charge your earbuds on the go.
The buds are also water resistance, but for the lowest amount of protection. The Galaxy Buds Live are rated at IPX2, so they can probably handle a modest time at the gym, but you do not want to be exposed to a heavy rainstorm with these in your ears.
Ease of Use
Samsung made the touch features on the Galaxy Buds pretty straightforward here; tap to play or pause a track, double-tap to play next track or answer or end call, triple-tap to play previous track, and touch and hold to decline call or you can set you preferences in the Galaxy buds app.
Like I mentioned earlier, the Galaxy Buds Live touch controls are somewhat hard to find, but it is easy to accidentally touch when trying to adjust the earphones. In the app, you do have the ability to block touches in the Galaxy Buds app to avoid making this mistake and simply talk to your voice assistant.
For Samsung Galaxy users, the Galaxy Buds Live have Bixby built-in; for iOS you do not have to worry about Bixby always listening. With Bixby “always listening,” you do not have to say “Hey Bixby,” simply talk to Bixby as if it is an everyday conversation. For some, this may be an off-putting feature, but also some may wonder why Samsung is still trying to force Bixby on to people?
Samsung did a superb job with how the Galaxy Buds Live handles sound for its design. The Galaxy Buds feature 12mm speakers in each bud that were developed by AKG. The Galaxy buds produce excellent sound quality with nearly any genre of music.
For this review, I tested the Halo 2 soundtrack, and the Galaxy Buds definitely took the orchestra sound to new heights. The air vents on the earbuds helped produced the spacious audio that made the music sound great.
The mids and highs really shine on the Galaxy Buds Live, so if you’re into songs that vocal-heavy, then the Galaxy Buds Live are for you. The lows are not the best, but they do have a decent presence here, the earbuds find an almost perfect blend of sound lending itself to the brighter side of the sound spectrum. I would even go as far as saying that the Galaxy Buds Live can compete with Apple’s Airpod Pros when it comes to sound quality, also though the buds aren’t directly in your ears to get an even better sound, Samsung truly delivered.
Noise cancellation was surprisingly decent here, it is is not the best, but that is to be expected from a pair of earbuds that do not go inside of the ear canal. The Galaxy Buds Live does a decent job at blocking out sounds that you would find at home, such as air conditioners, fans, and TVs, but when someone is near you talking, they struggle. The ANC here is tolerable at best, but for $80 cheaper than the Airpod Pros, it may be worth it based on your situation.
The Galaxy Buds Live can function for up to eight hours between each charge if ANC and Bixby Voice wake-up is off. If one of those features are on, then you’re looking at about six hours, and if both features are on, then just 5.5 hours of battery life. These do not quite live up to the Galaxy Buds+ at 11 hours, but they do have decent battery life for the built-in features.
When the case is fully charged, you can get about 29 hours of playtime, and within 5 minutes, the case can give an hour’s worth of battery life to your earbuds.
Should you purchase them?
Usually, I am skeptical about buying first-generation products. Still, I must admit that Samsung did a decent job with the Galaxy Buds Live, and that’s due to them having a lot of experience with earbuds. The Galaxy Buds Live are an excellent alternative to someone who wants to purchase Apple Airpod Pros but does not want to spend the money.
The Galaxy Buds Live has good sound quality but lacks when it comes to noise cancellation. These are a good purchase if you do not enjoy the discomfort of earbuds being inside your canal, granted you will have to get used to the fit of these earbuds, but that comes with time. There is certainly room for improvement with the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live, but for someone who wants good sound at a reasonable price, they are worth it.