Samsung’s new earbuds, the Galaxy Buds Pro, are the company’s latest and greatest True Wireless offering, now sporting highly effective noise cancelling, a 2-way driver array for extended response, and high-quality microphones that pick up your voice loud and clear—even in the wind. Moreover, they sport a sleek low-profile design that fits inside your ear, unlike some competing designs.

I’ve had the Galaxy Buds Pro for several days and had a chance to use them for music, watching video, and phone calls. My reference points for performance are Samsung’s Galaxy Buds+ and Apple’s Airpods Pro. I used a Galaxy S20 Ultra with the Buds Pro.

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Features and Specifications

The Galaxy Buds Pro are True Wireless Bluetooth earbuds featuring active noise cancelling. They have a companion app and are designed to seamlessly pair up with Samsung Galaxy phones. They possess numerous smart features, including variable noise cancellation that lets you adjust how much of the outside environment to want to be isolated from. Furthermore, voice to text technology recognizes when you’re speaking of switches from active noise canceling to ambient sound mode, which lets you hear your own voice. Once you’re done, active noise canceling resumes operation.

Samsung engineered a new, 2-driver array for these earbuds by leveraging the experience of its AKG brand. In effect, it mimics how a two-way speaker works, dividing the signal between a woofer and a tweeter.

A total of three microphones per earbud work together for both active noise canceling and to pick up your voice. A dual microphone array offers beam forming, which allows the Buds Pro to isolate your voice from background noise. Furthermore, one of the two mics in the array has an extra high signal-to-noise ratio, for clear voice pickup. The third microphone is internal, and is used for tuning the active noise canceling. The specialize microphone mash and chamber is implemented to minimize wind noise, the result being what Samsung describes as its best call quality yet, including when you make calls outside.

These earbuds support 360 audio featuring Dolby Atmos, and have had tracking technology, allowing them to provide a realistic sense of being in the middle of a movie, videogame, TV show, concert, ect. Motion tracking sensors built into the buds Pro make this possible, and without it you simply don’t get the same sense of realism from 3D immersive sound.

These earbuds feature IPX7 water resistance, so you can use them even when it’s raining.

Touch sensitivity, which is optional, allows you to turn active noise cancellation on and off, answer calls, and summon a voice assistant.

True wireless earbuds depend on battery power, and it’s always a pain when you run out of juice. The Galaxy Buds Pro are able to fast charge inside their dedicated case, gaining one hour play time with only five minutes of charge. Furthermore, if you place your Galaxy Buds Pro on the back of select Galaxy smartphones, they will wirelessly charge.

Proper fit is an important part getting maximum performance out of earbuds. The Galaxy Buds Pro ship with three ear tip sizes, so you can find the one that gives you the best fit, which in turn improves both active noise cancellation and bass extension.

Other cool features include the ability to connect two pairs of Buds Pro to one phone, so you can enjoy music or movies with a friend or loved one. Plus, they offer the ability to connect to multiple devices and switch between them automatically.

Hands-On

It is a simple matter of fact that before Samsung released these Galaxy Buds Pro, my favorite true wireless earbuds were the Apple AirPods Pro. And it remains the case that the AirPods are a great fit for my iPad Pro, but I am a big fan Android devices when it comes to my main smartphone(s). I actually have two Galaxy devices, a Note 10+ and the S20 Ultra, plus unlimited data through AT&T. Anyhow, Samsung has now created a True Wireless earbuds that is the actual best match for my phones.

Aside from audio fidelity, the singularly “most important test” for any True Wireless earbuds is quite simple. When I call my mom, she wants to hear my voice clearly. If she doesn’t, she complains. And more to the point, I usually make those calls when I’m taking a walk, which means I’m outdoors, so wind and background noise is an issue, in addition to the fundamental clarity of the microphone. This is where the Buds Pro truly shine. It comes from the highest authority that these earbuds sound great when you are on the other side of the call.

The default silicone ear tips were good fit for me, but it’s certainly appreciated that alternative sizes are included. They are comfortable, and they stay in years. They also don’t look silly, unlike Apple’s designs that have little protrusions that stick out of your ears. Sorry Apple, but Samsung truly has you beat with the physical appearance of the Buds Pro, and Samsung rubs it in by offering these earbuds in three different colors (black, violet, or silver), as opposed to white.

Okay, let’s talk about sound for a minute. Samsung owns Harman, and Harman came up with the “Harman Curve” which is the result of much careful scientific research into what sort of sound profile represents the “ideal” for the largest number of listeners. Now, matching the Harman Curve does not guarantee that headphones will sound good, but it is a step in the right direction that’s backed up by meticulous research. The main thing is that these are good sounding earbuds, indeed they may rank among the best I have heard, wired or not, except for the deepest bass notes.

I brought up the bass issue with Sean Olive, who is the Senior Research Fellow at Harman and one of the brains behind the Harman Curve. According to Sean, I’m likely among the 14% of listeners who (according to their testing) like more bass than what the Harman curve calls for. I’m willing to agree with that assessment, and I would also take a guess that among AVS Forum members, the percentage of listeners who like “more bass” is higher than 14. But, I should note that I don’t like just “MOAR BASS” like you might find in a pair of Beats. I like tight, clean, distortion free bass that extends deep. So, what’s key about the Galaxy buds Pro is that the base is in fact tight, free of distortion, and does dig deep. If I want more, there is an EQ setting in the app that lets me dial that in. This is a long-winded way of saying that Samsung has solved the bass issue that had kept me from fully enjoying previous Galaxy Buds, like the Buds+. But the other thing is the active noise canceling, it makes a big difference.

OK, let’s discuss sound. Just because the Buds Pro are in the Galaxy lineup does not mean you can’t use them with other Bluetooth devices. For my listening, I used them with my phone for music, calls, and watching videos. Music is crisp and clear, with a tonal balance that speaks to the Harman and AKG heritage, plus Samsung’s undeniable engineering expertise. But I also used them with my iPad Pro (they pair like any other Bluetooth headphones) and music creation software, and this too turned out to be a great application. The benefit of the Harman Curve is it’s the tuning you’ll also find on JBL studio monitors. So, if you create and mix music with these earbuds, when you sit down to master it later, you’ll find the decisions you made hold up when you play the tune back through studio monitors. Same goes with pairing them with a PC, which was easy and seamless. I use Ableton Live for music creation, and these earbuds are a great way to work “untethered”.

With my PC, I was able to test the bass extension of the Buds Pro using a tone generator in Room EQ Wizard. The purely subjective result is that I heard smooth, clean bass at a consistent output level down to about 30 Hz. The bass remained clear and audible with some roll-off down to about 24 Hz. I could still hear a little bit of output at 20 Hz, and there was little accompanying distortion even at that frequency, but for the sake of this hands-on review, I’d (subjectively) peg the bass response spec at “30 Hz, with usable extension down to 24 Hz”, which is great for true Wireless and covers almost anything you’d listen to.

I have not yet tried the 360 audio and head-tracking capabilities of these earbuds, but I will update this review with those impressions shortly.

Conclusion

I’ll keep it short and sweet. Samsung has finally cracked the code and created the best True Wireless active noise canceling earbuds. Between the comfort, the audio quality, the noise canceling, and the aesthetics, Galaxy Buds Pro take the lead away from Apple. These are my Top Choice for 2021, as well as a Best of CES 2021 winner. If you seek the best, ignore the rest.


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