REVIEW: Samsung Galaxy Buds Live (aka: the Bean Buds)
REVIEW: Samsung Galaxy Buds Live
The wireless earbud market, I think it would be fair to say, is pretty saturated at the moment. You can get wireless ear buds from anywhere from 20euro to as much as you can afford (note: please don’t buy 20euro wireless ear buds). In such a saturated market, companies have to mix things up in order to stand out for the standard white stalked buds that are pretty prevalent out there.
This is where Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Live come in. They are the most unique looking buds that have come on the market in many years. They look like, well, they look like beans is the only way to describe them.
As mentioned, the Galaxy Buds Live are bean shaped, not only that, but they are shiny beans (not matter what colour you choose – and that’s another difference to other buds on the market, they come in various colours).There are shiny colours to choose from: Mystic Bronze, Mystic Black and Mystic White and they all look great. We were sent a pair of the Mystic Black as our review unit and they look great. The buds themselves, on the outer side, are fairly clean with some microphone ports, and vents and that’s pretty much it.
The inside is where the ‘wings’ are the hold the buds in place along with the charging points, vents and the speakers themselves. The case they come in is nice and small, if a little tall / thick, but it’s neat, charges via USB-C and I’ve had not alignment issues when dropping the buds back into the case to charge.
Features and Performance:
The entire outer side of the bud is a touchpad that allows you to change songs, answer calls, change volume and turn on / off ANC. Speaking of ANC – Active Noise Cancellation – the Galaxy Buds Live have ANC as part of their feature set, and while it’s there, and you can sort of hear it’s impact, given these are open design type buds, it’s not really that effective. It’s nice to have, but not their killer feature.
The buds, when fitted correctly, sound great. Better than their size should let them if I’m honest. I say ‘fitted correctly’ as for the first week, I couldn’t figure out how to get them to fit without falling out! Turns out there’s a knack / trick to it. You put the buds in your ear horizontally and then ‘twist’ them up so they are sitting almost vertical in your ear (so the bean is hugging the front of your ear / the targus of your ear. I had to add the large ‘wings’ in order to get the proper fit, but once they are in there, they fit great and I didn’t feel they’d fall out.
When the buds are fitted correctly you can still hear what’s going on around you, have conversations with people and generally have an awareness of your surroundings (something to be aware of you’re looking for something more isolating). I, weirdly for me, really enjoyed that aspect of the buds and I think that’s somewhat down to the fact that my use of earbuds has changed somewhat during the pandemic. The Galaxy Buds Live sound great for music and I found the bass was nice and rounded and the rest of the audio was nice and clear. But where I found they really shine is on works calls (Google Meet / Zoom / MS Teams, etc…).
I found it really does sound like the people I’m talking to are with me in the room. I can hear their conversation in my ears, but it feels like they are sitting in front of me as I can also hear other things going on at home and I’m really enjoying using them for calls. They are discrete enough that nobody comments on them when i’ve them in, which is how they should be really.
Finally, the Galaxy Buds Live pair with the Galaxy Wearable App (once you get the Buds Live add-on). This allows you to change the audio profile, monitor the battery level, update the firmware, turn on / off ANC and disable the touch functionality.
In terms of battery, I’ve been super happy, and surprised, as how long they last. Samsung claim they can last up to 8 hours of music playback and a total of 29 hours when you factor in the battery in the case. The case even had wireless charging, which is nice for such a small case. Samsung also claim that you can get around an extra hour of playback time from a 5 min charge in the case. I’ve found Samsung’s claims to be mostly accurate in my tests.
So, should you buy the Galaxy Buds Live. Personally I’ve loved my time with them and have been recommending them for my sort of use cases. Can I recommend them for audiophiles or people who listen to hours of music each day, I don’t think I could. While they sound great, there are better buds out there with proper isolation and better ANC, but I applaud Samsung for mixing it up this year and I hope other manufactures start to take risks with their bud designs.
The Samsung Galaxy Buds Live are on sale now and retail for approx 199euro from various retailers like DID.ie, Brownthomas, etc.