Samsung Galaxy Buds+
With a review already coming up about yet another set of wireless earbuds, it might seem like I'm purchasing them in somewhat rapid succession. It's true. I was so unhappy with the Raycons that I decided to write them off and relegate them as backup and search for new earbuds. I specifically went out of my way to find true wireless earbuds with a neutral sound profile.
This led me to the Samsung Galaxy Buds+.
I was a bit worried about buying these as I'm on an iPhone. But Samsung built the Buds+ to work with modern iPhones with modern features. So once I got them and got the app, my concerns were relieved.
First up, just like I did with the Raycons, I'm going to bring up comfort. The Raycons were super comfortable to wear for long periods of time so long as music wasn't playing, so the Buds+ have a high bar to reach, here. And, unfortunately, the Buds+ miss this mark.
I prefer earbuds that try to conform to the area of the ear they intend to fill. I hated earbuds until I found the Audio Technica Sporfit. They convinced me earbuds exist that I could enjoy. I couldn't find wireless earbuds to match that comfort until I got the Creative Outlier Sport. These became my every day wear earbuds. I'd been use to wires, so the cord around back didn't bother me much. Eventually, though, I started craving something without a wire. The best I could find were the Jabra Elite 65t, but their comfort was not quite there. The Rayncons proved to me, though, that comfort is possible, just hopefully not at the cost of shit audio quality.
Back to the Buds+, though. I switched the ear tips to the small and upped the wings to the large. I found the large wing a bit much so I switched back to the small wings. The small wings gave a fairly secure fit, but because of their design, they're not comfortable for long wear times. So I switched to no wings for a while.
Using the no wing cover gave superior comfort to using the wings. However, doing this sacrificed a secure fit. This is a problem I've had with other types of earbuds. I hate having to occasionally check the fit as I move and readjust when they come loose.
The flaw, it appears, is rather than using a loop, or at least a more pliable material, they used a fairly firm silicone in the wing with a very very small contact profile with the ear. This creates a pressure point. It's almost as bad as the Jabra Elite 65t. There's a reason the 75t had a slight size reduction.
For now, I don't really wear these hours on end, so I'm sticking to the small wings.
As I mentioned, I went for these earbuds for their neutral sound profile. And they do have a neutral sound profile. It's also adjustable with an app (more on that later).
Going from the Raycons to the Buds+, at first I felt as though the bass was way too flat. However, after not having used the Raycons for a while, the sound profile is much more pleasing to me. There's actually plenty of bass, just not so much that it covers up the mids and highs.
The Buds+ is upgraded from the original Buds in implementing dual drivers, one for lows, and the other for mids and highs. This is likely how it achieves it's balanced sound profile, as they can then be individually tuned. This is also likely why there is a great deal of clarity across the frequency response curve.
I've found a song that a poorly tuned audio profile can really fuck up: Root by Deftones. Raycons absolutely destroy the enjoyment of this song. The Buds+ do a much better job.
The noise isolation is pretty good. There's no ANC, but this is not something I really look for nor need. On the opposite end, though, these offer a feature to let external sound through. This is a feature I used a lot while walking the dogs in my Jabra earbuds, and just could not find with other earbuds.
There is an app to control the earbuds, but the sound profile control (equalizer) is only via presets. The drivers aren't really good enough for a really good amount of tuning, either. It's possible having a graphical or parametric EQ would change this, but since I can't see what the predefined presets actually set, I can't say that their not so great tuning is due to not so great choices, or not super premium drivers.
The Jabra earbuds had great call quality. The Raycons, advertised to punch up to earbuds twice the price (more expensive than Jabra Elite 65t) had terrible call quality. The Buds+ bring it back, though.
In terms of incoming quality, that seems fine across the board. It's the outgoing quality that suffered with the Raycons. When I heard a recording of what it sounds like, I was appalled that Raycon decided this was acceptable. It's that bad.
In my test call with the Buds+, the other person noted it was substantially clearer and he had no issues hearing and understanding me.
The Buds+ is suppose to have noise suppression, but I have not tested this. I was just happy the other person could hear me clearly.
It appears the current generation of true wireless earbuds have stepped things up in regards to truly being wireless. Like the Raycons, and probably like many other high end earbuds, particularly those that are Bluetooth 5.0, these allow the use of either earbud alone, or as a pair. This is good because I had found previous earbuds I've used set the right side as master, meaning only the right side could be used alone, but I prefer the left side when doing this.
As these are Bluetooth 5.0, their connection is strong. I've not had any issues with connections with my phone nor with the earbuds connected to each other. There's been no sync issues, nor any dropouts.
Pairing was interesting to figure out. I don't know why I didn't connect the dots at first, but these are the first true wireless earbuds that require leaving the earbuds in the case with it open for pairing. This meant when I was trying to pair them with other devices, I was trying to do it while they were in my ears, and it was not working. Once I figured this out, though, I found they pretty much work with any Bluetooth source.
Despite being Bluetooth 5.0, they don't do multipoint pairing. This seems to be common with Bluetooth 5.0 true wireless earbuds. I suspect this is because the extra pairing is used up by the connection between the earbuds. I hope, in the future, this is something that can be further enhanced, as I'd like it to be easier to switch between my iPhone and iPad.
I thought the Raycons had great battery life. 6 hours in a sitting is a lot for me. But the Buds+ destroy the Raycons with a rated 11 hours.
I should note that I almost never wear my earbuds to the end of their battery life. I almost never kill them. The only time this happens is when I forget to charge them. So if 3 hours did it for me, then 6 hours will also. And if 6 hours is good enough for me, then 11 is good as well. Honestly, 11 hours starts becoming a bit meaningless to me. Once I'm done with them, they go right back in the case for safe keeping.
The case provides one additional full charge, making their total rating 22 hours. It's not the best among true wireless earbuds, but still a fairly meaningless number to me. It's rare for me to forget to charge them.
And this leads into a feature of modern true wireless earbuds that makes this especially true: wireless charging. Just like the Raycons, the Buds+ case supports wireless charging. I've adopted wireles charging as much as possible, so I have qi pads all over the place, now. When I'm done with my earbuds, i just plunk them down on a qi pad somewhere.
At 22 hours total play time and never really coming close to the 11 hour listening time, it's pretty much just infinite to me. Hence, these times are pretty meaningless.
The case design is quite nice. It's a little bulky, but small enough to reasonably fit in the pocket. I don't carry it when I take the dogs for a walk, but if I'm going to the store or something, it goes in the pocket and I almost forget it's there. In fact, I have forgotten about them while shopping.
Overall, I really like the Samsung Galaxy Buds+. The only problem I have with them is the comfort is not good when using the wings and wearing them for very long. Never mind wearing them for the full 11 hour charge. Sound quality is good, call quality is good, there's an app to control them, and they're not terribly expensive for what they are.
Samsung doesn't punch up on the marketing of these earbuds, but they could easily compete with the $200 products while only costing around $150.
I tried finding a way to reach out to Samsung and offer my thoughts on the comfort issue. Unfortunately, I couldn't find any way to provide feedback. Given the Buds and the Buds+ both have a very similar design, and the same wings, I worry that this won't get fixed. And I feel like it's such an easy fix, only requiring a change to the wing design, not the overall design of the buds.
Do I recommend them? Absolutely. They have options for your fit preferences even if I feel the wings are poorly designed. You can wear them without the wings if you can get a good fit without them. The sound profile with well designed tuning using dual drivers makes the sound really good, bearing in mind if you're used to having muddled bass heavy audio they may sound quite flat. If you prefer a neutral sound profile, these are the true wireless earbuds to get. And, of course, Samsung didn't treat calls using the Buds+ as an afterthought. $150 may sound a bit steep to some people, but I think it's worth it.