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Galaxy Buds 2 Pro take the fight to Sony to be the king of noise-cancelling buds
The Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro are the latest and greatest true wireless earbuds from a tech giant that’s becoming increasingly invested in building out an expansive ecosystem of interoperable gadgets. Part of that equation for many brands is a pair of flagship buds that differentiate themselves from cheaper sets thanks to active noise-cancelling (ANC).
Apple might have made noise-cancelling earbuds popular with the AirPods Pro, but other brands have been refining their ANC chops. Notably, the Sony WF-1000XM4 stand out as the best ANC buds you can get these days.
Can the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro take on the noise-cancelling king? Almost.
ANC that fits your lifestyle
When I first wore the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro and activated ANC, I noticed how much better they were at blocking out my fridge’s annoying low droning noise than their predecessors — buds that already slightly edged out the famous AirPods Pro when it came to noise-cancelling. Samsung claims that the new Buds 2 Pro have an additional 3dB of attenuation than the previous model. The experts at our sister site SoundGuys will be testing these claims in greater detail in the coming weeks. Based on my experience, however, I can already tell that the Buds 2 Pro’s ANC shines in the low-frequency range.
The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro don’t reinvent the wheel regarding ear tips, either, which is great because a good tip fit is crucial for noise-cancelling. Samsung offers a selection of silicone tips to choose from and they strike a good balance between malleable enough to be comfortable and stiff enough to keep the buds in place. Unlike the Sony WF-1000XM4, these aren’t foam, so getting a tight seal might be slightly trickier, but once you find a set of tips that fit, the isolation is pretty good.
The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro's voice detection makes using ANC during a busy commute or workday far more convenient.
Of course, there are times when you don’t want noise-cancelling, like when speaking to other people. For those moments you can elect to assign a tap control to adjust the ANC or enable the voice detection feature which returns from the first generation Galaxy Buds Pro. This feature, which you’ll need to turn on in the Galaxy Wearable app, temporarily suspends ANC while you’re speaking and goes into transparency mode. They will stay that as you keep talking for ten seconds afterward. Ten seconds is an awkward pause in any conversation, so there’s plenty of time to ensure you’ve actually stopped talking.
I was skeptical at first because how good could the buds be at determining when I’m talking? Quite good, it turns out. Speaking to people without having to remove my earbuds is handier than I thought it would be. While they don’t topple the WF-1000XM4 off their throne for isolation, the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro make noise-cancelling more practical.
These may not sound like groundbreaking features, but these earbuds are a solid evolution for Samsung’s top buds. The Buds 2 Pro make it simple to integrate ANC into your day without having to constantly remove and reinsert your earphones.
The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro are an evolution, not a revolution
The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro also come with other refinements for Galaxy device owners, including 24-bit (Galaxy devices only) and spatial audio compatibility with both 360 Reality Audio and Dolby Atmos. That means you can enjoy all the offerings from streaming services like Amazon Music Unlimited, though notably not Spotify. Head tracking, in particular, works well but might not be all that useful for commuting.
For those that like to tinker with the sound, the Galaxy Wearable app shows you a graph of what each equalizer preset does, but you can’t make a custom EQ. Bluetooth pairing is easy enough on both Galaxy and non-Galaxy devices, and most phones still only have the SBC and AAC Bluetooth codecs, though Galaxy owners will only get to enjoy the Samsung Scalable codec.
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro: Hot or not?
As far as design goes, Samsung has abandoned all shiny surfaces for this iteration of earbuds with a look more like the vanilla Galaxy Buds 2. It depends on your preferences if you’ll like that. I find the matte-textured case and buds slightly easier to grasp. The buds’ shape is also similar to the Buds 2, so if you liked those, these will feel comfortable too.
Overall, the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro don’t throw out anything that made the previous model a success. Instead, they take a proven formula and refine it. While these earbuds don’t beat the mighty (and pricier) Sony WF-1000XM4, they make ANC easy to use as a part of your everyday life, and Galaxy phone owners get some nifty bonus features thrown in as a bonus.