I was going to do a somewhat traditional review for the Galaxy Buds Live earbuds, but after using them for a week now, there’s not enough for me to break down into separate categories, so I’m just going to tell you what I like and what I don’t care for.
Coming from the Galaxy Buds+, I’m going to need a really good reason to make a switch to a different set of buds. My Buds+ get crazy-good battery life, fit my ears perfectly, and sound amazing. While the Buds Live have fine battery life (up to 8 hours), the fit and feel of these buds, along with what I’d label as a “just ok” listening experience make me feel that all potential buyers should just opt for the less expensive Galaxy Buds+.
Allow me to discuss a couple of these points in detail.
Fit and Feel
The Galaxy Beans as we like to call them look awesome and straight from the future. The problem is, I suppose I have funky ears because anyway I stick these buds in, they don’t feel all that great. However, I’m the same person who can’t stand the feel of AirPods, and those are apparently loved by millions of people, so take my comments on fit and feel however you’d like.
Now, there’s no sense that they’re going to fall out or anything, they’re perfectly snug in there, but they’re simply not as comfortable as my Buds+ and for $169, that’s a bit of a downer. I appreciate the feel of squishy rubber tips in my ears, not a hardened plastic, which is why I love my Buds+ so much in this department.
For those who do get a good fit with these buds, I don’t think you’ll need to worry about them jostling loose or anything like that. The only thing you’ll want to take note of before purchase is that I think these buds don’t provide a great seal and quite a bit of ambient noise can get in due to the design. However, with active noise cancellation, something my Buds+ don’t have, you can eliminate a good amount of outside sound.
Each Buds product from Samsung has an EQ that can be tweaked from the Wearables app. For the most part, everyone should be running the Dynamic EQ, as it provides the best scoop on highs, mids, and lows, but if you’re more into podcasts or something with a lot of spoken word, I’d recommend the Soft setting. For pop and hip-hop fans, check out the Bass Boost EQ. It’s not overly obnoxious in the low end and both the Buds Live and Buds+ have pretty darn good bass considering their size.
Unfortunately, there’s no manual band manipulation allowed inside the Wearables app, which is something I’d like to see Samsung offer in the future, but know that the audio EQ you have on your phone will affect how these Buds Live sound, too. On Samsung phones, the “Sound quality and effects” menu allows you to access various sound presets, as well as a 9-band EQ.
I have to go back to comparing these Buds Live to my Buds+ because I’ve been using the Buds+ since I first got them back in February of this year. In terms of straight sound comparison, the Buds+ sound much more full and robust to my ear, which is due to overall design of the products. However, while I believe the Buds+ to be superior in sound, the Buds Live aren’t bad at all. Once you get them in your ears just right, they can make some great sounds, with the noise cancellation helping you really immerse yourself in whatever it is you’re listening to.
For $169, Samsung packed in what feels like as much as they could into these little beans. Buyers get the noise cancellation I already mentioned, touch controls for controlling media playback and accessing Bixby and Spotify, as well as a Bixby wake-up feature that isn’t present on my beloved Galaxy Buds+.
For touch controls, I have my left and right ear touchpads set to activate noise cancellation, though, you can set them to Bixby, Volume down/up, and Spotify. What has always triggered me is that users cannot customize these touchpads much beyond Samsung’s presets. For example, if I wanted noise cancellation on the right side and volume down on the left, I can’t do that. However, you can have noise cancellation set to one side and Spotify to the other, which can be useful for Spotify users.
For all you Bixby fans, the wake-up feature can be cool, so long as all you want to do is simply actions. For example, using just your voice, you can get weather information, call contacts, and control other apps on your device. To use this, you’ll need to go through the Bixby setup process on your Samsung device.
Much like my Galaxy Buds+, I haven’t had any issues with the battery on the Galaxy Buds Live. I’ve gone on a few bike rides and dog walks and had plenty of juice left, so I’m inclined to believe it when Samsung says these should have no issue giving you quite a few hours of usage on a single charge. According to Samsung, you can expect 5.5 hours of life when using ANC and Bixby active listening turned on or up to 8 hours with both of those features disabled. I’ve been using them disabled and haven’t had a problem.
Should You Buy?
As I’ve alluded to, just go with the Galaxy Buds+, folks. While these beans look plenty sweet, you’re getting a way better audio experience from the Buds+. For those who want earbuds for working out, the Buds+ have a much tighter feel in your ear, allowing you to workout hard and not have to worry about anything moving around. Plus, Samsung even rates the battery life way better on the Buds+.
Honestly, besides looking good, I’m just not sure why the Buds Live were made. Sure, they offer the noise cancellation, but you don’t need that on the Buds+ because of the seal they offer your ears. Seriously, in the categories I use to rank my earbuds, this whole review just feels like a big advertisement for the Buds+.
If you take one thing away from this post, it should be that the Buds Live are a fine device, but the Buds+ are better.