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Samsung Galaxy Buds Live in the test: Headphones now at Saturn at a bargain price

Samsung Galaxy Buds Live in the test: Headphones now at Saturn at a bargain price

Instead of copying the look of the Apple AirPods or presenting the hundredth true wireless model with silicone attachments, Samsung is breaking new ground in design with the Galaxy Buds Live. xiaomist audio expert Stefan has tested the wireless in-ear headphones with noise canceling and wonders why these things aren't called "Samsung Beans".

Update from 03/23/2022: A price drop as it is in the books - only a fraction of the former introductory price of 189 euros (RRP, year 2020) is left. You can currently get the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live from Saturn for EUR 49.99 (color: black). The offer is valid until March 31st and only while stocks last. Please note: The discount results from a direct deduction in the shopping cart (79.99 euros - 30 euros = 49.99 euros), so the final price can only be seen in the shopping cart shortly before paying:

You can read our detailed test report below:

Samsung Galaxy Buds Live (SM-R180) in the test: conclusion

Samsung's bold attempt to rethink true wireless headphones deserves respect. The bean-shaped Galaxy Buds Live are already a dream come true for many users. But only if it fits – in the truest sense of the word. In my ears, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live surpass most competing models in terms of sound, wearing comfort and battery life - including the popular Apple AirPods (2nd gen.). In order for even more people to be able to enjoy Samsung's new concept, the housing design of the Galaxy Buds Live (technical data) should be more flexible and adaptable and the highly sensitive touch controls should be reconsidered.

Advantages:

Sit loosely and lightly, but still securely in the ear cups Compact design (both the buds and the case) Pleasantly tuned sound Comparatively well suited as a headset for telephoning

Disadvantage:

Fit and sound are extremely dependent on the shape of the user's ear cups Touch controls are too sensitive No multipoint Bluetooth

Samsung Galaxy Buds Live in the test: Rating

Sound: 8/10 Comfort: 9/10 Hardware, design & functions: 6/10 Battery: 8/10

Overall: 7.8/10

Sound: successful and unobtrusive

The sound is full and powerful in the bass range. The mids and highs complement the lower octaves to an overall harmonious and warm sound character. Definitely a sound for relaxed listening on the side - for audiophile, concentrated music enjoyment, however, it lacks brilliance and fine detail. I liked the equalizer in the accompanying smartphone app ("Galaxy Buds" for Android and iOS) best in the "Soft" preset. The sound is reminiscent of vintage living room speakers with an unobtrusive, velvety flair. Of course, all of this only applies to a good fit in the ears – otherwise it just gets tinny and thin.

Wearing comfort: Hardly noticeable unless you are in pain

"You have to be lucky." - that was the title of a (long forgotten?) TV show. I recommend that those responsible at Samsung print exactly that as a slogan on the Galaxy Buds Live box. Then you would already know when you bought it that pretty much everything between the perfect experience and a bitter disappointment is possible. The shape of the user's ears is particularly important. I'm lucky: The Galaxy Buds Live fit right the first time - nothing presses or pinches, even violent head shaking doesn't throw the housing out of position. Simply place them in the ear cups, screw them in slightly, connect them to your smartphone and off you go.

Its intended place in the auricle is between the arch bulge (antihelix) and the elevation in front of the entrance of the external auditory canal (tragus). If this area is unusually shaped (too small, too large) - then it just won't work. In order for the Galaxy Buds Live to hold up securely and not cause painful pressure points even after hours, you should have "average" ears if possible. Small silicone rings in different sizes are included in the scope of delivery, with which you can adjust the fit a little - but the main rule is: If it doesn't fit, it wo n't be made to fit. If you have the "wrong" ear, you're out of luck.

Hardware, design and functions: You have to be an early adopter

You shouldn't expect too much from the active noise canceling (ANC) of the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live: In the Berlin U8, the rumble of the trains is at best weakened a little in the very lowest frequencies - the remaining noise penetrates fully. There is simply a lack of passive insulation here, since the Galaxy Buds Live are quite permeable to air in the ear cup. The comparison with the WF-1000XM3 shows the difference that makes: the Sony headphones effectively block out ambient noise and ensure silence. But their silicone adapters also penetrate the ear canal, which some people find extremely uncomfortable.

Also interesting:
In-ear headphones without rubber tips (silicone): The best AirPods alternatives

The battery life with one charge (charging via USB-C) is a good 6 hours (with ANC) and can be extended to up to 8 hours (without ANC). Wireless charging and fast charging (5 minutes for about 1 hour of use) are also supported - overall, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live can fully convince in terms of battery.

Samsung's development team has to be commended for the compact construction and the fresh design of the Galaxy Buds Live. The earphones are hardly noticeable when worn because they lie flat in the ear cups. In addition, the in-ears from South Korea do not emulate the iconic AirPods look, as no stems protrude from the ears - if you value distinction or understatement, the Galaxy Buds Live are on the shortlist. Where Huawei and OnePlus are shockingly unimaginative and coldly copy Cupertino, Samsung at least dares to do something and delivers a successful alternative to the true wireless mishmash (in white, black or bronze on request). Also worth mentioning: the well-made transport case is one of the smallest of its kind and its shape is reminiscent of a box for engagement rings.

On the one hand, the touch operation is obvious (due to space reasons), but on the other hand it is also annoying (Oops! Music is paused). The app currently only offers a complete lock of the touch control in the configuration - I hope that the option "Lock 1 × tap" will be delivered later via update. Because every little touch (inserting or adjusting the buds) is interpreted as a "pause" or "play". Perhaps Samsung should improve on this point in the future. Possible role model: The Apple AirPods Pro, for example, do not simply react to touch, but only to light pressure.

When making calls (headset function), you are perceived astonishingly clearly and with little ambient noise. That's remarkable, given that most true wireless headphones fall short here. The Samsung Galaxy Buds Live are among the best in this category and can keep up with the Apple AirPods Pro.

Athletes should think twice before buying because, according to the manufacturer, the Buds Live are not compatible with water (sweat). Last but not least, Multipoint Bluetooth (multiple connected devices) would have been nice for quick switching. For example, when switching between cell phone and tablet, you first have to touch both buds for a few seconds to force a new connection (pairing mode).

With the Galaxy Buds Live, Samsung has created an extraordinary product that could have been fine-tuned in terms of features and operation. A catchier name (how about GALAXY BEANS?) wouldn't have gone amiss either. But that's not relevant for early adopters (with the right ears): They can already celebrate the Buds Live as the long-awaited "AirPods killers" that do everything differently and - in their own way - also better.

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