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Samsung Galaxy Buds2 Pro earphones review

With a slew of earphone choices from various manufacturers it can be quite overwhelming to find the right product with the right fit. For several years now Samsung has been producing buds that share a name with its premium Galaxy mobile devices, providing excellent synergy for those within the ecosystem. With their latest Galaxy Buds2 Pro model they’ve dialed back some of their eccentric design decisions to create a lightweight, powerful pair of noise cancelling earbuds that work with a wide range of devices, and on paper look to have exceptional sound quality. Do they hold up to the test? Read on to find out!

Specs for the Samsung Galaxy Buds2 Pro earphones

What’s in the box for the Samsung Galaxy Buds2 Pro earphones

After the extravagant packaging from some of its competitors I was quite pleased to see the utilitarian, small square-boxed package for these earphones—obviously I’d rather the attention to premium detail be spent on the hardware rather than the cardboard. Inside you get the earphones in their slim, yet sturdy case (they’re charged to 90% right out of the box), a USB-C to USB-C cable, and a thin instruction booklet that encourages you to download the app.

I admit it took me a while to find the included additional rubber earpads, as it wasn’t exactly obvious where they were located. I’d left the charging cable in place in the packaging, as I have more than my fair share to use instead, and hadn’t noted that the small cardboard “spacer” that the cable was wrapped around housed the tiny earpads, and since they were white-on-white it was even less obvious on first glance. With the inner cardboard structure glued down I genuinely thought I hadn’t received them in error, but after more time than it should have taken, I realized what had taken place. May my own ridiculously extended quest prevent your own frustration at having to do the same!

Configuring the Samsung Galaxy Buds2 Pro earphones

As with almost all Bluetooth earbuds the Samsung Galaxy Buds2 Pro work best when tweaked with the standalone app available for both iOS and Android. It should be stated outright that these earphones follow a trend set by a certain fruit-named company, where the majority of their key features are exclusive to Samsung phones. This includes not only the 360 audio (more on that later), but even its capabilities to stream high resolution 24-bit audio, something only unlocked if you have a modern Samsung phone. Luckily my daily driver is an S21 Ultra, and with this device the configuration couldn’t have been easier. Bluetooth setup was in literally seconds, and even firmware update was accomplished faster than I’ve seen in just about any similar device.

When hooked into my Fiio M15 Audiophile portable player, they connected using regular AAC or SBC codecs, but there was a notable improvement in quality when streaming from TIDAL or even Spotify when connected via the proprietary Samsung Scalable codec supported by my phone. So while these work as universal earbuds, you’re truly going to get the most out of them if you stick within the brand, something that’s growing increasingly common even outside Apple’s well-tended, yet frustrating, walled-garden.

The sound/fit of the Samsung Galaxy Buds2 Pro earphones

I was somewhat surprised that when I immediately put them in my ears that I wasn’t immediately sold on the sound of these earphones. The fit felt a bit “off”, and the sound wasn’t up to my expectations (hence the dive for a different earpad size!). I’m usually solidly the “medium” earpad, but with the construction of these earpads I upgraded to the larger size and immediately found not only superior fit but substantially better sound. Any air leaking around the rubber sides will result in duller, muddier sound, so be sure that you pick the right one that fits you.

I was again surprised that a device of this size truly did benefit from a somewhat controversial notion of “break-in”. It’s common in audiophile circles to give devices, especially those like speakers with physical moving parts, some time to fully settle into their operating window, like flexing a newly shaped baseball glove before catching a ball. With the tiny drivers on earphones this has rarely been a consideration, but I found after a few hours of listening the Buds2Pro do better when they settle into their more ideal timbre. Yes, it was equally a measure of me finding a better fit and getting used to them, but whatever the cause I’d give some time before fully serving judgement on whether they’re best for you.

All of this is to say, once I got them solidly in my ears and dialed in, the sound is exceptional, particularly at this price range. Listening to a wide range of music, from jazz to rock to thumping electronic sounds, the soundstage was wide and spacious while both highs and lows were clear and free from being fatiguing. These aren’t the loudest set of earphones, so for those that like to completely crank their music you’re going to have a challenge doing so, and I found for the most part having the volume set near the maximum worked best. Still, the end result is extremely pleasing and powerfully musical, uncovering intricacies in songs that I’m sure will please those that have grown used to inferior models.

The playback of 24-bit audio may be a bit opaque in terms of bitrate and so on, but the results are quite convincing, and it seems that for those Android users on Samsung devices (which, let’s be honest, is the vast majority) will greatly benefit from these remarkable earbuds. There’s even a gaming mode that allows for low latency, another welcome bonus.

360 audio on the Samsung Galaxy Buds2 Pro earphones

One of the big selling points of these earbuds is the capacity to engage 360 audio on compatible Samsung devices, supposedly creating an immersive surround experience. You can even turn on head tracker, so that by using the inner gyroscopes on the earbuds you can swing your head around to have the music shift in musical space.

Let me state emphatically this is a fairly useless gimmick, even in cases like gaming or movie watching where such virtual surround would usually benefit. It messes around with the sound, there’s lag when you spin your head around, it doesn’t work with Atmos tracks on audio streamers like TIDAL, built-in apps for Netflix or Disney don’t recognize it well either, and you’re left with something that basically adds some additional reverb and phase-addition trickery to make things feel “bigger”. The benefits of pairing these earbuds with a Samsung device is the higher quality Bluetooth codec, while the 360 audio is something you’ll toy with for a few moments and then likely disable.

Active Noise Cancellation and microphone on the Samsung Galaxy Buds2 Pro

The Samsung Galaxy Buds2 Pro earphones have capable Active Noise Cancellation that you can enable either through the app or through default tap gestures. Like most ANC implementations there’s a noticeable change in the sound itself when the “anti-noise” is engaged, and I preferred to have it turned off, using the passive protection I got from my properly fitted earpads to do most of the heavy lifting in drowning out outside noise.

Where those microphones truly came in handy was during calls and with “ambient aware” mode. Call quality was excellent, and I had many people thinking I had my phone held to my ear. There’s a helpful setting that will trigger ambient sound when you begin talking, so that if you’re listening to music you don’t have to do a thing other than simply begin a conversation for the music volume to be reduced and outside sounds to be broadcasts. My mileage varied on this feature, but at least I didn’t find it aggressively engaging with conversations around me, and it may prevent some users from singing along obliviously to their tunes while in public, a benefit I’m not sure the engineers in Samsung had high on their list of priorities.

Final thoughts

There’s nothing particularly remarkable when you look at the Samsung Galaxy Buds2 Pro earphones—they just seem to be exactly what you’d expect from a good pair of earphones in 2022. There’s no flashy design flair, no weird donut holes, no groundbreaking materials in the case. Instead, they reserve their power for more private pleasures, focusing on what’s going inside your ears rather than what’s on the outside. Plug them into a compatible Samsung device and you’ll be treated to truly excellent sound, rivalling models that cost double what these ones do. You’ll be able to make work calls when required, listen to podcasts for hours without interruption, but above all, you’ll be able to listen to music either at home or on the go with superior quality, hearing minute parts of the mix that either get stifled or overly cranked in inferior products.

With its simple box and its comfortable but unremarkable form and styling, it would be easy to dismiss these earphones as simply generic additions to an already crowded space. But for those looking for especially capable earphones, particularly if you’re already ensconced in the Samsung ecosystem, these are an absolute must-consider within this range of earbuds. Even for those with devices from other manufacturers the well-balanced sound trumps many other models. After a few years of trying for new form factors, shiny bean-shapes and all, the engineers at Samsung have gone back to basics and focused on quality of sound and comfort of fit above all, and the Galaxy Bud2 Pro earphones are to be celebrated for this fact.

The Samsung Galaxy Bud2 Pro earphones are available now at Best Buy.

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