We’re coming into new territory within the walled backyard earbud wars: to get the easiest audio high quality from Samsung’s Galaxy Buds 2 Professional, it’s essential to use them with a Samsung cellphone. It was at all times going to come back to this. Between Apple’s AirPods, Samsung’s Galaxy Buds, Google’s Pixel Buds, and different earbuds developed by corporations with a deep-rooted curiosity within the smartphone world, we’ve already seen many convenience-minded options — one-touch setup, computerized system switching, head-tracking spatial audio, and others — that incentivize shoppers to match their model of buds with the cellphone of their pocket. The objective is to lock you into that ecosystem as you regularly improve one system after which the opposite in perpetuity.

However the $229 Buds 2 Professional are the primary to play up superior sound high quality as the massive unique. Join them to any latest Samsung cellphone, and you’ll wirelessly stream “24-bit hi-fi audio” from companies like Apple Music, Amazon Music, Tidal, Qobuz, and others that provide lossless and high-resolution music catalogs. Samsung claims this ends in considerably richer audio and a greater listening expertise from the place issues stood earlier than.

I’ll dig into all of that extra later, however the essential takeaway is that the Galaxy Buds 2 Professional, fortunately, are terrific earbuds it doesn’t matter what form of cellphone you could have. Over greater than per week of testing, I’ve discovered them to be Samsung’s best-sounding, most snug buds but.

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The Buds 2 Professional are 15 p.c smaller than the unique Galaxy Buds Professional, and each the earbuds and case now have a matte soft-touch coating. I choose it over shiny plastic: the case stays smudge-free, and the buds are simpler to grip with the coating. The brand new earbuds are lighter, too (now down to five.5 grams per earbud), and have a bigger vent on the outside for improved airflow and to mitigate any disagreeable “plugged-up” feeling. They’ve confirmed nothing however snug within the days I’ve been utilizing them to date and have reliably stayed in my ears. Battery life is totally unchanged from the prior mannequin, promising 5 hours of listening time with ANC enabled and eight with it off — plus one other 18 / 28 by way of the charging case. That’s enough stamina for many conditions however nothing particular in 2022. The Buds 2 Professional keep the identical IPX7 water resistance ranking as their predecessors.

It doesn’t take lengthy to conclude that these earbuds have incredible sound. With a dual-driver design and tuning by AKG, they eclipse the AirPods Professional by a rustic mile — not a shock provided that Apple’s buds are approaching three years previous. However additionally they surpass the superb Pixel Buds Professional on this division and are nearer consistent with my favourite earbuds like Sennheiser’s Momentum True Wi-fi 3 and Sony’s WF-1000XM4. They’re supreme performers with a stage of depth and element that their huge tech contemporaries can’t fairly match.

The Maintain Regular’s “Heavy Covenant” demonstrates their separation and readability, giving the guitars, horns, and Craig Finn’s recognizable vocals ample room to breathe. As a religious ’90s music fan, I hopped again to “Omaha” by Counting Crows, and the Buds 2 Professional introduced out the heat of the accordion and mandolin whereas giving the drums a pure kick. Returning to trendy life with Orville Peck’s “The Curse of the Blackened Eye,” I used to be impressed by the broad soundstage Samsung has given these buds.

The Buds 2 Professional are 15 p.c smaller than the unique Galaxy Buds Professional.

However is it real “hi-fi” sound? After greater than per week, I’m nonetheless attempting to suss that out. Samsung says its new Seamless codec lets the Buds 2 Professional wirelessly stream 24-bit, 48kHz audio over Bluetooth. However the firm has been much less clear in regards to the bitrate of that audio. For reference, Sony’s LDAC codec tops out round 990kbps, which nonetheless falls wanting lossless CD high quality. Samsung spokesperson Jordan Guthmann instructed The Verge by e mail that Samsung Seamless Codec can attain a bitrate of as much as 2304kbps, which might certainly work out to lossless, hi-resolution sound.

That quantity has me skeptical. It will be a monumental leap over present earbuds, and there’s nothing within the Android developer settings menu that confirms bitrate particulars — solely the 24-bit / 48kHz half. The upper-quality streaming works with any Galaxy smartphone working Android 8.0 and One UI 4.0 or later (with 1.5GB RAM or above). That’s so much of telephones, which provides to my confusion in regards to the bitrate and the way Samsung might presumably be hitting 2304kbps. Extra to observe, hopefully, however don’t get misplaced within the numbers: these earbuds actually do sound nice so long as you’ve received a very good seal and twist them snugly. They’ll additionally help Bluetooth LE Audio down the road, although Samsung hasn’t specified what advantages that may carry.

The energetic noise cancellation is passable. Whenever you’re not enjoying any music, you’ll hear what’s occurring in a espresso store; that is the tradeoff for these larger air vents and prolonged consolation. However as soon as any audio is enjoying, the background fades away convincingly, and also you’re unlikely to note any distractions — even with the amount round 30 p.c. The transparency mode works properly however nonetheless not fairly as natural-sounding as on the AirPods Professional. I don’t know why it’s so laborious for corporations aside from Apple to get that proper even now.

Samsung’s head-tracking spatial audio does what you’d anticipate, shifting the soundscape as you flip backward and forward. I’m discovering an increasing number of that it is a love-it-or-hate-it sort function for folks. Personally, I nonetheless like making the most of 360 audio when watching video content material, however I stay unconvinced it’s any form of game-changer for music. Samsung’s Galaxy Wearable app (solely obtainable for Android) enables you to customise sound EQ, however noise cancellation is both on or off with no handbook changes permitted.

Samsung remains to be lagging behind in some classes. Google included multipoint Bluetooth connectivity on the Pixel Buds Professional, and the flexibility to pair with two gadgets concurrently is a big perk. The very best Samsung can do is mechanically change between Samsung-branded merchandise, whether or not these are laptops, telephones, tablets, smartwatches, and even TVs. Perhaps that’s handy when you dwell neck-deep within the Samsung world, however I don’t know anybody who does, and it fails to offer the identical multitasking comfort as correct multipoint.

They’ve received bigger air vents to stop your ears from feeling plugged up.

Different concepts are blatantly copied. Samsung’s Voice Detect function works a lot the identical as on Sony headphones: when the earbuds detect that you just’re talking, they’ll mechanically enter transparency mode and drop the amount for a configurable period of time, between 5 and 15 seconds. Self-mumblers will wish to keep away from this one. After which there are the unusual options, just like the off-by-default “neck stretch reminders” that use the earbuds to detect when you’ve been hunched over with poor posture for 10 minutes. When that occurs, a voice chimes in with a “time to stretch your neck” audio alert. I ended up leaving this turned on, as I’m about to be 38 — no extra slouching.

Samsung’s faucet controls could be a hair over-sensitive at occasions, so that you would possibly pause a monitor when adjusting an earbud. Surprisingly, there’s no auto-pause right here, that means tunes or podcasts will hold enjoying when you take away one of many Buds 2 Professional out of your ears. That’s a wierd omission for $230 earbuds, however not one I’ve been too pissed off with in apply.

As you may hear in our newest Vergecast microphone check, the Buds 2 Professional wouldn’t be my high decide for voice calls aboard a loud ferry boat. However in additional conventional, on a regular basis use instances, they get the job achieved. Sony’s LinkBuds and Google’s Pixel Buds Professional each edge out Samsung’s newest flagship earbuds at total mic high quality, nonetheless.

The Galaxy Buds 2 Professional are Samsung’s greatest wi-fi earbuds but: the corporate has struck a successful method of sound high quality, noise cancellation, and luxury. They’re at their greatest when working in Samsung’s ecosystem however nonetheless lots good with different Android gadgets. Some will discover it irritating that hi-fi audio is restricted to Samsung’s personal telephones. However it is a preview of the place the tech business is probably going headed: Apple’s subsequent AirPods Professional are rumored to help wi-fi Apple Lossless playback on iPhones. The partitions are climbing increased and better between tech’s greatest gamers, even when there are nonetheless terrific, platform-agnostic earbuds obtainable from Sony, Sennheiser, Jabra, and others. Google’s Pixel Buds Professional are price an in depth look when you’re an enormous proponent of multipoint, however the Buds 2 Professional signify Samsung in high kind.

Images by Chris Welch / The Verge

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