You hear that? It’s the sound of sweet, sweet silence. It’s that beautiful nothingness that can allow you to avoid distractions, both in private and in public. That’s the entire appeal of noise-canceling earbuds, and Samsung’s new Galaxy Buds 2 Pro nail that aspect harder than any Samsung ‘buds that came before.
At $230, the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro are definitely on the pricier side of the wireless earbuds spectrum, but strong audio quality and stronger active noise cancelation might just make these the earbuds to get for Samsung fanatics.
Credit: Kyle Cobain / Mashable
The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro physically resemble last year’s Galaxy Buds 2 more than anything else, with a few key differences. Available in three colors (graphite, white, and bora purple), they’re still egg-shaped earbuds with a silicone tip to plug right into your ear canal. But one major change has upgraded the fit and comfort significantly this time around.
A chunk of the “egg” shape has been torn out on the inner side of the earbud’s body and replaced with a vertical ridge. This serves the same fit-securing purpose as a rubber stabilizer on other earbuds, like the Beats Fit Pro. At first, I thought it was an odd choice, but just a few minutes with the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro in my ears confirmed that it was the correct one. These are supremely comfortable for hours at a time and never threatened to fall out of place in more than a week of constant testing.
Aside from that, the physical form factor of the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro is going to be familiar to anyone who’s used Samsung’s past earbuds. The other changes are subtler, like a 15 percent reduction in size (which surely also helps with the comfort level) and a small vent hole on the inner side underneath the vertical ridge that Samsung says helps with wind flow.
As usual, the outer side also acts as a touch panel that you can use for basic playback and ANC controls: One tap to pause, two to skip ahead, three to skip back, plus touch-and-hold to toggle ANC on or off. You can enable or disable these in the settings menu on a Samsung device, but there isn’t much more customization to be done here.
Credit: Screenshot: Samsung
Speaking of settings, as expected, the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro are best used with an Android device, preferably one made by Samsung itself. In order to make any alterations to their functionality whatsoever, you’ll need the Galaxy Wearable app, installed on Samsung devices by default or otherwise available on the Android Play Store.
At this point, it should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: iPhone users are out of luck here. You can still use the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro as a Bluetooth device, but you won’t get software updates or the ability to change any settings. This is one of a few areas where Apple’s device-agnostic Beats Fit Pro win the day, for me.
Setup takes seconds, as merely opening the charging case next to a Samsung device will automatically open a connection prompt onscreen. If you need to connect the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro to another device, just touch-and-hold both earbuds while they’re in the case for a few seconds, and Bluetooth pairing mode turns on. I’d love a dedicated Bluetooth button for this, but what’s here works well enough.
The Galaxy Wearable app itself is fairly intuitive and doesn’t bring many surprises to the party. You can switch between ANC modes, toggle features like touch controls and voice detection (which shuts off ANC as soon as you start talking) on and off, mess with a basic sound equalizer, and futz with a number of other minor settings. The 360 audio toggle enables spatial audio, which tethers the sound to your phone, so if you turn your head away from the phone, the audio sounds like it’s coming from the phone’s direction. This is…functional, but not something I’d ever want to use.
It’s a decent amount of customization, though I wish you had greater control over which touch commands did what. Of course, none of that would matter if the earbuds didn’t sound great. Regarding that, there is one more Samsung-specific feature: 24-bit “HiFi” audio. If you have a modern Samsung device, you supposedly get higher-quality audio automatically through the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro than you’d get on something like an iPhone.
However, I can’t say I noticed a huge difference when testing on an iPhone versus the Galaxy Z Fold 4. The good news is that doesn’t really matter; these ‘buds sound fantastic no matter what device you use.
Credit: Kyle Cobain / Mashable
I won’t say the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro are the best-sounding earbuds I’ve ever used, as Beats Fit Pro probably still win a (close) competition there. But if I were a Samsung devotee who wanted earbuds that bring the noise (and keep it out), I wouldn’t think twice about getting these.
The bass bumps hard, sounds in both high and low registers swim through your ears beautifully, and it’s broadly speaking just a delight to listen to anything with the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro. I listened to a wide variety of genres in my week of testing, from the bassy electronica of the Tetris Effect soundtrack to the rollicking anti-war enthusiasm of Sturgill Simpson’s “Call to Arms”, and everything sounded exactly as it should.
“Call to Arms” in particular is worth a test if you pick these bad boys up. Not only is it a fun time for the whole family (as long as your family appreciates cursing about U.S. foreign policy), but it keeps building and adding instruments over time until the composition is so dense that you can still notice a new instrument with every repeated listen. It’s really important for audio equipment to be able to pick up every instrument in a song like this, and the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro are up to the task.
Credit: Kyle Cobain / Mashable
All of this is helped by some of the best ANC I’ve ever heard. Samsung’s marketing claims the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro were made to filter out a higher range of noises than previous models and I can say that’s definitely true. I’ve tested these out on the busy streets of Brooklyn, in my room next to a noisy air conditioner, and on the subway, and as long as the volume is set higher than 75 percent or so, I couldn’t hear a damn thing other than what I wanted to hear. It’s terrific.
I wish I could say the same for battery life. The ‘buds themselves can last five hours or so with ANC turned on, which is not best-in-class but is totally acceptable. The problem, for once, is the charging case. In a week of testing, the case has run out of juice and I’ve needed to plug it in no fewer than three times. By comparison, I could go well over a week with the Beats Fit Pro without plugging the case in a single time. I was consistently caught by surprise before going out, finding out the case was out of battery. That’s just not cool.
When it comes to Samsung’s line of earbuds, there’s hardly any case to be made for anything other than the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro. They sound (and fit) better than the bean-shaped Galaxy Buds Live and the previous Galaxy Buds 2. They are $80 more than the $150 Galaxy Buds 2, but it’s $80 well spent, if you ask me.
Obviously, iPhone users should stick with AirPods Pro in the $200+ ANC earbuds market. Those will work natively with any iPhone and offer far more options than Galaxy Buds 2 Pro, which are effectively neutered on a non-Android phone. That said…I’d still recommend the Beats Fit Pro against all of the above, regardless of which device you own. Their sound quality and ANC compare well to Galaxy Buds 2 Pro, and they’re $30 cheaper. You also don’t have to worry about being locked out of too many features just because you own the wrong phone.
But if you own a Samsung device, you might as well go all in on the ecosystem. Galaxy Buds 2 Pro are some of the best-sounding earbuds around and even the loudest person in the world can’t bother you when you rock these little ridged eggs.