Samsung Galaxy Buds Live Review: Where is the ANC?

August 29, 2020

The Galaxy Buds Live's design is unique in the world of truly wireless earbuds. Inspired by the design of hearing aids, the Galaxy Buds Live prioritizes long term comfort. After using them non stop for a couple of days, here are my thoughts.

Specifications

  • 🔋 Up to 6hrs & Up to 15hrs with charging case
  • 🎨 Mystic Black, Mystic Bronze, Mystic White
  • 🎁 Active noise canceling, IPX2
  • 🔌 USB-C, Wireless Charging
  • ⚖ 5.6g earbuds, 42.2g charging case
  • 💸 $170
  • 📅 2020.08.06

For more information, please check out the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live product page.

Charming charging case

Samsung Galaxy Buds Live's case next to the Buds Plus

I got to say, the shape of the charging case is quite attractive. It reminds me of a square tab gum. It not too tall or wide, making it easily fit in any pocket. I prefer this shape to the pill-shaped case of the Galaxy Buds+. It is not something I expected to comment on, but it was something I noticed.

Bassier and richer sounds

Compared to the Galaxy Buds+, the Galaxy Buds Live have a more refined and deep sound. There is a noticeable difference when playing songs that have a more heavy bass. While the Galaxy Buds+ sounds flatter, the lows on the Galaxy Buds Live are more intense.

Comfortable, but do not fit

Samsung Galaxy Buds Live's ear pieces

The Buds Live sit between the cartilage of your ears and the opening of your ear canal. As a result, I found these to be more comfortable than the Galaxy Buds+ after prolonged use. My issue with these is fit. Because there is no way to adjust the sizing, if these don't work in your ear you are out of luck. For me, the Buds Live slowly slide out of my ear as I wear them. This is particularly evident when I smile or chew. Eventually, I will need to re-adjust them and make sure they are securely positioned. If I do not secure them, they will eventually drop out of my ear. If you are interested in these, make sure you get them through a place with a decent return policy.

ANC makes little difference.

Active Noise Cancellation is perhaps the most disappointing thing about the Galaxy Live. Unless you pay very close attention, there is little difference between ANC on and off. Despite not having much noise canceling effect, you will notice some air pressure when turning ANC on. This may end up being uncomfortable for those with sensitive ears.

Passive noise cancellation is worse

Because of the design, the passive noise cancellation is worse than the Galaxy Buds+. With the Galaxy Buds Live, I hear the water fountain in the background. I do not hear it with the Galaxy Buds+. My chief concern with the lack of decent passive noise cancellation is that I'll end up turning up the volume more than I should. In the long run, these may damage my hearing. I would not recommend the Galaxy Buds Live for someone who uses their earbuds often.

Missing features from the Galaxy Buds+

There is one feature, that was never advertised, on the Galaxy Buds+ that I sorely miss on the Buds Live. This feature is the ability to tab on the edge of the earbud to control volume. You can enable this functionality on the Galaxy Buds+ by going to the wearable app and going into Labs. But this feature is missing from the Buds Live. This means that you'll have to choose between digital assistant, ambient sound, ANC toggle, volume controls, or Spotify for the customizable touch control.

Recommendations

For $170, I think the Galaxy Buds+ is a better choice. The fact that the ANC makes little difference and the questionable fit, you'll be better off with another pair of truly wireless earbuds if what you want is ANC.