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Home Reviews Samsung Galaxy Buds Live review: Bold beans battle the AirPods

Samsung Galaxy Buds Live review: Bold beans battle the AirPods

Get your can openers ready, because the beans are finally here. The Samsung Galaxy Buds Live have garnered a great deal of attention for their kidney bean shape, and these buds immediately separate themselves from the swarm of AirPods dopplegangers. Many believe Samsung bit off more than it can chew with the Galaxy Buds Live, so we’re going to see how these open-fit, noise-cancelling earbuds perform in the real world. Grab those spoons: it’s time to dig in.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Live
Noise-cancelling true wireless earbuds that make a statement

The Samsung Galaxy Buds Live are the third-generation of Galaxy Buds true wireless earphones, and take on a completely new design with their bean-shaped shells. The earbuds are IPX2 water-resistant, and the USB-C case supports wireless charging and Wireless PowerShare with Samsung devices.

  • $169.99 at Samsung

Who should get the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live?

Credit: Lily Katz/ Android Authority

  • Samsung Galaxy smartphone users will get the most use out of these earbuds, because the phones support the proprietary Samsung Scalable Codec for high-quality audio and reliable connection strength. Samsung devices that support Wireless PowerShare can also charge the case by just placing the earbuds on top of it.
  • Anyone considering the Apple AirPods may want to instead get the Galaxy Buds Live. Samsung’s earphones use a similar open-type design that AirPods users love and they actually stay in your ears.

What’s it like to use the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live?

A picture of the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live noise cancelling true wireless earbuds bean shaped, reflective exteriors.

Credit: Lily Katz/ Android Authority

Listeners are afforded a premium and simple experience with the Galaxy Buds Live, and this is immediately made apparent by the jewelry box-inspired charging case. Its plastic design may read as cheap to some, but this choice keeps everything lightweight and more affordable than an alternative like metal. You won’t find any tactile buttons on the Galaxy Buds Live case or earbuds. The outside of the case is decorated with a single LED, and houses a USB-C input on the backside.

A seam encompassing the case made it easy to open with one or both hands; though, admittedly, I did fumble a few times and I spilled the buds onto the floor. Samsung nailed the jewelry-inspired design, because the experience was akin to opening an earring box. Our review unit happened to be Mystic Bronze, but you have your pick of Mystic Black and Mystic White, too.

How do they fit?

A picture of a woman wearing the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live noise cancelling true wireless earbuds in Mystic Bronze.

Credit: Lily Katz/ Android Authority

The earbuds bear a strong resemblance to the fiber-rich kidney beans, and while there are plenty of bean-related puns to be made, the fit is no joke: the Galaxy Buds Live earbuds provide a stable fit. They even stayed in place as I exercised, whether I was skateboarding, rock climbing, or jogging.

By nature of the earbuds’ purported universal fit, there are bound to be listeners who will find the buds uncomfortable — this will be especially true for listeners with small ears. My ears appear pretty average, and the earbuds became uncomfortable after 1.5 hours of wear, whether I used the small or large rubber ear stays. Learning how to wear the earbuds required a little patience, but after a handful of times it became second nature. Most users will require guidance on how to wear the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live, which is why Samsung makes it very clear in the Galaxy Wearable app.

The upper half of each earbud functions as a touch panel, allowing users to adjust volume levels, control playback, toggle noise cancelling, and more. When you remove the earbuds simultaneously, media playback pauses, but doesn’t resume when re-inserted. Instead, you must tap either bud to continue your music. Automatic ear detection isn’t as responsive as the open-type fit OnePlus Buds, but I’ll happily forfeit that for earbuds that actually stay in place.

Should you get the Samsung Galaxy Wearable app?

Yes, you should download the Samsung Galaxy Wearable app (Play Store/App Store) because it allows you to download software updates for the earbuds. That’s not all it’s good for though; you may also toggle hands-free Bixby access, remap the touch controls for alternative virtual assistant access, enable incoming notification readouts, choose from six EQ presets (Normal, Bass boost, Soft, Dynamic, Clear, and Treble boost), and access Galaxy Labs for experimental features.

Samsung is breaking new ground with its earbuds, and took a risk in a time when everyone is following Apple’s lead.

Galaxy Labs hosts Gaming mode, which minimizes latency between audio and video playback; this is ideal for gamers and anyone who streams plenty of video. There’s also an ambient sound option for mitigating that clogged-ear feeling. Although, the build of the buds already does this because they don’t seal to the ear anyway.

Also read: Headphones updates limited to certain phones — a cheap move by smartphone makers

Both iOS and Android users have app access for firmware updates, but some features are exclusive to Android, such as notification readouts and direct Spotify access. Only Samsung devices support direct voice access to Bixby with the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live, but that news shouldn’t ruin anyone’s day. All other virtual assistants require users to use the touch controls to gain access.

The Samsung Galaxy Buds Live noise-cancelling works, a little

A picture of the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live noise cancelling true wireless earbuds wing tips, air vents, and IR sensors.
The Galaxy Buds Live’ active noise-cancelling works — though, to what degree depends heavily on how the earbuds are worn and if they fit your ears well. An unsealed ear canal is a huge challenge to overcome for noise-cancelling technology, making it very difficult to combat external noise in real time. The software has to work much harder to reduce background noise without the help of good passive isolation, the cornerstone of any great noise-cancelling headset.

Credit: Lily Katz/ Android Authority

Passive isolation is poor on the Galaxy Buds Live, but it’s a natural consequence of an open-type fit. You’ll hear most outside sounds when wearing the Buds Live with ANC disabled, and most sounds will make it through even when ANC is enabled. While that may not be the best kind of performance for air travel, it can be advantageous for outdoor athletes and people who walk on busy streets. Plus, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live aren’t meant to compete directly with traditional noise-cancelling earbuds. Samsung already has conventional ANC earbuds under its subsidiary AKG. Instead, the company took a risk with the Galaxy Buds Live and for that it deserves recognition.

Learn more: How do noise-cancelling headphones work?

Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Live appeal to those who want to remain aware of their surroundings while reducing distracting, unimportant sounds. Let’s not mince words: the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live noise-cancelling only works to a minor degree.

How to pair the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live on Android

A picture of the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live noise cancelling true wireless earbuds in the open case next to a Samsung Galaxy S10e smartphone with quick pairing.

Credit: Lily Katz/ Android Authority

Pairing the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live to an Android device is very easy, so long as it’s running Android 5.0 or later. All you have to do is enable Bluetooth on your smartphone and open the buds’ case. A pop-up card will display on your smartphone, and once you tap “Connect,” a connection will establish between the devices. This kind of pairing process is not only convenient, but makes the earbuds accessible to all consumers — no matter their familiarity with tech.

The Samsung Galaxy Buds Live don’t support Bluetooth multipoint, so you may only connect to one device at a time. However, Samsung makes up for it with quick device switching. All you need to do is select the Galaxy Buds Live from the desired device’s Bluetooth menu, and the connection will immediately switch from your current device to the desired one. In order to do this, you must have a previously established Bluetooth connection between both the second source device and the Galaxy Buds.

Connection quality is reliable over the Samsung Scalable Codec

A picture of the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live noise cancelling true wireless earbuds in the case against a gray background.

Credit: Lily Katz/ Android Authority

The earbuds use Bluetooth 5.0 firmware and support two high-quality Bluetooth codecs: AAC and the Samsung Scalable Codec. The latter effectively balances high-quality audio (96-512kbps) and connection stability, so listeners experience fewer connection hiccups. This proved true when using the buds with my Samsung Galaxy S10e, when the only issues arose outside.

Although the lack of aptX support is a shame, it isn’t surprising and won’t sully the user experience. High-quality wireless audio relies on an optimal fit, and if the earbuds don’t seal to the ear canal, music detail is subject to auditory masking. This is when a loud sound makes it hard to hear a relatively quiet one. Non-Samsung Android users don’t lose much by choosing between the unstable AAC codec or the standard SBC codec, because no high-quality codec will magically overcome auditory masking.

Battery life is good for ANC earbuds

Few headphone technologies are more demanding than good active noise-cancelling. Yet, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live lasted 5 hours, 15 minutes with ANC on, according to SoundGuys’ battery testing which subjects any headset to a constant 75dB(SPL) output until depletion. This falls short of the official 6-hour battery life with ANC on, but users who listen at quieter outputs will come closer to this mark.

Quick charging the earbuds takes five minutes and yields an hour of playtime, but listeners will get different play times depending on how often they enable noise-cancelling. According to Samsung, if ANC is disabled, you’ll enjoy about 8 hours of constant playback with the case providing an additional 2.63 charge cycles for approximately 29 hours of total listening time. However, with noise cancelling constantly enabled, the case provides 2.5 charge cycles for a totaling up to 21 hours of listening.

The case can be charged on top of a Qi wireless charging pad, or a Samsung device that supports Wireless PowerShare. You can always rely on the trusty USB-C cable to charge the case, too.

Do true wireless earbuds batteries lose their charge?

A picture of the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live noise cancelling true wireless earbuds next to the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus.

Credit: Lily Katz/ Android Authority

Yes, lithium-ion batteries are packed inside your true wireless earbuds and are vulnerable to capacity degradation just the same as your smartphone. The decrease in capacity is exacerbated by the unending charge-deplete cycle to which the earbuds are constantly subjected. Right now, most totally wireless buds have a short lifespan of approximately two years.

Apple is leading the way in true wireless battery optimization: iOS 14 will instruct the AirPods to communicate with the case and hold off on charging beyond 80%, until you intend to use them. This feature slows battery capacity degradation, and is said to improve over time as it learns your usage patterns. That’s just one example of the technology, and it seems entirely possible that other smartphone manufacturers with proprietary headsets will follow suit.

Sound quality is consumer-friendly

A chart depicting the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live frequency response; the drivers amplify bass notes and make them sound nearly 2x louder than mids.

Credit: Lily Katz/ Android Authority

Sound quality is okay from the Galaxy Buds Live, but again: your mileage will vary based on fit, outside noise, and other consequences of an unsealed ear canal. The 12mm dynamic drivers have been tuned by AKG and have a consumer-friendly sound that bodes well for popular genres of music like hip-hop, pop, and rock, but we suggest playing around with the app if you find that the sound isn’t what you want out of the box. Obviously, these are not audiophile products given their likely use, but not everyone needs a set of high-performance audio products when they’re out and about.

The sound is good for general consumers, and falls in line with what we’re accustomed to hearing: amplified bass and high notes. Bass emphasis isn’t as egregious as I expected it to be, though voices are hard to hear during instrumentally busy parts of any song, like choruses.

We’re going to caution you to take the chart of our measurements with some salt, because the nature of an unsealed ear canal means that the fit cannot be controlled for. However, the most repeatable result is shown above. What’s more, it’s unlikely that you’ll hear your music exactly how the frequency response chart depicts because of auditory masking. Whether noise-cancelling is on or off, outside noises will still get through to be processed by your brain. Since your wrinkly grey friend only has so much bandwidth for processing stimuli, it prioritizes seemingly threatening (e.g., loud) sounds over less threatening (e.g., quiet) sounds. External sounds are loud, so our brains automatically focus on those rather than straining to hear tonal resonances.

The microphones are very good

Microphone quality is excellent, and Samsung’s advanced microphone array uses two beamforming microphones and one voice-pickup unit, which relies on bone conduction to transmit your voice into audio signals. All of this technology allows for clear vocal transmission even when things are happening all around you.

Galaxy Buds Live microphone demo:

Background noise is rejected effectively when inside, but like nearly all embedded microphones, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live headset can’t nullify moderate winds. If you pass your free time by walking around and making calls, you may want to check the weather to make sure wind won’t be an issue. It could be quite disturbing for people on the other side of the call.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Live vs Apple AirPods

Apple new AirPods 2 outside of the case resting on a book.

Samsung has its sights set on Apple, and maybe the Galaxy Buds Live are the first credible attempt by a third party at taking attention from the AirPods. Both headsets provide an open-type fit whereby a seal isn’t formed, but the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live stay in my ears and the AirPods don’t.

The Apple experience is the smoothest around, and nothing outshines using the AirPods on an iOS device. Both sets of earbuds support fast charging at identical speeds, but only Samsung includes a wireless charging case by default while you have to pay extra for one with the AirPods. Touch controls are a bit smoother on the AirPods as is automatic ear detection, but you need an iPhone to update the AirPods’ software, whereas the Galaxy Buds Live are operating system-agnostic.

Should you get the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live?

A picture of the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live noise cancelling true wireless earbuds outside of the closed case and on a black surface.

Credit: Lily Katz/ Android Authority

The Samsung Galaxy Buds Live are certainly headline worthy, but don’t throw your money at them without carefully considering the pros and cons — just like you should with any large purchase. In my experience, there were many times when I would have preferred to use my Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus or Shure AONIC 50 headsets. The Galaxy Buds Plus are easier to insert, have better battery life, and are more comfortable for all-day wear; while the Shure AONIC 50 have stellar noise-cancelling and remain comfortable even with glasses.

At the very least, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live are worth consideration, and Samsung deserves credit for an attempt at real innovation. While the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live aren’t for everyone, listeners who purchase the buds with realistic expectations of their noise-cancelling abilities will be perfectly happy to have a new set of earphones.

For a better value, get the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus instead

The Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus are not being replaced by the Galaxy Buds Live; both headsets will coexist within the Samsung Galaxy Buds line. Listeners who want a better fit, with exceptionally good battery life (almost 12 hours) should get the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus. These earphones are just as durable as the Galaxy Buds Live, feature the same wireless charging capabilities, and block out a similar amount of noise (and occasionally more) in practice than the Buds Live.


$149
.99

Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus (white)

Buy it Now

Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus (white)

Buy it Now


$149
.99

This Samsung Galaxy Buds Live review comes from the audio experts at our sister site SoundGuys. Check out their in-depth take on the Galaxy Buds Live. This review was first written when using software version R180XXU0ATG5.

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InvisibleShield Disinfecting Wipes review

There’s really no way around it, we live in a different world right now. A global pandemic has taken the lives of nearly 200,000 Americans in roughly six months.The majority of us are doing what we can to be a bit cleaner than we were previously. That includes washing our hands regularly, wearing masks out in public, and just doing the best we can to not spread a disease we may not even know we have.With that said, we need to remember that the thing we touch the most during the course of our day needs to be cleaned, too. I’m talking, of course, about our phones.There’s been an uptick of new devices such as mophie and InvisibleShield UV sanitizers that promise to sanitize your smartphone and pretty much whatever else you can fit inside. Heck, some of them even charge your phone when you’re done sanitizing.Let’s say you’re nowhere near your UV sanitizer and your child hands you the phone with their germ riddled hands. After you’re done chasing them around with hand sanitizer you still need to take care of your phone.You can’t exactly wipe your smartphone down with a Clorox wipe. I mean, I guess you can, but they’re not made with that incredibly expensive slab of glass in mind. That’s where the InvisibleShield Disinfecting Wipes come in handy.Available in packs of 10, 25, or 500 for $4.99, $9.99, and $69.99, respectively, they’re like Wet Ones designed for phones. Throw a couple of these in your purse, pocket, or backpack and whenever you need to ensure your electronic devices are clean, just give them a good wipe down.The AndroidGuys team was provided the opportunity to test these babies out and I jumped at the chance. Having two goobers of my own, one of which that loves his tablet, I figured if anyone could put these to the test, it would be my very own little germ factory.The wipes themselves are pretty small and are packaged very similarly to your standard Fresh Naps or a Zeiss lens wipe. Although they are on the smaller side, they have enough juice in them to clean two smartphones, or maybe a tablet.They’re not just for smartphones, you can wipe down just about any nonporous surface. What made me so excited to get these was the fact they won’t damage the oil-resistant coating on your smartphone or tablet screens.I would say the convenience factor alone is enough to get the InvisibleShield Disinfecting Wipes. You can pretty much keep them anywhere and have them handy any time you need them.I love having the peace of mind of knowing my smartphone is clean clean. It’s just one less thing I have to worry about. I’ll definitely be buying more of the InvisibleShield disinfecting wipes as the price is just too good. If you grab that 500 pack it comes out to about $0.14 per wipe. Sold.Learn more about the InvisibleShield Disinfecting Wipes at the ZAGG/InvisibleShield website where they’re available for purchase. You can also find the wipes at carriers and retailers like Verizon, AT&T, and Staples.

Beyerdynamic Lagoon ANC Traveller Headphones Review

Up for review today are the Lagoon ANC Traveller headphones from Beyerdnyamic. Priced about $250, you can get your hands on them today.How do they sound? Are they comfortable? What about the app experience? Read on to learn what we thought about these headphones.DesignAt first glance, there isn’t anything too special about the Beyerdynamic Lagoon ANC Traveller headphones. They are mainly made of plastic with accents of artificial leather on the padded earcups and headband.However, once you turn them on the light show begins with hidden lights inside of the earcups. The ring of light inside each earcup is activated by a sensor when removed and helps the Lagoon ANC Traveller headphones truly stand out. It is unfortunate that you rarely get to enjoy this splash of light though, because most of the time it will be completely hidden while you are wearing them.Not only do the lights look cool, but they also serve a purpose. Taking off the headphones and glancing at the color informs you of the current battery level, Bluetooth connection, and even which side is left or right.Beyerdynamic has included rotating earcups that swivel on the Lagoon ANC Traveller headphones. This design helps make them fold up into a compact shape to fit in the included case, as well as making them more comfortable to wear on your head or around your neck when not in use.ComfortThe Lagoon ANC Traveller headphones use memory foam on the headband and the earpads, and unfortunately, both are inadequate in my opinion. The sparse level of padding on the headband is most apparent due to the heft of the headphones. You can really start to feel it on the top of your head after extended periods of time. The cushioning on the ear cups also left a bit to be desired. During my listening sessions, I could feel the inside of the headphones grazing up against my ears, which lead to some early-onset ear fatigue.I wouldn’t classify the Lagoon ANC Traveller headphones as uncomfortable by any means–but a little extra cushioning would have made a massive difference–especially if you plan on wearing these for long periods of time.User ExperienceThe Lagoon ANC Traveller headphones incorporate touch-sensitive controls on the right earpad. Touch-sensitive controls have never been one of my favorites, but they work extremely well here. The most common commands include double-tapping to play/pause music and swipes to skip songs or adjust the volume. I found myself using these gestures often, especially the swipes, because of how convenient and reliable they are to use.One issue I ran into while using the Lagoon ANC Traveller headphones, was that they wouldn’t consistently power on and connect when sliding the power button. This happened more than a handful of times and required me to slide the switch back to off and back to Bluetooth up to one or two more times before it would connect. Perhaps this was user error, but I feel headphones should not be this difficult to power on.Another minor gripe of mine, is that in order to update the firmware on the headphones, it required using a computer. This is the first time I’ve ever had to update headphones that didn’t utilize the app on the phone, and it seemed like a bit of an oversight to not include this capability. Especially when Beyerdynamic has a well-designed app for the Lagoon ANC Traveller headphones.AppThe MIY app helps enhance your experience with the Lagoon ANC Traveller headphones by allowing you to change the color of the light in the earcups, adjust the sensitivity of the touch controls, personalize the audio for your ears, and more.In order to tailor fit the sound signature to your ears, the MIY app uses a hearing test. Beyerdynamic is not the first to try this, and my experience with these types of customizations has been mixed in the past. As far as the test itself, I found it to be more similar to playing a game, where your reaction time was being tested more than your hearing. I’d love for Beyerdynamic to tweak this to make it easier to take the test more accurately.Regardless, the results from the MOSAYC sound personalization were actually positive in my experience. I found the adjustment elevated the mids and added a bit more depth to the sound overall. That’s far better than I can say for some others I’ve tried, so good job Beyerdynamic.Unfortunately, the MIY app does come up short on a couple of features. For starters, there is no way to control active noise cancellation. That means, you cannot enable or disable it from the app, nor can you adjust the level of cancellation being used. This is a very common setting for headphones that include ANC, and I was disappointed to find it missing here.Another feature I would have loved to see is an equalizer. Sure, you can rely on the hearing test to adjust the audio automatically, but some of us like to tweak the equalizer manually for our own preferences.One unique feature from the MIY app that I’ve never seen before, is a way to monitor how much strain you’ve put on your ears for the day. I assume this is in an effort to protect your hearing, because it gives you statistics based on how long you’ve been listening and at how loud of a volume. It then provides you with tips such as, “Feel free to turn the volume up a bit.” I can’t say I would make much use of this feature, but if you’re someone concerned about your hearing, this may be useful for you.Sound QualityOverall, I was impressed with the sound quality of the Lagoon ANC Traveller headphones. There was plenty of detail in the highs, although they were a little reserved so you won’t get an overly bright or crisp sound.The soundstage was fairly wide, giving plenty of space for the instruments to breathe and provide separation, making it possible to hear all the layers in each track.Finally, the bass was strong without being overpowering. As someone who enjoys a little extra kick of bass, I really enjoyed this. It may not be enough for bass heads, but if you prefer a little more in the low-end then these headphones won’t disappoint.ANCThe Lagoon ANC Traveller headphones do a decent job at muting noise with active noise cancellation turned on. It’s not quite as good as flagship models from Bose and Sony, but it’s good enough. As long as you have the volume set to 40% or above, it should be enough to drown out repetitive noises in the background between the passive and active noise cancellation it provides.Battery LifeBeyerdynamic rates the Lagoon ANC Traveller headphones for a whopping 45 hours of playback time without ANC and 24.5 hours with ANC enabled. The majority of the time I was using them with ANC off and the battery life measures up to Beyerdynamic’s claims.When it came time to charge them up, I was pleased to see that the Lagoon ANC Traveller headphones went with USB-C over micro USB. This has become more common in recent years, but I’m still thrilled when I don’t have to dig out a micro USB cable when a new gadget comes in.If you ever do run out of juice on the go, don’t worry, because there is a 3.5mm headphone jack you can use as a back up. That is assuming your phone still has a jack, or that you didn’t forget or lose your dongle.Final ThoughtsThis was my first time with a pair of Beyerdynamic headphones, and overall, I have to say I was impressed. There is a lot of competition in this price range, and Beyerdynamic has done a fantastic job of combining stellar audio quality, smart features, and a long-lasting battery.At the same time, they were also able to undercut other major players like Sony and Bose with a price of only $249. If you’re looking for a high-quality pair of ANC over the ear headphones that won’t break the bank, then I’d have no hesitation recommending the Lagoon ANC Traveller from Beyerdynamic.Buy from Amazon Buy from Beyerdynamic