If you’re familiar with my writing, then you know I love a pair of big ol’ headphones. In fact, I’ve always loved headphones—so much so that when I was in high school, my mom got me a pair of retro headphones for Christmas, complete with the side antenna. Earbuds on the other hand, I’ve never quite enjoyed. I don’t know if it’s the buds themselves, or my weird ear canals, but I’ve never been able to find them comfortable for more than an hour or so, of wear.
However, these feelings changed slightly last year when I picked up a pair of first-gen Galaxy Buds. I was genuinely impressed with their sound quality, breadth of features, and ergonomic design that fit quite snuggly in my ears. I largely skipped out on the rest of the Galaxy Buds generations, but I’ve been drawn back in by the Galaxy Buds 2; and I have to say, I’m just as impressed now as I was then.
Initially, I was a bit skeptical of the Galaxy Buds 2, primarily due to its design. Unlike the Galaxy Buds which featured a unique pointed lip on the edge to better adhere to the ear’s concha; the Galaxy Buds 2 go for the bean shape of its predecessors. And while the Galaxy Buds 2 are still shaped to fit snugly in the ear, and come with three different silicone tips for optimal comfort, in testing them in an active environment, I did start to notice them slipping out as my ears began to get a bit sweaty. While this may not be an issue for everyone, it is something to keep in mind if you want to use them during exercise or outdoor work.
However, for simple use, the Galaxy Buds 2 are fairly unnoticeable in your ears, thanks to the aforementioned soft-silicone tips and their overall lightweight design. Clocking in at five grams each—a full gram lower than its predecessors—once the Galaxy Buds 2 are in, it’s easy to forget they’re even there. But how could you forget, with the impeccable sound quality that the Galaxy Buds 2 provides?
“Galaxy Buds 2 are fairly unnoticeable in your ears, thanks to the aforementioned soft-silicone tips and their overall lightweight design.”
The Galaxy Buds 2 come built with a Dynamic two-way speaker that delivers crisp sound in a small package. In testing, I threw on a little La Isla Bonita (as performed by Rob Tardik), and the intricate sound of acoustic guitar, smooth bass and the subtle inclusion of castanets were as clear and vibrant as they would’ve been on my JBL 800. Bolstering the speaker quality is a wide array of equalizer options, as well as an impressive ANC—which boasts a 98% cut to background noise, to which I can personally attest to.
While using the Galaxy Buds 2 while working on a construction site, I was genuinely impressed when I turned the ANC on, and it was actually able to cut out the sound of a stone-cutting circular saw that couldn’t have been more than 10 feet away from me. In contrast, the Galaxy Buds 2 features an Ambient Sound allowance that can be set to three different tolerances—which may be attributed to the three built-in mics. Even while listening to the intense sounds of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (the Japanese Electronicore band, not the audiobook) I could still hear nearby conversations, or even sounds coming from the TV.
And if you’re planning to use the Galaxy Buds 2 during long workdays, then you definitely won’t be left hanging. The Galaxy Buds 2 boasts seven and a half hours of play time with the ANC off—if you’re planning to leave it on it drops to five, which is still impressive. Like its predecessors, the Galaxy Buds 2 also features a fast charge feature within the case—five minutes will buy you an extra hour, whereas 10 minutes can get you all the way up to two and a half. During my time testing the buds, I never found the Galaxy Buds 2 running out of juice before my ears got tired of having them in.
“The Galaxy Buds 2 come built with a Dynamic two-way speaker that delivers crisp sound in a small package.”
Much like its predecessors, the Galaxy Buds 2 feature several touch specific controls, but, for whatever strange reason, some of the more basic functions are disabled by default. Right out of the case, a single tap will pause or play any song you have queued up, holding the left earbud will turn on the ANC, while holding the right will turn on the Ambient Noise. Oddly, you need to go into the earbuds’ touch settings via the Galaxy Wearable app to turn on song control features—double tap to skip forward, triple tap to skip back, as well as changing what tap and hold does.
Although, one of the more interesting touch functions can be found in the “Labs” menu, and is considered an “experimental function,” allowing users to double-tap the edge of the bud for volume control. Experimental is definitely an apt word, as it’s a fairly finicky thing to use—where it says to touch in the on-screen demo never seemed to work, and I only seemed to get reliable results when I tapped my tragus instead of the bud itself, but even then it’s spotty. However, when it does work, it’s a welcome feature, considering only one function can be set to the tap-and-hold, and volume control is still a hold function.
That being said, it was a little disappointing to see touch features are still somewhat unpredictable and have not exactly improved with the generations. Very often I tried to double-tap only to have the Galaxy Buds 2 register one tap and trying to skip ahead became an arduous game of stop-and-go song playing. However, if you can get past these minor annoyances, you’ll definitely find yourself with an exceptional pair of earbuds. For a $189.99 CAD price tag, seamless pairing with Samsung devices—and simple pairing with most smart devices—you’re getting a lot of bang for your buck. Definitely worth the investment!