The Samsung Galaxy Buds Live Truly Wireless are unusually-designed noise cancelling truly wireless earbuds. These sleek and shiny buds have an open-fit earbud design. They don't enter the inner ear or completely cover it. As a result, you can naturally hear some of your surroundings without taking out your buds. However, they also have noise cancelling (ANC), which is a pretty unique and unusual feature for their design.
The Samsung Galaxy Buds Live are alright for neutral sound. They have an open-ear fit, making them prone to inconsistent sound delivery. However, this design also helps them create a more spacious-seeming passive soundstage than their closed-back counterparts. Their default sound profile is well-balanced, but unfortunately, their treble response is a little uneven, which can cause some notes to sound a little piercing. Their companion apps also lack a robust EQ for sound customization, but they offer a couple of different audio presets to adjust your listening experience.
The Samsung Galaxy Buds Live are decent for commuting and traveling. They're extremely portable, decently comfortable, and have remarkably low latency on mobile devices, which is handy if you like to watch movies on your way into the office. While their ANC system does a good job filtering out the low rumble of bus and plane engines, it's less effective when blocking out the chatter of fellow commuters. Their seven-hour-plus continuous battery life will be sufficient for longer trips, though they don't have any power-saving features like a standby mode to help conserve their charge when not in use.
The Samsung Galaxy Buds Live are a great option for sports and fitness. Their unusual bean-like design helps keep them stable in your ears, even during intense workout sessions. Unfortunately, while their control scheme is fairly easy to use, it's missing some essential functions out-of-the-box, like volume adjustment. Also, they're only rated IPX2 for basic water resistance.
The Samsung Galaxy Buds Live are okay for office use. They don't do a good job of blocking out sounds like background conversations or humming A/C units. They also don't support multi-device pairing, which is annoying if you need to switch between your phone and computer. They're decently comfortable, and their roughly seven-hour battery will easily last through a workday if you pop them back in the case occasionally.
The Samsung Galaxy Buds Live aren't suitable for wireless gaming due to their high PC latency and incompatibility with consoles. They have a gaming mode that you can turn on with the Android app, but it doesn't lower their latency very much.
The Samsung Galaxy Buds Live are Bluetooth-only earbuds that aren't compatible with a wired connection.
The Samsung Galaxy Buds Live are mediocre for phone calls. Their mic has a sub-par recording quality, making your voice sound understandable but muffled and distorted. It also struggles to separate it from loud background noise. Also, while they do a good job of blocking out noise like a rumbling engine, they struggle with voices, so you may have difficulty hearing a call you take in a busy office setting.
The Samsung Galaxy Buds Live come in several color schemes, although some are no longer available: 'Onyx', 'Mystic Bronze', 'Mystic White', 'Mystic Black', 'Mystic Red', and 'Mystic Blue'. We tested the SM-R180NZNAXAR model, which comes in 'Mystic Bronze'; you can see their label here. We expect the other variants to perform similarly.
If you come across a pair that's different from the above variations, let us know in the forums, and we'll update our review.
The Samsung Galaxy Buds Live are truly wireless earbuds with an unusual bean shape. They're well-built, incredibly portable, and have a very stable fit. Their open design can result in inconsistent audio delivery, and earbuds like the Apple AirPods Pro Truly Wireless or the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds Truly Wireless have more effective ANC features.
The Samsung Galaxy Buds2 Truly Wireless are somewhat better headphones than the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live Truly Wireless. The Buds2 are more comfortable, have more consistent audio reproduction, and have a more neutral default sound profile, which some users may prefer. They also have a significantly better noise isolation performance. However, the Live have a more stable in-ear fit and a better battery performance.
The Samsung Galaxy Buds Live Truly Wireless are less well-rounded than the Samsung Galaxy Buds+ Truly Wireless. The Buds+ are more comfortable, provide a more consistent and neutral sound, have a superior integrated mic, and last almost twice as long on a single charge. Despite lacking an ANC system, they block out more ambient noise overall, though it should be noted that the Live are more effective at filtering out low-end ambient sound. The Live also have lower wireless latency and generate a more open and spacious listening experience.
The Apple AirPods Pro Truly Wireless are better for mixed usage than the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live Truly Wireless. The Apple in-ears are more comfortable, feel sturdier, provide a more consistent and neutral listening experience, and have a superior ANC system. However, the Samsung have a far more comprehensive companion app, generate a more spacious and open listening experience, and provide much lower wireless latency. They also last longer off of a single charge, though the Apple have a longer total battery life, with twice the number of extra charges in their carrying case.
The Sony WF-1000XM3 Truly Wireless are more versatile than the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live Truly Wireless. The Sony in-ears are better-built, deliver audio more consistently, block out more ambient noise overall, and have an integrated microphone with superior recording quality. With a case that provides three additional charges to the Samsung's 2.5, they also have a longer total battery life, though they don't last as long on a single charge. They also have a companion app with a much larger selection of features. Meanwhile, the Samsung have a more stable fit and lower wireless latency on Android devices.
The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds Truly Wireless are better headphones than the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live Truly Wireless. The Bose are better-built, have more consistent audio reproduction, and their sound profile is better-balanced. They also have a better ANC system, leak less sound, and their integrated mic performs better overall. However, the Samsung have lower latency on iOS and Android devices.
The Jabra Elite 75t Truly Wireless are more versatile than the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live Truly Wireless. The Jabra are more comfortable, have a more comprehensive control scheme, feel better built, and provide a more consistent listening experience. They also have a graphic EQ in their companion app, leak less audio, and support multi-device pairing. While the Jabra have a better performing active noise cancelling performance, the Samsung are more effective in filtering out low-frequency noises. The Samsung are also more stable, last longer off of a single charge, and have lower wireless latency with mobile devices.
The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro Truly Wireless are significantly better headphones than the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live Truly Wireless. The Pro are more comfortable and have a better-balanced sound profile right out of the box. Their ANC can reduce more ambient noise around you, and their integrated mic offers better overall performance. However, the Live have longer-lasting continuous battery life.
The Samsung Galaxy Buds Live Truly Wireless are better for most purposes than the Apple AirPods (3rd generation) Truly Wireless. They have a much better noise isolation performance, a longer continuous battery life, and a more stable fit. You can also customize their sound profile with a graphic EQ and presets in their companion app. Ηowever, the Apple’s case is smaller and holds more extra charges. The earbuds have a higher IPX4 rating for water resistance and an open design that some may prefer. In addition, both have some iOS-specific features, including a lower-latency Gaming Mode that works on Android for the Samsung, and virtual surround sound features on iOS devices for the Apple.
The Samsung Galaxy Buds Live Truly Wireless and the Sony LinkBuds Truly Wireless have different strengths, so you may prefer either, depending on what you're looking for. The Samsung have a much more comfortable, stable fit and an ANC feature, so they isolate you from more noise. Their continuous battery life is longer, and they have a much more neutral sound profile, which some may prefer. On the other hand, the Sony are designed to let you hear your surroundings. They have a better onboard control scheme and an in-app graphic EQ and presets for sound customization, while the Samsung only has presets.
The Samsung Galaxy Buds Truly Wireless and the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live Truly Wireless have different advantages. The Buds have a more comfortable fit, a more neutral sound profile, deliver audio way more consistently, and leak less audio. However, the Buds Live block out more ambient noise in the bass range and offer similar single-charge battery life, but have a case that stores 2.5 additional charges to the regular Buds' one.
The Nothing Ear (1) Truly Wireless are slightly better in-ears than the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live Truly Wireless. The Nothing are more comfortable, have a more neutral sound profile, which some users may prefer, and can isolate you from more ambient noise. The Samsung have a more stable in-ear fit, and their battery performance is better.
The Samsung Galaxy Buds Live Truly Wireless and the Wyze Βuds Truly Wireless have different strengths, and you may prefer either, depending on what you're looking for. The Samsung have an ANC feature and a significantly better noise isolation performance. They also have a much more stable fit, a longer continuous battery life, and a mic with a much better noise handling performance. On the other hand, the Wyze's mic has a significantly better recording quality. They also deliver sound more consistently. Their companion app offers a graphic EQ as well as presets for sound customization, while the Samsung's just has presets.
The Samsung Galaxy Buds Live Truly Wireless and Google Pixel Buds 2020 Truly Wireless have different strengths and weaknesses. The Samsung block out more ambient noise, provide a longer continuous runtime, have more customization options in their companion app, and have far lower wireless latency on mobile devices. Meanwhile, the Google in-ears are comfier, have a more comprehensive control scheme, provide a more consistent listening experience, and leak less noise. Their integrated mic also does a better job of isolating speech from background noise.
The Samsung Galaxy Buds Live are distinctive-looking earbuds. Their bean-like shape and shiny finish on their outer casing make them stand out in most environments, though thankfully, they don't protrude very far from your ears. They also have air vents to reduce pressure and to help make your audio feel more spacious. They come in several colorways: 'Onyx', 'Mystic Bronze', 'Mystic White', 'Mystic Black', 'Mystic Red', and 'Mystic Blue'.
These buds have a decently comfortable fit. They don't enter your inner ear, and the buds' bottom part sits outside your ear canals. However, they can put some pressure where they sit inside your outer ear, especially if you have small ears. Using the controls doesn't hurt, though.
The control scheme is disappointing. Like the Samsung Galaxy Buds+ Truly Wireless, their touch-sensitive surfaces are decently easy to use but have limited functionality. By default, you don't have controls for activating voice assistant or adjusting the volume. You can add one or the other by remapping the long-press command, but you lose the ANC control function. While they don't provide voice prompts, you get audio feedback whenever a command is registered. It makes them a bit easier to use, but all the beeping can be annoying, especially since you hear one for every increment of volume adjustment.
On either earbud:
They have a very breathable in-ear fit, which is typical for earbuds. They won't trap heat against your ears or make you sweat more during workouts.
They're very portable, like most truly wireless earbuds. The earbuds are very small and easy to fit into most pants pockets and bags, even inside their case.
The carrying case is great. It supports Qi wireless charging and Samsung's 'PowerShare' feature, allowing you to recharge it by placing it on top of a compatible Samsung phone. Thanks to its satiny finish, it looks quite premium, and the case has a solid but lightweight design. Indicator lights on the inside and outside of the case show the case and buds' respective charge statuses.
The Samsung Galaxy Buds Live are well-built. The buds and case are made of dense plastic with a glossy exterior and matte-finish interior. They feel like they'll survive accidental drops or bumps without much of an issue. Unfortunately, the buds are only rated IPX2 for resistance against very light rain or minor splashes, which is disappointing since many earbuds are rated at least IPX4, including the Apple AirPods Pro Truly Wireless.
These buds have a very stable fit. They're compact, lightweight, and fitted with silicone wing tips that help keep them in place. You won't need to worry about having them fall out of your ears, even during intense workouts.
The Samsung Buds Live have a well-balanced, somewhat warm default sound profile. Their bass and mid ranges result in good punch and warmth, as well as full-bodied, present, and detailed vocals and lead instruments. That said, fans of EDM or hip-hop may find the low-bass a little lacking, partly due to their slightly open fit. If this isn't to your liking, their companion apps offer a couple of EQ presets to adjust their audio reproduction. Since they don't have an in-ear fit, they're more prone to inconsistencies in audio delivery between the left and right driver, so you must take the time to ensure a good fit.
These buds have disappointing frequency response consistency. There are significant deviations across the entire frequency range, in part to their relatively open fit. If you have differently-sized ears, you may be prone to bass and treble deviations, as the limited wing tip options make it difficult to ensure a good fit. You'll have to take the time to adjust the fit of these buds each time you use them to achieve more consistent bass and treble delivery.
The Samsung Buds Live have great bass accuracy. Their slightly over-emphasized mid and high-bass response adds warmth. Instruments like the bass and drums throughout the song Come Together by The Beatles have a bit of extra punch and body without sounding muddy. However, the slightly underemphasized low-bass range results in a minor lack of thump and rumble. Since these earbuds' sound delivery is very sensitive to fit and seal, your experience may vary.
Their mid accuracy is great. For the most part, the response is even, although it's slightly bass-tilted. Vocals and instruments are present in mixes, but are nudged to the back of the mix and are a bit dull.
The Samsung Buds Live have alright treble accuracy. The response is underemphasized, so vocals and instruments sound a little veiled. The mid-treble is more uneven, so depending on the frequency band, some sibilants, like cymbals, sound dull, while others sound bright. Due to their poor frequency response consistency, your real-world experience may vary.
Their peaks and dips performance of the Samsung Buds Live is alright. There's some mismatch between the L/R drivers across the frequency range, which contributes especially heavily to a deviation in the low-bass range, with the left bud exhibiting an extended bump that generates some boominess. The uneven underemphasis in the mid to high-mid also affects the left driver and nudges vocals and lead instruments toward the back of the mix. A slight peak in the low-treble range also results in minor harshness, but more so in the right driver. The sharp dip and the adjacent spike in the mid-treble range make some sibilants alternatively dull and piercing for both drivers. It's worth noting that the buds are prone to inconsistencies in audio delivery due to fit, seal, and positioning, which can explain the mismatch between the left and right drivers.
Many of Samsung's products we've tested have solid imaging performances, which indicates quality control and ergonomics. Imaging varies across units, though, and our unit's L/R drivers have minor amplitude and frequency mismatch, which causes a slight imbalance in the stereo image. In addition, there's also a peak in the phase response's high-bass to mid-mid. This is audible with real-life content, and voices aren't placed accurately in the stereo image.
The Samsung Galaxy Buds Live have a poor passive soundstage, which is normal for earbuds. Because of their design, sound doesn't interact with your outer ear, so audio seems to come from inside your head rather than speakers around you. However, due to their open-type fit, they produce a more open, spacious listening experience than closed-back in-ear headphones like the Samsung Galaxy Buds+ Truly Wireless.
The weighted harmonic distortion performance is good. There's some distortion in the right earbud around the high-bass to low-mid at normal listening volumes. There's also a peak in the low to mid-treble in both ears at moderate and high listening volumes. Still, most frequencies fall within good limits, producing clean and pure audio.
These are the settings used to test the Samsung Buds Live. Except for the noise isolation test, their ANC system was turned off for our testing procedures, as the system relies on the feedback from pressure sensors on the inside of each bud. This made it difficult to test them using our test rig and required several test passes. We observed no difference in frequency response measurements with ANC turned on or off. Our results are only valid when you use these earbuds in this configuration.
These earbuds have a mediocre noise isolation performance. These buds have an open-fit design, allowing you to hear your surroundings while listening to audio. At the same time, they also have an ANC system to block out background noise, which is unusual. Overall, the ANC does a good job of blocking out bass-range noise like rumbling bus and plane engines. However, it doesn't improve their passive noise isolation capabilities regarding higher-pitched sounds like ambient chatter or humming computer fans. There are sensors in each earbud that prevent the ANC from turning on unless you have them both in your ears.
These buds have mediocre leakage performance. Due to their open fit, they leak more audio than other in-ear headphones. The escaping audio occurs mostly in the low to mid-treble range, producing a fairly thin and sharp sound. It's annoying and can be heard by people around you, even in a moderately busy environment like an office.
The integrated mic has a disappointing recording quality. Your voice is bright but thin, muffled, and distorted, making it slightly tricky to hear you clearly.
The mic's noise handling performance is okay. It does a decent job of separating your voice from moderate ambient sound, but it can get drowned out in noisy environments like a subway station or busy street.
The Samsung Buds Live deliver an unremarkable battery performance. The manufacturer advertises them to last six hours continuously, and we measured just over that. That said, battery life can vary depending on use. If you need more hours of playback time, their carrying case supplies an additional 2.5 extra charges. You can also use one earbud while the other charges in the case. Unfortunately, unlike the JBL Tune Flex True Wireless, they don't have any power-saving features like an auto-off timer.
The Samsung Wearable app is good. You can change EQ presets, switch ANC on and off, and remap onboard controls. The app is only available on mobile devices and is called 'Samsung Galaxy Wearable' on Android and 'Samsung Galaxy Buds' in the iOS app store. The Android version has a few features you can't access on iOS, including a gaming mode for lower latency and features related to Samsung's virtual assistant Βixby. If you're using an Android phone, you can also switch on 'Relieve Pressure With Ambient Sound', which is supposed to help reduce any pressure or compression you feel in your ears when the ANC feature is off. However, the earbuds already feel open and don't create a plunger-like feeling. Unlike the Beats Studio Buds True Wireless or the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds Truly Wireless, they don't have a mode that lets in ambient sound when you want to stay aware of your surroundings. However, this isn't much of an issue since the buds let you hear your surroundings well once you turn the ANC off.
In addition to these two mobile apps, you can also access the Galaxy Buds app on Windows PCs. This app offers many of the same features, like EQ presets and noise control, as the apps mentioned above. However, there isn't a low-latency gaming mode.
These buds have okay Bluetooth connectivity. They don't support quick NFC or multi-device pairing, so you can't stream music from your phone while remaining connected to your computer. They also have high latency with PCs, meaning you may have audio syncing issues while watching a movie on your computer. They have low latency with iOS and Android devices, so you won't notice audio lag when watching a video on your phone. They also have a gaming mode to lower latency. However, this feature is only available on Android devices. Although the results using this mode are higher than Android latency when not using it, latency is still very low, so your audio and visuals stay in sync if you're streaming a video or mobile gaming.
These earbuds are wireless only. They come with a USB-A to USB-C cable for charging their case.
These truly wireless earbuds are compatible with Βluetooth-enabled PCs but can't connect any other way.
The charging case will provide roughly two and a half extra charges. You can recharge it wirelessly via Qi-enabled chargers, PowerShare-compatible Samsung smartphones, or the included USB cable. Aside from a USB-C charging port, it has no inputs.