The Galaxy Buds Live sport a unique design and nail lifestyle features, only to fail in sound.
- Novel design
- Excellent battery case that is pocket-friendly
- Comfortable to wear for longer periods
- Exceptional microphone performance
- ANC performance is decent despite the open design
- Easy pairing with Samsung devices
- Slippery, smudge-prone shells
- Generally awful sound quality
- Poor resolution, everything sounds compressed
- ANC performance is below average
- Limited customization features
Where to Buy
Samsung loves experimenting with its offerings, and the Galaxy Buds Live are one such experiment. The unique “unsealed” design is unlike anything on the market (barring bone conduction IEMs).
However, the Buds Live fell under the shadows of the more popular in-ear offerings by Samsung in terms of popularity. Is it all because of the odd fitment, or is there something more to it?
Let’s dig deep.
- Battery Life: 15
- Connector: USB Type-C
- Wireless Charging: Yes
- Battery Capacity: Not specified
Battery life is above average given the TWS landscape, with the case holding 15 hours of extra charge. This takes the total battery life to about 20 hours (with ANC on). I have to charge the Buds Live once a week.
Along with the usual type-C charging, the Buds Live also support Qi wireless charging. They can even be charged via reverse wireless charging with compatible phones (e.g., Samsung phones with Wireless Powershare).
- Can be opened easily with one hand: Yes
- Pass the shake test: Yes
- Light Indicators: Shows estimated battery life left and shows charging indicator
The case can be easily opened with one hand. The buds themselves are held magnetically, which seems weak but is strong enough to withstand a few shakes.
The LED on the front shows the case’s battery level, while the LED inside indicates the estimated battery life of the IEMs.
- Shape of the case: Square
- Material: Glossy plastic
- Build Quality: Premium
Samsung has taken special care to make the Buds Live case look and feel like a jewelry case. The polished exterior and the smooth opening motion exude a sense of luxury.
- Weight: 42.2g (case only), 53.4g (with earbuds)
- Volume: 5 cm x 5 cm x 2.8 cm = 70 cm cu
- Portability: Good
The small square profile makes the Galaxy Buds Live case very easy to carry around. Just be mindful of scratching the glossy finish.
- Battery Life: 5.5 hrs (with ANC), 8 hrs (without ANC)
- Charge Time (10 mins): 100 mins playback time
The earbuds last about 5.5 hours before they run dry (with ANC on). You can turn off the ANC and get 8 hrs on a single charge.
The Galaxy Buds Live need about 1.5 hours to charge fully, but you can get up to 100 minutes of playback time with just 10 minutes of charge.
- Control Mechanism: Touch
- Touch Accuracy: Average
- Control Symmetry on both earbuds: Yes
- Mono Use: Yes, both sides
The circular faceplate acts as a touch-sensitive panel to control various aspects of the IEMs. Touch accuracy is average, with accidental touches being registered at times while adjusting the IEMs.
Moreover, the controls are fixed, and you cannot mix and match them. For example, you cannot have the left earbud to control ANC and the right one to trigger the voice assistant. It’s a strange limitation that is absent on other Samsung TWS IEMs.
- Profile: Low
- Material: Glossy plastic
- Comfort: Good
- Fit: Good
Design is the most unique aspect of the Galaxy Buds Live.
The iconic “bean” shape is distinctly “Buds Live,” and nothing else on the market replicates this signature look. The way to wear them is also uncommon due to no ear tips. Basically, you just place the sound port in front of the canal, and then the rest of the buds adhere naturally to your ear shape.
Or so it does on paper. With smaller ears, the fit is not so seamless, as my wife can not wear them for an extended period. Instead of ear tips, Samsung has supplied “wing tips” of two different sizes. Changing to the smaller one made things better for her, but still, she found the fit awkward.
I had no such issues, but depending on your ear anatomy, this design may be a hit or miss. The glossy surface also readily picks up smudges and lint but seems to be fairly scratch-resistant.
As for the other hardware around the earbuds, the IR sensor for wear detection and interfaces for charging are on the inner side of the IEM. There is one additional vent here to let in environmental noise.
There are two mics at the back for ANC alongside a bass vent. The capacitive touch sensor is here as well.
- Noise Cancellation: Average
- Voice Pick-up: Outstanding
The mic has excellent voice pickup, even in crowded places. Samsung uses three different microphones alongside a Voice Processing Unit (VPU) that isolates and enhances human voice while suppressing surrounding noise via bone conduction.
It works really well, as you can hear from the mic demos. Wind noise is not canceled as efficiently, but that’s a challenge for any microphone.
- Driver: 12mm single dynamic driver
- Sound Signature: Bass-boosted, V-shaped
- Bass: Average
- Mids: Substandard
- Treble: Substandard
- Sound Detail: Substandard
The Buds Live utilize a single 12mm driver for the full frequency range. The driver has a bass duct at the back that increases the driver’s “back volume” and bass quantity.
The Galaxy Buds Live have a bass-boosted V-shaped tuning with recessed lower-mids.
Unfortunately, that description does not express the general awfulness of the Galaxy Buds Live’s actual sound. The bass is perhaps the “best” aspect, given that it’s serviceable. It’s slow, adds bloat to the lower-mids, and lacks texture, but that’s true for many TWS IEMs.
It’s the mids that frankly ruin things. Lacking focus or engagement of any sort, the Buds Live have a severely compressed sound, with instruments having little to no delineation between them. Everything sounds “in-your-head” and the sound is devoid of any “openness”.
The oddly muted lower-treble does not help in this regard. There is some treble presence around 7kHz, but it’s so blunted and undefined that all sense of resolution is lost. Imaging and staging are non-existent. Everything sounds crushed, compressed, and condensed into a blob of undefined mess.
With the ANC turned on, the sound signature of the Buds Live changes noticeably. The sub-bass is boosted even more to account for environmental leakage, further muddying the mids.
I recommend using the ANC while listening to music, as it offers a more balanced tuning while allowing playback at lower volumes.
- Audio Codec: SAC (Scalable Audio Codec), AAC, LDAC
- Bluetooth Version: 5.2
- Bluetooth Chip: BES2500ZP
- Auto-connect when: Case lid opened
- Average drop-outs in an hour: 0-3 times
- Multi-point connection: No
Multipoint support is absent, which is a letdown. If you own a supported Samsung device, you can use Samsung’s proprietary “Scalable” codec that allows higher bit-rate and sample rates.
- IP Rating: IPX2
The IPX2 rating means that the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live are secure from minor splashes and water sprays “from specific directions.” Given the dubious nature of this description, it’s best to keep the Buds Live away from water and dust.
- Available on: Android
- 5 EQ presets, no custom EQ
- 360 Audio
- Auto-Pause: when taken off the ears.
The auto-pause feature works seamlessly. Wear detection is also handy, pausing the music when both buds are taken out or switching to mono if only one is put into the case. The ANC can only be turned on or switched to Transparency mode, with no adjustment in-between.
vs Samsung Galaxy Buds2
The Samsung Galaxy Buds2 are priced similarly to the Buds Live but offer a traditional in-ear design.
There are many parallels between the two IEMs given they are from the same brand. You get a very similar case, similar battery life (with the Buds Live being slightly better), wireless charging support, and seamless pairing with Samsung devices.
When it comes to sound quality, the Buds2 outshine their brethren by a distance. While the Buds2 are not the best compared to other TWS IEMs focusing on high-fidelity playback, they are a noticeable improvement over the Buds Live. Even the ANC is better.
Unless you really adore the design of the Buds Live, the Buds2 are a much better option and a no-brainer if choosing between these two.
The Samsung Galaxy Buds look unique, and that’s about the best compliment I can give them.
The fit may not work depending on the ear anatomy, the customization options are strangely limited, and worst of all – the sound harkens back to the early days of TWS IEMs when brands had no idea how to make them sound good.
The excellent mic array means that they are suitable for calls. The Buds Live are an interesting experiment or conversation starter, and that’s about it.
That’s where the novelty ends. The poor sound quality cements why these never really took off.
Can’t disagree more. Spatial audio support transformed the sound of these buds about a year ago. Much improved clarity and separation since.
Bass used to be first casualty of TWS, this 2020 pair bucked trend in midrange.
Compressed sound? Of course, it’s BT, miniaturized, and midrange: not audiophile territory on all counts…
Can’t recommend them enough for Galaxy owners, connection transitions very quickly between 2 Sammy devices…not mentioned in review: almost as seamlessly as multi-point.
Design is great as mentioned in review and frankly, can’t wait for a 2nd gen of this concept.
They suck! I can’t believe you had anything good to say about them. One of the buds is constantly dropping sync, the ACN is garbage!
Have mine connected to S23 and they suck!
My echo buds from Amazon are twice as good at half the price.
But just Google live buds dropping off and you’ll find a bunch of people experiencing the drops.
The delay was almost 2 seconds today trying to where them to learn a language.
I cannot strongly enough advise a pass on these.