Samsung’s wireless earbuds line-up is getting a new option, with the Galaxy Buds Live debuting an all-new design along with active noise cancellation for the first time. Designed, so Samsung says, to be comfortable enough for all-day wearing – and with battery life to suit – the Galaxy Buds Live strike a balance between ANC and a non-isolating, vented design.
In fact the air vent that allows airflow into the ear is essential, Samsung suggests, for long-term comfort. Samsung will put two sizes of wingtips in the box, too, designed to hold the earbuds in place while also keeping them relatively contained rather than sticking out as rivals do.
They’re IPX2 water-resistant, which means they’ll stand up to rain or occasional splashes, though not swimming or full immersion. Inside the bean-shaped housing there’s a 12mm AKG driver, bigger than you’d find in the Galaxy Buds+ and more powerful. Like with those earbuds, Samsung fits three microphones for each side.
That’s used for beam-forming, making for better directional pickup of audio, as well as the ability to automatically adjust to background noise. Unlike the Galaxy Buds+ – which seal into the ear canal and use external microphones to pipe through ambient noise – the Galaxy Buds Live use their vents for ambient sound. A long-press on the touch controller on the outer edge of the Galaxy Buds Live toggles ANC on and off.
It’s likely that you’ll get more aggressive active noise cancellation elsewhere, mind. Samsung says its system is really designed to cut out lower frequencies, and since rival earbuds have a fully-sealed design they’ll be able to isolate you more from external noise. You’ll be able to adjust exactly how intense the ANC is in the Samsung Galaxy Wearable app.
That’s also where you can control settings for EQ and – if you have a Samsung phone – Bixby voice activation. Always-on listening means you’ll be able to trigger Samsung’s assistant by calling it out by name. Alternatively, you can have a tap trigger Siri on an iPhone, or the Google Assistant on an Android device.
Bixby voice triggering isn’t the only Samsung-exclusive feature. The Galaxy Buds Live also offer a gaming mode with the promise of reduced latency, but only if you have a Galaxy phone.
The Galaxy Buds Live will sit alongside, rather than replace, the Galaxy Buds+, which will remain on sale. These new earbuds will have 8 hours of battery life each, and then 21 hours more from the case, for a total of 29 hours. That’s with ANC turned off; you’re looking at 6.5 hours with active noise cancellation turned on, or 6 hours with both ANC and the always-on microphones.
5 minutes in the case is good for an hour of playback, Samsung suggests. The case itself charges via either USB-C or Qi wireless, and you’ll be able to top it up from Samsung phones that offer PowerShare reverse wireless charging too.
The Samsung Galaxy Buds Live will go on sale from August 6, priced at $169.99. They’ll be offered in Mystic Bronze, Mystic White, and Mystic Black.