How I re-fell in love with Samsung's magic beans (Sorry, Apple, don't want your AirPods Pro)

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How I re-fell in love with Samsung's magic beans (Sorry, Apple, don't want your AirPods Pro)
True wireless earbuds… By now – the end of 2022 – they have really, really improved. Remember the first AirPods that started this craze? I wasn't exactly on board back then, since they looked ridiculous, and didn't seem like a worthy solution to any existing problem.

But Apple kept improving their product, Samsung, Sony and those other folks kept improving theirs, and nowadays, choosing which wireless earbuds to buy has become quite difficult. Because they're all pretty great!

Most people probably roll with whatever brand their phone already is. You've got an iPhone? Neat, pick up those AirPods Pro 2 and don't look back – they'll work best with it anyway. You've got a Samsung Galaxy phone, say, my favorite Galaxy Z Fold 4? Good news, Samsung has plenty of different Galaxy Buds to offer you. And actually, unlike Apple, Samsung has been taking plenty of creative risks with the design of its earbuds, truly giving us some variety. And I'm here to say – I appreciate it, Samsung.

I started using the Samsung Galaxy Beans once again, two years later… Here's what makes them special and desirable even today

Okay, jokes aside, these earbuds are actually called the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live. No idea why, or what's "live" about them; the name is pretty mystifying, but what's clear as day is that they look like beans.

And that's funny. But, also part of what makes these unique Samsung earbuds so great, in my opinion. That unique design stems from Samsung's welcome habit of taking creative risks; in this case – attempting to create the earbuds version of open-back headphones. One that's different from Apple's original AirPods.

Open-back headphones are usually big over-ear ones, and they have – surprise, surprise – open-back cups. This way you get a wider soundstage and no pressure in your ears, at the cost of your music bleeding out for everyone to hear, and usually – weaker bass. So how do you translate the open-back headphones concept into earbuds? That's right - make 'em look like beans…?

For real, though, the Buds Live are kind of, sort of open-back, because they don't actually seal your ear. No rubber eartips on them, which means they don't have any passive noise canceling, although Samsung did attempt to give them active noise canceling (ANC) anyway, but we'll talk about that later.

As you may have noticed – their weird design looks almost upside-down – we have magnetic pins at the top, and the actual speaker grills on the bottom. You place them with that bottom part forward in your ears, and off you go to enjoy your music.

The question on most people's minds is probably – why would you want that design? Why not buy earbuds with rubber eartips, which is basically most of them?

Do your ears get irritated after using earbuds for a while? Pain? Discomfort due to the suction pressure of their rubber eartips? You're not alone!

That's right, like many of you – regular earbuds tend to irritate my ears, and I can definitely not wear them for too long. The culprit behind this problem are their rubber eartips. AirPods Pro, Samsung's newer Galaxy Buds 2 Pro, Sony's LinkBuds S – they're all a no-go for me long-term.

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Now, the reason those, and most earbuds have rubber eartips is simple, and makes perfect sense – passive noise isolation. You want stronger bass, and not to hear the world around you? You'll want rubber eartips to make a seal around your ear, for all the frequencies of your music to get blasted directly inside, with nowhere else to go. However, the cost of that is discomfort and pain for many people, me included.

Recently I decided to start running on a treadmill for an hour a day (when I actually have the time). And although I have a ton of personal wireless over-ear headphones to wear during this hour, from professional monitors to fun, casual, music-destroying, bass-boosting headphones like the Skullcandy Crusher Wireless, those big boys are not suitable for workouts. Over-ear headphones are heavy, not exactly comfortable during intense running sessions, and can make your whole head hot.

So instead of using the headphones that I personally own for working out, I went to the tech supermarket that is the PhoneArena office, to see what wireless earbuds we have stored on deck, from past reviews.

It took merely glancing at the Buds Live for half a second to remember that those were (for me) the most comfortable earbuds I've ever reviewed, and in general – ever used. So I pushed aside all the Apple AirPods Pro, the ultra-popular Sonys, those OnePlus Nord Buds we reviewed a couple of months back, and tons of others…

Started digging through two years worth of earbuds in that cabinet, to grab the Buds Live, hoping they're still alive and kicking after no usage for so long. Thankfully – they were; working good as new.

You've "bean" sleeping on the most comfortable true wireless earbuds, people!

Not to trash the AirPods Pro, since they do have amazing sound and ANC. And to be fair to Apple – the non-Pro AirPods are technically also open backs, also without rubber tips, so if you're an Apple fan – those are a good option for you. I just don't like the design, and am currently using an Android phone.

And not to criticize Samsung too harshly for going back to traditional rubber-eartip earbuds, but when it comes to comfort, especially during workouts – I dare say nothing beats the Galaxy Buds Live.

Just because they don't have rubber eartips for you to shove in your ears, doesn't mean they're loose or will fly off when you start running! No, they're staying in those ears fine! And although their design lacks passive noise isolation, thus resulting in bass sounding weaker and music in general feeling more tinny – they still do sound pretty great in my opinion.

The bass is still strong, the sound is still full and detailed, and again – best of all – zero discomfort. And they technically have some sort of ANC, which I suppose does isolate the surrounding world a bit. I can feel it when putting them on, and while it won't rival the AirPods Pro, and realistically can't, I'm happy with it.

The biggest problem with these is that although they worked out amazingly for me, how well they'll suit you really depends on the shape and size of your ears. Standard earbuds with rubber eartips usually come with three sizes of those for a reason – to fit as many people as possible. The Buds Live here, however, will fit the least people, by design. It's kind of a crapshoot.

So I'm not going to hide the fact that these are a hard sell for most people, nor am I surprised that Samsung decided not to keep up with this trend of making unique earbuds that will be perfect for a niche group of people, and instead went back to a more traditional, universally-appealing design.

But the Buds Live are still an option to this day; and potentially a great one for the right person. Truly wireless, truly underrated bean-shaped gems. And I'm thankful that Samsung took the risk to make them. I'll keep using them, and I hope people who may have been looking for a similar solution will see this and give them a shot too.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Live

True Wireless Earbuds with Active Noise Cancellation, Black with Grey Cradle

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