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Samsung Galaxy Buds: The good and the bad

It takes two buds to tango

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We have to give lots of credit to Apple for making truly wireless earbuds mainstream. Not only are AirPods incredibly convenient, they’re easy to pair with any iPhone. But what are Android users left with?

The closest alternative so far are Samsung’s Galaxy Buds. They’re sportier too and fit inside a wider variety of ear types.

That’s only a fragment of the whole story, however. Two of our resident music lovers gathered their thoughts after several weeks with the Galaxy Buds.

Let’s see what these two buds have to say.

Producer Rodneil Quiteles

Marvin: I’ve had lots of experience with Bluetooth earphones in the past, but truly wireless earbuds? Not so much. I’ve gotta say, though: The Galaxy Buds are so convenient to use.

Rodneil: I believe this is my second or third truly wireless earbuds, and I have to agree, wireless is truly convenient! What did you like best about the Galaxy Buds?

Marvin: I love how it pairs so quickly to even my non-Samsung smartphone. Its battery life is cool too — up to six hours per charge, with an additional seven from the case. What about you?

Rodneil: As superficial as this sounds, I like how it doesn’t look like I have weird stuff sticking out of my ears! Haha. I also like how your interaction with the Galaxy Buds is limited to just tapping, so there’s not a lot for someone like me to think about.

Editor Marvin Velasco

Marvin: Actually, I’m not a fan of the touch controls. They don’t always work, especially when I try to skip tracks with a double tap. Don’t even get me started with the triple tap.

Rodneil: Oh right! I actually did have that problem. To be honest, I ended up not having to tap the thing too much and just shifted to controlling everything from my phone.

Marvin: Did you have any latency issues with your Bluetooth connection? This happened to me a couple of times, even while connected to my Galaxy S10+. Software updates (which come frequently, fortunately) gradually fixed this, though.

Rodneil: Yes, I noticed that happened. For me specifically, I experienced those while I was in a moving vehicle and during the time I used it while playing basketball. I wasn’t bothered by it as much, though.

Marvin: Yup, definitely not a deal-breaker.

Rodneil: But does it have any deal-breakers for you?

Marvin: I wish I got the black one, to be honest. The white is fine at first, but after a few weeks of use, I noticed some discoloration.

Rodneil: I normally prefer black over white, but I’ve been changing things up lately and actually like the white one, discoloration and all.

Marvin: Colors aside, I like how the Buds come with different silicon adjustments. It’s something completely missing from the AirPods, which makes Samsung’s earbuds more universally compatible with ears.

Rodneil: Yep! I tried putting on each one to test which works best for me, but I ended up with the default since it fits my ears perfectly. It didn’t drop once while I was playing, which was a major concern when I first started using it.

Marvin: I actually use my Buds without wing tips, and they fit perfectly. That matters a lot, because I’m able to maximize the audio quality, which is great for truly wireless earbuds, by the way.

Rodneil: I was surprised with the audio quality actually. It was so much better than the Treblab X2 I tried a while back. I expected a similar experience but this one was better. I listened to the playlist I made for hands-on sessions like this and I was completely immersed in the sound.

Marvin: Speaking of sound quality, funny story: I didn’t realize how important the Galaxy Wear app is until I was two weeks into using the Galaxy Buds. It was there where I could adjust the equalizer and get more bass out of it, which boosted the quality tremendously.  

Rodneil: I figured this out right away! I tried to play with the settings for a while but I’ve settled with increasing the bass since that’s what was most lacking when I first tried it on. On the Galaxy Wear app, you can also change the tap and hold functions to control the volume, but I opted to make it switch to ambient mode which I need more when I step out with the Galaxy Buds on.

Marvin: What’s great is that I could pair the Buds with any phone without needing to download the app first. But, well, I wish I did sooner to get the most out of the equalizer and extra settings.

Rodneil: Well, I wasn’t able to pair it right away with the Honor View 20 I’m currently using. That’s why I knew I had to get the app. After that, I had zero trouble pairing. I’m not sure how to control the pairing, though. One time I was out with a “friend” who had a Galaxy S10E and it was trying to automatically pair with her phone.

Marvin: So, would you recommend the Galaxy Buds to your friends given the price of US$ 129?

Rodneil: For anyone who wants a truly wireless experience, this ticks all of the boxes for me. The pairing convenience along with the surprising sound quality, for me, makes it a relatively easy recommendation.

Marvin: There are definitely cheaper options out there, but I feel the build quality and convenience Samsung injected into the Buds. Plus, it’s more affordable than its closest rival, the AirPods. What else is there to dislike?

Rodneil: My only concern is this pair is really easy to lose when out of its case. If you’re a klutz like me, I suggest you only put these on while in a familiar location. You should also make sure you get a pouch or have a designated spot in your bag where you can put it if you can’t reach the case right away.

Marvin: Otherwise, you’d use these over traditional wired earphones?

Rodneil: I want to permanently end my relationship with wires, so yes, I’ll choose this over traditional ones every single time.

Marvin: LOL, okay.

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Huawei Sound X with hi-end audio launches

Will work seamlessly with the P40 series

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Huawei is slowly but surely venturing out into more and more devices. After wearables, the company is now showing off a hi-end speaker — the Huawei Sound X.

It’s never easy to describe sound on text but Huawei claims the Sound X “will revolutionize high-end acoustic technology with sonorous audio that leaves an enduring, life-altering impression on the listener.”

It was made in collaboration with Devialet — a global audio brand known for its High-Fidelity products.

It’s not a smart speaker in the way that there’s a voice assistant integrated like the Google Home or the Amazon Echo, but it does have some ‘smart’ qualities.

For instance, it will work seamlessly with your Huawei P40 series phone. Gently tapping your phone against the Sound X transmits audio to the speaker.

The audio, Huawei says, is lossless and low-latency and can be tweaked thanks to a proprietary EMUI 10.1 multi-device control panel. Think of like Huawei’s own version of Apple’s AirPlay.

Another thing that Huawei is proud of about the Sound X is how compact it is compared to other speakers that promise to deliver the same level of hi-end audio. It’s able to deliver 60W of bass despite being relatively smaller than other speakers with the same capability.

The company says the “exterior design was inspired by the golden dome of the black, glazed surface hints at the robust sound that seems to emanate from a bottomless well.” But it really just reminds of Darth Vader from Star Wars.

The press photos even have the Sound X in this red room of sorts. Screams Sith to me.

Imagine playing the “Imperial Death March” on this thing! Whether you see the resemblance or not, it does kind of look cool.

SEE ALSO: Huawei P40 Series with ‘visionary photography’ now official

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Qualcomm’s new chipset could bring noise-cancellation to budget earbuds

Expect affordable earbuds soon

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Qualcomm unveiled two new Bluetooth audio chipsets intended for use in truly wireless headphones. For the end consumer, this could provide active noise cancellation (ANC), voice assistant support, and more.

It has unveiled two new chipsets — QCC514X (premium tier) and QCC304X (entry-level line). Both shall support Qualcomm’s TrueWireless Mirroring technology that requires connecting via Bluetooth to just one of the earbud. It’s useful as it will allow either earbud to be used alone without interruptions.

The new chipsets will also produce better battery life – offering up to 13 hours of playback based on a 65mAh battery, according to Qualcomm. Usually, active noise cancellation consumes more battery power.

The dedicated noise cancellation hardware integrated into the chipset enables super-low latency leak-through of the outside environment. It enables genuinely natural awareness of the surroundings. It’ll also come handy when you’re onboard a flight or trying to concentrate in an office environment where ambient noise is higher than usual.

The chips also bring voice assistant support with them, but the premium QCC514X features always-on voice support. Meaning you won’t have to manually long-press a button to summon the virtual assistant. With direct support in the entry-level chipset as well, it’ll make this feature more widely available in affordable earbuds as well.

Qualcomm has also promised “premium wireless sound and voice quality.” The smartphone industry started omitting the 3.5mm headphone jack in favor of USB-C or wireless earphones. The wireless options have often been quite expensive, and with wired ones, you either have the opportunity to charge your phone, or listen to music or watch a movie. More affordable options should automatically start solving this dilemma.

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5 reasons why you should stick to wired earphones

You don’t have to give up comfort and familiarity!

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Photo by Daniel Fontenele

The advent of wireless earbuds has become gospel among my friends — techie and geeks alike. It’s like everyone’s preaching about switching to wireless like it’s some mandatory rite of passage for adults who’ve been in the workforce for god knows how long.

Though I have my own pair of wireless earbuds, I still have my trusty wired earphones — one that has a 3.5mm jack for my laptop, and one that comes in USB-C for my phone that has no headphone jack. Even before, wired earphones were my savior — from strangers and familiar people approaching me, to keep me entertained in between idle moments, and for being a companion in trying times.

Just like most people, I’m still having a hard time letting go of wired earphones. People had been asking me to stop using one, but I still stand to a few reasons why it’s perfectly okay to stick to the familiar.

You’re a plug-and-play person

A lot of times, I find myself having trouble with pairing my smartphones to my wireless earbuds. To ensure seamless pairing, you must be using top-of-the-line and/or premium earbuds. Imagine the time you spent trying to connect so you can listen to music when you can just plug your wired earphones to a headphone jack, play your music, and enjoy.

You love the feeling of being connected

I thrive in connections — whether it’s people, conversations, or earphones. I feel most reassured when I know I’m connected, and the tangibility of my earphones’ connection to my smartphone is comforting — especially when I’m commuting. I’ll know right away where my phone is, and having a wired connection makes my loving smartphone safe.

On certain occasions, my smartphone was saved from falling because of my wired earphones. It’s these prevented tragedies that reassure me a tangible connection is still a good choice.

You’re practical about your choices

Let’s admit it: wireless earbuds are expensive. As someone who follows a strict budget, wired earphones are a tad cheaper and is more accessible to most of us. There are plenty of us can’t live without music, and wired earphones sometimes become a necessity to keep us from falling apart in between trying times.

On the other hand, wireless earbuds are considered a luxury — a want, not a need. Imagine losing a pair, or even misplacing it when a pair of wireless earbuds is priced around US$ 100. I don’t have the money to replace it easily even with access to a credit card.

You find comfort in familiarity

Some people aren’t comfortable with change. Most are hesitant, and even resistant to it — even with the advent of functional and bang-for-the-buck wireless earbuds. If you find comfort in familiarity a.k.a. choosing wired earphones because you’ve been using it for a long time, that’s absolutely fine.

You don’t have to change your preferences in life just because someone asked you to do so. Stay unique and love your individuality!

You haven’t felt the urge to switch

Lastly, there comes a time in every modern individual where they need to switch to a wireless lifestyle. It could be for convenience, for more flexibility, or for safety during a commute. Whatever it is, you’ll always feel the urge to switch and when you do, heed the call.

When you feel like you’re being called to the other side, that’s when you take a leap of faith. If you’re still content with using wired earphones, just enjoy it and stop caring what the world thinks. You have your music with you, just keep playing!

SEE ALSO: 6 reasons why you should switch to wireless earbuds

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