Since their launch back in 2019, Apple's Beats Powerbeats Pro earbuds have been the in-ear headphones I've listened to the most. I was convinced that no other pair of buds could possibly deliver the kind of bass that I required on a day-to-day basis.
I used them even though their ear hooks caused me physical pain when worn for extended periods of time, and despite their lack of high-end features that have since become the standard for wireless buds, such as adjustable EQ settings, active noise cancellation and transparency modes.
In terms of audio, they weren't even particularly well balanced, emphasizing highs and lows at the expense of mids. That part I could live with — their deep, club-like bass was just too good for the hip hop head in me to pass up.
So when Apple announced the Beats Studio Buds last year, I immediately jumped at the chance to purchase a pair. I convinced myself that I'd finally be able to cease my love/hate relationship with the Powerbeats Pro headphones and replace them with a more advanced pair of buds.
Not only would they be more comfortable to wear, but they'd also offer the ANC and transparency features I'd been missing out on (the EQ stuff would have to wait until next time).
Unfortunately, I'd set my expectations too high, because when I did eventually receive my Beats Studio Buds, I could not have been more disappointed by them. Apart from failing to deliver the bass response that I'd come to expect from Beats products, and not being loud enough for my liking, their ANC and transparency capabilities were middling at best.
I get it — buying earbuds is always going to be a risky endeavor. Unlike over-ear headphones, you can't really try earbuds out before you buy them for hygienic reasons. You simply have to attempt to make an informed decision based on what other people say, even though each person's audio preferences could not be more subjective.
In any event, I was left with three options — stick with the underwhelming Beats Studio Buds, crawl back to the Powerbeats Pro, or try my luck with a third pair of buds.
As luck would have it, I received an offer to test out Samsung's new Galaxy Buds 2 Pro headphones, only for something totally unexpected to occur — I'd finally found the in-ear headphones experience I'd been searching for.
Don't get me wrong, I had no reason to doubt Samsung's sonic prowess — the respected audio company AKG and its parent company Harman have been behind Samsung's audio products for several years now, and said products have all been well-received. I just wasn't expecting such epic, bass-filled sound from a pair of buds that were designed to accompany Galaxy phones.
The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro's impressive bass isn't obnoxious, either. We're talking clean, punchy bass without distortion, not the kind that feels like someone's put a massage gun to your head and cranked it up to its highest setting.
Add in some of the best noise cancellation that I've experienced in a pair of wireless buds (full disclosure: I've never had the chance to try Sony's WF-1000XM4 buds, which are said to be stellar in this regard), and a terrific Ambient Sound mode, and it truly seems like my earbud prayers have been answered.
Having explored the available EQ presets in Samsung's Galaxy Wearable app, I eventually settled on the Dynamic setting, as it seemed to offer bright, vibrant audio with a good deal of bass. From there, it was time to see what the Buds 2 Pro were capable of.
For the last few years, British grime artist Wiley's song "Boasty" (featuring Idris Elba) has been one of my go-to tracks for testing out any new pair of headphones, primarily due to its brilliantly bouncy bassline. Not only did the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro handle this absolute banger's punchy bass with ease, it did so while maintaining absolute clarity at all times.
The next track I listened to was "Benzi Box" by MF DOOM and Danger Mouse, and once again I was treated to an exceptionally clean and deep bassline that came through loud and strong without overpowering the song's vocals.
So far, so good. But how would they fare with EDM? The rollicking bassline of Nero's thumping track "Satisfy" shined with stunning lucidity, never once muddying the song's wide soundscape. I'm now convinced I could throw anything at these buds and they'd come through with flying colors.
Of course, one of the big selling points of Samsung's Galaxy Buds 2 Pro is its ability to deliver 24-bit Hi-Fi sound, which is said to offer "high-dynamic range helping you feel connected to the content you’re listening to with crystal-clear resolution."
Having done most of my listening tests via Spotify, I booted up the Android app CloudPlayer, which supports 24-bit audio playback and is what I use to play FLAC audio files ripped from CD.
In listening to the 24-bit version of Fleetwood Mac's "The Chain", I found the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro exhibited excellent nuance and precision, though I wouldn't describe it as being streets ahead of Spotify's version, which I compared it to directly after. Both versions sounded fantastic to my ears, and the same can be said of the heavier track "Needles and Pins" by Deftones.
Regardless of whether I'm capable of distinguishing between 16-bit and 24-bit audio, I can state emphatically that the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro hit the nail on the head when it comes to my particular audio-related wants and needs. And in the end, isn't that all that really matters?