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[The Lab] OnePlus Buds Pro - The Sound of Silence

  1. Liehjan
    The Lab Reviewer - OnePlus Buds Pro Community Expert Aug 23, 2021

    Liehjan , Aug 23, 2021 :
    [​IMG]


    Hello everyone, and welcome to my LAB review of the OnePlus buds pro.


    Before we start with the star of this review, let me give you a quick introduction on who I am.

    I'm Matias, an IT project manager from Finland. I joined the forums years back trying to get an invite for the OnePlus 2. Time flies and now I am here with my first LAB, the rest is now history. I’m an tech enthusiast and like everything tech related, but I’m mostly into mobile phones and audio products.

    Most of you know me by my League of Legends nickname @Liehjan 😉

    Last but not least, Thank you @Daniel D, @Jade D., and the rest of the team for trusting me with this review.


    I've been using the OnePlus buds pro for the past few days now, and this is what I think. - Liehjan


    We live in an age where wireless earphones seem to be the new trend in the mobile industry. And I couldn’t be more happy, the best decision I ever made was cutting the cable and going full wireless. The wireless audio market is starting to become a crowded place. New companies appear almost monthly and there are a lot of alternatives in a wide price range.

    Can the buds pro take on the competition against the best selling ANC earbuds on the market, AirPods pro?

    Will the OnePlus buds pro deliver the same kind of performance for a lot cheaper, are the OnePlus buds pro the perfect companion alongside your OnePlus device? is the buds pro the thing we all been waiting for. Let's find out together.



    Contents


    1. Unboxing
    2. Product design
    3. Fit and comfort
    4. Audio quality
    5. Battery and charging
    6. ANC and IP55
    7. Summary

    [​IMG]
    Unboxing

    When I got them I was like a little boy on Christmas. I immediately started unboxing the buds once I got my hands on them.

    The buds come in the familiar red and white box that OnePlus has used for a while now.
    When you open the box the first thing you see is the charging case and a big Never Settle text at the bottom.

    [​IMG]

    When you remove the white plastic you will find the typical accessories underneath. Good thing to point out is that there is no charging brick included, but most of you already have a Warp charger so don’t see this as an issue.

    [​IMG]

    • USB-C charging cable
    • Spare silicone tips
    • Warranty information card and instructions

    I really like that the package matches the minimalistic design of the buds. You don’t get anything extra, just the things you need to get started with your buds.

    The unboxing experience feels premium, and it’s good that it does. On a premium product the unboxing experience is as important as the thing inside. I’m glad to tell you that the box matches the 150€ price tag of the buds.

    [​IMG]



    [​IMG]
    Product design

    I have to give credit to the design team of these buds, the design really ticks all my boxes. They are simply stunning to look at, and the texture feels great in the hand too. The design might not be for everyone because it’s so simple and stealthy, but those who like minimalistic design will love these.

    The buds come in a matte black charging case, with a OnePlus logo on the lid. I would have liked them to release the charging case with no logo at all to further push the minimalistic look, but I understand the design decision to include it. So that people who only see the case knows it’s a OnePlus product.

    With everything matte black you get the thing that everyone hates, fingerprints. And with this case there is no exception, it’s a real magnet for fingerprints. Fortunately a microfiber cloth solves this issue pretty easily.


    [​IMG]


    When you open the charging case you immediately see the buds inside. And let me tell you, they are as stunning to look at as the case itself. Buds share the same matte black texture as the charging case, but with a little bit of chrome on the stem. That’s a nice addition and makes the buds look even more premium in my opinion.

    The chrome stem isn't only for looks. All buds controls are located in the stem, and the smooth surface of the stem is extremely enjoyable to touch.

    Inside the case there is also a button that it used for pairing and resetting the buds. But with a OnePlus phone you don't need to use it, once you open the case lid they are ready to pair and shows up on your phone.


    [​IMG]

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    Fit and comfort

    Fit and comfort is the second most important thing when I'm looking at new buds. Let's find out how these fit in my ears.

    The buds come with the typical Small, Medium and Large silicone tips. The mediums are pre applied when they arrive, and they fit my ears the best out of all the sizes provided in the box.

    If you have trouble knowing your right size, there is a fit test inside the buds app that can help you choose the right size. After all, choosing the right size makes or breaks the fit and comfort.
    [​IMG]
    My ears needed some time to get used to the fit. For the first few hours of listening I had a feeling that they would pop out of my ears randomly without a notice. Had to readjust them once in a while to get the perfect seal inside my ear.

    But after a few days of use it was like my ears adjusted to them and they felt like they were glued inside my ears. I could wear them for hours without needing to adjust them, and eventually I almost forgot I had buds in my ears.

    If there are users reading this review that have experienced the Airpods pro, I can gladly tell you that the fit and feel is about the same. I will rate these a solid 9/10 score for fit. For a 10/10 I would have liked to see foam tips included. I don't think that's too much to ask for considering we are paying a premium price for the buds, and the provided silicone tips isn't for everyone's liking.

    If anyone from the product team reads this, consider selling foam tips as replacement accessories for the buds pro.

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]
    Audio quality

    I value audio quality a lot. It’s the most important thing for me when looking at new earbuds, buds that sound great feel great. We live in an age where all the music streaming services are coming out with Lossless audio streaming, so audio quality isn't something that can be overlooked.

    I can gladly tell you that these buds are more than just a good looking shell. The big 11mm and Dolby Atmos support gave me big hopes that these would sound amazing. So how do they sound? Let's find out.

    Testing the buds with all the different audio codecs was unfortunately not possible, as no OnePlus device supports LHDC at this point. A software update should come later this year that adds support for LHDC on 9-Series devices (everyone with a Nord 2, I have no official information if LHDC will come to your devices).

    I had to do all my tests with SBC and AAC. You can tell the difference between SBC and AAC when playing lossless audio, but the difference is minor and you really need to know what to look for in the sound. The buds default to AAC, and I would keep it on that audio codec as it provides the best audio experience of those two.

    If I get the chance to try out LHDC in the future, I will update my review and tell you about my experience.

    What about the soundstage, you may ask? Don't worry, I got you covered.
    The soundstage isn’t that balanced out of the box, it’s a bit too bass heavy for a wanting to be “audiophile” like myself. If bass is what you are looking for, these will impress you. I’m more of a balanced/flat type of guy, and like my mids and highs crystal clear with a low end that packs a punch, but in no way should it be overpowering the mids and highs.

    A general rule is that with single driver headphones you can’t get all three bass,mids,highs. You can expect to get 2 out of 3 and let one take a hit in quality. And with the soundstage out of the box the mids took a bit of a hit and felt muffled at times, because the bass was too overpowered a lot of the time depending on music genre.

    But on the flipside music genres like electronic music where much bass is appreciated, the buds did a great job hammering your brain with deep bass.

    Buds come with something called OnePlus audio ID, it automatically adjusts the sound of the buds based on your personal hearing profile. In the buds app there is a test you can do, where the app plays different sounds at different frequencies and you need to confirm if you can hear it or not. The test took about 3 minutes to complete, and it actually worked better than I thought.

    The soundstage of the buds changed to something more enjoyable for my ears. It’s not perfect, the bass is still too overpowered for my taste. But it’s a lot better than what it was out of the box. If you are like me, and thinks the buds are too bass heavy even after applying the custom audio ID. Try to use a smaller sized silicone tip that reduces the seal inside you ear.

    I would have liked to see an integrated equalizer in the buds app to fine tune sound for the best listening experience. I really hope this is something that can be added to the app later.
    Need to further add, The OnePlus audio ID isn’t bad. And the average joe wouldn’t necessarily complain, but giving users the tools needed for fine tuning the sound would be much appreciated.

    This is how the OnePlus audio ID looks:
    [​IMG]
    The test takes about 2-3 minutes, and you just need to press Yes or No if you can hear the sound. The test is first done to the left ear and then repeated for the right ear.
    [​IMG]
    When the test is done it shows you the old and new sound profile for your buds. At the bottom you can play before or after and then decide which profile to apply.

    [​IMG]


    Battery and charging

    Battery is one of the features that makes these buds shine. If you buy these you will never need to worry about battery life again. I like to see the 100% battery on all my gadgets, and with these you fill them up really fast with a compatible Warp adapter.

    You can expect 38 hours of battery with ANC off, and a stunning 28 hours with ANC on. And with the blazing fast charging you can add 10 hours of play time to the charging case in about 10 minutes.

    The charging case also supports wireless charging. The charging won't be anywhere close to charging speed using the cable, but I really like the convenience of wireless charging even if it takes a lot longer to charge. Those with a 9-series device can take advantage of the reverse wireless charging when you are on the go.

    [​IMG]

    These are just the promised numbers by OnePlus, and at the end of the day numbers are just numbers. How do they perform in a real life battery test? Let’s find out:

    I did a music test where I played music on about 40% volume to get the numbers you can expect in real life. One test with ANC on and one with ANC off. In both tests I drained the buds from 100% to 0%.

    Full charge with ANC off:

    On a full charge with ANC off I got 6 hours and 42 minutes. That’s only 18 minutes shy of what OnePlus promised.

    Full charge with ANC on:

    On a full charge with ANC on I got 4 hours and 38 minutes. That’s 22 minutes less than OnePlus promised. In this test the ANC had to work on the smart setting. I played a crowd noise in the background from a Bluetooth speaker to simulate the coffee shop environment, or public transport. In times like these you need to be creative when you do the tests at home.

    The conclusion is that they deliver about the promised battery life with and without ANC. Well done OnePlus.

    [​IMG]



    ANC and IP55

    Two features I like to point out in the end are ANC and IP55.


    ANC: The ANC on these buds surprised me, in a good way. I’ve been using Airpods pro since the launch and have a high standard nowadays when it comes to ANC.


    There are three(faint,smart,extreme) settings for ANC in the buds app, by default it’s set to smart. And in most scenarios that is enough to block out background noises like public transport or an AC unit at home. I found out that the smart setting isn’t enough to block the background sound in the gym, where there is background music and people talking and shouting. But with the extreme setting enabled ANC could handle this scenario really well too.

    Not everything in this review can be positive, I have to point out one thing I didn’t like with ANC, that’s how they handle background wind noise. If you use them in windy conditions, the wind noise leaks into the earphones through the microphones and doesn’t make it a pleasant listening experience.

    I hope this issue can be tweaked with a software update, because it’s the only issue I have with ANC. And it’s a pretty minor one, but for me it's the cherry on top missing.
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    IP55: Water protection is your best friend if you workout, or if you enjoy long walks in the rain.

    I’ve taken these through the most intense workouts and beyond, and didn’t even once have to worry about them not surviving.

    Keep in mind only the buds are IP55, the charging case is only IPX4.

    [​IMG]



    [​IMG]
    Summary

    This is my summary after using the buds pro for about a week. Should you spend the money or look elsewhere?

    The 150€ price tag takes these buds to the premium segment. But are they premium enough? I would say that they are premium, but not audiophile level. If you look at something audiophile grade you need to look elsewhere.

    The buds deliver great sound, impressive active noise cancelling and a battery that takes you through the longest of listening sessions. If you own a OnePlus phone, and are already part of the OnePlus ecosystem you should spend the money.



    If you came this far into the review, thank you. It means a lot to me that you took your time to read this LAB review.

    If you have questions about the things I said or the things I didn’t, feel free to ask me anything. I will try to answer every single one to the best of my knowledge.

    I've ordered the Nothing ear1 buds and will update this review with a short comparison in about 4 weeks, if you want me to do it? Let me know in the comments!


    Hope we meet in another LAB in the future, until next time :)

    Sincerely,

    Liehjan
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2021

    #1
    drl431, youbi, saurabhpr07 and 75 others like this.
  2. Liehjan
    The Lab Reviewer - OnePlus Buds Pro Community Expert Sep 20, 2021

    Stickied Post
    Liehjan , Sep 20, 2021 :
    Nothing against Buds Pro?

    Hello everyone, sorry for the comparison delay but there was Nothing I could do to speed up the shipping process.;)

    I will make this short, enjoy the ride.

    Nothing Ear1 comes at a competing price at 99€, that’s a whole 50€ less than the Buds Pro. Should you save your money and go with Nothing?


    Nothing Ear1:

    One thing that surprised me with these is the fit. They fit extremely well in my ears, to the extent that I can’t tell you which of them I like more in terms of fit. But we all know that fit isn’t everything, earbuds are meant to be used for listening too. And when it comes to sound quality the Ear1’s lack a lot of punch compared to buds pro. They do not in any way sound bad, but the sound quality isn’t anything special, it’s just okay.

    I guess I got too used to the buds pro sound quality, that it’s hard to appreciate something that sounds worse now.

    ANC is something that the Ear1’s do okay, but in no way at the same level as Buds Pro. They seem to struggle the most with high pitched sounds, and wind. If you are sitting at home with the AC on, these will block the sound. But things like traffic noises will leak through the ANC.

    Microphone quality is about the same on both buds, they sometimes struggle to focus on my voice and leaks the surrounding sounds through the microphones.

    I have to give credit where I can, and that's the Ear1 Android app. The OnePlus buds software team should take a look at it, because it has two things that the buds app is missing.

    1. EQ
    2. Manually search for firmware updates

    To summarize this short review I’ve given points out of 10 for both buds below:

    Nothing Ear1:
    Fit: 9.5/10
    Sound quality: 8/10
    ANC: 7/10
    Battery: 7.5/10
    Mic: 8
    App: 9/10

    OnePlus Buds Pro:
    Fit: 9.5/10
    Sound quality: 9/10
    ANC: 8.5/10
    Battery: 8/10
    Mic: 8
    App: 8/10


    [​IMG]


    Feel free to ask me anything, I will answer all your questions :)
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2021

    Karun Deep, drl431, youbi and 12 others like this.
  3. Liehjan
    The Lab Reviewer - OnePlus Buds Pro Community Expert Sep 30, 2021

    Stickied Post
    Liehjan , Sep 30, 2021 :
    What can 3rd party silicone tips do for the fit?

    Hello everyone, I'm back again with a short update.
    I finally got my replacement silicone tips for my buds pro. The fit is a 10/10 now, I couldn't be more happy! If you are like me, and struggle to find the most comfortable fit with the three sizes that was provided with the buds, look at 3rd party tips it's worth every penny.

    IMG_20210930_173959.jpg
     

    Karun Deep, Venky61, drl431 and 2 others like this.
  4. Liehjan
    The Lab Reviewer - OnePlus Buds Pro Community Expert Oct 5, 2021

    Stickied Post
    Liehjan , Oct 5, 2021 :
    LHDC, was it worth the wait?

    Hi again, it's me back with a short update :D

    I'm running OOS12 open beta 1 on my device. And I can confirm LHDC is now finally added.
    It was worth the wait, they sound even better now than before. And with a lossless streaming service like Apple music it's just pure joy to listen.

    upload_2021-10-5_12-45-49.png


    This will be my last update on this LAB!:)
     

    Karun Deep, Venky61, drl431 and 3 others like this.
  5. BeingIncog
    Nougat Aug 23, 2021


    #2

  6. #3
  7. Liehjan
    The Lab Reviewer - OnePlus Buds Pro Community Expert Aug 23, 2021

    Liehjan , Aug 23, 2021 :
    Banana cutie, that was a long time ago ;)
     

    #4
  8. Giovanni_S
    Honeycomb Aug 23, 2021

    Giovanni_S , via OnePlus Nord , Aug 23, 2021 :
    Great job! That's a very nice review. 😁

    That would be quite an interesting comparison. Looking forward to it!
     

    #5
  9. Liehjan
    The Lab Reviewer - OnePlus Buds Pro Community Expert Aug 23, 2021

    Liehjan , Aug 23, 2021 :
    Thank you!:)
    Will do the comparison for sure when they arrive.
     

    #6
    Caomhin, obakesan and Giovanni_S like this.
  10. pillow35
    User of the Year 2015; Community Hero 2020 Community Expert Aug 23, 2021


    #7
  11. obakesan
    The Lab² Reviewer - Insta360 GO 2 Aug 23, 2021

    obakesan , via OnePlus 9 Pro , Aug 23, 2021 :
    @Liehjan awesome review, great photos and so far you were the only one who mentioned and tested the IP rating so kudos (I did test but didn't include it). I'm still curious why your buds app is saying Audio ID and mine?
     

    #8

  12. #9
    Liehjan likes this.
  13. BeingIncog
    Nougat Aug 23, 2021


    #10
    Caomhin, WakeAwake and Liehjan like this.

  14. #11
    Liehjan likes this.
  15. Liehjan
    The Lab Reviewer - OnePlus Buds Pro Community Expert Aug 23, 2021

    Liehjan , Aug 23, 2021 :
    Thank you! ❤️
    I guess it's because I'm on the Buds app beta.
     

    #12
    WakeAwake and obakesan like this.
  16. jlasensiofi
    The Lab Reviewer - OnePlus 9 Series Aug 23, 2021


    #13
  17. petro pakarinen
    Froyo Aug 23, 2021


    #14
    Liehjan likes this.
  18. ConnectMrMJ
    Honeycomb Aug 23, 2021

    ConnectMrMJ , via OnePlus 8T , Aug 23, 2021 :
    Pretty good review, can u tell us about the call quality on both quiet n noise background around? Also, should we b loud enough for the microphones to catch up or can u sense any beamforming kinda attention towards the speaker's voice (like the one's we have seen on Pixel Buds).

    On a side note: Can we use a single bud to attend calls with fair enough microphone quality? (Again on both quiet n slightly noisy environments)
     

    #15
    Liehjan likes this.
  19. Liehjan
    The Lab Reviewer - OnePlus Buds Pro Community Expert Aug 23, 2021

    Liehjan , Aug 23, 2021 :
    Thanks 🙏
     

    #16
  20. Liehjan
    The Lab Reviewer - OnePlus Buds Pro Community Expert Aug 23, 2021

    Liehjan , Aug 23, 2021 :
    In quiet background they are good. The one on the other end of the call says there is a bit of a echo in my voice.

    On a call where there is background noise there is a bit of noise leak, but that isn't bad either.

    The microphones are good at picking up voice, you can talk with normal volume and the person on the other end will hear you. You don't need to shout or raise your voice. Unfortunately I haven't tried with only one bud, but I will try and get back to you later.
     

    #17
  21. Aditya_4
    The Lab Reviewer - OnePlus Nord 2 Aug 23, 2021


    #18
    Liehjan likes this.
  22. Niklasg85
    Ice Cream Sandwich Aug 23, 2021

    Niklasg85 , Aug 23, 2021 :
    Great review and really easy reading. A big + is that you explain it for a newbie like me. And thank good that iam not a audio pro 🙂 Thats the strength with this review, i can read it good work @Liehjan.! I will for sure buy theese and iam interested of your thinking of the nothing1 compared to the buds pro🙏
    In simpler words, genuin and honest review that keeps the user reading.
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2021

    #19
    superplus, Caomhin and Liehjan like this.
  23. Liehjan
    The Lab Reviewer - OnePlus Buds Pro Community Expert Aug 23, 2021

    Liehjan , Aug 23, 2021 :
    Thank you my Swedish friend ❤️
     

    #20
    superplus and Niklasg85 like this.