The brand new $150 OnePlus Buds Professional are the corporate’s most elegant, polished set of true wi-fi earbuds to date. And there’s plenty of worth packaged collectively for that worth: they embody lively noise cancellation, wi-fi charging, IP55 mud and water resistance, and strong battery life. OnePlus additionally tosses in extras like a low-latency mode for gaming and Zen Mode Air, which performs soothing leisure audio. They go on sale September 1st in both matte black or shiny white.
The OnePlus Buds look fairly modern and fewer blatantly AirPods-esque (notably the black model) than the corporate’s prior earbuds. Hopefully that’ll be sufficient to keep away from any snags at US customs. They’ve additionally confirmed reliable and constant in my testing to date, which couldn’t be stated of the $99 Nothing earbuds after I checked out these a couple of weeks in the past. I carry up the Nothing buds as a result of they’re the primary venture of OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei’s new firm and, a minimum of on paper, have comparable capabilities, so there’ll inevitably be comparisons between the 2.
The earbuds have a shortened-stem design with a metallic end on the stem portion. That’s a pleasant contact of favor, and it’s additionally a marker of the place you’ll pinch for controls. Just like the AirPods Professional drive sensor, the OnePlus Buds Professional have similar controls on both aspect: pinch shortly with two fingers to pause, twice to skip songs, thrice to return, or maintain to modify between ANC and transparency modes. There’s even the identical faint little audio click on in your ears every time a pinch is registered. In contrast to the AirPods, there’s no indented space of the stem for the sensor, however I discovered OnePlus’ strategy to work reliably with out it. It’s very a lot a borrowed concept, however one which’s a minimum of copied nicely.
I discovered the OnePlus Buds Professional to be ethereal and comfy in my ears; they weigh 4.35 grams per earbud, lighter than each the AirPods Professional and more moderen Galaxy Buds 2. However I by no means discovered an ideal match with the three units of silicone ideas within the field: the big measurement was greatest, however I might nonetheless take away both earbud with the slightest pull. Their light-weight design helped mitigate this concern considerably and stored them in my ears — they didn’t come unfastened after I shook my head or ate with them in — however OnePlus actually might’ve used a extra accommodating number of ear ideas.
Fortunately the less-than-perfect seal didn’t take away from their audio high quality. The OnePlus Buds have 11mm drivers that the corporate says have been “tuned for bass replica,” and that bears out if you take heed to them. There’s a strong, easy basis to tracks like “Don’t Go Darkish” by Bleachers, and the OnePlus Buds Professional keep away from changing into a bloated jumble of bass thanks a lovely, non-harsh excessive finish with ample element.
The mids are a bit recessed, which is pretty widespread for earbuds at this worth, and sadly OnePlus’ HeyMelody app (out there for each Android and iOS) doesn’t embody EQ changes. However I’ve been largely proud of how these sound, they usually maintain their very own towards the Amazon Echo Buds 2, Galaxy Buds 2, Jabra earbuds, and others of their worth vary. And I believe they outrank the Nothing earbuds, however maybe that ought to be anticipated for the $50 worth distinction. OnePlus consists of an audio check to personalize your audio profile primarily based by yourself listening to. Like most different makes an attempt at this, I wasn’t blown away by the distinction and left this off.
ANC efficiency has additionally been passable, although I believe it’d be extra spectacular if the earbuds sealed in my ears higher. As is, the OnePlus Buds Professional allow you to manually choose between “excessive” and “faint” modes for noise cancellation. OnePlus says these vary between 40dB (excessive) and 15dB (faint) of noise cancellation. There’s additionally a “sensible” mode that routinely adjusts the extent of ANC primarily based on the loudness of your atmosphere.
That’s the place I left it for parts of my assessment, and the earbuds did appear to dial again their noise-canceling powers after I was in my lounge, the place the one noise was the whirl of a close-by fan. On the road and at my native espresso store, it appeared just like the OnePlus Buds Professional defaulted to cranking the ANC, which is exactly what I needed. The OnePlus Buds Professional are fairly good at ridding your ears of low-frequency noises and distractions, they usually did a good job on New York subways. I believe Amazon barely bests them, and pricier buds just like the AirPods Professional and Bose QuietComfort Earbuds positively nonetheless win out on the entire, however for $150, there’s not a lot to take concern with.
The identical holds true of battery life. It’s rated at as much as 5 hours of straight playback with ANC on, and that extends to 23 hours together with the case’s additional juice. Depart noise cancellation off and people figures develop to seven hours and a claimed 31 hours, respectively. I wasn’t in a position to absolutely check out the final estimate there, however on the whole the OnePlus Buds appeared trustworthy to the others and I didn’t have any surprising battery points or uneven discharging. The case could be charged wirelessly, and it’s even rated IPX4 for water resistance, which is fairly uncommon to see. The earbuds have a extra sturdy IP55 ranking for mud and water resistance, so so long as your match is correct, they’re a nice choose for exercises.
Microphone efficiency was ample for voice calls, and people I spoke with might make me out clearly. However regardless of three mics in every earbud and wind noise discount algorithms, I believe it’s only a actuality that because the stems of those earbuds get minimize down in size, we’ll must accept “ok” when talking to folks by means of them.
Then come the miscellaneous options. The earbuds have a low-latency “Professional Gaming mode” the place their response is 94 milliseconds, however solely when paired with a OnePlus cellphone working OxygenOS 11 or above. (That is one other instance of the earbuds lock-in that my colleague Jon Porter not too long ago wrote about.) Even then, opponents like Razer are able to hitting decrease latency numbers like 60ms. One other OnePlus-exclusive characteristic is Dolby Atmos audio, which the earbuds don’t assist on different gadgets.
Extra helpful to me personally was the Zen Mode Air characteristic, which goals that will help you calm down by taking part in soothing sounds by means of the earbuds. You may choose which audio monitor you want greatest within the HeyMelody app — with choices like heat dawn, meditation, summer season seashore, nighttime tenting, and so on. — after which it’s downloaded on to the earbuds’ reminiscence. This has the advantage of conserving the comfort sounds out there if you’re switching between completely different paired gadgets. OnePlus isn’t alone in providing this sort of performance: Jabra consists of one thing comparable with its earbuds. It’s not the kind of factor I’ll use incessantly, however I like figuring out this little trick is there if I would like a minute or two of calm throughout a busy day. Sadly the OnePlus Buds take after many opponents in that they presently lack multipoint pairing, to allow them to solely join to at least one machine at a time. Nonetheless, OnePlus says it goals so as to add multipoint by means of a future firmware replace.
In comparison with its previous wi-fi earbuds, the refinement and powerful efficiency of the OnePlus Buds Professional show that OnePlus has grown assured and comfy on this market. There’s no scarcity of competitors at this worth, however OnePlus has introduced collectively a compelling mixture of options and a pretty design with comparatively few weak spots. They’re one other reminder of simply how a lot you will get for $150.
Images by Chris Welch / The Verge