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OnePlus Buds Pro 2 Review, Making a Good Thing Better

Despite being the most expensive audio product in the brand’s lineup, the OnePlus Buds Pro is priced quite competitively, compared to flagship true wireless earphones from brands such as Apple, Samsung, and Sony. This has helped set it apart as a value-for-money option that doesn’t particularly skimp on much. Now, well over a year after the launch of the first OnePlus Buds Pro comes its successor. The OnePlus Buds Pro 2 brings small improvements, but sticks to the positioning that made the original an easy-to-recommend true wireless headset.

Priced at Rs. 11,999, the OnePlus Buds Pro 2 introduces a handful of technical improvements, including a dual-driver system, Bluetooth 5.3 for connectivity, and an extended frequency response range. The new earphones have also been developed and tuned in collaboration with Danish loudspeaker maker Dynaudio, similar to what we’ve already seen on the Oppo Enco X2 earlier this year. Is this the best mid-range true wireless headset you can buy right now? Find out in this review.

OnePlus Buds Pro 2 design and features

The OnePlus Buds Pro 2 expectedly looks a lot like its predecessor, with the earpieces and charging case following the same design cues and styling. The new earphones are available in two colours – the familiar matte black with glossy stems, and a new green to match the OnePlus 11 which launched along with the OnePlus Buds Pro 2.

There are some subtle changes in the design such as larger outer microphone grilles, but the earpieces and charging case are largely similar in fit and size to the original Buds Pro. It remains a good-looking and comfortable pair of true wireless earphones, with an unostentatious and sophisticated aesthetic.

The earpieces of the OnePlus Buds Pro 2 remain clear of any branding, while the charging case now has a Dynaudio logo etched right below the OnePlus logo on the lid, as well as on the underside of the lid. The back of the charging case has the USB Type-C port, and there is also support for Qi wireless charging, as before.

Usefully, the earpieces of the OnePlus Buds Pro 2 have pressure-sensitive controls on their stems, similar to the original iteration. This is much more precise than basic touch controls. The earpieces have a comfortable in-canal fit that ensures proper passive noise isolation. There is IP55 dust and water resistance for the earpieces, while the case is IPX4 water resistant.

In terms of features, the OnePlus Buds Pro 2 is fairly impressively equipped for a mid-range headset. There is multi-point connectivity for up to two source devices simultaneously, customisable active noise cancellation, Google Fast Pair, a 54ms low-latency mode, and support for Spatial Audio (which works only with the OnePlus 11 for now), in addition to the aforementioned Qi wireless charging. Each earpiece has three microphones, which work together for ANC and voice functionality based on AI algorithms, as per the company.

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OnePlus Buds Pro 2
OnePlus Buds Pro 2 Review, Making a Good Thing Better

OnePlus Buds Pro 2 app and specifications

As is the case with other wireless headsets from OnePlus, the Buds Pro 2’s ‘app’ experience differs depending on the smartphone you pair the earphones with. All management functionality is supposed to ‘baked’ into OxygenOS (and any other supported Android forks), so if you’re using a support OnePlus device as your source, controls should appear in the system Bluetooth settings panel.

If you aren’t using a smartphone that supports this, you’ll be able to tweak all settings for the OnePlus Buds Pro 2 through the HeyMelody app (available on iOS and Android). Although you can install this app even on a OnePlus smartphone, you won’t be able to use it, and will be redirected to the Bluetooth settings instead.

It’s worth pointing out here that I wasn’t able to access these settings on my OnePlus 9 Pro (Review) during my review of the OnePlus Buds Pro 2, creating a dead end that couldn’t be resolved on the device. However, I do expect it will be enabled at the software level prior to the commencement of sales of this new headset, so I hope this isn’t a long-term issue.

Coming to functionality, the app (or Bluetooth menu settings) let you customise various aspects of the OnePlus Buds Pro 2 such as playback controls, ANC and transparency modes, the intensity of ANC (Mild, Moderate, or Max settings), equaliser presets (co-created with Dynaudio) and custom EQ, and enabling or disabling multi-point connectivity, among other options.

Notable additions include a ‘white noise’ mode with five audio tracks (one can be saved on the headset at any time), a ‘game’ mode for low-latency audio (as low as 54ms), and ‘Golden Sound’, which conducts a quick test to tailor sound to your ear canal structure and hearing characteristics. You can also update the firmware on the OnePlus Buds Pro 2.

Control customisation on the OnePlus Buds Pro 2 is fairly detailed as well, with the ability to set separate control schemes for the left and right earpieces. You can control playback, select ANC and transparency modes, invoke the default voice assistant, and activate game mode; unfortunately, volume can’t be controlled on the headset.

In terms of specifications, the OnePlus Buds Pro 2 is well-equipped. There is a dual-driver setup with 11mm and 6mm drivers in each earpiece, and a frequency response range of 10-40,000Hz. For connectivity, the headset uses Bluetooth 5.3, with support for the SBC, AAC, and LHDC 4 Bluetooth codecs. More universal LDAC support could come through a firmware update at some point (as it did with the Oppo Enco X2), but as of now advanced codec support is limited to LHDC.

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OnePlus Buds Pro 2 performance and battery life

The OnePlus Buds Pro 2 looks and feels a lot like its predecessor, but under the hood it’s a whole different product altogether. That said, there are some major similarities between the OnePlus Buds Pro 2 and the Oppo Enco X2, including the Dynaudio collaboration and the Bluetooth codec support. Interestingly, this isn’t just the same product with a slightly different design and branding; the OnePlus Buds Pro 2 has some unique characteristics, and this changes the way that affects the sound.

All of this is suitably helped along by the LHDC Bluetooth codec, although support for it depends on the smartphone you use. Most OnePlus and Oppo smartphones can use it, and in my opinion it’s largely on par with other modern advanced codecs.

Support for the more universal LDAC codec is unfortunately not present on the OnePlus Buds Pro 2, but I wouldn’t discount the possibility of it coming at a later point through a firmware update. Until then, the OnePlus Buds Pro 2 takes an approach similar to that of Samsung with its true wireless earphones – the best sound quality is only accessible if you’re within the ‘ecosystem’.

Getting into the specifics, I used the OnePlus Buds Pro 2 with a OnePlus 9 Pro as the primary source device for best results, but also used an iPhone 13 to test performance with the more universal AAC codec and the app. There was a notable and very perceivable difference in the sound, depending on which Bluetooth codec was used, provided I listened to good-quality audio (which was usually from Apple Music).

The dual-driver setup is the defining factor in the sonic signature and the overall sound quality of the OnePlus Buds Pro 2; unlike on the Oppo Enco X2, the system here focuses on lower frequencies, rather than the mids and upper end of the range. This makes for an audibly more punchy, aggressive, and energetic sound, with the separation that typically comes with a dual-driver setup focused firmly on the bass.

When combined with the nuance and detail that the LHDC Bluetooth codec allows, it made for perhaps the most entertaining and powerful sound I’ve heard on a pair of true wireless earphones. Listening to Over Here by Mk.gee, the rumble and grunt of the bass was tight and refined, feeling powerful yet never excessive. It made this ordinarily mellow, mid-tempo track sound a lot more engaging and driven than I’ve heard before, adding some well-executed flavour and character.

Even with more nuanced and less overtly aggressive tracks such as Everywhere by Fleetwood Mac, the OnePlus Buds Pro 2 brought out plenty of detail, while giving the lows a significant push in the right direction. The driver separation truly counted here, allowing the mid range and highs plenty of room to breathe, even while the lows kept up their unflinching attack. With the volume turned up, it’s an immersive listening experience like nothing else in this price segment.

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Active noise cancellation on the OnePlus Buds Pro 2 is decent enough for the Rs. 12,000 price tag, but feels a bit underwhelming on the whole; performance on this parameter just doesn’t match up to how the sound quality is so obviously superior to anything else in the price segment. That said, it’s entirely workable both indoors and outdoors, offering a noticeable reduction in noise.

It’s worth mentioning here that I could barely distinguish between the three different ANC modes, so the customisability of this feature doesn’t really make any difference in practice. Transparency mode works reasonably well, but the artificial amplification of ambient sounds does get tiring after a point, so it’s ideally only turned on when needed.

Battery life on the OnePlus Buds Pro 2 is better than on its predecessor, with the earpieces running for around six hours per charge with the LHDC codec in operation and ANC turned on. The charging case added a little over three additional charges to the earpieces, for a total runtime of around 25 hours per charge cycle. Call quality was generally decent indoors, and workable for short calls even in noisy outdoor environments.

Verdict

OnePlus and Oppo have used their shared resources to considerably step up their product capabilities in the true wireless audio segment, and the OnePlus Buds Pro 2 is an excellent example of how to develop a great product with its own unique characteristics, without starting fresh every time. There are some obvious similarities between the Buds Pro 2 and the Oppo Enco X2, but OnePlus does just enough to give its new headset some character and panache of its own, particularly when it comes to the bass-friendly sonic signature and level of detail.

The Dynaudio collaboration is more than just a branding exercise, and features such as wireless charging and low-latency mode help as well. The only drawback is codec support. LHDC isn’t supported on too many devices beyond modern OnePlus and Oppo smartphones, making this a bit of a ‘walled garden’ conundrum – you’ll need the right source device for the best sound quality.

If you do have the right source device, this is the most fun-sounding pair of true wireless earphones you can buy for less than Rs. 15,000 right now, with sound quality that realistically matches up to headsets that cost twice as much. You really can’t go wrong with the OnePlus Buds Pro 2.

Source : gadgets360