What are Headphone Guides about?
Headphone Guides show you how to choose and use headphones.
Everything you need to know on how to choose and how to use headphones, Bluetooth headphones, noise-cancelling headphones and AirPods alternatives, are covered in our headphone guides.
Headphone Guides @GadgetGuideOnline is an online community for sharing news, reviews, updates and guides on choosing and using headphones.
Headphone Guides will help you if you have questions on headphones, both new and seasoned users.
List of recent headphone guides
Here is the list of the most recent headphone guides. The complete list of headphone guides can be found in the Headphone Guides section.
AirPods Pro 2 New features explainedsimon
You should understand AirPods Pro 2 new features before deciding whether to upgrade or switch to it.
As the 2nd generation of AirPods Pro, you'd expect many cool new improvements and upgrades in the AirPods Pro 2 (aka AirPods Pro 2nd Gen).
This AirPods guide explains the major AirPods Pro 2 new features you should know, including the H2 chip, touch control, skin-detection sensor, adaptive transparency mode, improved noise cancellation, personalized spatial audio, longer battery life, a speaker and U1 chip in the case.
H2 chip is the heart of AirPods Pro 2.
Most of the AirPods Pro 2 new features and improvements can be traced back to the new chip.
Among Apple silicon, the “H” series is dedicated to headphones. Except for the original AirPods, all prior AirPods (AirPods 2, AirPods 3, AirPods Pro, AirPods Max) were powered by the H1 chip.
AirPods Pro 2 is the first AirPods powered by the latest H2 chip. Most of the AirPods Pro 2 new features rely on this new chip.
Apple did not release the technical specs of the H2 (and H1) chips. But the improvements can be read from the claimed 2x noise cancelling capability, adaptive transparency mode, better sound quality, and lower power consumption (longer playtime).
Although AirPods Pro 2 looks similar to AirPods Pro with stems, touch controls were added to AirPods Pro 2's stems.
Instead of relying on pressing force sensors, AirPods Pro 2 adds touch sensors and therefore, you can have more controls from the stem.
One of the most welcomed new control from the touch sensor is volume adjustment. You can swipe up and down to adjust the volume for AirPods Pro 2. Previously, you had to ask Siri or open the phone to adjust the volume for the AirPods and AirPods Pro.
Probably, touch control is one of the most anticipated AirPods Pro 2 new features.
- RICHER AUDIO EXPERIENCE – The Apple-designed H2 chip pushes advanced audio performance even further, resulting in smarter noise cancellation and more immersive sound. The low-distortion, custom-built driver delivers crisp, clear high notes and deep, rich bass in stunning definition. So every sound
What is Samsung Seamless Codec? 4 things you should know about this new codecsimon
With the release of Galaxy Buds 2 Pro, Samsung touted the 24bit Hi-Fi audio, which is enabled by the Samsung Seamless Codec. Samsung shared very little technical information about this codec except for some marketing exaggerations.
Many Galaxy Buds 2 Pro owners have some questions about the Samsung Seamless Codec, for example, how “better” it is.
This Bluetooth headphone guide explains the four aspects of this new codec:
- When/where can you get and use Samsung Seamless Codec?
- The relationship between Samsung Seamless Codec and Scalable codec.
- How better is Samsung Seamless Codec compared to other codecs?
- The role of a codec (like Samsung Seamless Codec) in the Bluetooth streaming process.
Currently, Galaxy Buds 2 Pro is the only wireless earbuds that support Samsung Seamless Codec. Very likely, new earbuds will be added to the list.
#1. Samsung Seamless Codec is proprietary and only works on Samsung devices
First, Samsung Seamless Codec is proprietary, and Samsung owns it. No other hardware manufacturers have licensed it yet.
So, currently, it is only available on Samsung devices and works only on Samsung devices.
This means if you want to enjoy the Hi-Res audio with Galaxy Buds 2 Pro, you have to use it with a supported Samsung phone or tablet.
Samsung Seamless Codec is supported in Samsung phones and tablets with Android 11, 12 or 13. For example, Galaxy S10, S20, S21, S22, Galaxy Note 10, and Note 20 are all on Android 12. So, you can pair Galaxy Buds 2 Pro with any of these phones (and some Galaxy A and J series) and try the Hi-Res audio codec.
For headphones and earbuds, currently, Samsung Seamless Codec is only available on Galaxy Buds 2 Pro.
In short, Samsung Seamless Codec is only for the Samsung ecosystem. You cannot even try it if you are using a phone or tablet of other brands. Galaxy Buds 2 Pro itself is only a receiving (sink) device.
#2. Samsung Seamless Codec is a new version of Samsung Scalable Codec.
The name of the new codec is very confusing: it is too close to the existing Samsung Scalable codec.
And the truth is that Samsung Seamless Codec is just a new (or updated) version of Samsung Scalable Codec.
Samsung Scalable Codec was created by Samsung (AKG) for their first wireless earbuds: Galaxy Buds. It was then supported in all … Read the rest
How to use widgets to check battery levels and control Galaxy Buds 2, Galaxy Buds Pro, Galaxy Buds Live, Galaxy Buds+, and Galaxy Buds?simon
You can use widgets on Android devices to check battery levels and control Galaxy Buds devices, including Galaxy Buds 2, Galaxy Buds Pro, Galaxy Buds Live, Galaxy Buds+, and Galaxy Buds.
So, you may save some time by skipping the Galaxy Wearable app to check battery levels and quickly control Galaxy Buds devices directly from the home screen of your Android phones.
This Galaxy Buds guide explains how to add the widget to the Home screen of your Android devices, how to customize it, and how to use the widget to check battery levels and control your Galaxy Buds.
Please note, this feature is only available on Android devices (not just on Samsung Galaxy phones). And it is available for all Galaxy Buds released so far. However, Samsung hasn't released this feature to iOS users.
What Galaxy Buds devices are supported by the widget?
Currently, all Galaxy Buds, including Galaxy Buds, Galaxy Buds+, Galaxy Buds Live, Galaxy Buds Pro, and Galaxy Buds 2, are supported.
But each model has its own plugin in the Galaxy Wearable app. And therefore, each model of these buds needs separate widgets.
For example, if you have both Galaxy Buds Live and Galaxy Buds 2, you will have to add the widgets for these two earbuds separately.
Again, although iOS 14 and later versions support widgets, Samsung hasn't added widget support in iOS. So you cannot use the widget to control any Galaxy Buds on iOS.
Please note, on iOS, only Galaxy Buds+ and Galaxy Buds Live are supported. Other Galaxy Buds can only be used as a normal Bluetooth headset (without any additional controls).
Steps to add Galaxy Buds widget to the Home screen
To add the Galaxy Buds Live widgets, for example, on Galaxy S21, you can tap and hold (or pinch) any blank area on the Home screen to enter the Home screen edit mode.
This method works on all Samsung Galaxy phones and the majority of other Android devices.
Once in the home screen edit mode, you can tap the Widgets button, as shown below.
Now, on the widgets screen, you can find all available widgets that could be added to the Home screen. Widgets are organized by the parents' apps, which are listed alphabetically.
In this guide, we are trying to add widgets for Galaxy Buds Live. So, you may … Read the rest
AirPods 3 vs AirPods Pro: which one should you choose?simon
As AirPods 3 is the latest model of Apple's wireless earbuds for the mass market, you may want to know how it compares to AirPods Pro (i.e., AirPods 3 vs AirPods Pro).
This AirPods guide explains the shared features of AirPods 3 and AirPods Pro (the Force Sensor, Spatial Audio, Adaptive EQ, IPX4 rating and wireless charging), advantages and disadvantages (silicon tips, ANC, transparency mode, battery life, and price) of AirPods 3 vs AirPods Pro.
The comparison of AirPods 3 to AirPods 2 is discussed in this post.
AirPods 3 vs AirPods Pro: What are shared?
AirPods 3, which is the successor of AirPods 2, is not a replacement for AirPods Pro. Instead, it targets a different audience with some shared features with AirPods Pro.
Here is the list of shared features of AirPods 3 and AirPods Pro
These features were explained in the Top 10 new features of AirPods Pro, and AirPods 3 vs AirPods 2: Top 8 improvements and new features of AirPods 3.
AirPods 3 vs AirPods Pro: Advantages of AirPods Pro
You may find the new AirPods 3 lacks the following three features when comparing AirPods 3 vs AirPods Pro.
Although AirPods 3 looks closer to AirPods Pro than to AirPods 2 (for example, the shape, the length of the stem/leg), you can easily differ AirPods 3 vs AirPods Pro due to lack of chargeable silicon tips.
The small silicon tips actually mark a fundamentally different design.
AirPods 3 adopts the “open” design, as in AirPods 2. This design does not create a “sealed” space for the sound from the wireless earbuds.
On the contrary, the silicon tips and other parts in the AirPods Pro create (at least attempt to) a sealed environment in the canal for the earbuds. Such a sealed environment is usually needed for active noise cancelling (ANC). Samsung Galaxy Buds Live is the only exception combining open design and ANC.
Some users may feel more comfortable with the open design, especially if they need to wear the earbuds for an extended period every day.
But if you prefer a quiet environment, then AirPods Pro is an obvious choice.
One of the flagship features of the AirPods Pro is ANC.
It seems Apple still sees the demand … Read the rest
AirPods 3 vs AirPods 2: Top 8 improvements and new features of AirPods 3simon
AirPods 3, the successor of the 2-year-and-7-month old AirPods 2, was officially announced on October 18 2021. So many users are wondering about the new features of AirPods 3 (vs AirPods 2).
This AirPods guide explains the top 8 improvements and new features of AirPods 3 vs AirPods 2: the Force Sensor, IPX4 water-resistance rating, longer battery life, Spatial audio, wireless charging, adaptive EQ, Find My Network, and improved design.
A comparison of AirPods 3 vs AirPods Pro is discussed in this post.
As mentioned, AirPods 3 is the successor to AirPods 2 with considerable upgrades. They share a similar design and use the same H1 chip. But Apple managed to add some exciting new features to AirPods 3. Some are ported from AirPods Pro and AirPods Max.
Compared to AirPods 2, you may find the following 8 improvements and new features of AirPods 3.
Force Sensor: the best of the new features of AirPods 3
Force Sensor is one of the most well-received features of AirPods Pro.
As explained in this guide in detail, the Force Sensor is superior to “touch” (as in Samsung Galaxy Buds) or “button (press)” controls (e.g., in Jabra Elite Sport) for in-ear wireless earbuds.
In AirPods 2, you have to tap (mostly, double-tap) to control the earbuds. With AirPods 3, you can now press the Force Sensor at the stem of the earbuds. More gestures (single, double, triple presses, and long-press) can be used.
Personally, I would rate this Force Sensor as the No.1 new feature of AirPods 3.
Sweat and Water Resistance
AirPods 3 has an IPX4 rating for sweat and water resistance. So, it is safe to use these wireless earbuds in a heavy workout or even on rainy days.
As a comparison, AirPods 2 has no official rating for sweat and water resistance, although many AirPods 2 owners use them in the workouts without issues.
The IPX4 is surely one of the most wanted new features of AirPods 3 for many AirPods or AirPods 2 owners.
Longer battery life
AirPods 3 offers a playtime of 6 hours on a single charge (or 5 with spatial audio enabled). The talk time is about 4 hours. This is similar to the battery life of AirPods Pro 2.
As a comparison, AirPods 2 can last about 5 hours on one charge. The talk time is about 3 hours … Read the rest
How to Use and Adjust Force Sensor on AirPods Pro like a Pro?simon
Force Sensor on Airpods Pro is one of the most meaningful innovations for wireless earbuds control. It is a far superior solution compared to the touch control as in most other wireless earbuds.
This AirPods Pro guide explains what the Force Sensor on AirPods Pro is, how to use the Force Sensor to control music playing, handle calls, switch noise control modes, and launch Siri. The customization of the press speed and press duration of the Force Sensor on AirPods Pro is also illustrated.
Update: the latest AirPods 3 also features an almost identical Force Sensor. So, this guide also applies to AirPods 3 if you want to learn to use Force Sensor on AirPods 3.
The differences between AirPods Pro and Air Pods 3 are discussed in this guide.
Update 2: the 2nd generation of AirPods Pro (aka AirPods Pro 2) added touch controls to the stem. In addition to all features included in this guide, AirPods Pro 2 allows you to adjust the volume by swiping up and down.
What is Force Sensor on AirPods Pro?
Due to the tiny size, it is usually hard to control wireless earbuds easily.
For example, Jabra Elite Sport used the old-style buttons (Multifunction button, Sports button, volume up button, and volume down button). Many owners complained it is too painful when pressing these buttons.
Most other wireless earbuds (including Apple's own AirPods 2) in the market use touch control. For example, all Samsung's wireless earbuds, including Galaxy Buds, Buds+, Buds Live, Buds Pro, and Buds 2, use similar touch controls. The most common issue with touch control is inadvertent touch. For this reason, Samsung added the “block touches” option in the Galaxy Wearable app to turn off the touch control.
Now, you may understand the powerfulness of the Force Sensor on AirPods Pro.
You need to “press” the Force Sensor, which is located in the recessed area near the end of the stem, to control AirPods Pro, as shown in the picture below.
Compared to using buttons or touch control, the Force Sensor at least solves the following four questions.:
- It will not cause any pain to your ear. You just press the Force Sensor.
- It will not dislodge AirPods Pro in your ear,
- It will not push AirPods Pro further into the
Galaxy Buds 2 vs Galaxy Buds Pro: the Top 8 Pros and Conssimon
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 is a significant upgrade of Galaxy Buds+. Galaxy Buds Pro and Galaxy Buds Live are also major upgrades of Galaxy Buds+. So what are the significant differences between Galaxy Buds 2 vs Galaxy Buds Pro?
This wireless earbuds guide explains the top 8 major differences of Galaxy Buds 2 vs Galaxy Buds Pro. Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 has advantages in the 4 aspects (weight, price, battery life, ear-fit test ), and Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro wins in the other 4 categories (water resistance rating, 360 audio, voice detect, and better ANC and ambient sound controls).
Please note, Galaxy Buds Live is substantially different from Galaxy Buds + and Galaxy Buds Pro, as explained in this guide.
Galaxy Buds 2 vs Galaxy Buds Pro: Galaxy Buds 2 wins
Galaxy Buds 2 and Galaxy Buds Pro look similar and share many common features. However, Galaxy Buds 2 is NOT an upgrade to Galaxy Buds Pro. In fact, Samsung positions Galaxy Buds 2 as the successor to Galaxy Buds+.
Although Galaxy Buds 2 is a cheaper version of Galaxy Buds Pro, it has advantages in the following 4 aspects when comparing Galaxy Buds 2 vs Galaxy Buds Pro.
At 6.3g, Galaxy Buds Pro is not heavy and is very comfortable to wear. But Galaxy Buds 2 is about 20% lighter.
The design of Galaxy Buds 2 and Pro is very similar, although the material and finishing are slightly different.
So, most users will find it is even more comfortable to wear the Galaxy Buds 2 for an extended period.
As mentioned, Samsung designed Galaxy Buds 2 as a “lite” version of Galaxy Buds Pro so that Galaxy Buds and Galaxy Buds+ users will feel it is natural to upgrade to Galaxy Buds 2.
The MSRP of Galaxy Buds 2 is $149.99. The street price is around $100 currently. So, it is very affordable.
As a comparison, the MSRP of Galaxy Buds Pro is $199.99. Of course, now you can get a new one for around $150.
The sound quality and active noise cancelling (ANC) on Galaxy Buds Pro and Galaxy Buds 2 are comparable. However, Galaxy Buds 2 uses a less powerful chip BES2500ZP, from a not-well-known vendor. FYI, Galaxy Buds Pro uses a popular chip Broadcom BCM43015.
Galaxy Buds 2 offers an ear-fit test to help you check whether … Read the rest
4 ways to check Galaxy Buds Live battery levelsimon
When using (or planning to use) the earbuds for an extended period, you may want to know Galaxy Buds Live battery level to see whether you need to charge it now for continuous usage in the next few hours.
This Galaxy Buds Live guide explains 4 different ways to check Galaxy Buds Live battery level and the charging case battery level in both Android and iOS devices, including:
- Using Galaxy Wearable app (or Samsung Galaxy Buds app on iOS).
- Using LED colours in the charging case..
- From Bluetooth settings in Android devices.
- Using Galaxy Buds Live widget on Android devices (or the Battery widget in iOS devices).
Method 1: Check Galaxy Buds Live battery level and charging case battery level in Galaxy Wearable app (or Galaxy Buds app on iOS)
As explained in this guide, you can manage and customize Galaxy Buds Live in the Galaxy Wearable app (with the Galaxy Buds Live plugin).
In the app, you can also check the battery level of Galaxy Buds Live and the charging case, as shown in the screenshot below.
For example, as shown in the screenshot below, the L and R earbuds are fully charged (100%). The charging case has 55% battery left.
On iOS devices, the corresponding app is the Samsung Galaxy Buds app. You can find similar information, as shown in the screenshot below.
Of course, you can check the battery level of Galaxy Buds Live in the app only when the buds are connected to the device.
Method 2: Estimate Galaxy Buds Live battery level and charging case battery level from LED colours
If the buds are not connected to any devices, the only way to estimate Galaxy Buds Live battery level and charging case battery level is through the LED light colours.
When you open the charging case, the earbud battery indicator LED, as shown below, will light up automatically with 2 possible colours.
The LED light does not tell you exactly the better level. Instead, it tells you the charging “status” of the buds:
- Green. It means the buds are fully charged.
- Red. It means the buds are being charged.
- Flashing red, if charging is blocked due to abnormal temperatures.
- No light. It means the buds run out of
How to manage Galaxy Buds Live in Galaxy Wearable App?simon
Although you can use the Galaxy Buds Live as standalone wireless earbuds, some settings and customization, as well as firmware updates, can only be performed through the Galaxy Wearable app on Android devices (or Galaxy Buds app on iPhone).
This Galaxy Buds Live guide explains how to use the Galaxy Buds Live plugin in the Galaxy Wearable app to manage, customize, and update Galaxy Buds Live. The feature differences between Galaxy Wearable for Android and Galaxy Buds for iPhone are also discussed.
What's Galaxy Wearable? Why do you need it?
It is impractical for small gadgets like Galaxy Buds Live to configure all settings in the tiny space. So, you need an app to offload some of the functions from the buds.
Meanwhile, as standalone Bluetooth earbuds, there is no way to update the firmware. You need a “host” (or agent) to download the update and transfer it to the earbuds.
Galaxy Wearable is Samsung's app to manage their wearables, including Galaxy Buds (Galaxy Buds, Galaxy Buds+, Galaxy Buds Live, Galaxy Buds Pro, and Galaxy Buds 2) and Galaxy Watch.
On iOS, the Galaxy Buds app supports a few selected buds (Galaxy Buds Plus and Galaxy Buds Live only, to be precise). In this guide, we will first focus on the Galaxy Wearable app. Galaxy Buds app will be briefly discussed later.
Each device, for example, Galaxy Buds Live, needs a plugin inside the Galaxy Wearable app. But you do not install these plugins manually. When you add a new device in Galaxy Wearable, the corresponding plugin will be installed automatically.
Galaxy Wearable is always pre-installed on all Galaxy devices (e.g., Galaxy S21 and Galaxy Note 20). So you do not need to install them. If you are using other Android phones, you have to install the app from the Play store.
How to use Galaxy Wearable to manage Galaxy Buds Live?
Galaxy Wearable (with Galaxy Buds Live plugin) lets you manage and customize Galaxy Buds live. For example,
- Connect (add) Galaxy Buds Live to the phone through Galaxy Wearable.
- Remove Galaxy Buds Live from the phone.
- Customize Galaxy Buds Live.
- Update Galaxy Buds Live firmware.
- Find/locate Galaxy Buds Live.
- Check battery level of the Galaxy Buds Live and the charging case.
Connect (add) Galaxy Buds Live to the phone
You can connect Galaxy Buds Live to the phone through … Read the rest
How to use touch control on Galaxy Buds Live?simon
The fastest way to adjust or control Galaxy Buds Live is to use touch control. You can pause, resume or skip music tracks by using the touch control on Galaxy Buds Live. You may also use touch control on Galaxy Buds Live to answer or reject calls.
This Galaxy Buds Live guide explains how to use touch control on Galaxy Buds Live to control music playing, answer or reject calls, and how to adjust the volume or customize the long tap gesture for the touch control on Galaxy Buds Live.
The touch control on Galaxy Buds Live is slightly different from that on Galaxy Buds and Galaxy Buds +, this guide applies to Galaxy Buds Live only.
What is the touch control on Galaxy Buds Live?
As explained in the layout of Galaxy Buds Live, there is a touch-responsive area (i.e., touch panel) on each bud.
You can use different gestures in this area to control the media, answer or reject calls, and adjust settings for Galaxy Buds Live.
The location of the touch panel is around the top microphone, as illustrated in the picture below.
Galaxy Buds Live accepts single tap, double-tap, triple tap, and long-tap (tap and hold) gestures.
Because two buds (L and R) of Galaxy Buds Live can work alone, the gestures are always identical on both buds. Only the function (action) of the long-tap gesture can be customized.
Of course, you can disable touch control on Galaxy Buds Live (block touches) if you often accidentally touch the area.
Please note, touch control on Galaxy Buds Live (and other Galaxy Buds devices) is similar to that on AirPods and AirPods 2. But it is substantially different from the Force Sensor on AirPods Pro, or AirPods 3
How to use touch control on Galaxy Buds Live?
The functions (actions) of the 4 gestures are different depending on whether you are playing media or you are on a call.
By default, you only need to apply the gesture on one of the buds. The exception is the long-tap gesture, which may require you to apply it on both buds for some special functions.
The single tap gesture means you tap the touch area once.
The single tap gesture lets you pause (if currently playing) or resume (if currently paused) the music.
If you use the buds to read the messages and notifications, … Read the rest
Enjoy your headphone!