OnePlus Buds Pro 2: High on features but not so much on audio quality

The earbuds charge in about an hour using a OnePlus charging adapter


The wireless buds market has seen new options added almost every other week - whether from big names or smaller accessory makers venturing into the segment. By now it’s clear the market has a clear space for these and more and more buyers are also looking to invest in a pair to go with their work and entertainment. OnePlus’ Buds Pro were the company’s first active noise cancelation earbuds, and we now have the Buds Pro 2 that are priced higher than any other audio related product launched by the company so far, at Rs. 11,999 with added features and audio capabilities. Let’s try and find if this price tag is worth it or not, and whether they stand well against the competition and have any improvements.

The OnePlus Buds Pro 2 come in Obsidian Black and Arbor Green colour options -- I tried the latter one. The box contains the buds inside the carry box, a familiar short USB type C cable that we had seen with previous OnePlus Bluetooth products, 3 pairs of different sized ear tips, and that’s about it. The carry box for buds is compact, matte finish at the top and glossy bottom half of the stems with the OnePlus and Dynaudio branding. The case once again appears premium and doesn’t show any signs of cost-cutting while opening and closing. On the inside the box has a similar matt-y finish (different from the glossy finish on the original Buds pro), with the earbuds tucked in nicely with Dynaudio printed on the inside part of the lid again. In order to pair the Buds Pro for the first time, just open the carry box, press the button at the located between of the two earbuds inside the box, followed by switching on Bluetooth and searching on your other device. The process is relatively quick and trouble-free. The same process works with other devices like Android TV, too.

For OnePlus devices, you can check for Buds Pro 2 settings under Bluetooth, but for other devices you can simply use the HeyMelody app on both Android and iOS to tweak settings, change squeeze actions as per your requirement or to check for firmware updates. The Buds Pro 2 themselves are made up of sturdy plastic and are based on the popular “hairdryer-like” design with thick stems and a thicker head at the top that I found fits quite comfortably in your ear. You can also do a fit test when trying these and change eartips accordingly. The earbuds don’t fall loose when used during commuting or brisk walking. The pair is IP55 rated for water and dust resistant (the carry box is IPX4 rated for water resistance), so it should be okay under a light rain or under splashes of water. The small light on the front of the box indicates whether the Buds are charging (green light) or are in the pairing mode (white). Each bud carries three mics for noise cancellation.

Coming to the audio quality, the pair does a good job of handling vocals and pop sounds well and it goes a little overboard when it comes to bass though not always handling it in a satisfactory way. I found it to give aggressive bass and even mid to high treble on most cases. You can use the HeyMelody app to set your preferred EQ settings. I tried all of them for a bit and preferred the Balanced as well as Hans Zimmer Soundscape Tuning EQ. There’s also a Zen Mode that plays different white noise tracks on loop. The sound quality is clear including for podcasts but might seem a little low on the sheer volume side of things (no swipe to adjust volume on the Buds Pro 2), but it’s decent and can go relatively loud at the highest volume.

Even when on the move, the playback is sufficient to carry on with your work or leisure. Talking about active noise cancellation, the Buds Pro 2 now have choose between different noise cancellation settings from low to max and smart. The noise cancellation can be said to be decent in inside rooms and cut out noise to some decent level when outside. But a lot of times there might be a little hissing sound when noise cancellation is switched on, which of course. doesn’t bode well for an audio product. And noise cancellation does take a little hit on the sound quality, missing on mids to highs with the some added hiss, as mentioned above. These earbuds are powered by two 11mm and 6mm drivers and support a codec called LHDC that very few phones support (several OnePlus and Xiaomi ones), so if your device supports it, you might want to try it to play high bitrate audio tracks. This time there’s also support for Bluetooth LE Audio and Spatial Audio that Android 13 phones support, but the headtracking feature currently only works with the OnePlus 11. Spatial Audio works win with supported music streaming apps such as YouTube and Apple Music (selected content in both), though the whole 360-degree could be handled a little better without extra volume snaked in at times. The earbuds, supporting fast charging (USB type C port at the back), charge in about an hour using a OnePlus charging adapter. Charging standalone with the carry box can give you playback time of about five hours, too. Regarding controls, you can press the stem part (either of the two buds) to play pause or to pick a call, twice to change your song (or reject a call), thrice to go to the previous song.

Other stuff: The Buds Pro 2 carry Bluetooth 5.3 LE with SBC, AAC, LC3 and LHDC 4.0 codec support. With ANC on, the battery backup is about a little under a day and about half a day when ANC isn’t in use, so battery life is not better than the original Buds Pro. You can also connect it to two devices at once after enabling it from the HeyMelody app. For mics, they seemed to catch speech somewhat better for calls and handle noise during a call okay too. 

All in all, the OnePlus Buds Pro 2 do offer several things, but they don’t necessarily perform those things very well or bring improvements over the original Buds Pro. The Buds Pro 2 have decent battery life, really nice fit and design, okay but not so great audio quality -- but still misses out on things like volume control, which some folks might have expected at this price range. Competing against the likes of Sony’s WFLS900N and Samsung’s Galaxy Buds2 Pro and Oppo’s Enco X2, the Buds Pro 2 don’t offer something vastly better and makes the original OnePlus’ own Buds Pro (available for Rs. 9,990) a worthy consideration even now.

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