Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro – Compared to the Buds Live, which were meant to let in ambient sound for a “live” effect, the Buds Pro aim for a complete seal so it’s important to plug them in and twist them around until you find the snuggest fit for your ears. Samsung claims its ANC is 99% effective against cutting out background noise and while this is a tall claim, it was pretty impressive. You can also control the level of ANC and even activate the auto voice detect function that will automatically switch to ambient mode if you start talking. Rhye’s latest album sounds full, lush and tonally even, marking a huge improvement over Samsung’s previous attempts at TWS. The two-driver system consists of an 11mm bass driver and a 6.5mm tweeter and it makes its sophistication heard in the dynamic range and effortlessness of delivery. It only helps that the Buds Pro are comfortable enough to wear and forget for long periods of time. There are EQ presets but no control over adjusting individual frequency bands and setting the desired curve. The active noise cancelling is pretty impressive too, cutting out a large part of mid-to-high frequency noise from the surroundings. Thanks to its tight seal, it even trumps the AirPods Pro.
LG Tone Free FN7 – With a single driver, the FN7 cannot muster the similar depth of the soundstage as the Buds Pro and comparatively, sounds flatter and more forward. The Meridian tuning is offered as four presets – Immersive, Natural, Bass Boost and Treble Boost but only Immersive manages to sound anywhere close to balanced while the rest tend to exaggerate any one portion of the frequency spectrum, sounding either sibilant or muddy. Even the supposed ‘Flat’ setting sounded lifeless and dull, nudging you towards Immersive as the default mode. You have control over a manual EQ but I was unable to extract an open sound that didn’t have chestiness to it. In isolation, the FN7 might be passable with a comfortable fit and an aggressive sound that listeners of hip-hop and rap might enjoy. But, in comparison to the Buds Pro, they lack the refinement and smoothness. Its ANC performance is on par with the Buds Pro though, which is to say, very good indeed.