Samsung’s new Galaxy Buds Pro have certainly made a big impression. These wireless earbuds, which launched last month, feature impressive Active Noise Cancellation (ANC), improved audio and new features including voice detection which automatically turns off the ANC the moment the users speaks. Now Samsung has revealed more details on how it created these new Buds and the biggest hurdles with packing so much technology inside such a small device.
Speaking to Express.co.uk Han-gil Moon, Master & Head of Advanced Audio Lab at Samsung’s Mobile explains how the firm has worked to improve the audio credentials of these latest Buds and how making them fully waterproof was one of the toughest challenges.
“The development of the Buds Pro takes around two years,” Moon told us.
“There are three stages in development. The first stage is to develop a unit with good sound quality. We make sure this unit reflects all of the improvements that we identified through our previous Buds products.
“Once this unit is developed we install it in the Buds and tune it until it’s just perfect. We then get feedback from our audio experts in Samsung so we can really refine and fine-tune the audio quality. The last stage of the development is to conduct user tests so we make sure we provide audio quality the users like.”
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Samsung has been making earbuds for a number of years but the Buds Pro come packed with new features including improved ANC which now switches off the minute the user begins speaking.
Getting the earbuds to understand exactly who is talking is one of the features Moon is most proud of but was also a difficult feature to master.
“One of the biggest challenges was to make sure it only recognises the voice it’s supposed to recognise,” explained Moon.
“What drove us to introduce this new feature is that since the launch of the Buds Live we’ve committed to improving the call quality and one of the things we have implemented was a Voice Pickup Unit (VPU) which is an accelerator sensor. When the user speaks the energy causes vibrations in your head and the VPU can pick up on those vibrations.
“Samsung was the company that had one of the best understandings of how this sensor works and that’s how we were able to introduce voice detect.”
But why did Samsung make this such a priority? Well, it seems users wanted to have an easier way of switching off the sound blocking and it was this feedback that led to the changes.
“We paid attention to the voice of customers in terms of their inconveniences with the ANC experience and one of the biggest pain points we heard was when they switch on noise cancellation it sometimes makes it difficult to have conversations. We then thought VPU could be a solution to this pain point.”
Along with the challenge of understanding voices, another thing Samsung had to work hard on was making the Buds Pro fully water-resistant.
“Yes, it was a challenge. In order to implement IPX7 we had to redesign and redevelop our speakers and mics from scratch,” said Moon.
“If you look at a lot of waterproof speakers and mics on the market the sound quality tends to be compromised. Our objective was really to offer waterproof quality and at the same time maximum audio quality.”
Although the Buds Pro come packed with features some have been critical of the lower battery life and the fact that they work best within the Samsung ecosystem.
Addressing these concerns Moon said: “Yes, you may say Buds Pro has reduced battery life compared to Buds+ when you enable ANC. However, if you turn off the ANC, Buds Pro actually guarantees a battery life that’s as long as the Buds+. So it’s really up to the consumer to choose. A slightly reduced battery life when you are using ANC will not cause too much inconvenience for our consumers but rather consumers can really benefit from the richer sound quality and enhanced performance as well as more perfect ANC in our Buds Pro.”
Another criticism of the Pro is that fact that work best within the Samsung ecosystem meaning iPhone and other Android users can miss out on some of the best features.
“Hence the Galaxy Bud Pro name, our objective was to develop a product that offers the best possible experience in the Galaxy ecosystem. However, the Galaxy Buds Pro meet the Bluetooth standard and therefore any device or smartphone that has Bluetooth feature will allow you to use Buds Pro and enjoy the excellent audio experience.
“You can download the Galaxy Wearable app on Android and that will offer you additional features like ambient sound and game mode.”
So what’s next from Samsung and what big innovations will the firm bring to the market next?
Moon wouldn’t reveal what Samsung is working on next but he did explain how the firm reacts to what its users want and how this influences future products.
“Our current innovations were all driven by our users’ needs and voice and I’m convinced that our next innovation will also come from the needs of existing Buds users. Our aim is to provide them with superb sound quality, call quality and perfect ANC.
“Furthermore it will become more intelligent in order to better understand our users and offer the services that want.”