The smartphone manufacturer OnePlus has added good-sounding, cable-free in-ears to its range with the Buds Pro, which provide three ANC modes and an ambient mode to flexibly attenuate or amplify outside noise. An optional personal listening profile can also be used, while these earphones also support the high-resolution LHDC and AAC audio codecs in addition to Bluetooth 5.2.
These compact in-ears are pleasantly light at five grams per side, fit comfortably and don’t feel annoying even when worn for several hours. At the same time, the housings are almost flush with the ear and protrude only minimally so that the earphones can easily fit under a hat. There is sufficient stability for everyday use, and even sporting activities seem possible as long as the Buds Pro are not exposed to strong vibrations. At 50 grams, the handy charging case is not a heavyweight either and is flat enough to be carried in most trouser pockets. A special feature of the case is the water-resistant finish according to IPX4, which provides complete protection against weather-related moisture, and the earpieces are also water-resistant and dust-resistant according to IP55 certification.
At higher volumes, the Buds Pro achieve a runtime of almost seven hours, which is reduced to a good four and a half hours in ANC mode. It is noteworthy that these earphones can be fully charged five times in the charging case before an external power source is needed, which gives a total runtime of about 27 hours with active noise cancellation and up to 41 hours in basic mode. However, unfortunately, these in-ears do not have a charge level indicator, so it is not apparent that they are being charged or when the battery capacity will be fully restored. According to our tests, a complete charging cycle takes about 40 minutes. Despite this, both the in-ears and the case have a practical quick-charge function, which enables a usage time of just under ten hours without noise suppression when the charging case is supplied with power together with the earphones via the USB-C port for ten minutes. In ANC mode, the listening time is six hours and 45 minutes. The battery reserve of the case can also be recharged either via a charging cable or wirelessly via Qi, which only takes 65 minutes via the supplied USB-C to USB-A cable.
The initial pairing of these Bluetooth earpieces can be done by opening the case, which turns the system on and puts it into pairing mode. However, if a new device is to be connected, such as the tablet instead of the smartphone used so far, the pairing mode must be activated manually via the button in the case. However, there were no connection problems with various Android and iOS devices, especially since the wireless connection was stable through several rooms and bridged a distance of a good ten metres within an urban environment. While the Buds Pro support single-sided use in single mode, it is not possible to switch the earpieces on and off manually, which is a weak point. Since these in-ears only switch off when in the case, they are constantly being charged, which reduces the battery life, especially since the case must always be at hand. Another problem becomes apparent as soon as the battery of the charging case is empty, meaning that the Buds Pro can no longer be switched on, even if they are almost fully charged. Use is only possible when the case can draw power.
The pressure-sensitive stems of these earpieces are used to control the device, and this requires a little practice at first, as force is definitely needed to press the short stalks together so that a clicking sound can be heard. After a certain amount of familiarisation, however, the operation is reliable, with a single press controlling playback and enabling answering and ending phone calls. In addition, pressing twice allows you to skip forward to the next track and pressing three times allows you to skip back. A short press and hold switches between ANC and the transparency mode factory setting, and this can be expanded via the app to include the basic sound, while a longer press and hold activates and deactivates Zen mode. A volume control is missing, and this cannot be upgraded in the app either. Otherwise, these in-ears are equipped with sensor-based wear recognition so that playback is automatically paused when they are taken off and resumed when they are put back on. This does not always work perfectly, and that is why it would be useful if the function could be deactivated in the app. However, the voice quality during calls was positive, as both sides were reproduced clearly and were easy to understand. Background noise such as street or construction noise hardly disturbed the conversation, apart from a few exceptions. Only high-frequency sources such as sirens or a buzz saw were audible to the person on the other end of the line.
If you use a OnePlus smartphone, then you have direct access to all the personalisation options via the Bluetooth menu. If you use an iOS or Android device, the HeyMelody app is available to allow you to adjust settings. In addition to the option to perform firmware updates, the app offers a fit check and allows customisation of the controls, but this is limited to selecting the voice assistant and adding the basic sound when switching between noise cancellation and ambient mode. For the Zen mode, various nature sounds can also be set up, which can be used for relaxation and meditation. A listening test can be completed to generate a personal sound profile, called “Audio ID”, and this compensates for imbalances between the left and right ear as well as age-related hearing loss. The ability to create several profiles so that each person in a household can use a specific fitting is a good feature. The activation and deactivation of a hearing profile are done in the overview, and this also allows a direct A/B comparison during playback. However, there is no equaliser to allow you to make sound adjustments in addition to or independently of your own listening profile, so this function would make a desirable update.
Noise cancellation and ambient mode
The hybrid noise cancelling of the Buds Pro is divided into Normal, Intelligent and Maximum modes, and the app is used to determine which noise cancellation setting is active. If the Intelligent variant of the Adaptive Noise Cancelling, is used, an automatic adaptation to the environment takes place through an analysis of the surroundings. However, no difference was noticeable in the attenuation of high-frequency noises, as all three modes led to exceptionally good results. Overall, the Standard ANC performed the weakest, but this mode also had the lowest background noise. In the mid-frequency range, the Intelligent ANC was most effective, while the Maximum noise reduction had advantages with low-frequency noise sources. However, neither option was obviously superior, which means that Adaptive Noise Cancelling is not always the best option. On the negative side, the background noise was significantly increased in Transparency Mode, and that could be detrimental at low playback volumes. Apart from that, ambient noise was neatly amplified, so that the environment is not completely masked at room volume. Up to a medium output level, voices in the immediate vicinity could still be understood, while a conversation could be held without any problems when playback was paused.
The harmonious tuning of these headphones has a clear, uncluttered sound image with a comforting basic warmth. At the same time, the energetic bass reproduction does not aim for lean and dry but goes for a full-bodied presentation without seeming bulky or overloaded. While the low-frequency range exercises restraint with shallower sounds, the rounded bass shows a rich presence with bass-oriented productions. This was especially the case when the low bass was called for, as it had a lot of substance. However, the low frequencies do not become too deep, meaning that listening fun is guaranteed. The reproduction in the mid-frequency range was also appealingly precise, with a high degree of clarity and it reveals details such as fingerpicking. The Buds Pro are also characterised by good intelligibility of voices, so that audiobooks, podcasts and films are part of their range. The voice reproduction does not appear superficial but is homogeneously integrated into the overall structure. In the high-frequency range, we noticed that it initially reproduces with lively verve, which accentuates the sound, but at higher volume levels it can also occasionally sound a bit sharp. In the upper registers, the sound loses some of its vitality and is more restrained. However, the slight drop in treble imaging is not noticeable when the listening profile is applied. Through the individual adjustment, the reproduction benefits from a widened and airier stage, and the sound seems a little brighter with the individual instruments being separated more precisely, making it easier to locate them. A noticeable improvement in the sound.
This compact, weatherproof pair of earphones scores points with a high overall runtime, a quick-charging function for case and earpieces, and good speech intelligibility when making calls. In addition, the warm, powerful basic sound is pleasing across all genres and gains additional breadth and precision through the sound correction of the hearing profile. However, the good all-round qualities could be improved by adding an EQ, which could be done via an update. The noticeable background noise when in transparency mode also needs to be improved, but apart from that, the Buds Pro from OnePlus offer decent amplification and attenuation of external noise.
- Comfortable fit
- Lightweight, compact format
- IP55-rated handset, IPX4-rated case
- High total battery life
- Case and headphones with fast charging function
- Case can be charged either via USB-C connection or wirelessly via Qi
- Speech intelligibility during calls
- Optional Audio ID with personal sound profile
- Supports LHDC and AAC format
- Headphones without charge indicator
- No manual switching on and off of the in-ears possible
- App without EQ for sound adjustment
- No volume control
- Transparency mode with higher noise floor
- Ear couplingIn-ear
- Transducer principledynamic
- Frequency response (headphones)20 - 20.000 Hz
- Sound pressure level (SPL)@1 KHz: 98±3 dB
- Weight without cable4.5 g each, case: 52 g
What's in the box
- 3 pairs of silicone ear tips (S, M, L)
- USB-C to USB-A charging cable
- Charging case
- available in black and white
- BT codecs: SBC, AAC, LHDC
- BT version: 5.2