Thursday, October 5, 2023

OnePlus Buds Genius 2 receives rewards of new sound drivers and association mastery

Stiff competition, either side of the OnePlus Buds Pro 2’s price point but most rivals do not have the advantage of powerful dual-driver architecture and tuning expertise

A succession plan is often implemented smoothly if the basics aren’t forgotten. It often isn’t the case. Particularly in tech, where either there are excitable attempts to redesign the wheel, or very little effort is visible in defining a possible upgrade. Often, the genre has a bearing on the latter. Audio, for instance, doesn’t go through the same vibrant upgrade cycles as smartphone cameras, for instance. Therefore, it mustn’t have been easy for OnePlus to upgrade the ingredients, for the OnePlus Buds Pro 2 wireless earbuds.

First things first, small matter of the price. Whether you pick Arbor Green (why wouldn’t you?) or Obsidian Black, these set you back by ₹11,999. That is, before you can line up some discounts, of which there are often some. The competition landscape includes Google Pixel Buds A-series (around ₹7,999; but without active noise cancellation), the Amazon Echo Buds (gen 2 costs around ₹9,999) and the more expensive Samsung Galaxy Buds2 Pro (these are priced around ₹17,999).

This time around, the audio has been tuned by Danish audio company Dynaudio. If there is one thing Nordic countries do better than others (in addition to the concept of minimalism, and furniture designs), is good audio. More than anything else, it gives the OnePlus Buds Pro 2 an edge over rivals who don’t have the same sort of tuning advantage.

Audio hardware upgrades include new dual drivers in each ear. OnePlus calls them MelodyBoost, but beyond the name, you’ll be impressed by the numbers – each comprises of an 11mm woofer and a 6mm tweeter. A lot of true wireless earbuds only have a 6mm or 7mm audio driver handling all frequency duties. With the physical separation, there is much less chance of lower or higher frequencies intruding into each other’s space. Most thankful will be the mid-range frequencies, often the earliest to be sacrificed, by unoptimized audio hardware.

For our testing routine, the OnePlus Buds Pro 2 was paired with an Apple iPhone (the HeyMelody app will be your friend here) and with a OnePlus 11 phone, the latter representative of the truer scope of functionality due to certain exclusivities. In both instances, my extensive curation of Lossless Audio on Apple Music came in handy. Google Fast pair is convenient in getting the buds ready for action, quickly, and without having to run through realms of Bluetooth settings screens.

The LDHC codec support (you’ll find this on most Android phones now) is what you must look out for – music sounds richer and crisper, our observations emerging from the comparison between Apple Music’s lossless audio files, and the same in Spotify (it’s not lossless, but we did set the streaming quality to the highest setting).

The OnePlus Buds Pro 2 returns a very distinct uptick in lower and mid frequencies, and that is good news for a wider variety of playlists you may like to cue for the day. In a way, OnePlus has walked down the popular route, with greater focus on bass, and therefore appealing to an audience (and that’s the overwhelming majority, or so it would seem) which listens to up-tempo music such as the latest dance mixes.

There is something very likeable about the sound signature. Quite agreeable, and comforting. A distinct vibrancy to the soundstage, more than the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro and the Amazon Echo Buds. Not by a lot, because those two are excellent true wireless earbuds, but just that little extra which is a testament to the redone audio hardware flexing muscles. As they should. Following through on that, our pick for most music listening would be the Balanced equaliser setting – this is the one that’s been tuned by Dynaudio. Bass, Bold and Serenade are other options, which may work better for some genres of music.

Adaptive noise cancellation has been boosted to up to 48db, from 40db. That means more ambient noise will be blocked out. That’s in theory. We came away with the observation that this does block most of the environmental din, but there are certain frequencies which do filter through to a certain extent – a stiff breeze and the wail of a power drill making mincemeat of a brick and some mortar, a few houses away.

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