Updated: August 24, 2021 8:38:09 am
The pandemic has made earphones even more important for us. When you are working from home, these earphones help you slip into an office meeting with ease without letting your colleagues loose on the home where everyone else is in their own bubble. And no other tech aides the work from home bubble more than noise cancellation.
OnePlus, which has been consistently coming out with earphones over the years, has thought this is the best time for it to launch noise cancelling earphones that lend itself to the Pro sobriquet. The OnePlus Buds Pro is the most premium the company has gone with its personal audio range.
The OnePlus Buds Pro has a stylish case that slips easily into your jeans pocket. It charged the EarPods inside wirelessly or via a USB-C charger. The charging case has a pairing button too.
The EarPods are designed in a minimalist yet classy way with the buds flowing into the stem seamlessly. I have to say there haven’t been any earphones that have fit me so perfectly the way they came out of the box. Just yesterday, jogging in the humid Noida evening, I was struggling to hold on to even my phone with all the sweat, but the Buds Pro said perfectly in place.
The stems of the EarPods have small buttons that you can squeeze to take or reject a call, pause a song or move to the next one. This works well too and maybe is a better way than giving a touch-sensitive surface.
The audio quality of the OnePlus Buds Pro is good, but don’t expect it to be in the audiophile category. The audio profile is balance and not partial to bass as is the fashion these days. As I played by regular test playlist I was convinced this performs in the top draw when it comes to the budget price category.
As I played A R Rahman’s Moongil Thottam from Kadal, one of my all-time favourites, the soulful rendition of Abhay Jodhpurkar and Harini transported me to a sunny beach. The earphones could switch on the bass when needed, and be sharp to make the vocals stand out. Then as I moved to vocal-heavy Home/Dirty Paws by Gardiner Sisters the guitar could be heard clearly in the backdrop even though that was not the hero of the composition.
But there is a lack of richness, a sort of flattening of the many channels which I did not really like. But then my audio sense has been whetted of late by some very expensive earphones like the Sennheiser IE900. Let me tell you the Buds Pro are thoroughly enjoyable if you are upgrading from something older or cheaper. You just need to hear The Civil Wars strum Billy Jean to convince yourself that this has been a good investment.
The real standout feature of the OnePlus Buds Pro is not the music though. It is noise cancellation. I can vouch that this is the best noise cancellation I have experienced that this price point. In fact, OnePlus is so confident of its tech that along with the regular transparency mode, there is even a max noise cancellation mode. The active noise cancellation along with the superb fit makes the Buds Pro a great pair to wear all day long. You are actually paying for the silence that lets you concentrate on work, and think better even as your son’s online class flows into a noisy Minecraft session even as the dal in the pressure cooker cries for your attention with multiple whistles. And a squeeze is all it takes for you to switch to a quick con-call with the team.
Now, there is a byproduct of this noise cancellation. Using the HeyMelody app, which OnePlus is sharing with parent company Oppo, you can switch on the Zen Mode, something OnePlus has had on its phones for long. The audio version of the Zen Mode is a stream of calming sounds that mix wind, birds’ cries and other natural music to let you relax, think or, in my case, write. You can even switch to just white noise, better if you are trying to get some sleep.
The app also offers an elaborate OnePlus Audio ID test that gives a profile of your ears after a test that lasts a couple of minutes and then configures the audio for you. Also, there is a earbuds fit test which is quicker, but checks if you are wearing the pair right.
I noticed one issue, which is becoming quite common with budget earphones. When I was on a call the Bluetooth connectivity snapped on its own and did not even come back. I had to call the person again, and the earphones were back. This did not happen when I was listening to music and could have been triggered by the fact that I was walking outside where there could be some signal interference.
With a budget price of Rs 9990, the OnePlus Buds Pro stand out as one of the best earphones for regular use. I would recommend this primarily for the top-notch noise cancellation and the freedom it gives you to go into your own bubble with the Zen Mode.