Cherry Flavoured from The Neighbourhood sounds hefty with great clarity on the vocals but things at the top end can get a bit too edgy and take away from the overall smoothness of tonal balance. The highs always want to outshine the rest of the frequency spectrum. Call me Back by Young the Giant is delivered with authority and all the ominous-sounding low-end sustain but the vocals have a hard edge that translates into sibilance. It isn’t too pronounced to bother but it just sounds incoherent in relation to the mids and lows. Summer Girl by Haim has a high-hat cymbal that sounds too thin even for a cymbal and lacks body that makes it sound real and not synthesized. On the other hand, play more dance and EDM music and the tonal balance settles down for a more neutral presentation.
Where the Buds Live come into their own though is video content and phone calls. Ready Player One with its multiple action and race sequences just shows how capable the Buds Live are if worn correctly. They sound like much bigger, over-ear headphones with their bass depth and extension. Even the usually brittle highs get camouflaged by the dynamic soundtrack along with dialogues and other elements in the sound design. Along with their unobtrusive look and feel, watching movies discreetly might just be its biggest superpower. YouTube videos similarly, sounded full-bodied and immersive, concealing all the deficiencies that show up during critical music listening. Phone calls are handled with equal finesse and everyone I asked on the other end of the call said they could barely hear passing-by traffic at all. With three mics (2 on the outside, 1 inside) and a voice pickup unit that senses jaw movements and uses that to amplify the audio signal, it’s nifty tech that actually works well.
Anyone looking for an all-day battery life won’t be disappointed with the Buds Live. With up to 6 hours of charge on the Buds and another 14-15 hours in the case, it’s an all-day warrior. Actual amount of battery life will depend on various factors such as ANC on/off, volume, voice assistant usage etc and I wasn’t willing to pay a visit to the ER after wearing these for 6 hours in my own ears, no sir! A quick top up of 5 minutes is claimed to give another hour of juice for an encore. The case is wireless charging ready so PowerShare is an option too if you have a phone with reverse wireless charging capability, making the Buds Live truly a beast of battery life.