With the launch in Spain of its first “Pro” headphones, OnePlus wants to offer its own alternative to AirPods Pro, thanks to noise cancellation and its own functions.
After a couple of years in which it seemed to have lost its reason for being a bit, 2021 is being revolutionary for OnePlus. The merger of their teams with the Oppo will improve him one of its major disadvantages, software support, and launched devices that we associate more with the image of “the best, but cheaper” than the company created in its infancy.
The OnePlus Nord 2 5G that we were able to test is a good example of going back to the roots, but it is not the only one. Today we are talking about the Buds Pro, wireless headphones of the “True Wireless” type that, although they compete directly against the AirPods Pro, cost 100 euros less, with a price of 149 euros.
Elegant and ‘premium’
If there is one aspect in which the Buds Pro stand out compared to other headphones with a similar price, it is in the design . OnePlus has achieved the most elegant style I have seen, more typical of more expensive models. Perhaps it helps a lot that the version that I have been able to try is the black one, which, instead of being a glossy piano black, is a matte black that goes very well with everything.
The charging case is almost entirely made in that color, and only the words OnePlus appear bright on the top, but they are not very noticeable either. It is a very small and thin case , easy to carry and that offers a good touch in the hand. Unfortunately, the unit I have been able to test has a small defect, probably from the factory, and the hinge is moving sideways a bit.
It’s not a big deal, but it has made me wonder about durability. On the positive side, this case is compatible with Qi wireless charging, and it won’t take long for us to recover all the battery and continue enjoying our music.
When we open the box, the headphones are presented to us, and we can easily remove them by grabbing them by the “stem”. They give a very good ‘premium’ feel , and the headphones are small and in the same matte black coordinated with a metallic part. OnePlus has achieved a great design, at the same time that they have made these sweat resistant headphones, IP55 certified. In the ear, they are comfortable because of how small they are and the way they fit in the ear; the downside is that maybe they are too small.
The problem is that the touch controls are located on the aforementioned stem, and it is so short that it has been difficult for me to touch the touch zone and have it record my actions. OnePlus’s decision not to split the controls between the two earbuds doesn’t help. Most manufacturers dedicate playback controls to the right earbud, and other controls, such as noise cancellation, to the left earbud. In the Buds Pro, the two earbuds have the same functions , so you will have to tap and hold to access the various functions.
Good custom sound
At least once you get used to it, all of that is worth it. The sound of the Buds Pro is very good, for several reasons. One of them is the 11mm dynamic drivers which have a good range , emphasizing the bass a bit, but not at an annoying level. It is possible to enjoy all kinds of content, from music of all genres to movies and video games, and the resulting sound is faithful and of high quality; I even really liked the high volume that is possible to achieve, something higher than usual in the sector.
LHDC support for high definition audio is also a key part of achieving that quality sound. It’s only available on some high-end Android devices, so it won’t be useful to everyone, but it’s welcome. Interestingly, OnePlus claims that the Nord are not supported, but I have been able to activate the LHDC codec on a Nord 2 with no issues.
Of course, not all ears are the same, and that is why OnePlus has introduced Audio ID, a technology that changes the sound of headphones based on our ears . To use it, it is first necessary to pass a short, 3-minute test in a quiet environment. The app will play various sounds in the left and right earbuds, and we will have to indicate whether we hear them or not.
Based on that, he will present us with a graph of what our ears are like, and in which areas it can be reinforced, of course, differently in each ear. Personally, this system has strengthened the low-medium and medium frequencies a little more, although the improvement has been generalized.
As a result, music that once seemed too flat to me has now gained more depth and a better appreciation of instruments that once disappeared. Not that I have opened my eyes (or ears), and could have achieved that same sound with an equalizer, but Audio ID has saved me the hassle and achieved a very decent sound. In addition, we can always deactivate it if we want to keep the sound as before.
I can’t say that I liked the other feature promoted by OnePlus that much. The ‘Zen Mode Air’ is presented as a way to reduce stress and calm down, using “white noise”. In practice, they are sounds of nature, beach and other natural places, which do not even reproduce well in a loop (there is a little pause when they end and start). If you search for ambient sound on YouTube you will get the same, so it is not a feature that made me love these headphones more.
Smart and noise-canceling
Of course, these high-end headphones feature Adaptive Noise Cancellation, which OnePlus promises is “Smart”. In practice, that means that they are able to switch between soft and aggressive noise cancellation depending on the sounds detected by the built-in microphones.
The truth is that it works very well , and whether on the street covering the noise of the cars, or at home eliminating the necessary fan these days, they have behaved exactly as I expected, and even better.
I would not say that it is the best noise cancellation, since when the “extreme” mode is activated it is easy to notice some interferences or background noises, caused by the algorithm itself when trying to modify the sound we are listening to. Even so, it is something that we will only notice in the loudest environments, considering that it is designed for about 40 decibels.
Calls are also enhanced by this technology, especially by detecting wind-related noise , one of the biggest annoyances of calling with a wireless headset.
What bothers me the most that these headphones have such cool tech is how confusing it can be to harness them. At first, it seems that using them is very simple; If you have an Android, Fast Pair compatibility makes them appear on the mobile screen just by opening the box, with the product image and everything.
The bad comes when you want to change the settings. If you have a OnePlus mobile, such as the new OnePlus Nord 2 5G, you will not find any related app, and doing a search on the mobile will not give results. No, what you have to do is enter the Bluetooth menu, press the Information button on the headphones, and on the screen that opens, click on “Headphone functions”.
Here you will find all the functions of the headphones, such as the controls. There is also the aforementioned Audio ID, but not with that name used by OnePlus in all promotional material. Everything is too complicated without having to be , and there is no direct access on the mobile that takes us to the screen we want to see.
Ironically, if you don’t have a OnePlus, it’s easier if you know what you need. You just have to install the ‘HeyMelody’ app, which is used for all OnePlus and Oppo products; Of course, to discover that you have to search the manual, or search the Google Play Store and assume that this app, which does not have the OnePlus name, is the one you need. OnePlus (and by extension Oppo) has a serious ‘branding’ problem. The app itself is really simple, but at least it offers access to the same functions and is easily accessible on our mobile.
Great alternative with everything you want
The OnePlus Buds Pro are one of the best alternatives to Apple’s AirPods Pro, and the best thing is that they get it with a much lower price, of 149 euros on the official OnePlus page .
Unlike other competitors, OnePlus is aware that to fight against Apple not only must be at the height in technical matters, but also in design; these are the most stylish headphones I’ve been able to try, and that’s something no other brand can compare to .
They are also headphones pointers in every way, both as regards the sound completely as technologies such as adaptive noise cancellation, which has managed to eliminate all unwanted noise with which I encounter every day (with a limit of course ). OnePlus Audio ID technology can greatly change the sound and adapt it to our ears, obtaining a unique sound in the world.
Instead, OnePlus still has a lot of work ahead of it in software , especially in the accessibility of all those features. Almost all of its rivals have more complete apps, easy to use and to find. But it’s true that once we figure out how to do what we need to do, we don’t think about all that again, so it’s not that big of a problem. Just something that makes these headphones imperfect.