OnePlus Nord Buds 2 Lightning Review: My Favourite Budget ANC Earbuds To-Date
OnePlus officially brought over its latest affordable wireless earbuds to the Malaysian market earlier this month, the self-named OnePlus Nord Buds 2. At RM329, they are certainly much more affordable than the brand’s premium earbuds, the Buds Pro 2.
Despite being less than half the price of the Pros, the Nord Buds 2 surprisingly offers a lot more than you would expect for something in this price range, and in certain categories, it might actually even be better than its more “premium” counterpart.
What Is It?
The OnePlus Nord Buds 2 are a pair of wireless earbuds that sport the same 12.4mm titanium drivers as its predecessor, but this time around, the budget product comes with active noise cancellation as well as a transparency mode, something many brands usually leave out from their lower-end products.
They have a claimed battery life of up to 36 hours with ANC disabled, an improvement over the last model, and can provide up to five hours of listening time with just 10 minutes of charging. Additionally, the earbuds are IP55 dust and water resistance and are controlled by tapping on the stems.
Is It Any Good?
First, let’s talk about the design. They’re not the boldest or most head-turning earbuds but they’re sleek and lightweight, and the pill-shaped case easily slips into my pocket every time — although it’s a bit too bulky in my opinion, but maybe that’s a worthy sacrifice for the battery life.
Speaking of the battery life, obviously, I’m always going to use them with ANC turned on all the time and they still did not disappoint. They can last up to five hours on a single charge and with the case, up to 27 hours, which adds up to a little over five recharges before you even need to worry about juicing up the case.
In my time using it, I rarely, if ever, had to think about the Nord Buds 2 dying on me and I’ve only needed to charge the case maybe once or, at most, twice a week depending on my usage. I have zero complaints about the earbuds’ battery life, especially at this price point and with ANC to boot.
The ANC has no place being this good in such an affordable pair of earbuds. I’m not saying they’re the best even by a mile, but I dare say that the ANC in the Nord Buds 2 are almost as the ones found in the first gen AirPods Pro.
In fact, the ANC is just as good or possibly even slightly better than the Buds Pro 2, which, again, are more than twice the price. As for the transparency mode, it does the job significantly better than most budget earphones. The background noise isn’t very present but I found that it was easy to have a conversation with people even with the earbuds on, so OnePlus
Another interesting feature is multipoint Bluetooth, where the earbuds can be connected to two devices at the same time. However, the Nord earbuds lack the Pro’s dual connection feature, which means that the switching between devices doesn’t happen automatically. I’ll get more into this below.
The Sound Quality. Talk To Me.
Despite being in the affordable category, these earbuds can hold their own against some other much more premium earbuds in terms of sound quality, even the AirPods Pro. The sound is well balanced with a relatively-good soundstage and bass that’s not too thumping, although bassheads can turn it up in the equaliser settings with the BassWave feature, enabling this does make the bass sound a bit muddy.
Those who are picky about their sound profiles can rejoice as the Nord Buds 2 have a built-in equaliser in the settings and it allows you to add several custom settings. For my personal taste, the “Balanced” profile is just the right amount that highlights vocals and prevents the bass from overwhelming the songs.
The Bad Stuff. Tell Me.
My absolute biggest complaint about the Nord Buds 2 is the stem controls. You would think that with the design, you could squeeze them to control the earbuds but no, you can’t. The stems are merely decorative and the actual controls require you to only tap the centre of the circle.
Not only is this disappointing, but it’s also not the most responsive control system. It’s not that they don’t work as intended, but I’ve found myself having to tap quite firmly to make sure the function I want is actually executed.
Another con is that the multipoint Bluetooth connection, while useful, is nowhere near as good as dual connection. To switch devices, you need to touch and hold the earbuds every single time, which honestly, is not as intuitive. Last but not least, the Nord Buds 2 omits in-ear detection just like its predecessor.
Should I Buy It?
OnePlus has made an excellent pair of earbuds in a very affordable package. To be able to get above-average ANC, great battery life, and decent sound quality at around the RM300 mark is a steal.
Yes, the lack of in-ear detection and the spotty controls may mean that you’re better off buying more premium earbuds if you can afford them, but if all you’re looking for are a pair of good, reliable budget earbuds with ANC, then look no further.
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