The OneBuds Buds Pro 2 look the part and benefit from input from Dynaudio but disappoint in the Spatial Audio department
- Attractive aesthetic
- Snug and comfortable fit
- Enjoyable default Dynaudio sound
- Spatial audio inconsistencies
- “Personalised” ANC adds very little
- No volume touch controls
The OnePlus Buds Pro 2 are the latest in a long line of true wireless earbuds to launch alongside a flagship smartphone, a strategy we’ve seen used by tech giants Samsung and Google as well as various Chinese manufacturers.
Although it doesn’t guarantee success, the approach makes a lot of sense. Early adopters of a brand’s handset are more likely to buy headphones specifically optimised for it, especially if it matches their new phone’s aesthetic.
Unsurprisingly, the noise-cancelling OnePlus Buds Pro 2 complement the OnePlus 11 they were created for pretty well, both in appearance and features. If you’re picking up the OnePlus 11 and in need of new earbuds, they feel like an obvious choice.
OnePlus Buds Pro 2 review: What do you get for the money?
The OnePlus Buds Pro 2 will set you back £179, which is £40 more than the original OnePlus Buds Pro cost at launch in September 2021. They’re very similar in appearance and retain the two-tone design that went some way to differentiating the first-generation model from the countless AirPods clones.
The charging case is highly pocketable and can be topped up via USB-C or wirelessly using a Qi charging pad. Total battery life is rated at 39 hours if you forgo the Pro 2’s noise-cancelling capabilities, with that figure dropping to 25 hours when making use of ANC. In a pinch, ten minutes with the case plugged into the mains will provide three hours of audio playback.
The buds are IP55-rated for dust and water resistance, meaning they’re gym-ready and well protected from the elements. Three pairs of eartips are included to help you achieve a secure in-ear fit and, if you require assistance selecting the right pair, you’ll find an earbud fit test in the Hey Melody companion app.
Although they look almost identical to their predecessors, the Buds Pro 2 are marginally heavier, which is likely due to their new driver arrangement. Where the original Buds Pro used 11mm dynamic drivers, the second-gen buds have what OnePlus has dubbed “MelodyBoost” dual drivers. These were co-created with Danish audio firm Dynaudio, and incorporate an 11mm woofer alongside a 6mm tweeter. OnePlus isn’t the first Chinese manufacturer to team up with Dynaudio. Its sister company Oppo did so on both the Enco X and Enco Free 2 with impressive results.
The Buds Pro 2 have another trick up their sleeve in the form of support for Spatial Audio. AirPods and AirPods Pro owners have been enjoying Apple’s Spatial Audio for some time now, while Sony and Samsung both have their own three-dimensional audio formats, too. Other earbuds, such as the NuraTrue Pro and 1More Aero, offer spatial processing built into the buds, but here the Buds Pro 2 are using Google’s Spatial Audio, which is part of the Android 13 operating system. Only a handful of Pixel smartphones and Google’s Pixel Buds Pro (which launched without it) currently support the feature, so the OnePlus Buds Pro 2 find themselves in a privileged position.
The Buds Pro 2 operate wirelessly over Bluetooth 5.3, with the SBC, AAC and LHDC codecs all supported. The latter enables high-resolution audio streaming but is only available on OnePlus, Oppo, Huawei, Xiaomi and Redmi smartphones. Dual connection to two devices is also supported, as is Google Fast Pair (on OnePlus devices running OxygenOS 11 and later), which automatically scans for Android devices to let you connect to a second Bluetooth source with minimal fuss and very little battery consumption.
Other features include “Zen Mode Air”, which can be used to play calming nature sounds or white noise at the press of a button, a 54ms low-latency Game mode and, coming later this year, activity level and posture reminders using information collected by inertial measurement unit sensors built into the buds.
OnePlus Buds Pro 2 review: What do we like about them?
Stemmed earbuds are nothing new, but the Buds Pro 2 are an eye-catching take on the format. Their slender, cylindrical stems are wrapped in soft reflective metal, while the rest of the buds are covered in a matte coating. It’s a design that creates a visually interesting point of contrast and there’s a choice of Obsidian Black and Arbor Green colourways to match the OnePlus 11. I was sent the latter and really like the aesthetic.
Not only do they look great in your ears, but they’re very comfortable. The largest eartips created an effective seal to help block out external sound, didn’t cause any aching during longer listening sessions and ensured the Buds Pro 2 remained lodged in my ears throughout vigorous exercise sessions.
For the money, the Buds Pro 2 deliver impressive default sound quality, too. There’s an energy and expressiveness to the default “Balanced” sound signature, which was co-created with Dynaudio and delivered a pleasing level of mid-range and treble detail on Lipps Inc.’s “Funky Town”. The various percussion instruments were distinctly separated and the high-pitched vocals clean without ever sounding strained.
The other three “Sound Master” EQ presets, all of which were also co-created with Dynaudio, don’t suit eclectic listening particularly well but work as intended. “Bold” and “Serenade” are effectively Bright and Vocal modes, boosting high and mid-range frequencies respectively, while “Bass” mode does what it says on the tin. OnePlus says a fifth EQ tuned by legendary composer Hans Zimmer will be added via an over-the-air update in February.
The ability to create up to three of your own EQs using a six-band graphic equaliser is also present and, unlike with some manual EQs, adjustments actually have an appreciable effect on the sound profile.
There’s one more way in which you can alter audio: “Golden Sound”. This is version 2.0 of OnePlus’ Audio ID technology and makes personalised tweaks to your EQ based on the results of an ear canal scan and hearing test. It worked quite a bit better than it did when I tested the original OnePlus Bud Pro, presumably because it takes into account the structure of your ear canals in addition to how well you hear specific frequencies.
As a male approaching 40, it came as no surprise that high frequencies proved my primary aural weakness. These were boosted significantly by the Golden Sound profile, along with more moderate boosts to mid-to-high and low frequencies. Listening to The Weeknd’s “Can’t Feel My Face” with and without the profile, the difference was audible. I was able to get a fuller picture of the track, with vocals given more presence and a more richly textured bassline. The tool isn’t as quite effective as Nura’s personalised sound but I still preferred how songs sounded with the bespoke profile engaged than without it.
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OnePlus Buds Pro 2 review: What could be better?
Their stereo sound may be impressive, but the OnePlus Buds Pro 2 are on a far less sure footing when it comes to Spatial Audio. In the marketing materials for the Buds Pro 2, OnePlus assured us “don’t worry about platform support – Spatial Audio works great whether listening to multi-channel audio formats on YouTube, or simple dual-channel audio”. This certainly wasn’t my experience, however.
Toggling on Spatial Audio while listening to tracks on Tidal or watching supported spatial content on Netflix had no effect on the sound profile whatsoever, and the Head Tracking mode didn’t work, either. YouTube content proved a different story, with both spatial and head-tracking effects clearly evident, but even then I wasn’t blown away. Sound certainly follows you as you turn your head, but it’s not especially subtly implemented and the spatialisation on Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark” made me feel like I was in an echoey box rather than front row at a live performance.
OnePlus says the Buds Pro 2 are capable of reducing external sound by up to 48dB compared with the 40dB managed by their predecessors, but the difference wasn’t as pronounced as I’d hoped and, although low-frequencies are dampened pretty well, there’s little in the way of mid-range or high-frequency attenuation. I was still able to hear the hustle and bustle of a busy train and office environment over my music, and my keystrokes remained audible when listening at low volumes while working from home.
This was despite engaging “Personalised noise cancellation”, which uses the same ear canal test results to optimise ANC. Unfortunately, it made no tangible difference to my experience. I also experienced some quirks with the transparency mode, which occasionally only worked in one ear when engaged. This seemed to be due to an issue with the buds’ wear sensors, as an in-app alert suggested I didn’t have both in my ears despite them being lodged there securely.
My big grumble with the first-gen Buds Pro’s touch controls linger here, too. While pinching the stems works well for executing actions, touch control customisation remains limited, leaving you without a way to change volume unless you reach for your phone.
Finally, while not necessarily surprising, it’s a shame OnePlus has increased the price of the second-gen model by £40. It’s not that they’re now overpriced but they’re no longer the bargain their predecessors were, and this may prevent non-OnePlus phone owners from taking a punt on them.
OnePlus Buds Pro 2 review: Should you buy them?
If you intend on picking up the OnePlus 11 and don’t already own a pair of true wireless noise-cancelling headphones, the OnePlus Buds Pro 2 will seem an appealing prospect. Their stylish design and comfortable fit are complemented by an impressive list of features, although a couple of these are only available when using OnePlus’ latest handset.
Their Dynaudio-tuned sound is enjoyable, too, but they come unstuck on the Spatial Audio front. Spatial effects don’t work on certain platforms and, when they do, they’re not especially convincing or immersive. Personalised ANC fails to hit the mark, too, leaving the OnePlus Buds Pro 2 as earbuds that promise a lot but fall short in too many areas to be considered an essential purchase, even for OnePlus phone owners.