The world is full of noises. On the bus it’s teenagers discussing crushes or a very loud phone call in the row over. At work, it’s blasting music or co-workers who can’t stop talking about their day (I’m definitely guilty of this, sorry Steph.) When you’re walking, there’s bird noises and jackhammers, and unwanted whistling from men in the streets. But with Active Noise Cancelling (ANC), the world can be quiet. It can be calming. It can give you the peace that you’re missing.
Recently, I was sent the Realme Buds Air Pro for review. They’re $199 in-ear buds boasting ANC up to 35 decibels, solid 20-hour battery life and quick charging features. They’ve got decent sound quality, feel great in your ears and they’re perfect for a daily commute — but ANC is by far their most impressive feature.
35dB is about the same sound level as people talking on your bus. It’s the sound of an errant whistle or a lawnmower going in your neighbour’s yard. The earbuds won’t completely block out every sound (jackhammers, construction and shouts will still filter through) but it will provide a personal cone of silence and muted sounds where you can vibe in peace.
Realme Air Buds Pro
WHAT IS IT?
Realme's latest smartwatch
Excellent Active Noise Cancelling, great design
Sound quality isn't mind-blowing
With so much going on in the world, sometimes you need a moment to sit back, relax and bask in silence. With the Realme Buds Air Pro, you can do just that anywhere on the go. And when you actually need to pay attention, you can simply flick on ‘transparency mode’ with the touch of a bud and hear the world once again. It’s easy to flick between the two modes, and it’s very handy for when you need to steal those precious moments for yourself while still making time for everyone around you.
All earbuds should come with the feature — and you should make it a priority when you’re looking for your next headset. You deserve a break, and the sound cone created by ANC earbuds is the perfect place to escape to.
Design and Functionality
Beyond the noise cancelling, the Realme Air Buds Pro are great little earbuds. Like many modern sets, they’re designed similarly to the AirPods — but with a few important tweaks.
The buds sat very nicely in my ear because, unlike the AirPods, they’re quite squishy and malleable. It means they feel secure even on long walks or at the gym. (This will differ for those with different ear shapes, but personally they worked quite well for me.)
Wearing them for several hours at work, on the bus, at home and at the gym was extremely comfortable, and they never felt hot or annoying. If you want to wear them all day, you can. The only caveat is you’ll need to take breaks to charge the headphones via the case.
In everyday use, I was charging the Realme Air Buds Pro about every four or five days. My usual routine was as follows: two hours listening on public transport with ANC on, and one or two hours listening in the office with ANC off — an average of three to five hours a day. After every two hour block, I returned the earbuds to the case for charging. On average, this worked out to around 20 hours of use before needing to charge the case itself — a pretty great effort!
If you’re using the headphones continuously, ie. for more than five or six hours at a time, you will need to pop them back in the charging case for 15-20 minutes to get them back to a full charge when they’re depleted. Personally, I never ran into trouble with this — but if you are using the earbuds for longer hours, you’ll need to take note.
Recharging the case via USB takes around an hour, so there’s really nothing too fussy about the battery.
The Realme Air Buds Pro sound good, but not great. Bass can be muddy on low notes, and music doesn’t sound as crisp or interesting as on similarly-priced headsets like the Jaybird Vistas — my current go-to earbuds.
Sound is clear and crisp but higher and lower notes tend to be flattened out for a more homogenous tone. You can turn on bass boost via the linked app but this feature is still just ‘okay’ and doesn’t do a lot for the overall tone.
Basically, there’s nothing fancy or exciting about the sound quality. For most people it’ll do a decent enough job, but if you’ve used more expensive headsets in the past you may be disappointed by the lack of auditory excellence.
The clear flagship feature for the Realme Air Buds Pro is Active Noise Cancelling. At $199 it’s one of the cheaper sets on the market with ANC, making it a very appealing prospect. Whether you just want to relax at home, avoid the world or block off noises at work, ANC is an extremely good feature and the Air Buds Pro does it well.
While the price point means you’ll take a hit on overall sound quality, the earbuds are still worth the cost. They also prove that ANC doesn’t have to break the bank.
If you’re looking for a new set of earbuds, you should consider the Air Buds Pro. Just make sure whatever you buy has Active Noise Cancelling for the best possible listening experience.
Silence is golden, and the Air Buds Pro are a shining example of that.