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Active noise cancellation on a budget

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True wireless headphones have become ubiquitous. With brands ditching the audio jack from their increasingly affordable premium and TWS phones, more people are buying wireless headsets, as was evident in a recent report by International Data Corporation (IDC). The Truly Wireless Stereo (TWS) category saw a tenfold increase in shipments in 2020 in India. The report indicated that around 11.3 million TWS units were shipped last year. The growth of the TWS category can also be attributed to the convenience they offer.

In 2020, Realme was one of the main brands that contributed to the growth of the TWS segment. The company has already launched four wireless earbuds in the Rs 5,000 segment and is now back with another TWS product. The new Realme Buds Air 2 is priced at Rs 3,299 in India and they are currently the cheapest wireless earbuds to offer support for Active Noise Cancellation (ANC).

But how do these wireless headphones work in the real world? Are they good enough for the price? Read our Realme Buds Air 2 review to find out.

The Realme Buds Air 2 price in India is set at Rs 3,299. (Image credit: Ankita Garg / Express image)

The design of the new Realme TWS earbuds is quite similar to the Realme Buds Air Pro with a slightly contoured button design. The buds have a more oval design with the stem. The Realme Buds Air 2 does not have a differentiating design, but its two-tone black color with a matte finish looks very premium. The headphones have a silicone tip on the end that makes it more comfortable to wear all day and even isolates outside noise well.

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The housing of the headphones is very light and compact. You can put it in your pocket and take it anywhere. However, it is also stylish and can be easily slipped, after which you may notice scratches or dents. The back of the hinge does not have the silver metal coating that we saw in the previous version for durability. The case has a button on the right side, which you may not even notice, as it is so small. The button can be used to put the Realme Buds Air 2 into pairing mode.

The Realme Buds Air 2 stood still when I went for a run, which is good. The headphones offered a secure fit even during workouts and I wasn’t afraid of losing one of them. The buds are also IPX4 rated, which means they are waterproof. You can use the headphones at the gym and the headphones can survive some splashes of water too.

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I liked the fact that lying on your side doesn’t automatically turn off the headphones, unlike most budget wireless headphones. To do this, Realme has given an option in the application to configure the touch and hold gesture, which you can keep off whenever you want. You can also use the option to instantly activate ANC or transparency mode. There is also a general mode if you want to hear everything that is going on around you.

I tested the Realme Buds on various devices and the connectivity experience was perfect. At first, you need to press and hold the pairing button and connect the headphones. The second time around, the headphones connect in less than a second once you enable Bluetooth on your phone, which is good.

In the Bluetooth settings section, you can also check the battery details of the case and the headphones when connecting. You can also check these details in the Realme Link app. Here, you can change the actions of the touch gestures, according to your preferences. Each headset supports three actions that you can configure.

There is also an auto answer feature for calls, which didn’t work and I had a hard time rejecting or answering calls with the headphones. The detection function in the ear worked. So in case you want to talk to someone, the music will stop once you remove the headphones. The app also offers two sound effects, including Bass Boost + and Lively. While the latter didn’t work, the former made a small difference on low-end tracks.

realme buds air 2, realme buds air 2 review, realme buds air 2 rating, realme buds air 2 reviews, realme earbuds air 2 review, realme earbuds air 2 review, realme earbuds air 2 price, realme earbuds air 2 specifications, realme earbuds air 2 features, realme buds air 2, realme buds air 2 price, realme buds air 2 price in india, realme buds air 2 specifications, realme buds air 2 features The Realme Buds Air 2 wireless earbuds look top-notch. (Image credit: Ankita Garg / Express image)

The Realme Buds Air 2 provides better bass response compared to the original OnePlus Buds. The default frequency response is bass and songs like ‘Lean On’ sounded good. We noticed that the bass was more emphasized in the middle notes. Listening to Martin Garrix’s Animals was not so pleasant and the beats weren’t as forceful. You will enjoy most pop or EDM songs, but some of them may sound a bit boring. Mids sound crisp and clean on acoustic music.

If you don’t like the way Realme Buds Air 2 sounds, you can use any free Equalizer app for a better experience. There is an app called “Equalizer – Bass Booste4r & Volume EQ & Virtualizer”, which offers a lot of different equalizer presets. The Realme Buds Air 2 offers support for Bluetooth AAC and SBC codec. But there is no support for Qualcomm’s AptX audio codec for high-quality streaming. This is fine, as the company wanted to balance the price. The overall sound quality is decent enough and enjoyable for general consumers.

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The Realme Buds Air 2 headphones also support active noise cancellation (ANC), which is a nice feature in the Rs 5,000 price segment. The device has a noise-canceling dual microphone array to reduce background noise interference. The ANC mode helped block out most of the background noise (including the hum of the dryer) when listening to music. However, it is not able to completely cancel out high-pitched sound (like a doorbell) and some ambient noise leaks out when on the streets.

One of the biggest advantages of having true wireless headphones is hands-free calling and the Realme Buds Air 2 is good for that. The quality of the microphone seems to be good enough as the person at the end of the call was able to hear me very clearly when I was inside. When you’re shopping, the voice was mostly clean in our experience.

The Realme Buds Air 2 is said to offer up to 25 hours of battery life. The wireless earbuds gave us around 9-10 hours of playtime (without ANC) with the charging case.

Realme Buds Air 2 review: should you buy it?

The Realme Buds Air 2 is currently selling for Rs 3,299 in India. Those who are on a tight budget and want to buy a pair of true wireless earbuds with ANC support, touch controls, good battery life, and a decent sound experience, might consider purchasing the new Realme TWS earbuds. Alternatively, you can buy OnePlus Buds Z, which is available in the same price range.

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