To date, Samsung's lineup of noise-cancelling true wireless earphones hasn’t knocked our socks off, but the $229.99 Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro (available for $154.99 if you preorder) strive to reset our expectations. Notably, these earphones are one of the few true wireless pairs we’ve tested with dual drivers in each earpiece, the result of which is fantastic audio performance. Otherwise, the Buds 2 Pro offer competent active noise cancellation (ANC), a fully waterproof design, and support for 24-bit hi-res audio playback (on select source devices). The in-app EQ is a bit limited and we could do without some of the gimmicky 360 Audio features, but those drawbacks don't seriously detract from the experience. Anyone with a recent Galaxy phone should consider the Buds 2 Pro, though we recommend the $279.99 Sony WF-1000XM4 earphones more highly to everyone else thanks to their class-leading noise cancellation.Dual Drivers and a Waterproof BuildAvailable in black, lavender, or white, the Buds 2 Pro earpieces are bulky but light, with a rounded contour that helps them fit snugly in the ear. The exterior surface uses a silicone material and sports an eggshell-like sheen—this grip-friendly surface ensures a secure fit. The pair doesn't offer any additional fit accessories (like fins or hooks), but three pairs of silicone ear tips (small, medium, and large) are included.Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro is their two-way drivers—nearly all comparable true wireless models use a single driver in each ear, but here you get a 10mm driver for bass and a 5.3mm driver for treble. That setup doesn’t guarantee great audio, but it’s an excellent platform from which to build. The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro are compatible with Bluetooth 5.3, offer auto-switching between devices, and support the AAC and SBC codecs, but not AptX. But that’s only half the story. The pair also works with Samsung’s proprietary and hi-res Samsung Seamless codec. Whether you can listen to 24-bit audio depends on what phone you use, however. The fine print states that 24-bit audio support is only possible on Galaxy smartphones with at least Android 8.0, One UI 4.0, and 1.5GB RAM. That means if you have an Android device that doesn’t meet these specs, you have to make do with either the lowest-common-denominator SBC or the inefficient (on Android) AAC codecs. Aside from people who own the specific Galaxy phones mentioned above, that means that iPhone users will actually get better audio quality than Android users with these earbuds.Sony's WF-1000XM4 earphones, on the other hand, support the audiophile-friendly LDAC codec, which is built into the Android OS, making them a better choice for hi-res audio if you don't own a Galaxy phone. We reached out to Samsung for more details about the technical specs of the Samsung Seamless codec (such as sampling rate and bitrate), but haven't heard back as of press time, so we can't directly compare the two codecs.The on-ear capacitive touch controls are easy to operate and audible prompts provide useful feedback; I never once misfired with the controls. That said, the default control layout is a bit limited. You can only control playback (single tap), answer or end calls (double-tap), decline incoming calls (touch and hold), or switch noise controls (touch and hold). Head to the app to enable additional double-tap and triple-tap functionality, such as for track navigation. You can also set the touch-and-hold gesture to summon the Bixby voice assistant, adjust volume (left ear for down and right for up), or open Spotify. With a little bit of work, it's possible to set up just about everything you need.The IPX7 waterproof rating here is excellent, especially for a true wireless pair with ANC (the runner-friendly Jabra Elite 7 Pro ($199.99) and Elite 7 Active ($179.99) are two notable exceptions that boast both ANC and IP57 ratings). You can submerge the Buds 2 Pro at depths of up to one meter for 30 minutes, as well as expose them to a moderate amount of water pressure, such as from a faucet. Neither sweaty workouts nor rainy weather should pose a problem. Note that this IP rating doesn’t apply to the charging case, so be sure to fully dry the earpieces before you dock them.The squared-shaped charging case is compact and features the same grip-friendly surface as the earphones. A USB-C port on the back enables charging via the included (and lengthy) USB-C-to-USB-C cable. The case also supports wireless charging via the Qi standard.Samsung estimates that the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro can last roughly either five hours with ANC on or eight hours with ANC off per charge. It says the case holds an additional 18 or 29 hours of battery life depending on your use of ANC. The upper ranges of those estimates are pretty good, but the lower ones aren't impressive. Don’t forget that all the extra bells and whistles, such as 360 Audio and 24-bit playback, impact the battery life, as does your typical listening volume.Galaxy Buds 2 Pro App ExperienceThe Samsung Galaxy Wearable app (available for Android only) resembles most other companion apps we've tested recently. The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro can pair with iOS devices over Bluetooth, of course, but the company doesn't offer an app for that platform. The Buds will fast pair with Samsung’s Galaxy phones, which eases the process some.First, the app prompts you to test your earbud fit—this is a quick process that you can skip. At the top of the menu is the Noise Controls section—here, you choose between ANC On, Ambient Sound, or All Off modes. Below this, you can enable Voice Detect (Ambient Sound mode automatically turns on when it detects your voice) and 360 Audio (Samsung’s version of Spatial Audio, which has an optional head-tracking feature). You can also toggle various on-ear touch controls from the main app screen. But, as mentioned, these options are very specific—you can choose to enable triple taps, for instance, but only for track navigation; you can't assign this gesture to control anything else. For a touch control customization menu, it’s overly rigid and we don't know why anyone would choose to turn off any of the touch controls.Farther down, the Earbuds Settings menu grants access to the EQ, the earbud fit test, and toggles for various functions. For instance, you can enable audible notifications, Bixby voice wakeup for hands-free voice assistance (which requires a Bixby account), the Use Ambient Sound During Calls setting (which controls your in-ear voice levels on calls), Noise Controls for single-earbud use, and even neck stretch reminders (complete with a tutorial on how to stretch your neck). The EQ function is a missed opportunity. You get six presets (Bass Boost, Clear, Dynamic, Normal, Soft, and Treble Boost), but none is customizable. We recommend leaving things in the default Normal mode unless you need some extra treble or bass. Finally, the app also includes a user manual and a Find My Earbuds function that plays loud beeps through the earpieces. You can also add widgets to your home screen so that you don’t need to open the app to switch Noise Control modes or check the battery status. Although the app has some customization functions, it's nonetheless pretty basic. You can't customize the EQ to taste nor can you adjust anything about the ANC intensity. Moreover, Samsung heavily limits your options for on-ear controls. Solid Noise Cancellation and 360 AudioThe Galaxy Buds 2 Pro deliver decent noise cancellation for their price. They significantly dial back powerful low-frequency rumble (like you hear on an airplane), though some subtle high-frequency hiss is still audible. A recording of a busy restaurant with clanging dishes and boisterous conversation proved far more of a challenge in testing—the pair cut back the lows, but the mids and especially the highs seemed to sail right past the ANC. Again, a faint hiss is quite audible. However, the ANC doesn’t seem to impact the sound signature, which is good.Sony's WF-1000XM4 earphones handily outperform the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro here. The former tamps down low-frequency rumble more effectively and eliminates far more midrange noise in a busy cafe scenario. On top of that, the Sony earphones allow less high-frequency noise through and add in less masking hiss. We found the 360 Audio feature amusing, with and without Head Tracking. Like Apple's Spatial Audio feature, it’s a gimmick, but harmless and fun to try out. Samsung’s version at least creates a far roomier sound experience than others we’ve tested—imagine your favorite band playing in a large bathroom, with some exaggerated bright reflections.With head tracking in the mix, the now-familiar feature performs as we expect: Spin around in your office chair with your sound source on your desk and the audio seems to move around your head. If you like this effect, it's fine, but always remember that it's likely to obscure the original mix.Balanced Audio and Clear MicsWe tested audio performance in the Normal EQ mode and with 360 Audio turned off. Again, the lack of a custom EQ option is annoying, considering it would elevate the experience overall, but we're mostly happy with the balanced, full, and detailed Normal mode, even if it's unlikely to appeal to audio purists.We paired the earbuds with both a Samsung Galaxy S21 FE and an iPhone 8 to evaluate the audio performance on both platforms. Obviously, 24-bit audio is going to sound better than anything with less resolution, but we focused more on the capabilities of the dual drivers in each ear. Simply put, audio sounds excellent on both platforms, though the Galaxy phone has the technical advantage with Samsung Seamless codec support. On tracks with intense sub-bass content, like The Knife’s “Silent Shout,” the pair deliver palpable thump—the low-frequency response is robust, even at moderate volumes. At top listening levels, the lows don’t distort, either.Bill Callahan’s “Drover,” a track with far less deep bass, gives us a better sense of the sound signature. The drums on this track sound excellent through the dual drivers—we get some additional bass heft from the woofers, but never to the point of overemphasis. The dedicated tweeters add a wonderfully complementary layer of detail and clarity. The sound signature is certainly sculpted, but everything remains in balance.On Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “No Church in the Wild,” the kick drum loop receives an ideal amount of high-mid presence, allowing its attack to retain its punch, but the vinyl hiss and crackle also step forward in the mix to an extent. The audio sounds a bit bright, but then again, it's hard to ignore the power behind the sub-bass synth hits. The dual drivers really excel and bring out the best of elements from both frequency ranges. The vocals exhibit excellent clarity and we didn't note any additional sibilance.Orchestral tracks, like the opening scene from John Adams’ The Gospel According to the Other Mary, sound fantastic. The lows are full, realistic, and rich, while the choir vocals are crisp and bright. If I weren’t paid to test it, you’d have to twist my arm uncomfortably to get me to turn on 360 Audio here—the dual drivers do such a beautiful job of bringing out the natural spatial elements of the stereo recording. But I tried 360 Audio in the name of science, and it makes the track sound flat-out bad, boosting the treble to bizarre levels.The mic array works fine. Our test recordings revealed no egregious Bluetooth audio artifacts and we could easily understand every word.Samsung's Best Earphones YetThe Galaxy Buds 2 Pro deliver an excellent audio experience (up to 24-bit audio with the right gear) thanks their innovative dual-driver setup. They also boast fairly effective ANC for the price and a waterproof design. For the best mix of audio and noise cancellation, Sony's WF-1000XM4 earphones remain our Editors' Choice for Android and iOS phone users alike, but the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro are a welcome alternative, especially if you have a recent Galaxy device. Samsung's earphones split the difference in price between the $179 Apple AirPods (3rd Gen) and the $249 Apple AirPods Pro, but sound better than both. We imagine Apple is going to find a way to make lossless, hi-res audio work for AirPods sooner or later though, which should swing the advantage in their favor for Apple users.