OnePlus Buds Z2 headphones test: the price is attractive, but the noise reduction has too much influence on the sound reproduction

OnePlus is known for its smartphones, but the Chinese manufacturer also sells wireless headphones. With its new Buds Z2, it makes an enticing promise: to offer a model with active noise reduction (ANC) for less than 100 euros. So, do you need to checkout?

The Buds Z2 are headphones with a rather long rod, which makes them not very discreet when worn, but allows them to be handled more easily. They also have a circular touch surface to control playback, ANC mode, and receiving phone calls, but unfortunately not the volume. We appreciated the good responsiveness of the touch areas.

OnePlus

After choosing the best pair of tips for our ears (three pairs are provided), we insert the headphones and find that they are comfortable. In addition, they hold perfectly in place, which allows them to be considered for sports, knowing that they are resistant to water jets (IP55 certification). However, they should not be submerged, as they are not waterproof.

A noise reduction that influences the sound too much

Let’s move on to our frequency response tests with a bad surprise: activating active noise reduction (ANC) has a significant impact on sound reproduction. Without ANC, there is a predominance of bass, as shown by the frequency response curve below:

But as soon as you activate the noise reduction, the bass goes by the wayside and the mids take over, as this second curve shows.

There is also a slight treble peak around 12,000 Hz, which provides some detail. This sound reproduction is very well suited to rock, because it offers a very good rendering of voices and guitars. It can also be suitable for rap, but classic lovers will go their way. In addition, we regretted a lack of depth in the sound, due to a lack of bass. So, if you want more bass to listen to RnB or electro, you will have to turn off the noise reduction.

Noise reduction does the minimum necessary

It effectively eliminates the lowest frequencies, but still allows less muffled noises to pass. It is nevertheless quite effective in transport such as the train or the plane, and has a Transparency mode to hear your environment. We also found the sound reproduction to be quite good for phone calls. The headphones have SBC and AAC audio codecs, but do not offer multipoint for the Bluetooth 5.2 link.

To charge the Buds Z2, they must be inserted horizontally into their charging case. The maneuver is not very natural compared to a classic vertical insertion, but after a few uses, you get used to it.

On the endurance side, our measurements are in line with what the manufacturer announces: 5:27 with ANC (score below the average) and 7:04 without ANC (score close to the average). In comparison, the Ear (1), from Nothing, founded by Carl Pei, formerly of OnePlus, obtain a similar score with the noise reduction activated. No Qi wireless charging for the case, but an IPX4 certification (splash resistance), rare enough to be mentioned. OnePlus announces a total autonomy (headphones + case) of up to 38 hours (27 hours with ANC).

Easy pairing on Android

Compatible with Google’s Fast Pair technology, Buds Z2 are automatically detected on Android smartphones. The manufacturer offers the free application Hey Melody for Android and iOS, but you don’t need it if you’re using a OnePlus smartphone, as the functions are already there. The app allows you to check the battery level, update the firmwarebut above all to perform an insulation test to find out if you have chosen the right tips.

It also allows you to select two power levels for the ANC (normal or maximum) and to customize the touch controls (single, double or triple touch). You can also choose between the different ANC modes (off, normal, maximum, Transparency) when performing a long touch. However, it does not have an equalizer, which is a shame.

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We also regretted the absence of many functions compared to the software version integrated into OnePlus smartphones. Thus, it is not possible to benefit from Dolby Atmos, nor from the function to find your headphones. Nor can we choose between the three modes of use of the headphones: Movie, Music and Mobile game.

The verdict of the test

OnePlus Buds Z2

The Buds Z2 from OnePlus offer a satisfactory quality/price ratio. The price is attractive, but you have to take into account the reduced battery life of the headphones. The sound reproduction is quite correct, but it is a shame that the active noise reduction modifies the sound to this extent. But if you mostly listen to rock, these headphones true-wireless are a bargain. Especially if you have a OnePlus smartphone.

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