Active noise cancellation (ANC) is one premium feature still scarcely available in true wireless earbuds, especially in the budget segment. That said, there are no other earbuds better at present than the recently launched Realme Buds Air 2 to experience the ANC for the first time without actually having to pay much for it. Fourth in the Realme’s Bud Air series, the Buds Air 2 is a completely reworked model with a fresh design, improved acoustics, and ANC among its core features.
Starting with the design, the earbuds come in two colour options – black & blue and silver & white – with a dual-tone accent for novelty. These in-ear earbuds have a stem-based design with earbuds donning a white glossy finish and silver theme on the stems (review unit – silver & white). With each earbud weighing about 4.1g, the Buds Air 2 is comfortable for extended usage.
As for the earbuds’ charging case, it is a pebble shaped unit with a glossy white finish. It looks similar to the OPPO Enco X (review) charging case without its premium metallic stripe and hinge. The absence of the metallic hinge for the lid, however, does not make it any less sturdy. In fact, the lid’s flip-open mechanism has a good feedback and it seems solid. Like the OPPO Enco X’s case, the Realme Buds Air 2’s case features a pairing button on the right, USB-C port at the bottom, and a tiny LED on the front for pairing and battery level indication.
Though a successor to the Buds Air, the Buds Air 2 lacks wireless charging. For entry-level ANC earbuds, the absence of the wireless charging feature does not pull it back, but its addition would definitely have put it several notches above peers. Thankfully, Realme did not cut corners on ingress protection – the earbuds are IPX5-rated for some resistance against water.
As for performance, the Realme Buds Air 2’s default audio output gives away its entry-level roots. The audio is not dull but it lacks clarity, especially at peak volume levels. The earbuds are quite loud – louder than many premium and expensive earbuds. But the earbuds’ audio quality is best experienced at volume level below 70 per cent. If the default audio performance is not up to your liking, there is a supplementary app named Realme Link available for download on the Google Play Store. The app is feature-rich and breathes life in the earbuds. Besides enabling earbuds’ touch control customisation, the app lets you choose from three differently tuned sound profiles – Bass Boost+, Lively, and Clear. By default, the earbuds are set to ‘lively’, where the output is neutral. For bass-heavy output, there is the bass boost+ profile, and vocals are best listened to in ‘clear’ sound profile. And, if the volume seems harsh on the ear, there is a volume enhancer feature, which tones down the volume when disabled. Important to note, however, that the sound profiles deliver better experience with volume enhancer enabled.
Besides the audio performance-related functions, the app also enables ANC functions. The app lets you select modes to switch between while using the earbuds. For example, if you set the noise cancellation and transparency as preferred modes, the earbuds automatically enable ANC as soon as you wear both of them, and switch to the transparency mode as soon as you take off either or both earbuds. There is also a general mode which disables both ANC and transparency mode to let you experience natural passive noise isolation where you hear some background noise but could not make proper sense of who is speaking what.
App functions aside, the addition of ANC in the Buds Air 2 is a welcome move by Realme to give price-conscious buyers a taste of the noise cancellation without having to pay much for it. The ANC intensity is not strong but it is good enough to make a difference. Similarly, the transparency mode is not top-notch and requires further polishing, but it is the best you get in the under-Rs 5000 segment. Both the ANC and transparency modes, along with a dual-mic set-up for environment noise cancelling (ENC) ensure a good voice call experience. The Realme Buds Air 2 are as good for voice calls as they are for listening to music.
Priced at Rs 3,299, the Realme Buds Air 2 are the most affordable true wireless earbuds to experience ANC. They are a no-brainer if you are in the market looking for entry-level wireless earbuds that are good for both calls and music. Besides, the earbuds’ supplementary app is feature-rich and lets you manage them with ease. The Realme Buds Air 2 delivers a solid performance further made perfect by the add-on features enabled through the Realme Link app. It would not be an exaggeration to say the Buds Air 2 stands out in an excessively populated true wireless earbuds market solely for its merits.