“Our two cents on Realme’s first earphones – the Realme Buds”
Finding a pair of good-sounding earphones which don’t burn a hole in your wallet can be a bit of a challenge. Although you’ll find a ton of options littered on various e-commerce websites, most of them either sound terrible, or sport flimsy designs which could snag into pieces with the slightest pull.
That’s where the Realme Buds come into the picture. The brand recently unveiled its first ever pair of earphones in the sub-continent at an extremely competitive price of just Rs 500. Naturally, I got myself a unit to see if they were worth the hype and after using the pair for a week, here’s what I make of it.
Design and comfort
In a market dominated by cheap and uninspiring earphones, the Realme Buds come as a breath of fresh air. Not only will the pair stand the test of time owing to the presence of a braided Kevlar cable, which is a rarity at this price range, but the company has added subtle touches to spice up the earphones’ appearance too. Right off the gate, the tinge of yellow around the earpieces and the eartips will catch your attention, which spruces up the earphone’s otherwise monochromatic design. What’s more, the earpieces ship with magnets, and clip together when you’re not using them, thereby saving you a step or two of untangling the pair every time you take them out of your pocket. It’s these small touches which make all the difference.
I’d also like to point out that unlike many budget-oriented earphones, the Realme Buds feature an in-line mic which comprises three buttons. Consequently, you will be able to shuffle through your music library, answer calls and change the volume levels without having to remove your smartphone from your pocket or bag.
Adding to the list of pros, the Realme Buds are supremely comfortable to wear over long hours. The pair ships with angular ear tips which ensure a snug fit in the ears. What’s more, the earbuds create a solid seal which blocks out almost all the ambient noise. My only qualm with the design of the earphones is that they protrude outwards slightly. Therefore, you won’t be able to listen to music at night if your head is pressing against a pillow.
The Realme Buds are backed by a pair of 11mm drivers positioned inside each earpiece. The unit can operate across a frequency range of 20Hz to 20KHz and carry an impedance of 32 ohms, meaning you’ll be able to drive the pair with pretty much any smartphone.
Coming to the sound signature, the Realme Buds unequivocally favour the low-end. In fact, the company proudly claims that the unit offers 160 percent louder bass than competing offerings and therefore, bass-heads will find little to complain about the earphones. During my stint with the earphones, I listened to a variety of Hip-hop tracks including the likes of Anne Marie’s Alarm and Taste by Tyga. I noticed that unlike other budget IEMs, the beats on the Realme Buds didn’t bloat and instead, were tight and impactful. There is a distinctive hum in chaotic EDM tracks which casts a shadow on the vocals and instruments playing in the background. However, you’ll have to really engross yourself in the music to notice such fine details.
It goes without saying that the bass interferes with other frequencies. In fact, in the song Us by James Bay, the voice of the singer as well as the strums from the guitar sounded noticeably deeper. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that the tone sounded unnatural, but you will be able to tell the difference comfortably if you listen to the same song on say, the Soundmagic ES18S which boasts a flat-ish sound signature.
As for the highs, well… let’s just say that the Realme Buds are not cut out for songs from the rock genre. There’s noticeable muddiness in the tracks and you’ll be hard-pressed to tell one instrument from the other. The sound stage isn’t the widest either and I felt as if the music was being relayed to my ears in a single file.
So, should you buy the Realme Buds? Well, considering their MRP of just Rs 500, I don’t see why not. While the earphones didn’t wow me with their sound output, the unit’s excellent build quality and stunning design put it in a class of its own. Therefore, unless you absolutely need a pair of earphones with a more neutral sonic signature, you should definitely pick up a pair of the Realme Buds. Else, you can look at the Soundmagic ES18S, which cost slightly more (~Rs 600) and feature a mundane design, but output a much more balanced sound.
Editor’s rating: 4 / 5
- Excellent design
- In-line mic with buttons for music control
- Good low-end performance
- Bass seeps into other frequencies