The Buds 4 Professional combines nice audio with a really snug design and stable battery life. However loads of cheaper buds ship these too, and there are compromises in different areas.
As of late, just about each main smartphone firm has began making wi-fi earbuds.
It makes numerous sense: earbuds pair instantly with a telephone through Bluetooth, and are a simple method to start constructing an ecosystem of associated merchandise which might be designed to work collectively.
Xiaomi has been within the wi-fi earbud enterprise since 2018, shortly after the corporate expanded its operations into Europe. However none of its releases have been fairly as costly because the £239.99/€249.99 Buds 4 Professional (to not be confused with the funds Redmi Buds 4 Professional), the corporate’s most premium audio product thus far.
So, do they justify that prime worth? Regardless of a protracted checklist of positives, the brief reply isn’t any, though that’s primarily because of the energy of the competitors. Learn on to search out out why.
Design & construct
Two-tone design on case and buds
Case feels flimsy, buds extra premium
The Buds 4 Professional definitely look the half, though their design gained’t be to everybody’s tastes.
It begins with the case, which includes a two-tone mix of matte and reflective plastic. The latter means you’ll see your self each time you go to open it, which is a bit of unsettling at first. Simply don’t attempt to use it as a mirror – the picture you see could be very distorted.
Personally, I’d choose it if the matte end prolonged throughout your complete case. It doesn’t assist that the reflective floor shortly accumulates fingerprint smudges and different filth. That modern look you see within the images doesn’t final for lengthy!
Dominik Tomaszewski / Foundry
A easy flick upwards reveals the buds inside, however I’m not satisfied in regards to the energy of the hinge that this depends on. Solely a small part of the lid stays linked to the bottom, and there have been already some noticeable creaks and wobbles throughout testing. If the case feels flimsy already, I’d be apprehensive about its long-term sturdiness.
Xiaomi has stored issues easy elsewhere on the case, with minimalist branding and a single indicator gentle for battery degree of the case. As anticipated, there’s a USB-C port for charging, with the bodily button alongside it solely used whereas pairing.
However simply 49.5g even with the buds inside, the case could be very light-weight. One thing barely heavier would assist it really feel extra premium, however being so moveable is way appreciated.
You additionally do have a selection of colors. If the understated ‘Area Black’ proven right here isn’t for you, the way more eye-catching ‘Star Gold’ end is likely to be a greater match.
These colors lengthen to the within of the case and buds themselves, with the latter possibility for a similar two-tone exterior. A brief stem design has clearly been impressed by the AirPods Professional, though Xiaomi is way from the one firm to observe Apple’s lead.
It additionally seems to be a sensible choice, because the Buds 4 Professional are among the many most snug wi-fi earbuds I’ve ever examined. I shortly forgot they have been in my ears throughout a full 2.5-hour podcast, and will simply have worn them for for much longer. In case you want a companion for a flight or lengthy prepare journey, these are an incredible possibility.
Nonetheless, you’ll need to take a while to make sure a comfortable match. Medium-sized silicone eartips are pre-applied, however small and enormous options are included within the field. Through the Xiaomi Earbuds companion app, you may get an ear tip match check to see if any changes have to be made.
My solely actual frustration right here is that the left and proper textual content on the buds is tough to learn. It’s apparent as soon as you place them in your ears, however onerous to see at a look.
Each the buds and case have an IP54 ranking, that means they’re protected towards mud, however solely splashes of water.
Sound high quality
Detailed, high-quality music
Clear and crisp vocals
First rate microphone high quality
Generally, audio from the Buds 4 Professional could be very spectacular. The twin 11mm drivers ship sound that feels genuinely immersive, with out sacrificing key particulars. Thumping bass is an actual spotlight, though treble might be missing at instances. Disappointingly, there’s no method to alter both of those, through the app or elsewhere.
Even so, trendy pop songs are a key energy of the buds. They’ll deal with advanced vocals and a variety of background devices with relative ease. Even at excessive volumes, any noticeable distortion is often averted, that means the Buds 4 Professional are among the many finest sub-£250/€250 earbuds for music replica.
Up tempo songs are a key energy, with the likes of Unhealthy Habits by Ed Sheeran excelling with each the heavy beat and crystal-clear vocals. It’s the same story on Lizzo’s About Rattling Time, regardless of its frequent variation in pitch and tone.
However even on a a lot slower and stripped-back monitor like Unusual by Celeste, the Buds 4 Professional sound nice. Not one of the music’s ambiance is misplaced right here, whereas most different pop, rap and dance tracks I examined have been simply pretty much as good.
It’s definitely higher with trendy music, although. Traditional rock songs aren’t fairly as spectacular, with Africa by Toto and Weapons N’ Roses’ Candy Little one O’ Mine sounding a bit washed out. I additionally wouldn’t suggest the Buds 4 Professional for classical music, with the intricacies of Vivaldi and Prokofiev orchestras misplaced at instances. The Nothing Ear (2) and Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Professional are each superior on this space.
However even on these weaker tracks, the audio isn’t dangerous by any means. It’s simply that you simply’ll discover higher choices elsewhere.
Dominik Tomaszewski / Foundry
It’s additionally value noting that each one these tracks have been examined utilizing Amazon Music in Extremely HD, which is supposedly higher than CD high quality and 10 instances larger than the common model. The buds help the SBC, AAC and LDAC codecs, with the latter that means you get the complete good thing about Extremely HD high quality with high-res audio.
You’ll be restricted to common high quality on the likes of Spotify, however Amazon’s equal ‘normal’ mannequin nonetheless sounds actually good.
You’re most likely not shopping for earbuds only for podcasts and audiobooks, however the Buds 4 Professional is nice for voice-based content material. Voices are clear and crisp, with an actual heat and depth to the sound that you simply don’t at all times get.
Every bud contains three various kinds of microphones, for a complete of six. They mix with Xiaomi’s AI-based noise discount to ship clear calls with minimal background noise, however sound nonetheless sounds a bit muddy and washed out at instances.
Noise cancelling & sensible options
Underwhelming lively noise cancellation
Transparency mode is superb
Intuitive bud controls
As you would possibly anticipate from earbuds at this worth, the Buds 4 Professional characteristic lively noise cancelling (ANC). The companion app enables you to customise this, with six completely different ranges and an adaptive possibility for automated adjustment.
However basically, the ANC is comparatively disappointing. The primary few ranges barely make a distinction, until you’re in an setting that’s already comparatively quiet.
Stepping as much as the utmost setting is way more efficient. It considerably reduces the ambient noise with none noticeable impact on sound high quality, however I’d nonetheless dispute Xiaomi’s declare that the Buds 4 Professional “isolate each listener from unwelcome interference”.
Dominik Tomaszewski / Foundry
If it might probably’t drown out the sound of slow-moving automobiles outdoors my (closed) window, I’ve no confidence in it successfully dealing with a busy avenue.
Nonetheless, it’s nonetheless a lot better than not having the characteristic at in any respect. Nonetheless, many rivals do a a lot better job with ANC than the Buds 4 Professional, together with the AirPods Professional 2 and Bose QC Earbuds II.
Bluetooth 5.3 means the Buds 4 Professional can technically join to 2 or extra gadgets on the similar time, however I couldn’t get this to work regardless of enabling the characteristic within the app. Each time I linked it to my Home windows 11 laptop computer, the connection would drop on the telephone.
By way of which telephone to make use of, any Android handset may have entry to the complete vary of options. None are reserved for Xiaomi customers, though the Xiaomi Earbuds app isn’t accessible on iOS. It’s easier than many companion apps, however provides all the same old core options.
The obvious ones are for the transparency and ANC modes, however gestures might be customised too. Double, triple and lengthy presses of the left and proper earbud might be set to regulate quantity, noise cancellation and music skipping.
Nonetheless, gestures most likely aren’t the easiest way to explain them. As an alternative, it’s worthwhile to squeeze about midway down the stem, with a small indentation exhibiting you the place to press. This takes some getting used to, however quickly feels intuitive. A discreet click on affirmation sound avoids by accident urgent too many instances.
I a lot choose this answer to most touch-based controls, which are inclined to push the bud additional into your ear canal and shortly change into uncomfortable.
Xiaomi’s tackle spatial audio is named “immersive sound”, and it does a very good job of constructing it seem to be sound is coming from all instructions. As anticipated, the characteristic performs a lot better on songs with a number of voices or devices, however there’s a slight drop in audio high quality.
Voice detection (activating transparency mode when voices are detected) and in-ear detection (auto-pausing music when a bud is taken out) each work very effectively. However the lack of any digital assistant help is a big omission. Not with the ability to ask Google Assistant or Alexa is one thing we’ve come to anticipate from wi-fi earbuds.
Anyron Copeman / Foundry
Battery life & charging
Round 5 hours with ANC on
Case provides round three full costs
Helps wired or Qi wi-fi charging
Xiaomi claims the Buds 4 Professional can last as long as 9 hours on a single cost, however my expertise suggests you’re taking a look at round half of that.
With ANC turned on, the buds went from round 80% battery to 10% by the top of that 2.5-hour podcast I discussed above. Getting the low battery warning was an actual shock, and it was pure luck that my listening session was coming to an finish. You won’t be so lucky.
After all, you may eke out a bit longer with ANC switched off, however why wouldn’t you need to use one of many buds’ essential options? Battery life definitely isn’t horrible, nevertheless it’s not class-leading, both.
The excellent news is that the case provides one other 29 hours of battery life (with ANC off), taking the marketed complete to 38 hours. You virtually definitely gained’t get so long as that, however a full week on a single cost shall be effectively inside attain for most individuals.
Charging is through USB-C, with Xiaomi saying 5 minutes plugged in is sufficient for 3 hours of utilization. Going from 5% to 22% in that point is spectacular, however your mileage will fluctuate right here.
Dominik Tomaszewski / Foundry
Whereas slower, it’s additionally nice to see wi-fi charging help. The Buds 4 Professional case works with any Qi charger.
Value & availability
When paying full worth, the Xiaomi Buds 4 Professional price £239.99/€249.99. For now, they’re solely on sale through the Xiaomi web site within the UK and Europe, with no US availability.
It makes them one of the costly pairs of true wi-fi earbuds from a phone-first firm, with the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Professional, Google Pixel Buds Professional and Nothing Ear (2) all extra reasonably priced.
Apple’s second-gen AirPods Professional are solely barely dearer, and Xiaomi doesn’t fairly present the identical premium expertise right here. When contemplating the options, the Buds 4 Professional really feel overpriced.
With the Buds 4 Professional, Xiaomi has confirmed that it might probably make a stable pair of premium earbuds. However that doesn’t imply you should purchase them.
That’s regardless of the basics of nice wi-fi earbuds being achieved right here, with nice sound high quality, wonderful consolation and respectable battery life. An aesthetic bud design and a number of other high-end options – together with lively noise cancellation – make issues even higher.
However sadly, the implementation of ANC right here nonetheless wants work. Alongside a flimsy case and no digital assistant help, that premium price ticket turns into tougher to disregard.
In case you purchase the Xiaomi Buds 4 Professional, you’ll most likely nonetheless be happy. However the identical may very well be stated for a lot of options, together with these that are considerably cheaper.
Lively Noise Cancelling
Wi-fi: Bluetooth 5.3, LDAC
Voice management: Sure
Contact controls: Sure
Battery life: 9 hours from buds, 38 hours complete (with out ANC, claimed)