By the name you would think the Realme Buds 2 Wireless is a set of earbuds. That isn’t the case. It’s a neckband style set of earphones, not a hundred per cent wireless but of course with cables connecting the earbuds to the neckband.

It’s a familiar enough type of product, but one that we tend to cover less frequently as they tend to be so very similar, specially at the low price-point at which they can be bought. The Buds 2 (as we’ll call them for this review) cost just Rs 2,299 and we might have skipped them, except for the fact that they offer a few really nice things for the price. But let’s start from the beginning — what do they look like?

The Buds 2 neckband comes in a ‘base’ grey and a yellow-and-black. We have the grey, a soft pleasant colour, actually. The one with yellow cables and black everything else, is bound to be more funky and interesting, but the grey has its own charm. The material used is some sort of softer synthetics and is really quite classy. Neckbands flan tend to look every bit as cheap as they are, but this one doesn’t. It’s very sturdy-feeling and doesn’t look like it will damage easily, even the cables. The grey could get a little dirty though, so keep them or yourself clean!

These buds will work with any phone, not necessarily a Realme. They are comfortable to wear and very light. The only problem I have with them is that the cables tend to fluff up around my face and are always in my peripheral vision, sometimes in the way, sometimes tickling my face — not a welcome intrusion, I must say. The buds look big, but fit very comfortably. I didn’t feel I needed to change the soft ear-tips for another size. The back of the earbuds are magnetic and snap together to turn the music off, which starts up again when you separate the buds.

As you don the neckband, the right side has a remote with three buttons. The other side, evening it out, is the battery. To map the buttons to their actions, you need to download the Realme Link app. Open it up and you’ll find the various settings you can make. The first of these is for noise cancellation, the most impressive aspect of these buds. You can choose full ANC, transparency mode or just normal, which is nothing in particular. The moment you wear these, the whole whooshing noise of everything around you -- the whir of a fan, the hum of various machines, the general consistent white noise of life around, gets suppressed. This is not just because of the seal from the buds but their actual cancellation. If you enjoy closing yourself in a bit and tuning out the world, these do a surprisingly good job.

I did stop a moment to think back on how at home, at one time Bose was the only brand we thought could manage noise cancellation. And Bose products, which we barely see anymore, used to cost the earth. Well, for just Rs 2,299 you can actually have quite a degree of noise cancellation. It’s rather nice to see the democratisation of certain kinds of technology.

All the controls

In the app, you can choose whether you want the button to cycle through all three modes or less. In the app, you also have some sound enhancements. There’s a volume enhancer, which really isn’t needed. And there are three EQ pre-sets: Bass Boost, Dynamic and Bright. I would advice sticking with the Dynamic. These buds use 13.6mm drivers and sound quite good, but there’s something up with the way the bass sounds. It’s booming and present, but not refined. To boost it further with the preset suppresses other frequencies and makes it sound closed and muffled. On the other end of the spectrum, high frequencies, specially vocal, can sound shrill and hurt a little. Overall, the sound signature for these buds needs some tuning, but it can sound pleasant as well and many would be perfectly satisfied with it, specially if they just want thumping bass regardless. The codecs supported include AAC, SBC and Sony’s LDAC.

You can map the buttons via the app, turn on game mode and choose to auto answer calls. Phone calls sound fine with these earbuds. The app has quite a bit more than similar ones do, actually.

Connectivity is through Bluetooth 5.0. The connect is held quite well and doesn’t give problems beyond the expected. This product has IPX5 water resistance. A splash or two won’t hurt. Battery life is good enough and there’s quick charging to top it up in any case.

Price: Rs 2,299

Pros : Good noise cancellation, sounds good for the price, comfortable, strong build, looks nice

Cons : Cables fluff out near face, bass a bit thumpy, EQ presets not so useful