In a world where audio quality and noise cancellation are must-haves, the CMF Buds Pro emerge as a formidable contender in the entry-level earbuds segment. Priced at an affordable $42 (INR 3499 in India), these earbuds bring the power of active noise cancellation to the masses. But how well do they deliver on their promises? Let’s unbox, explore, and dissect these intriguing earbuds.
Unboxing experiences for earbuds tend to be mundane affairs. However, CMF Buds Pro’s unboxing experience is unique in its own right. The packaging adopts a minimalistic approach reminiscent of an aftermarket USB cable package you’d find at the airport – no flashy frills, just two pieces of cardboard with cutouts for the earbud case and cable. This eco-conscious approach not only saves space but also reduces environmental impact during manufacturing and disposal.
CMF Buds Pro review
The CMF Buds Pro offer active noise cancellation in an affordable package. We explore their unboxing experience, design, audio quality, microphone performance, software features, noise cancellation, battery life, and deliver the final verdict.
- Affordable price
- Lightweight and comfortable design
- Impressive active noise cancellation
- User-friendly Nothing X app
- Extended battery life
- Limited audio customizability
- Mediocre microphone quality
- High audio latency
- Disappointing transparency mode
Design & Build:
The CMF Buds Pro’s case has a hockey puck-like shape and size. Its Dark Gray variant gives off a rugged, masculine vibe. In addition, it’s available in Light Gray and a vibrant Orange for those with different style preferences. The matte finish and smooth texture lend it a sleek look, although it does scuff relatively easily.
The earbuds themselves sport a pill-shaped stalk with a touch-sensitive surface. Two small vents on top house the speakers, while two at the bottom accommodate the microphones. What’s interesting is the optical sensor on the inner side, a rarity in this price range where capacitive touch surfaces are more common.
With an IP54 rating for dust and water resistance, the CMF Buds Pro promise durability and practicality. Moreover, they are comfortable for long-term wear, thanks to their small, lightweight design and soft, pliant silicone tips.
While the CMF Buds Pro’s design doesn’t break new ground, it ticks the boxes for functionality and comfort in the affordable earbuds category.
Software and Features: The Nothing X App Experience
To control the CMF Buds Pro, you’ll need the Nothing X app, available for both Android and iOS. On Nothing phones, you’ll enjoy seamless integration with Bluetooth settings and notification toggles.
The app offers a range of options for customizing your earbuds. You can adjust the EQ, tailor touch gestures (double, triple, tap and hold, double tap and hold), and fine-tune the ANC modes. While the ANC has three manual control levels, it lacks the auto adjustment feature found in Nothing’s Ear (2). Enabling ANC produces a distinct deep bass tone, although some users may find it a tad too loud.
The app also lets you disable in-ear detection, toggle low-lag mode (which could benefit from automatic activation during gaming), and use features like Find My Earbuds and firmware updates.
However, there’s a caveat with the EQ settings. Unlike the advanced parametric EQ available for the Ear (2), CMF Buds Pro users are limited to a three-band EQ. Unfortunately, this EQ falls short in providing a satisfactory tuning, and drastic changes can result in volume drops. The presets are equally uninspiring, leaving room for improvement.
Despite the EQ limitations, the Nothing X app impresses with its user-friendly design and stability, a rare feat in the world of budget earbuds.
Equipped with a single dynamic liquid crystal polymer + polyurethane driver and supporting SBC and AAC codecs via Bluetooth 5.3, the CMF Buds Pro deliver audio with a noticeable V-shaped tuning. Treble and bass take center stage, leaving the mid-range in a deep valley.
The bass response is aggressive, especially when compared to the Ear (2), offering better control. However, it may overwhelm listeners on bass-heavy tracks while remaining less intrusive on less bass-centric music.
Unfortunately, the low mid-range takes a hit due to an audible dip in the frequency response. This affects the clarity of instruments and vocals in videos and podcasts.
On the brighter side, the upper mid-range and treble provide a lively and distinct sound, characteristic of Nothing’s tuning. While they can occasionally induce sibilance, they contribute to better imaging and spatial qualities.
In summary, the CMF Buds Pro offer an energetic and vibrant sound with decent spatial characteristics. However, the uneven mid-range and sometimes tinny or shouty sound might not satisfy audiophiles.
Compared to the OnePlus Nord Buds 2, the CMF Buds Pro deliver a more balanced sound despite their bass-heavy nature. The Nord Buds 2, while offering mellower vocals, suffer from dull highs.
Notably, disabling ANC transforms the CMF Buds Pro’s sound profile, leading to a more balanced tonality. This adjustment almost acts as an EQ preset, making it worth exploring for those who don’t require active noise cancellation.
While the CMF Buds Pro offer decent audio quality for their price, a more functional EQ within the app could have maximized their potential without resorting to third-party solutions.
Microphone: Where Improvement Is Needed
The CMF Buds Pro’s microphone performance falls into the realm of mediocrity. Even in a quiet room with no background noise, voices exhibit a slightly muffled quality. While it won’t disrupt calls, it won’t earn accolades either.
Comparatively, the OnePlus Nord Buds 2’s microphones shine with more natural and better-sounding voices. This revelation suggests that Nothing should prioritize microphone quality over the bare minimum requirements.
Noise Cancellation: A Standout Feature
The CMF Buds Pro proudly sport active noise cancellation, empowered by six onboard microphones. Users can choose from three levels of ANC, turn it off completely, or enable transparency mode.
At its highest setting, the CMF Buds Pro’s ANC impresses. It effectively tackles low-frequency sounds and offers decent mid-frequency coverage, a rarity in budget earbuds. While some high-frequency sounds seep through, this is expected.
In comparison, the OnePlus Nord Buds 2’s ANC falls short, allowing more mid-range sounds and lacking robust low-frequency coverage.
Although slightly inferior to the pricier Nothing Ear (2), the CMF Buds Pro hold their own in terms of ANC performance.
However, the transparency mode leaves much to be desired. It fails to amplify ambient sounds adequately and tends to muffle them, necessitating the removal of earbuds to hear surroundings clearly.
Latency: A Hurdle for Gamers and Video Enthusiasts
The CMF Buds Pro suffer from high audio latency, averaging between 200-300ms. This substantial delay renders gaming impractical and introduces noticeable speech-sync issues when watching videos.
While the Nothing X app offers a low-lag mode, its effectiveness remains questionable, as the latency persists regardless of its activation status. Additionally, the mode deactivates when earbuds return to the case.
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Battery Life: Impressive Stamina
Each CMF Buds Pro earbud houses a 55mAh battery, a significant upgrade over the Ear (2)’s 33mAh batteries. With ANC disabled, they boast an impressive battery life of 11 hours, surpassing the Ear (2). Even with ANC enabled, they offer a commendable 6 hours and 26 minutes of playback.
These numbers align well with real-world usage, outperforming the OnePlus Nord Buds 2.
Final Verdict: Unbeatable Value
In the realm of budget earbuds, the CMF Buds Pro emerge as a compelling choice. They offer a comfortable design, an intuitive app, commendable ANC performance, eco-friendly packaging, and excellent battery life. While microphone quality, audio customization, and latency remain areas for improvement, the CMF Buds Pro stand as Nothing’s most well-received product to date, delivering remarkable value for their price. For $42, they unlock affordable excellence in the world of noise-canceling earbuds.
Are CMF Buds Pro compatible with all devices?
Yes, CMF Buds Pro are compatible with a wide range of devices, including smartphones, tablets, and laptops.
How long does it take to charge CMF Buds Pro fully with Case?
CMF Buds Pro can be fully charged in approximately 5 hours.
Can I use CMF Buds Pro for phone calls?
Absolutely! CMF Buds Pro feature a built-in microphone for crystal-clear phone calls.
Are CMF Buds Pro suitable for workouts and outdoor activities?
Yes, CMF Buds Pro are designed to be sweat-resistant and durable, making them perfect for workouts and outdoor adventures.