Samsung Level One Pro Headphone review – Bluetooth Hi-Res Headphones

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Welcome to my review of the Samsung Level One Pro Headphones.

The Level One Pro headphones are available in 2 colours, black and white and cost £230.

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The Key Specifications

– Bluetooth 4.1
– A2DP, AVRCP, HSP, HFP
– Multipoint
– Bluetooth Smart Touch Control (Play/Pause, Song Movement, Volume Up/Down, Talk-In Mode(Listening ambient sound with music), Call Receiving, Call Rejection)
– 40mm Speakers with Dual-Layered Diaphragm(UHQ Audio Support)
– In the Box – Carrying Pouch, Audio Cable, micro USB Cable
– Up to 10 Hrs (Bluetooth Mode with ANC), Up to 20 Hrs (Bluetooth Mode without ANC), Up to 18 Hrs (Wired Mode with ANC), Unlimited Listening Time (Wired Mode without ANC)
– 161.9 x 184.6 x 74.1 mm
– 236 g
– UHQ-BT is compatible with selected devices starting from Galaxy S6 Edge+ and Galaxy Note5
– Sharing – The Level On Wireless Pro lets you stream your tunes to a friend via the unique Sound With Me function.

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The Basics

The Level On Wireless Pro provide studio-quality sound, Active Noise Cancellation using 4 built-in microphones, two on each earpiece and offer Hi-Res Bluetooth and Wired Hi-Res sound using Samsung’s UHQ codec. For this you need these headphones and a compatible Samsung phone. At the moment this includes the S6 Edge+, Note 5 and S7 and S7 Edge.

UHQ works at 96 khz/24 bit. CD quality is 44.1 kHz / 24 bit. If you have MP3’s at a lower bitrate the UHQ will upsample the tracks.

Operation is using the touchpad on the right headphone. Slide up and down for volume, left or right to skip tracks, tap to play/pause, press and hold middle for talk through. It really is a breeze to use.

Comfort. The Level One Pro are very comfortable to wear and for extended periods too. They fit on the ears.

The Sound Quality

The first thing that will strike you about these headphones is that they are not bass boom boxes. Samsung state these are studio headphones and they really are! These are the first bluetooth headphones I have used that provide Hi-Res Bluetooth sound. Does it make a difference. Yes it does. Does it beat a high quality wired setup. No. Does it get close. 85% close.

So as these are studio based headphones, they are rather flat in sound reproduction. They only reproduce what is available and accurately. So crap in, crap out.

Then Samsung add their Ultra High Quality audio codec that works at 96 kHz /24 bit. The Samsung Music app also upscales non hi-res tracks. You can switch this option on or off. With UHQ on you also gain the benefit of all the other sound alive features. This includes the equaliser, surround sound, tube amp pro (this simulates the soft timbre of a tube amplifier which I quite like) and concert hall. Samsung also feature adapt sound that performs a hearing test on each ear, which then in turn provides a custom music profile. This is really effective.

So what’s my verdict on the sound quality. These are good quality music headphones. I didn’t suffer fatigue. However, they are not always exciting to listen too. The other consideration is the extra bandwidth UHQ requires. If you start doing other activities on your phone, drop outs and glitches will occur occasionally using the UHQ. With UHQ turned off this doesn’t happen. This may mean a software update is required on the S7 to fix this but at the moment it is a consideration.

Another consideration is that as soon as you want to watch a YouTube video or something similar , you need to turn off UHQ, due to the fact peoples voices are out of sync.

My long term set of bluetooth headphones is the Plantronics BackBeat Pro. They have tons more bass and subwoofer type bass but with great mid and treble. At times you might think there is an earthquake happening whilst listening to these. They Plantronics are a lot heavier and larger. They don’t fold like the Level One Pro. However, if I gave both headphones to you to compare, most would choose the Plantronics. Far more fun and engaging. However, over an extended listening period, the Level One Pro would win as ear fatigue is minimal. Plus the sound is more accurately reproduced.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, as good as the Level One Pro headphones are, I just cannot enjoy listening to them, so sadly I cannot recommend them wholeheartedly. In addition the music drop outs and glitches are frustrating. For some people, the studio type sound will be perfect!

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15 thoughts on “Samsung Level One Pro Headphone review – Bluetooth Hi-Res Headphones

  1. Agree with everything in this review. However, I am one of those people that does like the more neutral balance (and portability) of the Samsungs over the Backbeat Pro’s (which I also own). I am hopeful that the issues with UHQ audio can be resolved, but I have not had any success with raising the issue with Samsung Support in the UK – simply got a message to have the set investigated with a service agent. Will update if anything happens.

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  2. I have a remote appointment with Samsung engineers arranged on the afternoon of Monday 11th, to see if they can track down any issues with the S7 and UHQ audio. Will feedback after the appointment.

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  3. Apologies for the delay in posting anything here. It has been an incredibly busy set of weeks.

    Long and the short of it. Samsung Customer Services were no help whatsoever (appointment did not take place, as they got the day wrong), so I lost patience trying. The issue remains using hires audio files, or the UHQ upscaling with these headphones. Playing normal files, with the UHQ codec on (through the Samsung Level App) everything is excellent. Play above CD quality files (say 24 bit, 96KHz) or use the UHQ upscaler, and there are audio glitches – sometimes every few seconds, sometimes more intermittently than that. Turning off the UHQ codec means there are no problems playing back any type of file, but there is a more hollow sound from the ‘normal’ apt-x connection.

    I’ve no idea whether it is the phone or the headphones at fault. What I can confirm is that it is not just the Level On Pros which suffer the problem. I also bought a pair of the neckband style Level U Pros from Amazon, and the same problems persist. In fact, the glitches are worse with the Level U Pros, and there are occasional BT signal drop-outs too (the BT radio must not be as strong as in the Level on Pros).

    So, in summary, unless Samsung fix this (and my experience with Customer Services suggest one might receive ice skates and a free ticket to hell first), these headphones are compromised over BT with the very feature that as ‘Pros’ with UHQ audio, one would be buying them for. If one does not have any Hires files, but your collection maxes out at 16 bit 44.1khz CD style FLAC or ALAC files, then the UHQ codec is audibly better than the standard apt-x codec, but not enough to buy these headphones over competitors for this difference alone (the sound signature of the headphones is likely to be more of an issue for a purchaser, which is a matter of personal preference). For those with Hires files, expecting these to play them back over BT, sorry, this is not really an option. Yes, the headphones will replay such files with the audio cable attached, but that rather defeats the point!

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  4. I am now wondering if my S7 Edge is faulty, I can’t get UHQ over Bluetooth the option is greyed out unless I have my wired headphones plugged in? After reading this and the S7 review I thinking I maybe missing something, does the S7 only allow this option after detecting UHQ compatible headphone?

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  5. Quick update. Not suffering any drop outs with high res music. Neutral and detailed. A lot of detail I couldn’t before over aptx. I can see how we can become conditioned to compressed music and then when we hear high res it can sound flat. I like what I hear but not what I was expecting but still impressed.

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  6. On the Note 7 you adapt the music output to your personal hearing profile. After I made m profile the Level On Pros sounded detailed and more dynamic. Now I’m bit confused. But at least they sound good.

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