CMF Buds Review: Budget-Friendly ANC Earbuds

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After the CMF Buds Pro last year, London-based consumer tech startup Nothing under its CMF by Nothing sub-brand launched the CMF Buds, a cheaper model earlier this week. This has ANC, new models and even has dual-device pairing. Are these good for the price? Let us dive into the review to find out.

Box Contents

  • CMF Buds in Orange colour
  • USB Type-C Cable
  • Ear tips in Small and Large sizes (Medium pre-installed)
  • User Manual, Safety and Warranty Card
Design and Build Quality

Unlike the round case for the Buds Pro, the Buds has a square case with rounded corners. There is also a small silver coloured metal ring on the left side that rotates, and lets you connect a lanyard. It has a PC + ABS + metal body with a matte finish that doesn’t attract fingerprints. It measures 54.7 x 54.7 x 22.9mm and 52.84 grams including the buds. The case doesn’t have any IP ratings.

Opening the case, you can see the earbuds. The case has magnets, so that it locks securely. There is also a magnet connecting the two parts of the case, and the earbuds also have a strong magnet that secures them in its place.

You can see the LED light on the front. The USB Type-C port is present on the back, with the function key next to it for pairing.

The in-ear earbuds have a matte finish for the stem, and the rest of the earbuds feature a glossy finish. The earbuds weigh about 4.57 grams, which is actually 0.2 grams lighter than the Buds Pro, and measures 32.6 x 20.4 x 24.4mm. There are two mics on each earbud, which promise better wind noise cancellation.

There is an optical sensor for wear detection so that it can automatically pause the audio when you remove it from your ears and play when you put it back.

You can also see the CMF branding on the outside where the touch-sensitive area is present that lets you control play/pause, ANC and volume. The earphones have IP54 ratings for dust and water resistance that can withstand splashes or light rain, but you can’t use it when swimming.

The fit was perfect, and it doesn’t come out easily, even during strenuous activities like running or workout. Since they are light, you don’t feel like wearing the earbuds.

Connectivity, Pairing, and Controls

The CMF Buds supports Bluetooth 5.3 with AAC and SBC codecs. We can’t expect LDAC for the price. The pairing process is very easy for Nothing devices. Just enable Bluetooth on the phone, open the charging case of the buds, place the charging case close to the phone, and follow the prompts. To connect to other devices, place the Buds into the charging case with the cover opened. Press and hold the setup button in the case for 2 seconds to enter Bluetooth settings. Then, select the CMF Buds.

There is a fast pair option which works in latest Android phones. We tested it on the Samsung Galaxy S24 and iQOO Neo9 Pro, and never faced any pairing or disconnection issues. There is also Microsoft Swift Pair to connect it to Windows. Since the phone pairs with the case and not the headset, you will need the case if you want to reconnect it or even turn on the headset if it’s disconnected from the phone.

You can enable dual connection option that lets you connect to two devices at the same time and switch the audio playback between them. But the headset gets rebooted every time you need to disable or disable the feature.

This uses touch controls, same as the Buds Pro.  This lets you skip tracks, switch between noise cancellation modes, and adjust volume – all with a press. The controls can be customised in the Nothing X app.

Function Left earphone (L) Right earphone (R)
Play / Pause or Answer call / Hang calls Double tap
Next track Triple tap
Switch between ANC and Transparency Mode Tap and hold
Volume control Double tap and hold

Volume control is disabled by default, but can customize them with the Nothing X app on Android and iPhone. You can change actions for double tap, triple tap and double tap and hold. Tap and hold is set for noise control.

You can disable in-ear Detection from the settings. There is ‘Find My Earbud’ option that makes high pitch sound so that you can locate the earbuds when you misplace them.

Audio Quality

The CMF Buds has 12.4 mm bio-fibre driver with and custom TPU.  The company says that this has enhanced acoustic components
and Ultra Bass Technology 2.0. There is also Dirac Opteo patented correction technology.

As the company says, the bass is on the higher side, and you can enable ultra bass option to make it better. High and mid-range frequencies were decent, but not the best.

It features five equalizer presets – Direc Opteo, Rock, Electronic, Pop, Classical and Enhance vocals. – so that every song can be heard how it should. You can also create custom EQ with the custom option. It doesn’t have the Personal Sound Profile feature present in the Ear series.

Noise Cancellation and Call Performance

Regarding the Noise cancellation, the Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) blocks the ambient sound up to 42dB, slightly less than 45dB in the Buds Pro. However, the quality in the Ear series felt better, especially when using outdoors.

However, this uses a wide frequency range of up to 2900 Hz, compared to 5000 Hz in the Bud Pro and the premium Ear series, so the cancellation is no the best in varied sound conditions like switching from traffic or crowded areas.

This also lacks modes for noise cancellation, so you can just switch between noise cancellation, transparent mode and turn it off.

You can switch between noise cancellation, transparency and no noise cancellation with tap and hold gesture.

This also has Transparency mode that allows you to listen to ambient sound so that you can recognize the surrounding situation and any potential risks. Just like ANC, the transparency mode is also average compared to the Buds Pro. The low-latency gaming mode, which is called low lag mode, works automatically with the Nothing phones, but you need to enable it from the settings for other devices. Without the low lag mode, the latency is too high, but it is decent with the mode enabled, but the company doesn’t reveal the value officially.

Coming to the call noise cancellation, it uses Clear Voice Technology and an advanced wind noise reduction algorithm to ensure crisp, clear calls. This worked well for calls and cuts out the wind noise easily.

Battery Life

The earphones pack a 45mAh battery that promises 8 hours of standalone battery life without ANC and 5.6 hours with ANC. During my use with AAC and noise cancellation enabled occasionally, I got slightly over 4 hours in about 70% volume, which is decent.

With noise cancellation fully off, it lasted for close to 7 hours. For calls, it lasts only for around 4 hours with ANC enabled, since it uses call noise cancellation tech. The Buds Pro was slightly better when it comes to battery.

With the 460mAh charging case, it promises up to 35.5 hours of total battery life without ANC and 24 hours of total battery life with noise cancellation enabled. You can’t expect wireless charging in the range. Charging the case fully with the earbuds takes about 1 and half hours. It also has fast charge, so that you get 6.5 hours of playback without ANC with 10 minutes of charging.

Conclusion

Overall, CMF Buds is decent active noise cancellation (ANC) TWS earbuds if you are tight on the budget. The design and build are better than the Buds Pro, and the battery life is decent as well, but the ANC is better in the CMF Bud Pro model which is now available at the same Rs. 2,499 price tag.

It will be available at a special launch price of Rs. 2,299, during the limited drop sale on Flipkart and Myntra. It will be available in offline stores including Croma and Vijay Sale starting from March 8th at 12PM.

Pro

  • Good build quality
  • Decent audio quality
  • Decent battery life
  • Dual device connectivity

Cons

  • ANC and transparency could have been better


Author: Srivatsan Sridhar

Srivatsan Sridhar is a Mobile Technology Enthusiast who is passionate about Mobile phones and Mobile apps. He uses the phones he reviews as his main phone. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram



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