It’s been a very long time, in tech business phrases, since Google introduced its second-generation Pixel Buds, and it’s honest to say that the really wi-fi earbud class has moved on significantly within the meantime. In all honesty, I anticipated to be blown away by Google’s promised sound high quality, consolation, and options for the Pixel Buds’ $179 price ticket. So on the finish of the day, are they price your hard-earned cash? Let’s discover out.
Earlier than leaping into the evaluation, I need to make it clear that in the event you’re already within the Apple camp, there are two glorious choices: the AirPods and AirPods Professional. So except you genuinely lust for Google’s earbud-style Bluetooth headset, I like to recommend saving your self time and heading to an Apple Retailer. Alternatively, chances are you’ll discover the Sony and Nuraloop opinions extra to your liking.
Design and construct high quality
Like many issues in life, whether or not you’re attempting to attain a date or purchase a automobile, the model and design make a world of distinction. In my view, the Pixel Buds’s case appears to be like and feels a lot better than that of Apple’s AirPods. The variations are slight, thoughts. The feel has a matte end, which I favor as a result of it’s doesn’t decide up smudges or scratches so clearly, and it feels nice to the contact. The highest opens up effortlessly and offers a satisfying thump when closed. Extra importantly, it’s extremely pocketable whereas giving further prices to the earbuds themselves.
Talking of charging, there are two gentle indicators: one on the within to offer the standing of the earbuds, whereas the skin is for the charging case. Orange signifies charging whereas white signifies they’re full up. Google says that the case ought to have sufficient juice for a number of prices as much as 24 hours of listening time, and as much as 12 hours of discuss time.
That’s handy, contemplating the earbuds themselves solely maintain sufficient for as much as 5 hours of listening and a pair of.5 hours of discuss time. Actually, I’d anticipate a minimum of 30% extra battery life, given the scale of the earbuds.
Nonetheless, Google’s declare of 5 hours of playback is comparatively conservative: in my testing, I received a bit over 5.5 hours with the quantity at 70% on the Pixel four XL. That’s not horrible, no, however it’s not nice both. Nonetheless, it’s good to know that with simply 10 minutes charging case will web one other 2 hours of battery life.
The button you’d have to press to pair with non-Android units is positioned on the again – once more, identical to with the AirPods. The pairing course of was automated, relying on what kind of smartphone you utilize. A Pixel four XL, OPPO Discover X2, and LG V60 robotically acknowledged the Pixel Buds and supplied to pair up, however to pair with the iPhone you should press and maintain the button till the white gentle indicator slowly blinks. It really works simply the identical method however in reverse in the event you’re attempting to pair Apple’s earbuds with an Android telephone, in fact.
An alternating white and orange blinking gentle signifies that the Pixel Buds try to pair, however the earbuds aren’t accurately seated. A quick orange gentle blink signifies that the Pixel Buds nonetheless have cost left, however the case has been depleted.
Sound high quality
The largest subject I had with the first-generation Pixel Buds was blocking out exterior sounds, and sadly the brand new Google Pixel “true wi-fi” earbuds are solely marginally higher on this space. The dearth of any energetic noise isolation within the low finish is sufficient for me to not depend on them after I’m flying, for the reason that engine noise will seep by means of.
Had Google added Lively Noise Cancellation (ANC), as a substitute of counting on simply passive noise isolation from the ear ideas, I’d think about sound high quality could be considerably higher in all areas. Primarily talking, within the realm of bass, or lack thereof: it’s all fairly flat, particularly in the event you’re anticipating the identical stage of thump produced from the Nuraloop. That’s to not say that the whole lot is horrible.
The center and high-end sound positive to me, and general sound high quality is nice. Listening to my daughter’s piano recital, for instance, every piano notice got here by means of crystal clear. As soon as once more, this comes all the way down to how Google tweaked the sound profile – and since there’s little bass, the whole lot else sounds clearer. For those who like your earbuds to sound impartial, I believe you’ll just like the Pixel Buds’ EQ.
Alternatively, there are third-party firms promoting reminiscence foam ear ideas with higher passive noise isolation, so that they’re price testing. Google’s not the one one having this subject, thoughts. I’ve obtained numerous reviews of AirPods Professional homeowners complaining about the identical match downside; particularly when the Apple’s ANC requires a good seal to activate.
I can’t assist however yearn for Nura’s new Nuraloop or my gold commonplace JH Audio 16 v2 Professional with Fostex over the ear Bluetooth module. I take advantage of these two merchandise as benchmarks as a result of, at two totally different value factors – $199 and $3,000+ for the Nuraloop and JHAudio 16 v2 Professional, respectively – they every display how one can test off all of the bins: excellent sound high quality, consolation, battery life, and ease of use.
Two neat options Google did add are auto quantity and an air vent on every earbud. On the spec-sheet, they appear nice, however in real-world use, I wouldn’t miss them in the event that they weren’t included. The auto-volume management was both too delayed to be of use, or I might barely discover the distinction.
The opposite function that I used to be upbeat about was the combination of Google Translation. Sadly, you continue to have to open up the app in your telephone for issues to work. On the finish of the day, I’d nonetheless slightly simply use my Pixel four XL, as a substitute of leaping by means of all of the hoops required to get the Pixel Buds enjoying correctly with Translate.
That goes for utilizing the Google Assistant, which can be built-in into the Pixel Buds. Once more, it really works, and I do like the concept of getting it there on the uncommon event after I want it. All the identical, I’d a lot slightly have longer battery life and ANC.
The earbuds floor is touch-sensitive, permitting you to alter quantity management by swiping ahead (or up) to extend or again (or down) to lower quantity. Then faucet to pause and tape once more to renew. I like that no matter I’m enjoying robotically pauses after I take away one or each earbuds from my ears. It resumes after re-inserting one again in.
There’s one last item to debate earlier than I conclude the evaluation, and that’s consolation. I don’t care how nice a pair of really wi-fi earbuds look and sound, but when they’re uncomfortable to put on, they’re ineffective.
I discovered that the “wing” tip on both sides of the Pixel Buds does an amazing job maintaining the earbuds in place. I wore them for a two-hour therapeutic massage in the future, and a extra prolonged interval the following whereas I wrote up this evaluation. For my ears, the medium ear ideas are the proper match, and the wing-stabilizers don’t trouble me one iota. I’m pleased they’re there.
Pixel Buds (2020) Verdict
General, these Pixel Buds are nice for the on a regular basis wearer. They ship good sound high quality whereas remaining comfortably but securely in place, even throughout vigorous exercise periods or when you’re on a jostling commute.
Earlier than you make the leap, although, it’s price weighing your wants and testing the competitors. For those who’re already an Android telephone proprietor, these would be the proper resolution due to the Assistant integration in addition to Google’s Translator. All the identical, sturdy options – together with some with energetic noise cancellation – imply you’re spoiled for alternative as of late for really wi-fi earbuds, and what Google was first promising again when it introduced the second-gen Pixel Buds in 2019 doesn’t appear fairly so interesting in the present day.