Pixel Buds Pro review: Google’s best earbuds yet

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Google released new iterations of its Pixel Buds in 2020 and 2021. The second of which being a $99 model with a tonne of functionality. The business released new true wireless earbuds for the third consecutive year. But this time it included a crucial feature: active noise cancellation (ANC). It shouldn’t really come as a surprise that Google’s Pixel Buds Pro ($200) are its best-ever earphones. Now that they have earbuds that can do everything. Pixel Buds Pro review.

Design

The Pixel Buds Pro have the appearance of the older sibling of the first two variants. The Pixel Buds Pro are more of an oval shape compare to the Pixel Buds (2020) and Pixel Buds A-Series. Which were both circular with an eartip off one side and a “stabiliser arc” off the other. Although the back’s fitted wing is gone.

the new version’s design still blends in well with the ear’s natural contours. Despite the fact that they lack the additional stabiliser. I never experienced any problems with them jolting loose at an inconvenient time. Additionally, they still tuck in tightly without the need for additional pieces and are extremely compact.

This IPX4-rated Pro model still has a clearly defined circle on the outside. The earbuds receive taps and swipes for the on-board controls. Single taps (play/pause), double taps (skip tracks forward), and triple taps (skip tracks backward) are the actions, and they are mirror on both sides. Swiping forward or backwards changes the transparency and ANC modes, while a long push changes the loudness. Pixel Buds Pro review.

New version’s design

If you prefer not to activate Google Assistant with a spoken prompt. That long press action can be set to call it. Additionally, you can have Assistant on one side and ANC controls on the other without having to replicate that option. By default, the sound modes only allow you to switch between ambient sound and noise cancelling. But you can add a third option that disables both ANC and transparency mode.

The IPX2-rated charging case resembles the A-Series charging case almost exactly. The interior of the Pro model is somewhat larger and doesn’t match the colour of the earphones, which is the biggest difference. In order to avoid the need for opening the casing on the 2020 model. Google shifted the status light from inside to outside in 2021.

The pairing button is around the back here as well, and the USB-C port is on the bottom edge. The flat, circular holder nevertheless opens with a delightful flick of the thumb, and thanks to its small size, it can be transported in a small pocket.

Pixel Buds Pro review: Google’s best earbuds yet

Software and features

Google employs a six-core audio processor with its own active noise reduction algorithms. In order to maximise blocking and reduce any sound leakage, the business has also introduced a feature called Silent Seal. When ANC is turned on, the device may adjust to the shape of your ear thanks to sensors. That constantly check the pressure and release it to make things comfortable. Together, these factors effectively combat background noise like a sound machine, human voices, and cackling TV cartoons.

However, transparency mode needs improvement. To maintain a “natural sounding” experience, Google claims that the Pixel Buds Pro “process a wide spectrum of frequencies.” That wasn’t the case in my experiments. You can hear what is going on around you if you choose the ambient sound option, but it is not at all natural. You can clearly hear that you have earphones in because the sound is muffled. And because of this, it’s simple to become agitated during a brief talk. Pixel Buds Pro review.

The Pixel Buds app is system-level software available through the Bluetooth menu on Pixel phones. You may access everything by tapping the gear symbol next to the earbuds’ name. In the widgets menu, there is a shortcut option if going into settings is too much work. With only one swipe, you may access the Pixel Buds Pro capabilities. You’ll need to download a separate Google Pixel Buds app from the Play Store to use it on non-Pixel Android smartphones, but the features are the same.

You’ll find unique battery life estimates for each of the two earphones inside. When the buds are docked within the case but still connected, the level for the case also appears. The choices for adjusting Google Assistant, locating misplaced earbuds. Touch controls, sound modes, an eartip seal check, and more are located below that.

Pixel Buds

The same goes for multipoint connectivity for iOS, laptops, and other devices. May also turn on and off automatic audio switching across Android devices. You can choose ANC, transparency mode, and off under the sound optional. you can also turn Volume EQ off (more on that in a bit). You can choose whether or not to use the Pixel Buds for media audio and calls as well as choose whether or not to use HD audio in the app.

Many of these features are also deactivatable on Google, such as in-ear detection (automatic pausing), touch controls, and even Assistant. Most businesses will allow you to disable one or two of them. But Google provides you the option to disable even its most useful features if necessary.

Speaking of Assistant, saying “Hey Google” will restore hands-free access. This performs as expected, much like how Apple’s AirPods allow you to call Siri up without tapping a button. You can choose to have Assistant read out notifications for as few or as many apps as you’d like.

Additionally, Google Translate is still available, providing “real-time” assistance via Conversation Mode in more than 40 languages. For example, you may ask Google Assistant to “help me speak French,” or you can access the Translate app directly. The written translation for this function appears in real-time, while the spoken version delivered by the Assistant is slightly delayed. This pause would be awkward during a face-to-face talk.

Google has done a good job at replicating fine details. Even in the disarray of Underoath’s Voyeurist, the depth of the singer’s deep growl. The texture of the drums, and the grit of the distorted guitars can all be heard clearly. They are not just present but also active. When a track is designed to be soaring and atmospheric, like portions of “Thorn” on Voyeurist, you get that feeling. Because the audio is generally large and open. Although not all earbud manufacturers can achieve this. Google does a fantastic job of keeping things open even though they aren’t “spatial” just yet.

Gallery: Pixel Buds Pro review 

Speaking of, spatial audio is the main component of the Pixel Buds Pro that isn’t yet ready. This fall, Google says it will update the earbuds to accommodate immersive sound, making them available for use with compatible Pixel phones when watching movies and TV shows. There aren’t many specifics at this moment. But I anticipate the business will have a lot more to say when the time comes. The Pixel 7 and Android 13 are both expected to launch around the same time, and both could include the capability. Hopefully some of the information relates to music.

Volume EQ is a brand-new feature that Google has added to the Pixel Buds Pro. In essence, the tuning changes as the loudness is changed, Ensuring that “highs, mids, and lows are balanced and nuanced at any volume.” According to the manufacturer, this enables you to hear every detail of a song, even at a low volume. The bass maintains its power even when the volume is turned down, which is possibly Volume EQ’s most astounding feat. Clear vocals are heard, and minor guitar tones may still be made out in the mix.

Call quality

Google extols the virtues of “crystal clear” calls made using the Pixel Buds Pro. The majority of headphone firms do this, yet the outcomes often differ substantially from what is written on paper. According to Google, big exterior microphone apertures are covered with mesh to reduce wind noise. You can be heard in noisy surroundings thanks to internal beamforming microphones that function in conjunction with a bone conduction voice pickup device.

In actuality, everything is merely ok. The voice clarity on earphones is passable, but by no means the clearest I’ve heard. Even the audio during a video conference in Meet had a fuzziness to it. Additionally, the Pixel Buds Pro aren’t as effective at blocking things like TV sound and conversations as. They are at blocking continual rumble, like as that from a clothes dryer or other noisy appliance. In order to prevent you from feeling as though you are shouting even though transparency mode is on during calls. Google might also boost performance in this area if it transmitted your voice back through the headphones.

Battery life

With active noise reduction turned on Google claims. That users can listen for up to seven hours and for up to 11 hours respectively. The firm estimates that you can use ANC for an additional 13 hours with a fully charged case or 20 hours without one. Additionally, Google has added wireless charging, which was absent from the Pixel Buds A-Series of last year until the firm added it in its significant 2020 revamp. The quick-charge option, which provides an hour of ANC listening time in five minutes, is the last one.

During my experiments, those figures were remarkably close to actual performance. I fell 10 minutes short of Google’s rating with ANC enabled. Google has more than doubled the non-ANC listening duration here because neither of the previous two Pixel Buds models included active noise cancellation. I was able to get close to the claimed 11 hours of listening time. Even with ANC turned on, you’ll still get two more hours of use than with the other two pairs of earbuds, showing that the battery life of the company’s most expensive model has improved.

The competition

The Pixel Buds Pro and AirPods Pro aren’t truly direct rivals, despite the comparison being alluring. The most appealing features are only available to iOS and Android smartphone owners, respectively, as Apple and Google pander to their individual consumer bases. But a cursory glance at the feature list reveals that Google has almost everything Apple offers for $50 less (at full price). The one big missing, which Google expects to address soon, is spatial audio.

Once more, Pixel Buds perform better when paired with Samsung’s Galaxy Buds range. Samsung used to greatly favour iOS users, but its most recent earbuds give advantages to those who stick with Android. The Galaxy Buds Pro from 2021 have good sound quality, ANC, and a number of other useful features, but their battery life is only five hours (eight hours without active noise cancellation or Bixby voice commands). While we’ve seen them for $125, Galaxy Buds Pro were also $200 when they first went on sale. Additionally, Samsung will host an Unpacked event the following month where we will likely see a new model. So, if you’re thinking about switching from Google to the company’s earphones, I’d suggest delaying your choice for a few weeks.

Wrap-up

Google’s most complete set of earphones to date is also its best. The revised Pixel Buds from 2020 and the A-Series follow-up have all of the capabilities that made them such attractive options for Android consumers, especially Pixel owners. The Pixel Buds Pro are $20 more expensive than the pair we received two years ago, but the 2022 model is significantly better. Both the active noise cancellation and the superior sound quality are outstanding and well worth the additional cost. The only thing missing from Google’s spatial audio is call quality, which may not be a deal-breaker for you as long as it is delivered swiftly and functions properly.

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