Google Pixel Buds Pro

Pixel Buds A-series, the cheapest ones right now, cost $69.

Old retired 2020 Pixel

Buds, before they stopped being sold, were $179.

And I really like them. I reviewed them. I thought they were nice, but they did lack active noise cancellation, and so they sort of fell a tiny step behind the most premium, best wireless earbuds that were out

And so I mentioned this at the end of my review, this is exactly what I said Maybe later they'll do some next-gen or a more premium Pixel Buds Pro, and they'll be 279, and they'll do noise cancellation and a bigger battery. And it turns out, well, that's exactly what we have here. This is Pixel Buds Pro, active noise cancellation, larger battery, except they're only 199. And actually if you're cool with any color other than coral, they're literally already on sale on Amazon for less than the price of the last Pixel Buds.

So just to get it out the way right off the top, these have nailed it from every single turn, from the case to the fit, to the sound, to the features. You can probably just close this article right now and just pick up these. But don't do that, because then you'd ruin the watch time on this article. And then that's no fun. So how about I take you along and I show you why these are so good. So first of all, the case that these come in is basically the same as before, which is to say, underrated. Like, so many wireless headphones have annoyingly thick or larger cases, this is a nice compact, clean, well made case. Sure, the white might get a little dirty after a while, but it's got this super satisfying magnet to open and close.

It is IPX2 splash resistant as a case, and it has a USBC port at the bottom, but also has wireless charging, so you can pop it on any Qi wireless charger you already have, or on the back of your phone, if it supports power sharing. And that's all in a package that fits in the coin pocket in my jeans. An all-around absolute win in the case. But it's what's inside the case that we're here for. And the Pixel Buds Pro have this new shape to them. They're mostly a matte black plastic and they have a sort of colored cap at the end that's either fog colored, which is what I have, it's kind of a light blue, or coral, a yellowish green or black. So just like any other wireless earbuds, you pop them out the case, you give 'em a quarter twist to lock them into your ears. And while they don't stick outta my ears too bad, like maybe the Sony WF-1000XM4s.

It isn't the lowest profile I've ever seen either. It's somewhere in between just a little bit bigger than the last Pixel Buds. But the main difference for me is these don't have the wing tips anymore. The wing tips had their upside and a downside. The upside is they would absolutely stay locked in my ear much better. I could run around and jump and they wouldn't fall out. But the tip of it, when it was in my ear for more than about an hour or two, would create this pressure point that would get more uncomfortable over time. And I didn't really like that too much.

So these don't have that anymore, which means they're not quite as locked in my ear, but they are more comfortable. Of course, earbuds are different for everybody. And when I switched to the larger earbud tips, like they really do still stay in my ear fine for walking around, normal everyday activities, and things like that, but yeah, that's worth noting.

Honestly, I think this is the right move.

Also, the buds themselves are IPX4 rated. So if you still wanna work out in them, they're sweat-proof, but I just probably won't. So once it's paired up and these are in your ears, there are a lot of different features in here thanks to the Pixel Buds app, but I'm just gonna start with the sound. You just listen to music, how do they sound? And I think these sound really, really good.

Now, I'll spare you the bunch of descriptors and audiophile terms that I could use, just to tell you, basically, I really like the sound from these new 11-millimeter drivers. Once you get a nice seal in your ear, you can tell they're really crisp and clear. They aren't too shrill or tinny. They don't distort very much. And the noise cancellation does a great job of getting rid of white noise. And there's basically no perceivable Bluetooth lag at all when watching articles or gaming. There's just two slightly odd things that I noticed. One, these just have a much stronger base than the last Pixel Buds.

I kind of noted that as a weakness in the previous Pixel Buds review. They were a little bit weak on the base, not these. The base on these is so much stronger and punchier and just a more full low end, that it's a real character highlight. So hip hop music, anything with a lot of that lower end frequency sounds really good, but in podcasts, or other genres, or just things where I don't need all that base, I was looking for an EQ to even that out. But the Pixel Buds app doesn't have EQ, and the Pixel phone also doesn't have an EQ. I actually got a Bud's firmware update while I was testing these. And I thought it was about to add an EQ in the sound settings, but all it added was this volume EQ setting, which basically just makes things a little punchier at lower volumes. So if you do specifically want to adjust the sound signature of these, maybe your phone has EQ settings built-in.

Some of them do. Maybe the app you're using for audio has EQ settings built-in, some of them do. But yeah, Pixel Buds themselves don't have EQ built-in yet, and neither does a Pixel phone. But Google has, thankfully, said that there is a full five-band EQ coming later this year, hopefully soon. But then the second thing I noticed is these also have a slightly lower overall volume than any other buds I've tested in a while. It's not problematically low, but I did find myself almost always listening either right below max volume or two to three notches below the max volume, because that was the comfortable listening level. Usually max volume is way too loud for more than a few seconds of listening on most earbuds, but not here. It feels like the bottom 40% of the volume slider is basically useless.

I can barely hear anything that's that low. But yeah, I am definitely impressed by how little distortion there is, and how clear and thumpy and great it sounds at or near max volume, so that's worth noting. Every pair of noise canceling earbuds shall have a Transparency Mode, at least seems like they all should. It's like an unwritten rule of these things. Yeah, these have Transparency Mode built into the Pixel Buds Pro, and it's okay.

It's gonna let in sound from the

Microphones and pump in your ambient noise, so you can hear what's around you, but it's not the best.

I guess, AirPods are still in a

League of their own when it comes to this, but i'd rate these transparency mode like a b-minus.

Basically it's better than leaving 'em off, but it certainly still sounds muffled.

And I'm hoping stuff like this gets better in the future. I hope they can push firmware updates to also improve Transparency Mode. But the Pixel Bud's real advantage to me is still definitely the software and all the features that are built-in. I still love having Google Assistant like a hold away or a tap away anytime I wanna ask a question. I literally just hold it down and say, "How tall is the Taj Mahal?". It's like a superpower. I can just start opening light shades and turning on smart lamps and things, and just, yeah, Assistant everywhere is great. And in the Pixel Buds app, in the settings, you can customize what a tap and hold on each side does.

So right now I have the right side hold to trigger the assistant, but the left side hold toggles between noise cancellation and Transparency Mode. Pretty much every pair of earbuds nowadays also has some sort of touch controls on the outside for your media. These are no different. It's touch once to play, touch two times to skip forward, three times to go back. The one thing I couldn't quite get to work as smoothly as I'd like is swiping to change volume. These, they're just not a big enough surface for me to reliably get a good swipe in. I kept trying to do it, but this was like the most inconsistent thing for me. Basically I just end up wobbling it around in my ear.

It works sometimes, but again, it's not a big surface, so what I ended up doing is I just end up reaching in my pocket and blindly like changing the volume on the volume rocker on the phone in my pocket, which turned out to actually be totally fine, as long as my phone is on me. And there's a bunch of other features too, multi-device support, so these buds are paired to both my phone and my laptop at the same time, and seamlessly switch back and forth, as advertised, no problem. I love that. And then they have a Find My Device feature in case they get lost. They have in-ear detection to automatically play and pause when you take them out and put 'em back in. And they even have this ear tip seal check feature, which analyzes how well the microphones are actually canceling out sound for you. And if it's not working so well, it can recommend a different size ear tip to improve the seal, it's smart. The only thing missing might be the adaptive sound feature, which listens to your environment, and then automatically bumps up the volume when your environment gets louder.

I didn't really use that very much, but I noticed it wasn't here, so that isn't in the Pixel Buds Pro. But it's also apparently coming. Other than that, it's not really missing anything. These have every feature that I'm used to having with earbuds. And the cherry on top is they did, also, with this slightly larger body, improved battery life. So you're gonna get seven hours of actual listening with active noise cancellation on, which is far longer than I would ever listen to earbuds. That's up to you if you wanna do that. 11 hours with ANC off.

That's a huge advantage.

So for 199, should you just get

These? probably, yeah.

I mean, this is easy to recommend. There are some other options out there, so around this price you're looking at You could definitely get AirPods, if you're into that, but you can also look towards, if you specifically want better sound, there are better sounding earbuds, but also something like Samsung's new Buds2 or Pro, they're 229.

I haven't gotten the chance to hear them yet, because they just came out and Samsung didn't send me any, but I imagine, considering how good the previous ones were, that those might also be really good. And then also, as far as like working out in headphones or fit in the ear, I still prefer a wing tip in the ear for actual workout stuff, so like Beats Fit Pro, Beats Studio Buds, those types of things stay in my ear better. So worth considering that stuff. But as far as like everyday buds, you put 'em in your ear every day, you take meetings on them, phone calls, you walk around with them, you just have 'em on all the time, Google Assistant's your superpower, yeah, these are great.