A buyer’s guide to Google’s best earbuds

At Google’s I/O conference this spring, the company confirmed it’s getting into the pro audio segment with a pair of high-end earbuds called, what else, the Pixel Buds Pro. The new buds certainly sound compelling, boasting ANC, long battery life, and convenient features like wireless charging and Bluetooth multipoint. Sound up your alley? Here’s everything you need to know.

Google Pixel Buds Pro: Design

At Google’s I/O conference this spring, the company confirmed it’s getting into the pro audio segment with a pair of high-end earbuds called, what else, the Pixel Buds Pro. The new buds certainly sound compelling, boasting ANC, long battery life, and convenient features like wireless charging and Bluetooth multipoint. Sound up your alley? Here’s everything you need to know.

Google Pixel Buds Pro: Design

The new Pro buds ditch the stabilizing fins intended to hold the last two pairs of Pixel Buds in place. They also don’t have the divisive spatial vent that purportedly helped reduce ear discomfort caused by pressure — though they do feature what Google calls “active in-ear pressure relief.”

They’re bigger than previous Pixel Buds models, with each earbud measuring 23.72-by-22.03-by-22.33 millimeters. For reference, the Pixel Buds A-Series are 20.7-by-29.3-by-7.5 millimeters. The Pixel Buds Pro will stick out of your ear a little farther than the last two pairs did. That’s fair, though, considering these are Google’s first earbuds with active noise cancellation.

Google Pixel Buds Pro: Audio and active noise cancellation

We haven’t had the chance to actually hear the Pixel Buds Pro yet—they’re not out until July—but both the Pixel Buds A-Series and the 2020 model sound really good. Considering the Pro are a higher-end offering, it stands to reason they’ll sound even better. That said, the last two models had 12-millimeter drivers, and the Pixel Buds Pro have slightly smaller 11-millimeter ones. Size isn’t everything, but even so, we’re not expecting a huge leap in audio fidelity.

Even if they don’t sound markedly better than Pixel Buds that came before them, Pixel Buds Pro have a major leg up on them in active noise cancellation. Google had to change up the vented design it used in prior earbuds to accommodate the feature, but that sounds like a worthwhile trade-off. The buds also have a transparency mode to help make up for it.

Google Pixel Buds Pro: Software and features

The last two pairs of Pixel Buds were smaller than most true wireless earbuds, and their battery life reflected that: even without ANC, the Pixel Buds A-Series only managed to eke out about five hours of playback on a charge. Google says the Pixel Buds Pro will provide about seven hours of listening time with ANC on or 11 hours with it off, and that the case contains about two full charges for the buds. Google also claims that charging the earbuds in their case for five minutes will provide “up to 1 hour of listening time.”

While 2020’s Pixel Buds had a case that could charge wirelessly, last year’s A-Series didn’t; they were USB-C only. The Pro bring back wireless charging at 2.5 watts, which is quite slow — but earbud batteries are tiny, so they don’t need a lot of current. We’re not yet sure how fast they’ll charge over USB.

 

 

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