OK, Google: Pixel Buds 2 are the real deal

When Google unveiled its new true wireless Pixel Buds 2 ($179) last Oct, they appeared like a huge upgrade about the initial styles. The Pixel Buds, which debuted in 2017, experienced a wire among them and attained decidedly combined opinions many thanks to their crazy Mentos-esque structure and middling sound. But at the 2019 launch event for the new Buds, the prototype styles were not doing work, so I was still left questioning how they sounded and performed.


  • Improved in good shape with stabilizing fin
  • Palms-totally free Assistant and Translate characteristic
  • Quite good sound for true wireless
  • Fantastic call high-quality
  • Good charging circumstance with wireless and USB-C charging
  • IPX4 sweat-resistant (splashproof)

Don’t Like

  • No lively noise-canceling or transparency
  • Battery life is not stellar at five hrs
  • Not very as relaxed as some rivals
  • More attributes don’t function with iOS devices

Several months on, I have gotten my hands on a pair and can address the thriller: They sound very good, conduct very well and are worthy contenders in the high quality true wireless earbuds arena, especially for Android buyers.

The Pixel Buds will occur in 4 coloration choices, but at launch, only white will be available.

David Carnoy/CNET

Indeed, the wearable Mentos seem has returned, but I like the way the stabilizing fin — Google calls it an “arc” — has been integrated into the structure. With a minor clockwise convert the buds (five.3 grams or .19 ounces each individual) twist securely in spot, hardly sticking out from my ears. Although the initial Pixel Buds experienced an open structure like the normal AirPods, these have a noise-isolating structure, which signifies the ear guidelines get jammed into your ears, sealing them off to the outside environment. (It really is essential to get a limited seal to optimize sound high-quality.)

You do get respectable passive noise muffling but these don’t present lively noise-canceling like the AirPods Pro, Sony WF-1000XM3, Sennheiser Momentum Real Wi-fi 2 and an increasing number of true wireless earbuds. Some of the Pixel Buds’ closest competitors would be the Galaxy Buds Plus ($a hundred and fifty) and the Jabra Elite 75t ($180). I did come across all those two styles a little bit extra relaxed to use about for a longer time listening periods and how you finally truly feel about the in good shape will rely on the condition of your ear. But the new Pixel Buds need to in good shape most ears very well.


The Mentos-shaped buds don’t adhere out from your ears much too much. 

David Carnoy/CNET

Apart from their improved structure and in good shape about the initial Pixel Buds, a several issues stand out. 1st, the 56.one-gram wireless charging circumstance (with USB-C charging port) is truly wonderful. It really is compact, feels reliable in your hand and has a sleek matte finish. I preferred it far better than the AirPods’ circumstance and it feels extra high quality than Galaxy Buds Plus’ circumstance. Also, the buds are easy to get in and out of it, adhering magnetically to their charging contacts.

These are also the 1st Google Assistant “hotword-enabled” earbuds. If you have an Android system working Android 6. or far better, you can merely say, “Hey, Google,” or, “Alright, Google,” and Google Assistant is prepared to answer to your voice instructions. The AirPods and Beats Powerbeats Pro have normally-on, hands-totally free Siri and Amazon’s Echo Buds have the same characteristic for Alexa.

With new audio techniques-on-a-chip from Qualcomm, hands-totally free access to digital assistants will occur to extra true wireless earbuds afterwards this year, but for now it’s fairly strange. It worked very very well with the Google Pixel four XL I was applying for this review, with Google Assistant responding swiftly to my voice instructions. (You can also access Assistant by tapping and keeping the correct or still left earbud.)

Just after producing its debut in the initial Pixel Buds, the Google Translate characteristic returns with the Pixel Buds 2. All over again, this is an Android-only characteristic. You just explain to Google Assistant to help you speak what ever language you want, with extra than 40 languages supported. You tap and keep both earbud and start off talking in the language shown underneath the headset icon. Your mobile phone then translates and reads out loud what you said into your selected language. Just just before the man or woman you are conversing to speaks, tap the correct microphone in Google Translate and their reaction will be translated into your language and performed back again by way of the Pixel Buds. It functions shockingly very well, especially in quieter environments, though the man or woman you are conversing to has to hear to your translated language by way of your phone’s speakers, which have their quantity constraints.

The Pixel Buds 2 are splash-resistant and can be utilized for working.

David Carnoy/CNET

Although I considered the Pixel Buds 2’s sound high-quality was very good — extra on that in a moment — they performed truly very well as a headset for producing calls. I’m at the moment not in New York, where by I normally examination out call high-quality, but I manufactured some calls and performed New York Town street noise (by way of YouTube) in the track record as I conversed. I put the quantity fairly much up on a established of small speakers and callers had been impressed by how minor noise they heard close to me, though some leaked in when I talked. Google suggests that “two beamforming mics concentrate on your voice, while voice accelerometers detect jaw movement to know when you are conversing.” The noise reduction is very effective. The Pixel Buds 2 are correct there with the very best earbuds for producing calls. 

Study extra: Greatest wireless earbuds and Bluetooth headphones for mobile phone calls

You can find an application for non-Pixel Android devices — with Pixel telephones it’s integrated into the system — but no application for iOS devices, which is much too bad. You can even now use these with iPhones and Macs like normal Bluetooth headphones, but you reduce additional attributes like the normally-on Google Assistant.

As I said, there’s no noise-canceling. Alternatively, there’s an adaptive sound method that quickly adjusts the quantity to the atmosphere you are in. I failed to see a transparency method, but there’s some venting in the earbuds that keeps you from experience much too occluded and lets you to hear your voice in the buds when you are producing a mobile phone call (Google calls it a “spatial vent for in-ear force reduction and spatial consciousness.”) It really is not a comprehensive-on sidetone characteristic, though I might call it sidetone lite. Observe that a minor sound does leak out of the buds when you truly crank your tunes, so you most likely don’t want to enjoy these at superior volumes in a tranquil place with people today sitting down close by. 

Twin IR proximity sensors detect when the buds are in your ears and quickly pause your new music when you pull a person out of your ear and resume when you put it back again in. You can also use a person bud independently of the other (if you want to go the one-bud route for calls). And it’s also worthy of noting that I paired the buds to various devices, but I experienced to manually pick the former system from its Bluetooth menu if I required to go back again to it. Google suggests the Pixel Buds 2 will store pairings with up to 6 devices. You can find a pairing button on the circumstance, as there is with the AirPods.

The in good shape nicely in the wireless charging circumstance.

David Carnoy/CNET

Like the AirPods Pro and Galaxy Buds Plus, these have an IPX4 drinking water-resistance rating, which signifies they are splashproof and sweat-resistant. I ran with them without having a trouble and I considered the touch controls had been responsive and worked really very well. A swipe characteristic lets you to handle quantity from the buds them selves.

Other than for a small Bluetooth glitch or two, my wireless connection remained rock reliable and I was in a position to wander fairly much from my mobile phone (extra than the common 10 meters) just before getting rid of the connection. The buds use Bluetooth five., and I failed to discover any audio lag when viewing video clips from streaming expert services like YouTube and Netflix.   

Battery life is very similar to that of the AirPods and AirPods Pro — five hrs, furthermore an added 19 hrs from the circumstance (a 10-moment cost in the circumstance provides you two hrs of battery life, Google suggests). The Galaxy Buds Plus can supply up to 11 hrs at moderate quantity degrees. It really is unclear how considerably the impact the normally-on Google Assistant has on battery life, having said that. 

These have “tailor made-intended” 12mm dynamic motorists, and, as I said, they sound really good for true wireless, with very well-defined bass and good clarity. They’re correct there with the Galaxy Buds Plus and Jabra Elite 75t with about the same bass overall performance or (it may be a touch much less plump, depending on the seal you get from the integrated ear guidelines, which occur in three sizes). The AirPods Pro sound a little bit extra open but the Pixel Buds 2 are a minor extra in-depth. I failed to see any way to modify the bass and treble degrees in the options on the Pixel four or in the Android application. 

For sound, these don’t increase to the degree of the top sounding true wireless earbuds, which consist of the Sony WF-1000XM3 and Sennheiser Momentum Real Wi-fi 2. That said, both of those of all those are extra pricey, especially the $three hundred Sennheiser, which delivers richer, extra refined sound with a greater soundstage. For example, listening to Purple Hearse’s self-titled observe with the Sennheiser, the bass goes further and there’s a minor extra sparkle in the treble. The sound from Momentum Real Wi-fi 2 just feels greater and extra immersive.

For far better or even worse, when it arrives to sound, occasionally it will help to compare a headphone to the top styles to hear what you are missing. But if you had been just applying the Pixel Buds 2 without having listening to everything else, most people today would be very happy with the sound. 

In the conclude, Google last but not least has a established of wireless earbuds that are worthy contenders. They’re a minor extra pricey than the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus, which are most likely the far better worth — they get discounted $10 or $twenty on event — but the Pixel Buds 2 are a reliable all-close to offer with some distinguishing attributes and superb call high-quality.  

1st released on April 27.

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