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Reviewed on Aug 17, 2018 , Marc Henney, Yannick Khong

Google Pixel Buds
HEADPHONES REVIEW

Usage Ratings - Version 1.2

Test Benches:

  • 1.2: Winter 2018
  • 1.1: Summer 2017
  • 1.0: Winter 2017
  • 0.9: Winter 2016
5.9
Mixed Usage
What it is: This is the combination of the different use cases to evaluate how versatile the headphones are. Therefore an everyday headphone should be well-rounded enough to adapt to most situations and environments without significant losses in sound quality, design ergonomics or isolation.
Score components:
6.1
Critical Listening
What it is: The level of audio fidelity a headphone can reproduce. Therefore a balanced and true representation of bass, mids, treble, soundstage and imaging, as well as a comfortable listening experience, is essential for critical listening.
Score components:
5.8
Commute/Travel
What it is: How well the headphones handle the loud environments involved in commuting or traveling. Therefore your listening experience should be comfortable, hassle-free and as isolated from noise as possible.
Score components:
7.5
Sports/Fitness
What it is: How well-adapted the headphones are, to use while doing sports or strenuous exercise. Therefore the headphones should not be too cumbersome and deliver a stable and comfortable listening experience.
Score components:
5.8
Office
What it is: How well the headphones can deliver a comfortable and isolated listening experience in an office-like environment. They should not leak much and should block the noise of a busy office.
Score components:
5.2
TV
Score components:
5.2
Gaming
Score components:
Type : Earbuds
Enclosure : Closed-Back
Wireless : Yes
Noise-Cancelling : No
Mic : Yes
Transducer : Dynamic

The Google Pixel Buds are mediocre headphones for most use cases but have a unique and open earbud design that some will prefer over typical in-ears. They're decently well-built and stable enough for sports thanks to their adjustable cable tips' design. They also have a compact case that extends their battery life up to 24 hours. Unfortunately, they have a slightly disappointing sound and their open earbuds barely block any noise so they will not be ideal for commuting and loud environments.

Test Results
Design 7.7
Sound 5.7
Isolation 3.4
Microphone 6.6
Active Features 6.4
Connectivity 3.2
Pros
  • Compact and portable.
  • Stable and adjustable fit.
  • Decent battery life.
Cons
  • Poor noise isolation.
  • Sub-Par bass-lacking sound quality.
  • Not truly wireless.

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7.7

Design

Score components:
Google Pixel Buds Design Picture

The Google Pixel Buds have a well built and durable design that's compact enough to fit in any pockets. The earbuds have a unique feature to adjust them for different ear sizes and shapes. This is done by sliding the braided cable through the buds, which makes them stable enough to run with, but can be somewhat tricky to find the perfect fit. Unfortunately, their touch-sensitive control scheme can be a bit inaccurate at times.

Style
Google Pixel Buds Design Picture 2

These are well-designed and slick-looking earbuds that, unfortunately, are not truly wireless. They have a unique shape and a decently small footprint with smooth plastic casings for the earbuds that feel durable. Their behind-the-head cable design is somewhat similar to the Jaybird X3 or Bose SoundSport Wireless, but unlike those headphones, the Google Pixel Buds' cable is braided and also doubles as adjustable stability tips.

7.0 Comfort
What it is: Adjustability and degrees of freedom, pressure, stiffness and weight.
When it matters: When the headphones are going to be used for long durations.
Score components: Subjectively assigned
Google Pixel Buds Comfort Picture
Weight : 0.03 lbs
Clamping Force
What it is: The force that the headphones exert on your head, once you have them on. This is purely a measurement of the force applied, which does not take into account the earpad's surface area and the resulting pressure you will feel, on or around your ears.
When it matters: The tighter the headphones, the more force they put on your head. This can get uncomfortable or cause pain and soreness during long listening sessions.
:
0 lbs

They have an open earbud fit with a unique adjustable stability tips/fins mechanism that helps them stay securely in your ears. They do not put any pressure within the ear canal, and they're incredibly lightweight which makes them less noticeable once you get used to the fit. Unfortunately, the earbud design is not angled like the Apple AirPods and does not sit as well in the notch of your outer ear, which may be an issue for some listeners.

6.7 Controls
What it is: The control scheme of the headphones, the number of functions provided, button layout and ergonomics as well as the quality of tactile feedback.
When it matters: If you want to control volume, pause your music or make phone calls without directly interacting with your audio device.
Google Pixel Buds Controls Picture
Ease of use : Average
Feedback : Subpar
Call/Music Control : Yes
Volume Control : Yes
Microphone Control : No
Channel Mixing
What it is: Being able to mix audio channels directly on the headphones.
When it matters: This is most useful when using a separate chat software so that you can mix in-game audio and chat audio depending on your needs.
:
N/A
Noise Canceling Control : N/A
Talk-Through : N/A
Additional Buttons : Voice enabled controls

The Google Pixel Buds offer a decent set of touch-sensitive controls. You can play or pause your music by double tapping on the right earbud. Tap and hold activate Google assistant and swiping up or down changes the volume. Unfortunately, feedback and ease-of-use are not the best. The touch-sensitive control scheme is subject to a lot of erroneous inputs when sliding your finger up or down or double tapping. It's sometimes just easier to pull your phone out and just change the track of volume directly on the device than with the headphones, which is a little disappointing.

9.4 Breathability
What it is: How hot the headphones get when you wear them for an extended period of time.
When it matters: If you often have long listening sessions or use your headphones while doing physical activities like running or working out.
Score components:
Google Pixel Buds Breathability After Picture
Avg.Temp.Difference : 0.6 C

Like most in-ears and earbuds, the Google Pixel Buds are very breathable headphones. They're compact and their earbud design means they won't make your ears warm even during the most strenuous of activities.

9.3 Portability
What it is: The volume of space occupied by the headphones when folded into their most compact format.
When it matters: If you're often on the move and need to carry your headphones in a bag, purse , or pocket.
Score components:
Google Pixel Buds Portability Picture
L : 1.3 "
W : 2 "
H : 0.9 "
Volume : 2.4 Cu. Inches
Stand required : N/A

Like most wireless in-ears and earbuds, the Google Pixel Buds are easy to carry around on your person thanks to their compact size and high portability. Unfortunately, they're not as small as some of the truly wireless headphones we've tested that comes with a charging case, like the Jaybird Run or the Samsung Gear IconX, due to their relatively thick cable. However, unlike those truly wireless headsets, you can let the Google Buds rest around your neck when you're not using them without needing to immediately put them back in their case (in fear of losing or misplacing an earbud).

8.0 Case
What it is: The provided carrying options to protect your headphones when transporting them.
When it matters: To prevent damaging your headphones, if you often carry them in your bag or pocket.
Score components: Subjectively assigned
Google Pixel Buds Case Picture
Type : Hard case
L : 2.3 "
W : 2.3 "
H : 0.9 "
Volume : 4.8 Cu. Inches

These earbuds come with a decently well design and compact case. It will protect your earbuds from drops and accidental impacts but not against water damage. Also, the case is covered in a denim-like fabric which looks nice and matches the design language of the Google Home Mini but feels a little cheap when compared to the AirPods or the Sony WF-1000x's case.

7.5 Build Quality
What it is: Durability, material quality, cheap/expensive feel.
When it matters: When the headphones are going to be used by multiple users (classes/studios), by children, in tough conditions, on a daily basis, or for exercise.
Score components: Subjectively assigned
Google Pixel Buds Build Quality Picture

These earbuds are well-designed and feel decently durable. The casing feels sturdy enough to withstand a couple of accidental drops without much damage to the headset. The braided cable that links the two earbuds is thick and won't snap easily from physical stress or getting tangled up in your clothes. However, their overall design does not feel as premium or as aesthetically pleasing as the AirPods or the Samsung IconX, which is a little disappointing. On the upside, they're not as pricey.

7.5 Stability
What it is: How the headphones are designed to prevent them from slipping off your ears or falling off your head.
When it matters: If you plan on using the headphones while doing sports or other physical activities that requires a lot of movement.
Score components: Subjectively assigned
Google Pixel Buds Stability Picture

The Google Pixel Buds are stable enough for running as long as you adjust the cable stability tips to fit just right for your ears. Unlike the AirPods, this makes them a bit more stable for a wider range of listeners but if the stability tips are not the right fit, the earbuds will easily fall out of your ears even while walking.

Cable
Google Pixel Buds Cable Picture
Detachable : No
Length : N/A
Connection : N/A

They come with a USB-C charging cable.

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5.7

Sound

What it is: How accurately the audio is reproduced. The tests are performed with the headphones' most commonly used features enabled (noise-cancelling, wireless, etc.)
Google Pixel Buds Frequency Response

The Google Pixel Buds are a sub-par sounding pair of open-back wireless earbuds. Their bass is poor and lacks any thump or rumble because of the lack of sub-bass, but it also sounds a bit loose and rather muddy. Their mid-range is decent but also a bit cluttered which could make vocals and lead instruments sound thick and muddy. However, they have a great treble but it's a bit on the bright side, resulting in a slightly V-shaped overall sound profile. It should be noted that due to their earbud design, their performance and sound profile could vary depending on the quality of the fit and seal achieved, but they performed consistently on our test dummy head.

3.4 Bass
What it is: Frequency Response from 20Hz-250Hz
When it matters: When the material is heavy on bass frequencies, such as those of kick drums and bass guitar.
Score components:
Google Pixel Buds Bass
Std. Err.
What it is: The amount of deviation (weighted standard error) in bass frequency response (20Hz-250Hz) as compared to a target response that would sound perfectly balanced to most people.
When it matters: When a balanced and neutral (reference) bass performance is desired.
Good value: <4dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
9.31 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
What it is: The lowest frequency at which the frequency response reaches -3dB of the target response.
When it matters: Shows how extended the bass is.
Good value: <40Hz
Noticeable difference: 5Hz
:
53.39 Hz
Low-Bass
What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 20Hz-60Hz.
When it matters: Kick drums and low frequency effects get their 'thump' from this range. Mostly felt than heard.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
-15.86 dB
Mid-Bass
What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 60Hz-120Hz.
When it matters: Melodic bass instruments have most of their fundamental frequencies in this range. This is where the 'body' and 'punch' of the bass sits.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
3.78 dB
High-Bass
What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 120Hz-250Hz.
When it matters: Most instruments get their warmth and full-ness from this range. When over-emphasized, mixes tend to get muddy and boomy.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
7.86 dB

The bass of the Google Pixel Buds is poor. Their low-frequency extension (LFE) is at 53Hz, meaning they won't be able to produce the low-end thump and rumbles common to bass-heavy music like EDM and Hip-hop. Accordingly, they lack low-bass by about 16dB which is quite poor. However, mid-bass and high-bass, which are responsible for the body of bass guitars and the punch of kick drums, are overemphasized by up to 8dB, which adds a significant amount of boominess to the sound and won't quite compensate for the lack of low-bass. It should be noted, however, that low-bass is quite difficult to hear, especially on headphones, and is more felt than heard. Because of that, the lack of sub-bass may not be significant if the source material doesn't have a lot of sub-bass (like classical music or podcasts), but the excessive mid-bass and high-bass will be.

7.3 Mid
What it is: Frequency Response from 250Hz-2KHz
When it matters: When the material is heavy on mid-range frequencies. This is the case for the majority of audio content.
Score components:
Google Pixel Buds Mid
Std. Err.
What it is: The amount of deviation (weighted standard error) in mid frequency response (250Hz-2.5KHz) as compared to a target response that would sound perfectly balanced to most people.
When it matters: When a balanced and neutral (reference) mid performance is desired.
Good value: <4dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
3.55 dB
Low-Mid
What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 250Hz-500Hz.
When it matters: Most instruments have their fundamentals or low harmonics in this range. Over-emphasis in this range sounds muddy and cluttered. Under-emphasis, thins out the vocals and lead instruments.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
5.14 dB
Mid-Mid
What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 500Hz-1KHz.
When it matters: This range is occupied mostly by upper harmonics. Over-emphasis sounds forward and boxy. Under-emphasis pushes instruments to the back of the mix.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
1.62 dB
High-Mid
What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 1KHz-2KHz.
When it matters: Most instruments, especially vocals, get their intensity and clarity from this range. Over-emphasis sounds honky and harsh, under-emphasis sounds weak and distant.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
0.09 dB

The mid-range performance of the Google Pixel Buds is decent. The overall response is quite even, but the 5dB bump in low-mid, which is the continuation of the high-bass overemphasis, adds muddiness and clutter to the mix and makes vocals thick and slightly muffled.

8.3 Treble
What it is: Frequency Response from 2KHz-20KHz
When it matters: When the material is heavy on high-range frequencies, such as voice, cymbals, and any other material where brightness, brilliance and airiness is desired.
Score components:
Google Pixel Buds Treble
Std. Err.
What it is: The amount of deviation (weighted standard error) in treble frequency response (2.5KHz-20KHz) as compared to a target response that would sound perfectly balanced to most people.
When it matters: When a balanced and neutral (reference) treble performance is desired.
Good value: <4dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
3.18 dB
Low-Treble
What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 2KHz-5KHz.
When it matters: Almost all instruments rely on this range for their presence, detail, and articulation. Over-emphasis can sound harsh and painful. Under-emphasis hurts the comprehensibility of vocals and lead instruments.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
3.31 dB
Mid-Treble
What it is: The average amount of over/under emphasis in frequency response from 5KHz-10KHz.
When it matters: This is the sibilance range. Cymbals, vocals, and lead instruments rely on this range for brightness and presence. Over-emphasis sounds piercing and painful, under-emphasis sounds dull and lispy.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
3.05 dB
High-Treble
What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 10KHz-20KHz.
When it matters: This range gives brilliance and airiness to the sound. Over-emphasis sounds hissy, under-emphasis sounds closed-up and lifeless.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
-0.84 dB

The Google Pixel Buds have a great treble range performance. The overall response is quite consistent, but low-treble and mid-treble are consistently over our target by about 3dB. This adds a bit of excess brightness and presence to vocals, leads, and cymbals. This, combined with the overemphasized bass results in a slight "V-shaped" or "smiley-face" sound profile.

Raw Frequency Response
What it is: The average uncompensated frequency response of the headphone. For in-ears and earbuds, this corresponds to the average of 5 measurements/re-seats on the dummy head (HMS). For over/on-ear headphones, this corresponds to the average of 5 measurements/re-seats on the HMS (Head Measurement System) for the mid and treble ranges, and 5 measurements/re-seats on 5 human subjects for the bass range.
When it matters: This is for those who want to see the raw and uncompensated frequency response of the headphone. Some of the more advanced users, are able to read and evaluate headphone frequency response in its raw form and without compensation. This will be especially useful to them if they have their own headphone compensation/target curve, which may differ from the compensation curve/target response used by RTINGS.com.
Score components:
8.2 Frequency Response Consistency
What it is: The amount of deviation of each frequency response pass, from the average frequency response.
When it matters: Shows how consistently the headphones perform after re-positioning them.
Score components:
Google Pixel Buds Consistency L Google Pixel Buds Consistency R
Avg. Std. Deviation
What it is: The average amount of deviation in frequency response of 5 re-seats, from the average frequency response.
When it matters: Shows how consistently the headphones perform after re-positioning them.
Good value: <0.5
Noticeable difference: 0.1
:
0.36 dB

The Google Pixel Buds have a surprisingly great frequency response consistency. In the bass range, the maximum amount of deviation is less than 1dB which is excellent. In the treble range the maximum deviation is about 4dB at 3KHz, which is good. It should be noted, however, that frequency response consistency is highly dependent on a proper fit and seal, does not take stability into account, and may require some technique and getting-used-to especially with earbuds.

6.7 Imaging
What it is: Imaging qualities are inherent to the audio content, the headphones have to 'reproduce' them rather than 'create' them. They determine how accurately the objects are positioned in the stereo image, and how transparent the imaging is.
When it matters: When accurate positioning of the objects in the stereo image, and clear and transparent imaging is desired.
Google Pixel Buds Group Delay Google Pixel Buds Phase Response
Weighted Group Delay
What it is: The average amount of group delay calculated based on a perceptual weighting filter. Group delay indicates how long it takes for each frequency to reach their maximum amplitude. This is a monaural quality and can be perceived even with one ear.
When it matters: Headphones with lower group delay have more transparent imaging and a tighter bass. Headphones with higher group delay in the bass range tend to have a wimpy and loose bass, and headphones with higher group delay in the treble range tend to have a less transparent imaging.
Good value: <0.5
Noticeable difference: 0.1
:
1.08
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
What it is: The Left/Right balance of our test unit, that is, the amount of amplitude difference between the left and right drivers. This is not a design test, but a marker for manufacturing tolerance and ergonomics.
When it matters: When a properly balanced stereo image and low manufacturing tolerance is desired. A poor score indicates a noticeable difference in level between the left and right drivers.
Good value: <1.5
Noticeable difference: 0.1
:
2.68
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
What it is: The amount of difference (Std. Err.) between the frequency response of the left and right drivers of our test unit. This is not a design test, but a marker for manufacturing tolerance and ergonomics.
When it matters: When an even and stable stereo image, as well as a low manufacturing tolerance, is desired. A poor score indicates there may be 'holes' in the stereo image at certain frequencies.
Good value: <2
Noticeable difference: 0.1
:
2.02
Weighted Phase Mismatch
What it is: The amount of difference (Std. Err.) between the phase response of the left and right drivers of our test unit. This is not a design test, but a marker for manufacturing tolerance and ergonomics.
When it matters: When an even and stable stereo image, as well as a low manufacturing tolerance is desired. A poor score indicates there may be inaccuracies in the stereo image reproduction at certain frequencies.
Good value: <16
Noticeable difference: 3
:
4.96

The imaging performance of the Pixel Buds is about average. They show audible amounts of group delay in the bass range which results in a slightly soft and loose basses and kicks. The jump in group delay above 18KHz won't be audible to most and is due to the Bluetooth connection. Our test unit showed noticeable amounts of amplitude mismatch between the left and right buds, but this seemed to be related to fit and seal rather than driver mismatch. The mismatch in frequency and phase response is low enough to not be audible to most users.

2.7 Soundstage
What it is: Soundstage qualities are not inherent to the audio content, the headphones have to 'create' them rather than 'reproduce' them. They determine whether the sound is perceived to be coming from inside or in front of the head, how open and spacious the soundstage is, how much the headphones acoustically interact with the environment, and how strong the phantom center is.
When it matters: When an accurately produced, large and spacious soundstage, similar to that of a stereo loudspeaker setup is desired.
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
What it is: The standard deviation of the PRTF (Pinna-related transfer function) of the headphones compared to a reference loudspeaker's PRTF at 30°. This quality is monaural and can be perceived even with one ear. This test does not apply to in-ears and earbuds, due to the lack of pinna interaction.
When it matters: An accurate pinna activation is mainly responsible for how natural and speaker-like the soundstage is perceived to be. The less error in the shape of the PRTF, the more natrual and speaker-like the perception of the soundstage will be. High amounts of error may indicate a soundstage that is unnatural or odd.
Good value: <2.5
Noticeable difference: 0.1
:
N/A
PRTF Size (Avg.)
What it is: The average amplitude of the PRTF (Pinna-related transfer function) of the headphones compared to that of a reference loudspeaker's PRTF at 30°. This quality is monaural and can be perceived even with one ear. This test does not apply to in-ears and earbuds, due to the lack of pinna interaction.
When it matters: This value is responsible for the perceived size of the soundstage. The higher the value, the larger the perceived size of the soundstage. However, values above the reference (5.0dB) could result in a soundstage that is perceived as unnatural or odd.
Good value: >3.7
Noticeable difference: 0.1
:
N/A
PRTF Distance
What it is: The depth of the "10KHz notch" of the headphone's PRTF, which is caused by phase cancellations at the concha. This quality is monaural and can be perceived even with one ear. This test does not apply to in-ears and earbuds, due to the lack of pinna interaction.
When it matters: This value is mainly responsible for the perceived distance and elevation of the soundstage. A small distance value may result in a soundstage that is perceived to be located inside the head. Larger values may help pull the soundstage out from inside of the head and bring it to the front.
Good value: >13
Noticeable difference: 1
:
N/A
Openness
What it is: How open the headphones are, and how open and spacious they sound. This quality is monaural and can be perceived even with one ear. This test differentiates between acoustically and electronically produced crosstalk and only takes the acoustically generated crosstalk into account. This value is the inverse of the Noise Isolation test score, and could be indirectly related the acoustic impedance of the headphones.
When it matters: When a headphone with a sense of an open, and spacious soundstage is desired. A value of 10 indicates a fully open headphone, and a value of 0 indicates a fully closed headphone.
Good value: >7.5
Noticeable difference: 0.5
:
9.5
Acoustic Space Excitation
What it is: How loud the headphones are, and how much they excite their environment acoustically. If the headphones are loud and open enough, the sound leaking from the headphones will be affected by the environment (reflections/reverb) before reflecting back into the open headphones and to the listener's ears. This quality is monaural and can be perceived even with one ear. This value is the inverse of the Leakage test score.
When it matters: Headphones with higher excitation values, similar to openness, tend to have soundstages that are perceived as more open and spacious.
Good value: >7.5
Noticeable difference: 0.5
:
2.9
Correlated Crosstalk
What it is: How strong and solid the phantom center is. This is mostly a stereo quality and its effects on mono content are minimal. This test is sensitive to the phase of the crosstalk and whether it is produced acoustically or electronically.
When it matters: When a true reproduction of the stereo image is desired. A value of 0 indicates no crosstalk, or that the existing crosstalk is not correlated enough to affect the phantom center. A negative score means the crosstalk is out of phase with the original signal, resulting in a slightly wider stereo image at the expense of creating a 'hole' at the center of the stereo field. A positive score means the crosstalk is in phase and positively affecting the phantom center.
Good value: >1dB
Noticeable difference: 0.3dB
:
0.0 dB

Like most other earbuds and in-ears, they have a poor soundstage. Due to their design, they bypass the pinna and don't interact with it. Pinna interaction/activation is one of the big factors in giving the sense of a large and out-of-head soundstage, therefore, the soundstage of the Google Buds will be perceived to be small and located inside the listener's head as opposed to in front. However, because of the open design which is similar to the Apple AirPods, they sound more open and spacious than closed in-ears.

6.2 Total Harmonic Distortion
What it is: The subtle, unwanted frequencies (harmonics) produced alongside the intended frequencies.
When it matters: When clean and pure sound reproduction is desired, though its effect is not as noticable as frequency response.
Score components:
Google Pixel Buds Distortion
Weighted THD @ 90
What it is: The overall amount of harmonic distortion measured at 90dB SPL. To make the score more perceptually relevant, more weight is given to the higher frequencies.
When it matters: How pure the sound is at moderate listening levels.
Good value: <0.100
Noticeable difference: 0.1
:
13.061
Weighted THD @ 100
What it is: The overall amount of harmonic distortion measured at 100dB SPL. To make the score more perceptually relevant, more weight is given to the higher frequencies.
When it matters: How pure the sound is at loud listening levels.
Good value: <0.300
Noticeable difference: 0.1
:
23.819

They have a mediocre harmonic distortion performance. They show elevated amounts of harmonic distortion in both bass and mid ranges which could make their overall sound a bit unclear and cluttered. However, their harmonic distortion in the treble range is within good limits, but the rise in THD in the bass range suggests these earbuds will struggle to produce bass frequencies at high volumes. On the up side, the level of THD at 100dB SPL in the treble range is a bit lower than the 90dB SPL. This is most likely due to the increased flexibility of the driver under heavier loads.

3.4

Isolation

Score components:

The Google Pixel Buds have an open earbud design that easily lets the ambient noise of your surrounding seep into your audio. This means they're a decent option for runners or bikers that need to monitor their environment for traffic but a poor choice for the commuter who want isolation from the rumbling sounds of public transit. They won't be ideal for traveling either and will not block the chatter of a lively office. On the upside, since they do not leak much, you can play your music at slightly higher volumes to mask some of the noise. 

1.4 Noise Isolation
What it is: How much outside noise is blocked out by putting the headphones on.
When it matters: If the headphones are going to be used in a noisy envinronment (airplane, subway, etc.)
Score components:
Google Pixel Buds Noise Isolation
Isolation Audio
What it is: The simulated noise isolation of the headphones, demonstrating how much outside noise is blocked out by putting the headphones on. This recording is created using an EQ and is not an actual recording. For headphones with ANC (active noise cancellation), the playback simulates the isolation with ANC enabled.
When it matters: When the headphones are going to be used in a noisy envinronment (airplane, subway, etc.)
:
Overall Attenuation
What it is: The overall amount of environmental noise reduction in dB.
When it matters: In loud envinronments like planes, trains, offices, etc.
Good value: <-20dB
Noticeable difference: 1dB
:
-1.44 dB
Bass
What it is: The overall amount of noise isolation in the bass range (20Hz-250Hz).
When it matters: When the outside noise is bass-heavy, like in airplanes.
Good value: <-15dB
Noticeable difference: 1dB
:
-1.71 dB
Mid
What it is: The overall amount of noise isolation in the mid-range (250Hz-2.5KHz).
When it matters: When the environment's noise is mid-heavy, like in an office.
Good value: <-15dB
Noticeable difference: 1dB
:
2.84 dB
Treble
What it is: The overall amount of noise isolation in the treble range (2.5KHz-20KHz).
When it matters: When the environment's noise is treble-heavy. Although uncommon, areas with sharp sounds fall under this category.
Good value: <-30dB
Noticeable difference: 1dB
:
-4.79 dB
Self-Noise
What it is: The amount of noise created by the active electronics of the headphones (if applicable), measured from 300Hz-20KHz. Applies mostly to wireless and noise-cancelling headphones.
When it matters: If too loud, it could become distracting when listening to quiet material like podcasts and audiobooks.
Good value: <16dB
Noticeable difference: 1dB
:
21.54 dB

The isolation provided by the Pixel Buds is poor. This is due to their open-back and earbud design, which like the AirPods, results in very low isolation. They don't isolate in the bass and mid-ranges, so they will let in all the low rumbling sounds of airplane and bus engines, as well as the chatter of people around. In the treble range, occupied by fan noises, as well as sharp sounds like S and Ts, the isolate b only 5dB which is inadequate. These are one of the most open headphones we have measured so far, which makes them suitable for situations where you want to be able to hear your environment.

7.5 Leakage
What it is: The amount of sound bleeding out of the headphones.
When it matters: When the listener doesn't want people around them (in office, recording studio, etc.) to hear what is being listened to.
Score components:
Google Pixel Buds Leakage
Leakage Audio
What it is: The simulated sound leakage heard 1 foot away from the user, while the user is listening to a 100dB SPL signal. This recording is created using an EQ and is not an actual recording.
When it matters: When you don't want people hear what you are listening to.
:
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
What it is: The amount of sound leakage heard 1 foot away from the user, while the user is listening to a 100dB SPL signal.
When it matters: When you don't want people hear what you are listening to.
Good value: <35dB
Noticeable difference: 1dB
:
37.08 dB

These Google Pixel Buds have a good leakage performance. The significant portion of their leakage is in the treble range from 3KHz up to 20KHz. This is a relatively broad range, but the overall level of leakage is not too loud and it will mostly consist of high-pitched sounds like cymbals and sibilances (S and T sounds). With the music at 100dB SPL the leakage at 1 foot away averages at 37dB SPL but peaks at 64dB SPL which is noticeably louder than the noise floor of an average office. Therefore, at high volumes and in quiet environments, people around you may be able to hear the leakage.

6.6

Microphone

What it is: The microphone section shows the quality of speech capture and transmission by the mic, as well as how well the microphone under test handles noisy environments.
When it matters: For your speech to be transmitted to and understood properly by the listener, the microphone needs to have a good recording quality. If the environment the microphone is being used in is noisy, a microphone with a good noise handling performance would be needed as well.
Score components:
Integrated
What it is: The microphone integrated in the ear cup or ear bud of a wireless headphone.
When it matters: For calls, gaming and voice over IP software or for any other use of the microphone.
Good value: Yes
:
Yes
In-line
What it is: The microphone inside the in-line remote of audio cables for wired and wireless headsets.
When it matters: In-line microphone are usually better than integrated mics. If you need better recording quality and noise handling for calls, gaming and voice over IP software then use the audio cable of your wired or wireless headphone if it has an inline microphone.
Good value: Yes
:
No
Boom
What it is: A typically better microphone, that's also adjustable and extends so that the mic is closer to your mouth.
When it matters: Much better recording quality and noise handling than in-line or integrated mics. Primarily used for gaming and voice over IP software.
Good value: Yes
:
No
Detachable Boom
What it is: A boom mic that is detachable from the headset.
When it matters: If you want to use your headphone outdoors without the bulk and hassle of the Boom mic.
:
N/A

The quality of the Google Pixel Buds' integrated microphone is average. Speech recorded or transmitted will sound full and easily comprehensible, but noticeably lacking in brightness and presence. In noisy environments, they will have difficulty separating speech from ambient noise even in moderately loud environments like a busy street.

7.1 Recording Quality
What it is: Microphone recording quality shows how natural, neutral, extended and intelligible speech would be with the device under test, in a quiet environment.
When it matters: A microphone with a good recording quality ensures that the person listening to you would hear a full, clear, and easily understandable speech. Therefore, it is important whenever a good quality of speech transmission and intelligibility is needed.
Score components:
Google Pixel Buds Microphone Frequency Response
Recorded Speech
What it is: Actual audio recording of the headphone's microphone, recorded while placed on the dummy head, with speech being played back through the dummy head's mouth simulator.
When it matters: When a clean, full, and intelligible speech transmission is required.
:
LFE
What it is: Low-frequency extension shows how deep the bass response of the microphone is, and therefore, how deep and full your voice would sound to the listener. It is the lowest frequency at which the frequency response reaches -3dB of the target response.
When it matters: LFE is not a big factor in speech intelligibility and even speech recorded with a mic that has an LFE of 500Hz could still be easily understood. Therefore, it is mostly important if you are concerned with how deep and full your voice would be heard.
Good value: <150Hz
Noticeable difference: 30Hz
:
83.54 Hz
FR Std. Dev.
What it is: Frequency Response Standard Deviation shows how accurately and balanced sound is captured by the microphone at each frequency. FR Std. Dev. is calculated between LFE and HFE, and the rest of the spectrum is ignored.
When it matters: A good frequency response is desired when a natural and neutral speech quality is desired. As opposed to HFE which is more a metric for speech intelligibility, frequency response could be considered as a metric for a natural and neutral sound.
Good value: >3.5dB
Noticeable difference: 0.5dB
:
2.33 dB
HFE
What it is: High-frequency extension is the highest frequency at which the frequency response reaches -3dB of the target response. It shows how extended the treble response of the microphone is.
When it matters: HFE is one the most important factors in speech intelligibility. The higher the HFE, the brighter, more open, and more extended the speech quality will be which makes it a lot easier to understand by the listener.
Good value: >8KHz
Noticeable difference: 1KHz
:
3368.2 Hz
Weighted THD
What it is: The unwanted frequencies (harmonics) produced alongside the intended frequencies, which cause deformation of an output signal compared to its input.
When it matters: When clean and pure sound reproduction is desired, though its effect is not as noticable as frequency response.
Good value: <1.5
Noticeable difference: 1.0
:
42.079
Gain
What it is: Shows how much louder the microphone can go above our reference loudness level. The gain value is reported relative to our reference level, which is 94dB at a distance of 5cm from the mouth.
When it matters: A microphone with a high gain is important when the input signal (speech) is very quiet. For example when whispering, or talking on the phone in a library.
Good value: >18dB
Noticeable difference: 3dB
:
43.58 dB

The Pixel Buds' microphone has a decent recording quality. LFE is at 84Hz, resulting in a recorded/transmitted speech that will sound full. However, the HFE (high-frequency extension) is at 3.4KHz, which means speech will lack presence and detail. However, this won't have a big negative impact on speech intelligibility since that's mostly dependent on the 500Hz-3KHz range. The region between the LFE and HFE is captured well which helps with a natural sound.

We noticed that the microphone has a tendency to distort on PCs, and the recorded speech files are distorted because of that. However, their microphone sounds clean on smartphones.

6.1 Noise Handling
What it is: How well the microphone is able to separate speech from background noise, so that the transmission would include more voice and less noise.
When it matters: When a clean and intelligible speech transmission is desired in a noisy situation like talking on the phone on a busy street or on the bus.
Score components:
Google Pixel Buds SpNR
Speech + Pink Noise :
Speech + Subway Noise :
SpNR
What it is: Speech to Noise Ratio is the difference in level between speech and background noise as heard by the listener
When it matters: If the microphone is going to be used in a noisy environment, it is important for it to be able to separate the speech from background noise, so the voice would be easily audible and understandable.
Good value: >24dB
Noticeable difference: 3dB
:
13.74 dB

The noise handling of the integrated microphone of the Pixel buds is mediocre. They achieved about 14dB of speech-to-noise ratio in our SpNR test, which means they will perform well in quiet environments. But they will struggle to separate speech from ambient noise even in moderately loud situations.

We noticed that the microphone has a tendency to distort on PCs, and the recorded speech files are distorted because of that. However, their microphone sounds clean on smartphones.

6.4

Active Features

What it is: Headphones with active components that require a battery. This includes noise cancelling and wireless headphones that actively reduce noise or transmit audio via a wireless connection.
When it matters: How suitable the power and wireless specifications of an active headphone will be, depending on your listening habits. The range and/or discharge time of the active headphone you select will be important if you're often on the move or have long uninterrupted listening sessions.
Score components:

The Google Pixel Buds have a fairly long battery life for wireless earbuds but no dedicated app. They can play continuously for about 5 hours and have about 4.5 additional charges with their truly wireless like charging case. This gives them over 24hr of battery life in total, which is a lot longer than most wireless in-ears and earbuds. They won't be the ideal choice for more heavy users who have really long continuous listening sessions, but they should easily last long enough for most use cases and even an entire weekend, when managed correctly. Unfortunately, although better integrated into the Google Android platform, they do not have a fully featured app and lack a lot of customization options which is a little disappointing.

6.6 Battery
What it is: The power source of your headphones. All headphones with active features have a battery that will deplete over time.
When it matters: To continue using the active features of your headphones. Some models lose features or switch off completely when the battery is drained, which limits what you can do with them until the next charge.
Battery Type
What it is: The type of battery that the headphones use. Usually AAA or embedded, Li-ion rechargeable batteries.
When it matters: When your headphones run out of power. Rechargeable batteries usually charge via the headphones Micro-USB port whereas AAA batteries have to be replaced or charged with an external device.
:
Rechargable
Battery Life
What it is: The amount of time it takes for a headphones' battery to be completely drained. Battery life will vary depending on the active features used and volume level.
When it matters: For active headphones that connect wirelessly, have noise cancellation or other audio-enhancing features, that cease to work once the battery is dead.
Good value: >10hrs
Noticeable difference: 0.5hrs
:
4.6 hrs
Charge Time
What it is: The amount of time your active headphones have to be connected to a power source to charge from 0 to a 100%. However, charging time will vary depending on your power source.
When it matters: To be able to use the active features of your headphones. Especially, wireless ones that completely switch off and need to be recharged when the battery is dead.
Good value: 2h or less
Noticeable difference: 0.25h
:
0.9 hrs
Power Saving Feature
What it is: A feature that turns off the headphones, after a set time, when they're not in use.
When it matters: To prolong battery life when the headphones are not being used, or if you forget to manually turn off your headphones.
:
Yes
Audio while charging
What it is: Some active headphones remain usable while charging. They continue to stream audio and do not disable other active features.
When it matters: This makes sure that your headphones's battery are not being drained when your relatively close to a power source. However, this means wireless headphones will need a wired connection to the power source during the charging process.
:
No
Passive Playback
What it is: Active headphones that still work when all their active features are turned off or out of power.
When it matters: If you run out of power and do not have spare AA/AAA batteries or access to a power source to recharge your headphones.
:
No

The Google Pixel Buds will play continuously for 5 hours but can be recharged with the case up to 4.5 times. This gives them an overall battery life of 22 to 23 hours, which is great but they won't be ideal for very heavy users with long listening sessions. On the upside, charging the headphones is pretty intuitive, and they automatically switch off, if you're not playing anything, to conserve power.

5.0 App Support
What it is: The additional app provided to enhance your listening experience. They typically deliver a set of practical features that give you more control over the sound, noise cancelling and effects that the headphones produce.
When it matters: An app with a lot of features allows you to customize your listening experience to suit your taste and preferences. For example, additions like an equalizer can give you more bass or treble and room effects can simulate a bigger Soundstage in closed back headphones.
Score components: Subjectively assigned
App Name : N/A
iOS : No
Android : Yes
Mac OS : N/A
Windows : N/A
Equalizer
What it is: Parametric, graphic or preset sound profiles that slightly alter the frequency response.
When it matters: If you want to tailor, your listening experience. Depending on what you're listening to you may want more or less bass for some tracks or more mid-range for vocals-heavy audio.
:
No
ANC control
What it is: Control over the Active noise canceling technology. This could be either a simple on/off button, and adjustable slider or even adaptive self-regulating noise cancellation.
When it matters: If you're in an environment where you need to monitor your surroundings or completely isolate yourself from ambient noise.
:
N/A
Mic Control : No
Room effects
What it is: Room effects that enhance the audio quality to make it more immersive.
When it matters: If you want to further tweak your listening experience. Adding room effects, can simulate a more spacious Soundstage or deliver a surround sound-like feel.
:
No
Playback control
What it is: An in-app player that gives you access to play/stop, track skipping or volume controls directly with the app.
When it matters: It's a shortcut that allows you to control your audio without leaving the application.
:
No
Button Mapping : N/A
Surround Sound : N/A

The Google Pixel Buds do not have a companion app but have a few features on Android worth mentioning. When opening the case, the Google Buds automatically start a pairing procedure and Google Assistant set up with the Pixel and Pixel 2 phones. This also works on some other Android devices, (with Android 6.0 or higher) but unfortunately, they do not get the benefit of the translation feature only available on the Google phones for now. Like the AirPods and iOS, the Google Pixel Buds are a lot more optimized for Android, but since they do not have a proper app support, so there are no additional features like EQs or room effects to customize their sound profile.

3.2

Connectivity

What it is: The inputs and outputs of wired and wireless headphones, as well as their latency performance and range.
When it matters: To know how compatible your Bluetooth device, console or PC will be with your wired or wireless headset.
Score components:
  • 10% Bluetooth
  • 33% Wired
  • 10% Base/Dock
  • 22% Wireless Range
  • 25% Latency

The Google Pixel Buds only connect to devices via Bluetooth. They come with a charging case that you also use to pair the headphones with other Bluetooth devices. Unfortunately, this pairing procedure would be better suited for truly wireless headphones, where syncing and pairing between the earbuds is more of an issue. Unfortunately, like most Bluetooth headphones, they're not ideal for watching a lot of video content due to their relatively high latency.

6.8 Bluetooth
What it is: Bluetooth support for wireless headphones.
When it matters: To connect wirelessly to Bluetooth sources like your phone, tablet, console, PC and TV.
Score components:
  • 80% Multi-Device Pairing
  • 20% NFC
  • <1% PS4 Compatible
  • <1% Xbox One Compatible
Bluetooth Version : 4.2
Multi-Device Pairing
What it is: A Bluetooth profile that allows some headphones to be simultaneously connected to multiple Bluetooth sources, and have full call and media support on both/all devices they are connected to.
When it matters: To quickly switch between your Bluetooth sources. For example, switching from your phone to your home or work PC and still have call and media support on both devices.
Good value: 2 devices.
:
2 Devices
NFC
What it is: Near Field Communication technology that allows you to quickly, pair your headphones with your Bluetooth and NFC-enabled device.
When it matters: This makes pairing with an NFC-enabled device a lot easier than the typical and often tedious hold-to-pair procedure that most wireless headphones have.
Good value: Yes
:
No
PS4 Compatible
What it is: Bluetooth compatibility with the PlayStation 4.
When it matters: To connect your headphones wirelessly with your PS4.
Good value: Audio + Microphone
:
No
Xbox One Compatible
What it is: Bluetooth compatibility with the Xbox One.
When it matters: To connect your headphones wirelessly with your Xbox one.
Good value: Audio + Microphone
:
No

They have a fairly easy-to-pair Bluetooth connection. You can connect simultaneously up to two devices and have up to 8 devices stored in memory for automatic pairing when you open the case. Unfortunately, they do not have NFC which would have made pairing with multiple devices a lot easier.

0 Wired
What it is: The type and compatibility of audio cables for wired and wireless headphones.
When it matters: For all devices with a regular audio jack (line-out) and also compatibility of the in-line remote/boom microphone with consoles and Personal computers.
Score components:
  • 13% Analog
  • 9% USB
  • 26% PS4 Compatible
  • 26% Xbox One Compatible
  • 26% PC Compatible
Cable Tested : N/A
Analog
What it is: A regular 1/8" TRS audio jack or a 1/4 or 1/16 TRS with a 1/8 TRS adapter.
When it matters: For all devices with a line out.
Good value: Yes
:
N/A
USB
What it is: A USB or USB adapter to connect to your devices for audio and microphone.
When it matters: A digital USB adapter usually offers a slight advantages over a regular audio jack, like a DAC, and amplifier module or software support and compatibility with PCs. However it may not be as compatible with consoles.
Good value: Yes
:
N/A
PS4 Compatible
What it is: PS4 compatibility with a regular 3 or 4 pin 1/8 TRS audio cable.
When it matters: When you want to use a wired headphone with your PS4
Good value: Audio + Microphone
:
N/A
Xbox One Compatible
What it is: Xbox One compatibility with a regular 3 or 4 pin 1/8 TRS audio cable.
When it matters: When you want to use a wired headphone with your Xbox One
Good value: Audio + Microphone
:
N/A
PC Compatible
What it is: PC compatibility with a regular 3 or 4 pin 1/8 TRS audio cable.
When it matters: When you want to use a wired headphone with your PC.
Good value: Audio + Microphone
:
N/A

They have no wired option. If you want a good sounding wired in-ear, check the 1More Triple Driver.

1.9 Base/Dock
What it is: The base station, dock or dongle transmitter of wireless headphones that receive data/audio via a proprietary frequency range.
When it matters: Knowing the inputs and outputs of the base/dock/dongle as well as its compatibility with consoles and Personal Computers. Also whether the base supports dock charging to easily recharge the headphones without any cables.
Score components:
  • 5% Optical Input
  • 22% Line In
  • 5% Line Out
  • 22% USB Input
  • 4% RCA Input
  • 9% PS4 Compatible
  • 9% Xbox One Compatible
  • 9% PC Compatible
  • 2% Power Supply
  • 13% Dock Charging
Wireless Type
What it is: The type of wireless connection used by the base station/dock to communicate with the headphones.
When it matters: For latency and range. For example Radio frequency has low latency but mediocre range when obstructed and proprietary docks have their own 2.x GHz or 5 GHz frequency which varies in performance.
:
N/A
Optical Input
What it is: Optical input for audio.
When it matters: Optical can carry a bit more data at faster speeds than typical wired connection which allows for more high quality, lossless audio.
Good value: Yes
:
No
Line In
What it is: The regular wired input via a 1/8" TRS audio jack.
When it matters: For any device that has a line out for audio transmission.
Good value: Yes
:
No
Line Out
What it is: A regular 1/8TRS audio jack output.
When it matters: If you need to share the audio source with other devices. A line out lets you connect other headphones or speakers to the dock/base station.
Good value: Yes
:
No
USB Input
What it is: A digital USB input instead of a typical 1/8 TRS line-in.
When it matters: A USB connection can provide both an audio input and power to the Dock or Base station.
:
No
RCA Input
What it is: Audio input using via an RCA connectors.
When it matters: Provides better stereo audio to the dock/base that's then transmitted to the headphones.
Good value: Yes
:
No
PS4 Compatible
What it is: Dock/Base station compatibility with the PlayStation 4.
When it matters: To be able to use all the features of the dock/base station with out losing audio or microphone capability.
Good value: Audio + Microphone
:
N/A
Xbox One Compatible
What it is: Dock/Base station compatibility with the Xbox One.
When it matters: To be able to use all the features of the dock/base station with out losing audio or microphone capability.
:
N/A
PC Compatible
What it is: Dock/Base station compatibility with your Personal Computer.
When it matters: To be able to use all the features of the dock/base station with out losing audio or microphone capability.
Good value: Audio + Microphone
:
N/A
Power Supply
What it is: The connector type of the power source.
When it matters: The accessibility of the power source. For example a power supply with USB/USB-C connects to multiple devices, PC , PS4, Xbox One or even with your regular phone charger whereas a A/C adapter is less common.
Good value: USB/USB-C
:
N/A
Dock Charging
What it is: Charging the headphones via the dock/base station instead of a charging cable.
When it matters: It makes charging your headphones easier and gives you a sport to store your headphones when they are not in use.
Good value: Yes
:
Yes

The case provides 4.5 additional charges when the headphones are docked. Unfortunately, it provides no additional features or Input/Output options, and you also need the case to pair the headphones to new devices which is not ideal.

7.4 Wireless Range
What it is: Headphones that offer a cable-free listening experience over a wireless network, typically via Bluetooth or radio frequency.
When it matters: If you don't want to be limited by the length of an audio cable. This means having the freedom to move around in your home or office with a much greater range than an audio cable could provide, especially, if the Bluetooth source is heavy or difficult to carry.
Score components:
Obstructed Range
What it is: The range that the wireless headphones can reach before dropping any audio when the Bluetooth source was placed in another room.
When it matters: If you can't or prefer not to carry your Bluetooth source on you, while listening to your audio in an indoor environment. Although, the obstructed wireless range will slightly depend on your home or office layout.
Good value: >35ft
Noticeable difference: 5ft
:
33 ft
Line of Sight Range
What it is: The range that the wireless headphones can reach before dropping any audio when in direct line of sight of the Bluetooth device.
When it matters: If you can't or prefer not to carry your Bluetooth source on you, while listening to your audio in a large and open environment.
Good value: 170ft or more
Noticeable difference: 10ft
:
76 ft

The Google Pixel Buds have an above-average range for a wireless in-ear. They maintained a stable connection up to 33ft when the Bluetooth source was obstructed and reached up to 76ft in direct-line-of-sight. This means they should be good enough for small to moderately sized office spaces but won't be as good as some of the other wireless in-ears we reviewed like the Beats BeatsX.

2.8 Latency
What it is: How long it takes for audio to play through your headphones once the audio signal has been sent from a source.
When it matters: When gaming or watching movies. High latency means you will hear the audio much later than the images you see on screen.
Score components:
Default Latency
What it is: The Base RF latency or the default sub-band coding (SBC) of most Bluetooth headphones.
When it matters: When watching videos a high latency can cause sync issues between the images you see and the audio you hear.
Good value: 50ms or less
Noticeable difference: 15ms
:
185 ms
aptX Latency
What it is: An audio coding algorithm (Codec) that improves bit rate efficiency. It reduces latency and improves sound quality over Bluetooth.
When it matters: For better sound quality if your often streaming music over Bluetooth. Also it slightly improves latency when watching videos with wireless headphones.
Good value: 50ms or less
Noticeable difference: 15ms
:
N/A
aptX(LL) Latency
What it is: Low latency variation of aptX that significantly reduces sync issues between video and sound when using Bluetooth headphones.
When it matters: When watching videos or gaming latency is a lot more noticeable than just listening to music.
Good value: 50ms or less
Noticeable difference: 5ms
:
N/A

Like most Bluetooth headphones, they have a bit too much latency to be ideal for watching movies or playing video games.

In the box

Google Pixel Buds In the box Picture

  • Google Pixel Buds Headphones
  • Charging Case
  • USB Cable
  • Manuals

Compared to other Headphones

Google Pixel Buds Compare Picture

These are the first Google-made headphones. They have a unique design and convenient features but are somewhat lacking compared to the headphones below. They're also not truly wireless. On the upside, they have a good build quality that feels durable enough to last you a while, and they come with a great charging case that gives them over 24Hrs of battery life in total which is great and means they will last a lot longer than most wireless in-ears and earbuds.

Apple AirPods

The Apple AirPods are much better wireless headphone overall than the Google Pixel Buds. The AirPods have a more comfortable fit, especially for those used to the Apple one-size-fits-all earbud design. They also have a better build quality and unlike the Pixel Buds, they are truly wireless and each earbud can be used independently of each other.  The Airpods also have a slightly better sound even if they do not have a lot of bass. On the upside, the Pixel buds are a lot more stable for physical activity and sports. Their adjustable earbud fit design also caters to more listeners than the AirPods.

Bose SoundSport Free

The Bose SoundSport Free are better earbuds than the Google PixelBuds. The SoundSport Free sound a lot more balanced than the Pixel Buds, despite having a semi-open fit they still pack a lot of bass and cater well to all genres, unlike the PixelBuds. They're also a bit more comfortable than the thanks to their softer earbud tips and their build quality feels a bit more durable than that of the google headphones. On the upside, the Pixel Buds have a longer cumulative battery life and since their fit is adjustable they will be a bit more suitable for all ear shapes and sizes.

Jaybird X3

The Jaybird X3 are a better and more versatile wireless headphone than the Google Pixel Buds. The X3 have a more isolating in-ear fit which makes them a bit more suitable for commuting and loud environments. They have a better sound quality which you can also EQ since they have an app, unlike the Pixel Buds. On the upside, the Pixel Buds have a longer 24hr battery life and since their fit is adjustable they will be a bit more suitable for all ear shapes and sizes. Their open fit also makes them a better option if you run outdoors often and need to monitor your environment for traffic or obstacles.

Beats BeatsX

The Beats Beats X are a much better headphone than the Google Pixel Buds. The BeatsX have a much better isolation performance thanks to their in-ear fit. They also sound better, have a longer wireless range and charge a lot faster delivering over an hours worth of playback from a 5 minutes charge. The Pixel Buds, on the other hand, have a much the better battery life overall at 24 hours of cumulative playback compared to the 6 hours for the BeatsX. They're also a bit more suitable for outdoor runners thanks to their open earbud fit which some will find a lot more comfortable than the in-ear design of the BeatsX.

Conclusion

5.9Mixed Usage
What it is: This is the combination of the different use cases to evaluate how versatile the headphones are. Therefore an everyday headphone should be well-rounded enough to adapt to most situations and environments without significant losses in sound quality, design ergonomics or isolation.
Score components:
They are mediocre-at-best mixed usage headphones with a few unique features. They're decently comfortable and stable thanks to their earbud design and adjustable stability tips. They're also compact enough to fit into most pockets and come with a charging case that gives them a total of 24hrs of battery life. Unfortunately, they barely block any noise which makes them poorly suited for loud environments and commuting. Their sound also lacks quite a bit of bass which won't be ideal for most listeners.
6.1Critical Listening
What it is: The level of audio fidelity a headphone can reproduce. Therefore a balanced and true representation of bass, mids, treble, soundstage and imaging, as well as a comfortable listening experience, is essential for critical listening.
Score components:
Mediocre-at-best for critical listening. They have a poorly balanced sound that lacks a lot of sub-bass due to their open earbud design but also sounds boomy. This makes these earbuds sound a bit lackluster although instruments and vocals are well reproduced. Unfortunately, although better than most in-ears they do not have the best soundstage. On the upside, they're comfortable enough to wear for long listening sessions.
5.8Commute/Travel
What it is: How well the headphones handle the loud environments involved in commuting or traveling. Therefore your listening experience should be comfortable, hassle-free and as isolated from noise as possible.
Score components:
Not suitable for commuting or traveling. The open design lets in a lot of ambient noise, which is not suitable for loud environments.
7.5Sports/Fitness
What it is: How well-adapted the headphones are, to use while doing sports or strenuous exercise. Therefore the headphones should not be too cumbersome and deliver a stable and comfortable listening experience.
Score components:
Good for sports and running outdoors. They have adjustable stability tips that make them stable enough to exercise with for most. They're also lightweight and very breathable. However, their unique design is not as stable as some of the wireless in-ears we've tested and their control scheme could be a bit more precise.
5.8Office
What it is: How well the headphones can deliver a comfortable and isolated listening experience in an office-like environment. They should not leak much and should block the noise of a busy office.
Score components:
Sub-par for office use. The open design of these earbuds makes them poorly suitable for lively or noisy work environments. On the upside, they do not leak too much so you won't be distracting to those around you.
5.2TV
Score components:
Below-average for home theater use. You can wear them for hours but unfortunately, their latency performance isn't ideal for watching movies and videos without the noticeable sync issues.
5.2Gaming
Score components:
Sub-par for gaming. They have a mediocre microphone, they lack customization options and have a bit too much latency to be suitable for gaming.

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