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Google Pixel Buds 2017 Wireless Headphones Review

Tested using Methodology v1.4
Updated May 22, 2020 at 09:19 am
Google Pixel Buds 2017 Wireless Picture
6.1
Mixed Usage
5.7
Neutral Sound
5.9
Commute/Travel
7.9
Sports/Fitness
5.6
Office
5.0
Wireless Gaming
4.8
Wired Gaming
5.9
Phone Calls
These headphones were replaced by the Google Pixel Buds 2020 Truly Wireless
Type Earbuds
Enclosure Closed-Back
Wireless Yes
Noise Cancelling No
Mic Yes
Transducer Dynamic

The Google Pixel Buds 2017 Wireless are mediocre headphones for most uses but have a unique and open earbud fit that some will prefer over typical in-ears. Unfortunately, they have a very muddy sound profile that isn't well suited for most music genres. On the upside, 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.

Our Verdict

6.1 Mixed Usage

The Google Pixel Buds 2017 Wireless are mediocre 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 over 20 hours of battery life. Unfortunately, they barely block any noise, which makes them poorly suited for loud environments and commuting. Unfortunately, their sound profile is also quite bass-heavy, which won't be suitable for a lot of music genres.

Pros
  • Compact and portable.
  • Stable and adjustable fit.
  • Decent battery life.
Cons
  • Poor noise isolation, by design.
  • Uneven audio reproduction.
5.7 Neutral Sound

The Google Pixel Buds are sub-par for neutral listening. They have a poorly balanced sound that lacks a lot of low-bass due to their open fit but they also sound boomy because of a noticeable overemphasis in the high-bass. Additionally, due to their in-ear design, they don't have the best soundstage. On the upside, they're comfortable enough to wear for long listening sessions.

5.9 Commute/Travel

The Google Pixel Buds Gen 1 aren't suitable for commuting or traveling. The open fit lets in a lot of ambient noise, which isn't suitable for loud environments.

7.9 Sports/Fitness

The Google Pixel Buds are good for sports. The open fit allows you to run outside and stay aware of your surroundings. They also have adjustable stability tips that make them stable enough for most light to moderate exercises. However, their unique design isn't as stable as some of the wireless in-ears we've tested and their control scheme could be a bit more precise.

5.6 Office

The Google Pixel Buds are sub-par for office use. The open fit of these earbuds makes them poorly suited for lively or noisy work environments. On the upside, they don't leak too much so you won't be distracting to those around you.

5.0 Wireless Gaming

The Google Pixel Buds aren't designed for gaming. Their Bluetooth connection isn't compatible with gaming consoles and even if they work on Bluetooth-enabled PCs, their wireless latency is too high for any competitive gaming.

4.8 Wired Gaming

The Google Pixel Buds can't be used wired.

5.9 Phone Calls

The Google Pixel Buds 2017 Wireless are a sub-par option for phone calls. The microphone struggles in moderately loud environments and blends recorded voice and ambient noise, so it's better to use it in a quiet environment. While speech is understandable, it lacks a bit of presence and detail.

  • 6.1 Mixed Usage
  • 5.7 Neutral Sound
  • 5.9 Commute/Travel
  • 7.9 Sports/Fitness
  • 5.6 Office
  • 5.0 Wireless Gaming
  • 4.8 Wired Gaming
  • 5.9 Phone Calls
  1. Update 3/27/2020: Converted to Test Bench 1.4.
  2. Update 11/21/2019: Converted to Test Bench 1.3.1.
  3. Update 11/21/2019: Converted to Test Bench 1.3.

Check Price

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style

These are well-designed and slick-looking earbuds that, unfortunately, aren't 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 it also doubles as adjustable stability loops.

7.0
Design
Comfort
Weight 0.03 lbs
Clamping Force
0 lbs

They have an open earbud fit with unique adjustable stability tips/fins mechanism that helps them stay securely in your ears. The cable loops out of the buds to help you get a secure fit. They also don't put any pressure within the ear, and they're incredibly lightweight which makes them less noticeable once you get used to the fit. Unfortunately, the earbud design isn't angled like the Apple AirPods and doesn't sit as well in the notch of your outer ear, which may be an issue for some listeners.

6.0
Design
Controls
OS Compatibility
Not OS specific
Ease Of Use Okay
Feedback Subpar
Call/Music Control Yes
Volume Control Yes
Microphone Control No
Channel Mixing
No
Noise Cancelling Control No
Talk-Through
No
Additional Controls Voice Assistant

The Google Pixel Buds offer a decent set of touch-sensitive controls. You can play or pause your music by double-tapping. Tap and hold activates Google Assistant and swiping up or down changes the volume. Unfortunately, feedback and ease-of-use aren't 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 or volume directly on the device than with the headphones, which is disappointing.

9.4
Design
Breathability
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
Design
Portability
L 1.3 "
W 2 "
H 0.9 "
Volume 2.4 Cu. Inches
Transmitter Required No

Like most wireless in-ears, they're quite portable. They can easily fit inside your pockets and come with a portable case as well.

8.0
Design
Case
Type Hard case
L 2.3 "
W 2.3 "
H 0.9 "
Volume 4.8 Cu. Inches

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

7.5
Design
Build Quality

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 doesn't feel as premium or as aesthetically pleasing as the Apple AirPods or the Samsung Gear IconX.

7.5
Design
Stability

The Google Pixel Buds 2017 are stable enough for running as long as you adjust the cable stability tips to fit your ears. Unfortunately, they can easily fall off if you don't use the cable to have a secure fit.

Design
Headshots 1
Design
Headshots 2
Design
Top
Design
In The Box

  • Google Pixel Buds Headphones
  • Charging case
  • USB-C charging cable
  • Manuals

Sound
Sound
Sound Profile
Bass Amount
-9.99 db
Treble Amount
-2.54 db

Although they have an excited V-shape sound profile, the Goole Pixel Buds are bass-heavy to the point where they sound overly boomy and muddy. Their overemphasized treble also results in harshness in high frequencies. This will be better suited for bass-heavy genres like EDM or hip-hop, and won't be great for most instrument or vocal-centric genres.

8.2
Sound
Frequency Response Consistency
Avg. Std. Deviation
0.36 dB

The Google Pixel Buds have a surprisingly great frequency response consistency. Provided you achieve a proper fit, you should experience similar bass and treble response every time you use it.

Sound
Raw Frequency Response
2.7
Sound
Bass Accuracy
Std. Err.
9.98 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
53.39 Hz
Low-Bass
-16.45 dB
Mid-Bass
4.33 dB
High-Bass
9.24 dB

The bass accuracy of these headphones is very bad. They have poor low-frequency extension, which results is very bad low-bass performance. The low-bass lacks thump and rumble. There's also a noticeable overemphasis in the mid and high bass ranges, which clutters the mix and makes it sound boomy and muddy.

7.2
Sound
Mid Accuracy
Std. Err.
3.68 dB
Low-Mid
5.62 dB
Mid-Mid
1.95 dB
High-Mid
0.64 dB

The mid-range performance of the Google Pixel Buds is decent. The overall response is quite even, but the 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.

7.0
Sound
Treble Accuracy
Std. Err.
3.99 dB
Low-Treble
3.38 dB
Mid-Treble
3.81 dB
High-Treble
-4.88 dB

The Google Pixel Buds have a decent treble range performance. The overall response is quite consistent, but low-treble and mid-treble are consistently over our target, which adds a bit of excess brightness and sharpness to vocals, leads, and cymbals.

5.2
Sound
Peaks/Dips
Peaks
3.65 db
Dips
2.08 db

The peaks and dips performance of the Google Pixel Buds 2017 is sub-par. There's variation throughout the whole range, which makes the overall sound signature fairly uneven. The wide peak in the bass range adds muddiness. The mid-range is also drowned out by the bass, while the sharp peaks in the treble range make those frequencies too piercing.

6.7
Sound
Imaging
Weighted Group Delay
1.08
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
2.68
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
2.02
Weighted Phase Mismatch
4.96

The imaging performance of the Pixel Buds is passable. They show audible amounts of group delay in the bass range which results in a slightly soft and loose bass. 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. Note that these results are only valid for our unit and yours may perform differently.

2.8
Sound
Passive Soundstage
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
N/A
PRTF Size (Avg.)
N/A
PRTF Distance
N/A
Openness
9.6
Acoustic Space Excitation
2.9

Like most other earbuds and in-ears, they have a poor passive soundstage. Due to their design, they bypass the pinna and don't interact with it. However, because of their open fit, which is similar to the Apple AirPods, they sound more open and spacious than typical closed-back in-ears.

0
Sound
Virtual Soundstage
Head Modeling
No
Speaker Modeling
No
Room Ambience
No
Head Tracking
No
Virtual Surround
No App

These headphones don't have any virtual soundstage features.

6.4
Sound
Weighted Harmonic Distortion
WHD @ 90
0.366
WHD @ 100
0.888

The weighted harmonic distortion performance of these headphones is just okay. There's a noticeable jump in the mid-range at higher volumes, which can result in a harsh and impure audio reproduction. Overall, this shouldn't be too noticeable for most people.

Sound
Test Settings
Firmware
Unknown
Power
On
Connection
Unknown
Codec
SBC, 16-bit, 48kHz
EQ
No EQ
ANC
No ANC
Tip/Pad
Default
Microphone
Integrated

The tests results of this review are only valid for these test settings.

Isolation
1.0
Isolation
Noise Isolation
Isolation Audio
Overall Attenuation
-1.44 dB
Bass
-1.71 dB
Mid
2.84 dB
Treble
-4.79 dB

The isolation provided by the Pixel Buds is poor. While they're technically closed-back earbuds, they have a very open fit. They don't isolate in the bass and mid-ranges, so they let in all the low rumbling sounds of airplane and bus engines, as well as the chatter of people around you. They don't even fare well against high-frequency noises like the hum of an AC system, which is disappointing. 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.

7.4
Isolation
Leakage
Leakage Audio
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
37.08 dB

The leakage performance of this headset is decent. There's some leakage at higher frequencies, which can be heard by nearby coworkers if they're close to you. If you want a pair of earbud-style headphones that don't leak as much audio, check out the Microsoft Surface Earbuds Truly Wireless.

Microphone
Microphone
Microphone Style
Integrated
Yes
In-Line
No
Boom
No
Detachable Boom
No

These headphones have an integrated microphone inside the buds.

7.0
Microphone
Recording Quality
Recorded Speech
LFE
83.54 Hz
FR Std. Dev.
2.33 dB
HFE
3368.2 Hz
Weighted THD
42.079
Gain
43.58 dB

The Pixel Buds' microphone has a decent recording quality. The recorded/transmitted speech sounds full and understandable. However, speech lacks a bit of presence and detail.

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 much cleaner on smartphones.

6.1
Microphone
Noise Handling
Speech + Pink Noise
Speech + Subway Noise
SpNR
13.74 dB

The noise handling of the integrated microphone of the Google Pixel Buds 2017 is mediocre. The mic struggles to separate actual speech and background noise. It performs better in quiet environments.

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.

Active Features
6.4
Active Features
Battery
Battery Type
Rechargable
Continuous Battery Life
4.6 hrs
Additional Charges
4.5
Total Battery Life
20.7 hrs
Charge Time
0.9 hrs
Power-Saving Feature
Auto-Off Timer
Audio While Charging
No
Passive Playback
No
Charging Port USB-C

The battery performance of these headphones is just okay. They offer just under five hours of continuous playback time and the case holds a few additional charges as well. They don't take a lot of time to charge, which is nice. They also automatically turn off if you don't use them, which is useful to save battery life.

0
Active Features
App Support
App Name No App
iOS No
Android No
macOS No
Windows No
Equalizer
No
ANC Control
No
Mic Control No
Room Effects
No
Playback Control
No
Button Mapping No
Surround Support
No

The Google Pixel Buds don't have a companion app. There's a small pop-up interface for Pixel phones, but that's about it; you don't have any customization options.

Connectivity
7.9
Connectivity
Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
4.2
Multi-Device Pairing
2 Devices
NFC Pairing
No
Line Of Sight Range
76 ft
PC Latency (SBC)
185 ms
PC Latency (aptX)
N/A
PC Latency (aptX HD)
N/A
PC Latency (aptX-LL)
N/A
iOS Latency
136 ms
Android Latency
116 ms

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 don't have NFC which would have made pairing with multiple devices a lot easier. Their latency with mobile devices on YouTube isn't too bad and most people may not notice any delay when watching video content. Note that you also need the case to pair to new devices, which can be annoying for some.

0
Connectivity
Non-Bluetooth Wireless
Non-BT Line Of Sight Range
N/A
Non-BT Latency
N/A

These headphones are Bluetooth-only.

0
Connectivity
Wired
Analog Audio
No
USB Audio
No
Detachable No
Length N/A
Connection No Wired Option
Analog/USB Audio Latency
N/A

These headphones can't be used wired. They only come with a USB-C charging cable.

Connectivity
PC / PS4 Compatibility
PC/PS4 Analog
No
PC/PS4 Wired USB
No
PC/PS4 Non-BT Wireless
No

These Bluetooth headphones can't be used on a PS4, but can work on a Bluetooth-enabled computer.

Connectivity
Xbox One Compatibility
Xbox One Analog
No
Xbox One Wired USB
No
Xbox One Wireless
No

These headphones aren't compatible with the Xbox One.

2.2
Connectivity
Base/Dock
Type
Charging Case
USB Input
No
Line In
No
Line Out
No
Optical Input
No
RCA Input
No
Dock Charging
Yes
Power Supply
USB-C

The case provides around 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 isn't ideal.

Compared to other headphones

Comparison picture

These are the first Google-made headphones. They have a unique design and convenient features but are somewhat lacking compared to the competition. 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 20 hours of battery life in total which is great as they'll last a lot longer than most wireless in-ears and earbuds. See our recommendations for the best wireless earbuds, the best earbuds with a mic, and the best earbuds and in-ears.

Bose SoundSport Free Truly Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Bose SoundSport Free Truly Wireless are better earbuds than the Google Pixel Buds 2017 Wireless. The Bose sound a lot more balanced than the Google, despite having a semi-open fit. The Bose still pack a lot of bass and cater well to all genres, unlike the Google. They're also a bit more comfortable 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 Google 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.

Google Pixel Buds 2020 Truly Wireless
SEE PRICE
BestBuy.com

The Google Pixel Buds 2020 Truly Wireless are better wireless headphones than the Google Pixel Buds 2017 Wireless but with a different design. While the 2017 model have a wire connecting each earbud, the new Pixel Buds 2020 are truly wireless. Other than that, the 2020 Pixel Buds are more comfortable, have a much better-balanced sound profile, and have a longer single-charge battery life. On the other hand, the 2017 Pixel Buds can be paired to two devices at once, though the newer model now has instant pairing with Android devices.

Beats BeatsX Wireless
SEE PRICE
BestBuy.com

The Beats BeatsX Wireless are much better headphones than the Google Pixel Buds 2017 Wireless. The Beats have better noise isolation performance, and they sound a lot better-balanced. They also have a longer wireless range and have an impressive charge time of under an hour. The Beats are also slightly 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 Google.

Jaybird X3 Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Jaybird X3 Wireless are better and more versatile wireless headphones than the Google Pixel Buds 2017 Wireless. 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-balanced sound profile, which you can also EQ since they have an app, unlike the Pixel Buds. On the upside, the Pixel Buds have a longer 20-hour battery life and since their fit is adjustable, they can 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.

Apple AirPods 1 Truly Wireless 2017
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Apple AirPods 1 Truly Wireless 2017 are much better wireless headphones overall than the Google Pixel Buds 2017 Wireless. The Apple have a more comfortable fit, especially for those used to the Apple's one-size-fits-all earbud design. They also have a better build quality and unlike the Google, they are truly wireless, and each earbud can be used independently of each other. The Apple also have a slightly better sound even if they don't have a lot of bass. On the upside, the Google are a lot more stable for physical activity and sports. Their adjustable earbud fit design also caters to more listeners than the Apple.

Amazon Echo Buds Truly Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Amazon Echo Buds Truly Wireless are much better headphones than the Google Pixel Buds 2017 Wireless. The Amazon are much more portable due to their truly wireless design, they isolate ambient noises much better, and have much more accurate bass and mid responses. 

+ Show more

Google Pixel Buds 2017 Wireless Price

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