The Google Pixel Buds 2017 Wireless are mediocre headphones for most uses but have a unique and open earbud fit that some may 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.
The Google Pixel Buds Gen 1 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 many music genres.
The Google Pixel Buds Gen 1 are sub-par for neutral sound. 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.
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.
The Google Pixel Buds Gen 1 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 control scheme could be a bit more precise.
The Google Pixel Buds Gen 1 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 distract those around you.
The Google Pixel Buds Gen 1 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.
You can't use the Google Pixel Buds Gen 1 wired.
The Google Pixel Buds Gen 1 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.
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 Wireless or Bose SoundSport Wireless, but unlike those headphones, the Google Pixel Buds Gen 1's cable is braided, and it also doubles as adjustable stability loops.
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 in the ear, and they're incredibly lightweight, making them less noticeable once you get used to the fit. Unfortunately, the earbud design isn't angled like the Apple AirPods (1st generation) Truly Wireless and doesn't sit as well in the notch of your outer ear, which may be an issue for some listeners. If you're looking for more comfortable Google headphones, consider the Google Pixel Buds A-Series Truly Wireless.
The Google Pixel Buds Gen 1 offer a mediocre 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 many erroneous inputs when sliding your finger up or down or double-tapping. It's sometimes easier to pull your phone out and change the track or volume directly on the device than with the headphones, which is disappointing.
Like most in-ears and earbuds, the Google Pixel Buds Gen 1 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.
Like most wireless in-ears, they're portable. They can easily fit inside your pockets and come with a portable case as well.
These earbuds come with a 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 compared to the Apple AirPods (1st generation) Truly Wireless or the Sony WF-1000X Truly Wireless' case.
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 aesthetically pleasing as the Apple AirPods (1st generation) Truly Wireless or the Samsung Gear IconX Truly Wireless.
The Google Pixel Buds Gen 1 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.
Although they have an excited V-shape sound profile, the Google Pixel Buds Gen 1 are bass-heavy to the point where they sound overly boomy and muddy. Their overemphasized treble 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.
The Google Pixel Buds Gen 1 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.
Their bass accuracy is bad. They have poor low-frequency extension, which results in very bad low-bass performance. The low-bass significantly 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.
The Google Pixel Buds Gen 1's mid accuracy is decent. The overall response is 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.
The Google Pixel Buds Gen 1 have a satisfactory treble range performance. The overall response is 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.
The Google Pixel Buds Gen 1's peaks and dips performance is disappointing. 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 drowned out by the bass, while the sharp peaks in the treble range make those frequencies too piercing.
The Google Pixel Buds Gen 1's imaging performance is okay. They show audible amounts of group delay in the bass range, which results in a slightly soft and loose bass. Our unit shows 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.
Like most other earbuds and in-ears, they have a bad passive soundstage. Due to their design, they bypass the pinna and don't interact with it. Because of their open fit, they sound more open and spacious than typical closed-back in-ears.
These headphones don't have any virtual soundstage features.
The weighted harmonic distortion performance is just okay. There's a noticeable jump in the mid-range at higher volumes, resulting in a harsh and impure audio reproduction. Overall, this shouldn't be too noticeable for most people.
The results of this review are only valid for these test settings.
The isolation provided by the Google Pixel Buds Gen 1 is bad. 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. However, some users may prefer their lack of noise isolation, as they can allow you to hear your environment.
The leakage performance 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.
The Google Pixel Buds Gen 1 have an integrated microphone inside the buds.
The Google Pixel Buds Gen 1 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.
The noise handling of the Google Pixel Buds Gen 1's integrated microphone 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.
The Google Pixel Buds Gen 1's battery performance 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 helpful to save battery life.
The Google Pixel Buds Gen 1 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.
They have a fairly easy-to-pair Bluetooth connection. You can connect simultaneously up to two devices and have up to eight devices stored in memory for automatic pairing when you open the case. Unfortunately, they don't have NFC, which would make 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.
These headphones are Bluetooth-only.
You can't use these headphones wired. They only come with a USB-C charging cable. If you're looking for similarly-performing earbuds that you can use with a wired connection, take a look at the Google Pixel USB-C Earbuds, which, as the name implies, use a USB-C connection for audio.
These Bluetooth headphones can't be used on a PS4 but can work on a Bluetooth-enabled computer.
These headphones aren't compatible with the Xbox One.
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.
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.
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.
The Apple AirPods (1st generation) Truly Wireless are much better wireless headphones 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 better build quality, and unlike the Google, they are truly wireless, and you can use each earbud independently of each other. The Apple 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.
The Jaybird X3 Wireless are better and more versatile wireless headphones than the Google Pixel Buds 2017 Wireless. The Jaybird have a more isolating in-ear fit which makes them 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 Google. On the upside, the Google have 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.
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.
The Google Pixel Buds 2017 Wireless are much better for mixed usage than the Google Pixel USB-C Earbuds. The Pixel Buds 2017 are wireless, which makes them an even better fit for sports and fitness since they won’t snag on anything. They’re also better built and offer a more consistent listening experience. That said, the Pixel Buds USB-C are better if you prioritize lower-latency audio. They also have an easier-to-use control scheme and a marginally better-balanced sound profile overall.
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 longer cumulative battery life, and since their fit is adjustable, they'll be a bit more suitable for all ear shapes and sizes.