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Google Pixel Buds A-Series Truly Wireless Headphones Review

Tested using Methodology v1.5
Reviewed Aug 04, 2021 at 09:44 am
Google Pixel Buds A-Series Truly Wireless Picture
6.9
Neutral Sound
6.7
Commute/Travel
8.2
Sports/Fitness
6.4
Office
5.5
Wireless Gaming
5.5
Wired Gaming
6.3
Phone Calls
Type In-ear
Enclosure Closed-Back
Wireless Truly Wireless
Noise Cancelling No
Mic Yes
Transducer Dynamic

The Google Pixel Buds A-Series Truly Wireless are the more wallet-friendly sibling of the Google Pixel Buds 2020 Wireless. They retain the same rounded, well-built look and feel but lack a few features such as auto-pause, volume control, and wireless charging. That said, they have a very similar overall performance to the Pixel Buds 2020 with a somewhat neutral sound profile suitable for most content. You can also adjust their sound using their 'Bass Boost' feature if you're looking for more thump and boom. However, their 5.5-hour battery life isn't really impressive, even with an extra 3.8 charges in their case, and they really struggle to block out background noise.

Our Verdict

6.9 Neutral Sound

The Google Pixel Buds A-Series are fair for neutral sound. They have a somewhat neutral sound profile, although they have an underemphasized bass range. A dip in the mid-treble also dulls sibilants like cymbals a bit. Since they're in-ears, their passive soundstage doesn't feel very immersive or spacious as well. On the upside, once you achieve a good fit, they have fairly consistent audio delivery.

Pros
  • Comfortable, well-built design.
  • Consistent audio delivery.
Cons
  • Sub-par battery life.
  • No sound customization features.
6.7 Commute/Travel

The Google Pixel Buds A-Series are okay for commute and travel. Thanks to their small size, they fit into most pockets and bags, which makes it easy to take them with you on the go. They also have a comfortable fit and feel well-built. However, they don't really block out any background noise like the low rumble of bus or plane engines. Their 5.5-hour continuous playback time may also not be enough for long trips.

Pros
  • Comfortable, well-built design.
  • Consistent audio delivery.
Cons
  • Don't really block out background noise.
  • Sub-par battery life.
8.2 Sports/Fitness

The Google Pixel Buds A-Series are great for sports and fitness. These in-ears are very portable, well-built, and are rated IPX4 for water resistance, although we don't currently test for it. They're also lightweight, comfortable, and have a very stable fit, so they shouldn't fall out of your ears during a workout. However, they lack volume control, which could be disruptive if you need to pull out your phone during your run instead.

Pros
  • Comfortable, well-built design.
  • Stable fit.
Cons
  • Sub-par battery life.
6.4 Office

The Google Pixel Buds A-Series are acceptable for office use. They have a comfortable and breathable fit. However, they have trouble blocking out ambient noise like office chatter, and their 5.5-hour battery life may not be enough to get you through your workday without pausing to recharge them. They also lack multi-device pairing.

Pros
  • Comfortable, well-built design.
  • Consistent audio delivery.
Cons
  • Don't really block out background noise.
  • Sub-par battery life.
5.5 Wireless Gaming

The Google Pixel Buds A are Bluetooth-only headphones that aren't recommended for wireless gaming. While you can game with them on a mobile device or Bluetooth-enabled PC, their high audio latency makes them less than ideal for this use.

5.5 Wired Gaming

The Google Pixel A-Series are Bluetooth-only headphones that can't be used wired.

6.3 Phone Calls

The Google Pixel Buds A-Series are passable for phone calls. They have an integrated mic, which does a satisfactory job of recording your voice, and while your voice is clear, it also sounds thin and lacking in depth. The mic struggles to separate speech from ambient noise, so if you're taking an important call, it's better to do so from a quiet environment. The headphones also don't block out much ambient noise, which could make it harder for you to hear your conversation.

Pros
  • Satisfactory recording quality.
  • Comfortable, well-built design.
  • Consistent audio delivery.
Cons
  • Mediocre noise handling.
  • Don't really block out background noise.
  • Sub-par battery life.
  • 6.9 Neutral Sound
  • 6.7 Commute/Travel
  • 8.2 Sports/Fitness
  • 6.4 Office
  • 5.5 Wireless Gaming
  • 5.5 Wired Gaming
  • 6.3 Phone Calls
  1. Updated Aug 04, 2021: Review published.
  2. Updated Jul 29, 2021: Early access published.

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style

The Google Pixel Buds A-Series look very similar to the Google Pixel Buds 2020 Truly Wireless with a round, minimalist look. There's a small brand logo embossed on the outward-facing side. They come in two color variations: 'Clearly White' and 'Dark Olive'.

7.5
Design
Comfort
Weight 0.02 lbs
Clamping Force
0 lbs

The Google Pixel Buds A have a comfortable fit. They're lightweight and don't put pressure on the inside of your ears. Registering controls doesn't push them deeper into your ear, either.

5.5
Design
Controls
OS Compatibility
Not OS specific
Ease Of Use Great
Feedback Good
Call/Music Control Yes
Volume Control No
Microphone Control No
Channel Mixing
No
Noise Cancelling Control No
Talk-Through
No
Additional Controls Voice Assistant

These headphones have middling controls. They're responsive and are really easy to use as both earbuds have the same controls. One tap plays or pauses audio, two taps skip to the next track, and three taps skip to the previous track. You can also touch and hold for voice assistant. Unfortunately, unlike the Google Pixel Buds 2020 Truly Wireless, they don't have volume controls. There are only beeps when you've registered a command, and it may be hard to know which control you've triggered.

9.2
Design
Breathability
Avg.Temp.Difference 0.8 ยฐC

The Google Pixel Buds A-Series have outstanding breathability. Thanks to their in-ear design, they don't cover your outer ear or trap in much heat. You can wear them for long periods of time without noticing a difference in temperature.

9.5
Design
Portability
L 1.3" (3.2 cm)
W 1.3" (3.2 cm)
H 0.8" (2.1 cm)
Volume 1.31 inยณ (21.50 cmยณ)
Transmitter Required No

These headphones are very portable. They're small and can easily fit into most pockets or bags without an issue.

8.0
Design
Case
Type Hard case
L 2.5" (6.3 cm)
W 1.9" (4.7 cm)
H 1.0" (2.5 cm)
Volume 4.52 inยณ (74.00 cmยณ)

The Google Pixel Buds A-Series have a great case. It's very small and lightweight. There's a light outside the case to indicate its remaining charge and another light inside the case for the earbuds. However, unlike the Google Pixel Buds 2020 Truly Wireless, it doesn't support wireless charging.

7.5
Design
Build Quality

The Google Pixel Buds A-Series have a good build quality. They're mostly made of plastic and silicone, which feel of good quality. They also seem like they should survive a few accidental drops without taking too much damage. Although we don't currently test for it, they're rated IPX4 for water resistance. However, the ear tips feel like they could rip over time.

8.0
Design
Stability

The Google Pixel Buds A-Series have great stability. Once you achieve a good seal using their included ear tips, they shouldn't fall out of your ears, even during moderate physical activity like running.

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

  • Google Pixel Buds A-Series headphones
  • 3x ear tips
  • Charging case
  • USB-A to USB-C charging cable
  • Manuals

Sound
Sound
Sound Profile
Bass Amount
-3.64 dB
Treble Amount
-0.19 dB

The Google Pixel Buds A-Series have a somewhat neutral sound profile. Vocals and lead instruments are present, accurate, and clear. However, they're lacking a thumpy, boomy bass, which may disappoint fans of EDM and hip-hop. While these headphones lack more robust sound customization features, they have a 'Bass Boost' EQ that can help add more punch and rumble to your mixes.

Note: Some users have reported that their headphones are very quiet, even when the volume is raised, and regardless of which device you're connected to. While we didn't experience this issue, there have been discussions on the Google Pixel Buds Help Community forums on how to fix the issue. Some users have suggested disabling 'Absolute Volume' in the developer options on some Android devices. However, we don't recommend enabling the 'Developer Options' feature for most users. If you've experienced this issue, please let us know in the discussion section below.

7.8
Sound
Frequency Response Consistency
Avg. Std. Deviation
0.43 dB

The Google Pixel Buds A-Series have good frequency response consistency. While they deliver bass very consistently, they're somewhat prone to inconsistencies in treble delivery. However, once you achieve a proper fit and positioning with the included ear tips, you should be able to get a more consistent sound.

Sound
Raw Frequency Response
6.6
Sound
Bass Accuracy
Std. Err.
4.57 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
253.98 Hz
Low-Bass
-6.94 dB
Mid-Bass
-4.14 dB
High-Bass
-4.26 dB

The bass accuracy of the Google Pixel Buds A-Series is okay. It's underemphasized across the entire range, so your mixes lack thump, rumble, and boom.

9.0
Sound
Mid Accuracy
Std. Err.
1.35 dB
Low-Mid
-0.57 dB
Mid-Mid
-1.15 dB
High-Mid
-1.21 dB

The mid accuracy is outstanding. The range is fairly flat and neutral. Vocals and lead instruments are clear and present, although the small dip in the mid to high-mid can slightly weaken them and nudge them to the back of the mix.

7.9
Sound
Treble Accuracy
Std. Err.
3.23 dB
Mid-Treble
-1.29 dB
Low-Treble
-0.47 dB
High-Treble
-5.36 dB

The treble accuracy of the Google Pixel Buds A-Series is very good. The low-treble is fairly flat, resulting in present and detailed vocals and lead instruments. However, the mid-treble is slightly underemphasized, so sibilants like cymbals are a bit dulled.

7.8
Sound
Peaks/Dips
Peaks
1.39 dB
Dips
1.06 dB

The peaks and dips performance of the Google Pixel Buds A is very good. An uneven low-bass indicates alternating amounts of thump and rumble, while a dip in the high-bass reduces the warmth in mixes. A bump in the low-mid can muddy vocals and lead instruments, while another peak in the low-treble can make their upper harmonics harsh. An uneven mid-treble can make sibilants like cymbals alternatingly dull and piercing.

7.2
Sound
Imaging
Weighted Group Delay
0.23
Weighted Phase Mismatch
39.18
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
0.71
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
1.05

The Google Buds A-Series have decent imaging. The weighted group delay falls below the audibility threshold, resulting in tight bass and transparent treble reproduction. In the phase response, there are a couple of peaks in the treble range, and sound seems like it's coming from the right side. However, it shouldn't be audible with real-life content. That said, the L/R drivers are well-matched in amplitude and frequency response, resulting in the accurate placement of objects like footsteps in the stereo image. However, these results are only valid for our unit, and yours may perform differently.

2.2
Sound
Passive Soundstage
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
N/A
PRTF Size (Avg.)
N/A
PRTF Distance
N/A
Openness
6.2
Acoustic Space Excitation
3.1

The Google Buds A-Series have a bad passive soundstage, which is to be expected from in-ears. Since their design completely bypasses your outer ear, sound is perceived as if it's coming from inside your head rather than as if from speakers placed around you. It doesn't sound very spacious either, although it seems somewhat open.

0
Sound
Virtual Soundstage
Head Modeling
No
Speaker Modeling
No
Room Ambience
No
Head Tracking
No
Virtual Surround
No
8.2
Sound
Weighted Harmonic Distortion
WHD @ 90
0.220
WHD @ 100
0.074

The weighted harmonic distortion performance is great. There are a couple of peaks in the treble range at moderate and high volumes. However, this can be hard to hear with real-life content. That said, most frequencies fall within good limits, resulting in fairly clear and pure audio reproduction.

Sound
Test Settings
Firmware
3.150.0
Power
On
Connection
Bluetooth 5.0
Codec
SBC, 16-bit, 48kHz
EQ
No EQ
ANC
No ANC
Tip/Pad
Silicone (small)
Microphone
Integrated

These are the settings used to test the Google Pixel Buds A-Series. Our results are only valid when used in this configuration.

Isolation
3.8
Isolation
Noise Isolation
Isolation Audio
Overall Attenuation
-9.73 dB
Bass
-0.62 dB
Mid
-7.45 dB
Treble
-21.69 dB

The Google Pixel Buds A-Series have poor noise isolation. They don't block out bass-range noise like the low hum of bus or plane engines. They also struggle to reduce mid-range noise like office chatter. They do a somewhat better job of cutting down the high-pitched hum of an AC unit.

7.2
Isolation
Leakage
Leakage Audio
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
38.13 dB

The leakage performance is decent. A significant portion of the leakage is concentrated in the mid to treble range, which sounds thin and harsh. However, if you're listening to audio at a high volume, you shouldn't disturb others around you in a moderately noisy environment like an office.

Microphone
Microphone
Microphone Style
Integrated
Yes
In-Line
No
Boom
No
Detachable Boom
No
7.0
Microphone
Recording Quality
Recorded Speech
LFE
293.44 Hz
FR Std. Dev.
3.65 dB
HFE
6,088.74 Hz
Weighted THD
0.284
Gain
-3.55 dB

The recording quality of the integrated mic is satisfactory. Your voice sounds somewhat natural, but thin and lacking depth. You shouldn't have too many problems being understood.

6.1
Microphone
Noise Handling
SpNR
12.94 dB
Noise Gate
Always On
Speech + Pink Noise Handling
6.5
Speech + Pink Noise Audio Sample
Speech + Subway Noise Handling
5.5
Speech + Subway Noise Audio Sample

The noise handling performance of the mic is mediocre. The mic struggles to separate your voice from moderate ambient noise such as a busy street. If you have an important call, it's best to take it in a quieter environment.

Active Features
5.6
Active Features
Battery
Battery Type
Rechargable
Continuous Battery Life
5.5 hrs
Additional Charges
3.8
Total Battery Life
26.4 hrs
Charge Time
1.3 hrs
Power-Saving Feature
No
Audio While Charging
No
Passive Playback
No
Charging Port USB-C

The Google Pixel Buds A-Series have a sub-par battery performance. They're advertised to last five hours continuously, and we measured a bit more than that. Battery life can vary depending on usage though, so your real-life experience may vary. That said, their carrying case holds roughly 3.8 extra charges. Unfortunately, they don't have any power-saving features to help extend their battery life.

6.5
Active Features
App Support
App Name Google Pixel Buds
iOS No
Android Yes
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 A-Series have an okay companion app. It's only available on Android devices. You can find your buds if you've lost them, adjust the touch controls, and check the battery levels for the buds and the case. There's also a 'Bass Boost' feature, which is advertised to improve their bass reproduction. You can toggle the 'Adaptive Sound' feature on or off too, which allows the buds to optimize the volume based on noise around you.

Connectivity
7.0
Connectivity
Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
5.0
Multi-Device Pairing
No
NFC Pairing
No
Line Of Sight Range
247.70 ft (75.50 m)
PC Latency (SBC)
319 ms
PC Latency (aptX)
N/A
PC Latency (aptX HD)
N/A
PC Latency (aptX-LL)
N/A
iOS Latency
75 ms
Android Latency
95 ms

These in-ears have satisfactory Bluetooth connectivity. While they don't support NFC or multi-device pairing, they have Android quick-pairing, which makes it very easy to switch between devices. They also have low latency on iOS and Android devices, making them well-suited for streaming video on mobile devices. However, they have higher latency on PCs, so you may notice that your audio and visuals are out of sync. That said, some apps and devices compensate for latency differently, so your real-world experience may vary.

Note: Some users have reported that their unit's audio cuts out. While we didn't experience this issue with our model, if you have, please let us know in the discussion section below.

0
Connectivity
Non-Bluetooth Wireless
Non-BT Line Of Sight Range
N/A
Non-BT Latency
N/A
0
Connectivity
Wired
Analog Audio
No
USB Audio
No
Detachable No
Length N/A
Connection
No Wired Option
Analog/USB Audio Latency
N/A

The Google Pixel Buds A-Series can't be used wired. They come with a USB-A to USB-C cable to charge their carrying case.

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

The Google Buds A-Series are fully compatible with Bluetooth-enabled PCs. However, you won't be able to connect them to PCs any other way.

Connectivity
PlayStation Compatibility
PS4 Analog
No
PS4 Wired USB
No
PS4 Non-BT Wireless
No
PS5 Analog
No
PS5 Wired USB
No
PS5 Non-BT Wireless
No
Connectivity
Xbox Compatibility
Xbox One Analog
No
Xbox One Wired USB
No
Xbox One Non-BT Wireless
No
Xbox Series X|S Analog
No
Xbox Series X|S Wired USB
No
Xbox Series X|S Non-BT Wireless
No
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 Google Pixel Buds A-Series come with a small charging case. It only has a USB-C port so that you can charge it, and it has roughly 3.8 additional charges. Unfortunately, unlike the Google Pixel Buds 2020 Truly Wireless, it doesn't support wireless charging.

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

The Google Pixel Buds A-Series come in a couple of color variants: 'Clearly White' and 'Dark Olive'. We tested the 'Clearly White' variant and you can see our model's label here. If you come across another variant of these headphones, please let us know in the discussion section below, and we'll update our review. 

Compared To Other Headphones

The Google Pixel Buds A-Series are very similar headphones to the Google Pixel Buds 2020 Truly Wireless, although they're more barebones in design. These in-ears lack volume control and auto-off. Their carrying case also doesn't support wireless charging. That said, they still perform very similarly to the Pixel Buds 2020, with a somewhat neutral sound profile and an unimpressive battery performance. Check out our recommendations for the best wireless Bluetooth earbuds, the best earbuds and in-ear headphones, and the best true wireless earbuds.

Samsung Galaxy Buds+ Truly Wireless

The Samsung Galaxy Buds+ Truly Wireless are better in-ears than the Google Pixel Buds A-Series Truly Wireless. While both headphones are comfortable and well-built, the Samsung have a more neutral default sound profile, which some users may prefer, and their companion app offers EQ presets to help you adjust their sound to your liking. They can passively block out more ambient noise, have longer continuous battery life and their mic delivers a significantly better noise handling performance. However, the Google earbuds' mic has a better recording quality. 

Apple AirPods Pro Truly Wireless

The Apple AirPods Pro Truly Wireless are better truly wireless headphones than the Google Pixel Buds A-Series Truly Wireless. While both headphones are comfortable, the Apple are better-built, have a more neutral sound profile, which some users may prefer, and can isolate you from significantly more noise. They also have a better battery performance and have an H1 chip so that you can seamlessly pair them with your other Apple devices. 

TOZO T6 Truly Wireless

The Google Pixel Buds A-Series Truly Wireless and the TOZO T6 Truly Wireless have different strengths, and you may prefer either one. While both headphones are well-built, the Google earbuds are more comfortable, have a more neutral default sound profile, which some users may prefer, and have a more stable in-ear fit. However, the TOZO have a better noise isolation performance.

Jabra Elite Active 75t Truly Wireless

The Jabra Elite Active 75t Truly Wireless are better in-ears than the Google Pixel Buds A-Series Truly Wireless. The Jabra are better built, can isolate you from more background noise, and have longer continuous battery life. They also have a companion app that offers a graphic EQ and presets so you can customize their sound to your liking and they can be paired with up to two devices at a time. However, the Google earbuds have a more stable in-ear fit.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro Truly Wireless

The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro Truly Wireless are slightly better in-ears than the Google Pixel Buds A-Series Truly Wireless. The Samsung have ANC and can block out a decent amount of ambient noise around you, have a companion app with EQ presets so that you can adjust their sound, and leak less audio. You can also use one bud while the other charges. However, the Google earbuds have a more stable in-ear fit.

Google Pixel Buds 2020 Truly Wireless

The Google Pixel Buds A-Series Truly Wireless are the budget-friendly sibling of the Google Pixel Buds 2020 Truly Wireless but perform very similarly. Both headphones have a comfortable and well-built design with balanced sound profiles. However, the Pixel Buds 2020 have a higher total battery life and offer volume control. They also support wireless charging.

Sony WF-1000XM4 Truly Wireless

The Sony WF-1000XM4 Truly Wireless are better in-ears for most uses than the Google Pixel Buds A-Series Truly Wireless. While both headphones are comfortable, the Sony are better-built, have a significantly better noise isolation performance, and have a better battery performance. Their companion app also offers a graphic EQ and presets to help you adjust their sound to your liking. However, the Google's mic has a better recording quality. 

Sony WF-1000XM3 Truly Wireless

The Sony WF-1000XM3 Truly Wireless are significantly better in-ears than the Google Pixel Buds A-Series Truly Wireless. The Sony are better built, have a more neutral sound profile, which some users may prefer, and can significantly block out more ambient noise around you. They also have a better battery life, and you can customize their sound using their companion app's graphic EQ and presets. However, the Google earbuds are more comfortable.

Jabra Elite 75t Truly Wireless

The Jabra Elite 75t Truly Wireless are better in-ears for most uses than the Google Pixel Buds A-Series Truly Wireless. The Jabra are better-built, can isolate you from more ambient noise, and they have a better battery performance. You can also adjust their bass-heavy sound profile using their companion app's graphic EQ and presets and they support multi-device pairing so you can connect them with up to two devices at a time. 

Beats Studio Buds True Wireless

The Google Pixel Buds A-Series Truly Wireless and the Beats Studio Buds True Wireless are similarly performing headphones. Both headphones are comfortable and well-built. The Google earbuds have a more stable in-ear fit, and their sound profile is more neutral, which some users may prefer. However, the Beats have ANC and can isolate you from more ambient noise, you can use one bud while the other one charges, and they leak less audio.

Apple AirPods 2 Truly Wireless 2019

The Apple AirPods 2 Truly Wireless 2019 and the Google Pixel Buds A-Series Truly Wireless have different strengths, and you may prefer either one. The Apple are more comfortable, feel better built, and have a better battery performance. They also have an H1 chip so that you can seamlessly pair them with your Apple devices. However, the Google earbuds have a more stable fit, and their sound profile is more neutral, which some users may prefer. Once you achieve a good fit, you should also get a more consistent sound each time you use them.

Beats Solo Pro Wireless

The Beats Solo Pro Wireless are somewhat better headphones than the Google Pixel Buds A-Series Truly Wireless. The Beats are better-built, have a more neutral default sound profile, which some users may prefer, and can isolate you from significantly more ambient noise. They also have a better battery performance and an H1 chip for seamless pairing with your Apple devices. However, the Google earbuds are more comfortable.

Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 2

The Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 2 are slightly better in-ears than the Google Pixel Buds A-Series Truly Wireless. The Sennheiser are better built, have ANC so they can block out more ambient noise, and they have a companion app with a graphic EQ and presets so that you can adjust their sound to your liking. The Google earbuds have a more stable and comfortable in-ear fit. Their battery performance is somewhat better, too.

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