Google Pixel USB-C Earbuds Headphones Review

Tested using Methodology v1.4
Reviewed Sep 01, 2020 at 08:05 am
Google Pixel USB-C Earbuds Picture
5.3
Mixed Usage
5.9
Neutral Sound
4.4
Commute/Travel
6.6
Sports/Fitness
4.7
Office
4.6
Wireless Gaming
6.3
Wired Gaming
6.1
Phone Calls
Type Earbuds
Enclosure Closed-Back
Wireless No
Noise Cancelling No
Mic Yes
Transducer Dynamic

The Google Pixel USB-C Earbuds are poor for mixed usage. They’re essentially a wired version of the Google Pixel Buds 2017 Wireless with a USB-C audio connector that allows them to be used with newer smartphones that don’t have an aux port. It should be noted that this limits their compatibility to devices with USB-C ports, so users with older devices or iPhones won't be able to use these earbuds without a suitable adapter. While they’re outstandingly portable and decently comfortable, they’re built somewhat flimsily and have an open-fit design that has a severe impact on their noise isolation performance and ability to deliver a consistent listening experience.

Our Verdict

5.3 Mixed Usage

The Google Pixel USB-C Earbuds are disappointing for mixed usage. Their near-total absence of noise isolation capability and cheap build quality make them a bad fit for commuting and office work while their boomy sound profile and middling frequency response consistency make them inadequate for neutral sound. However, they have a microphone with impressive recording quality and a fairly stable, decently comfortable fit.

Pros
  • Impressive microphone recording quality.
  • Stable, decently comfortable fit.
Cons
  • Awful noise isolation.
  • Boomy sound profile.
  • USB-C-only audio connection limits versatility.
5.9 Neutral Sound

The Google Pixel USB-C Earbuds are sub-par for neutral sound. They have a somewhat boomy sound profile with a total absence of low-end thump and rumble, not to mention cluttered and muddy vocals and lead instruments. Also, their sound profile can’t be customized with an EQ or audio presets. Their open-fit design, meanwhile, results in inconsistent bass and treble reproduction.

Pros
  • Stable, decently comfortable fit.
Cons
  • Boomy sound profile.
  • No companion app to make EQ adjustments.
  • Inconsistent bass and treble delivery.
4.4 Commute/Travel

The Google Pixel USB-C Earbuds are bad for commuting. While they’re decently comfortable and very easy to carry around, they don’t feel especially sturdy and barely block out any ambient noise, so you may hear everything from the rumble of bus engines to the chatter of nearby commuters.

Pros
  • Lightweight, portable build.
  • Stable, decently comfortable fit.
Cons
  • Awful noise isolation.
  • Boomy sound profile.
  • USB-C-only audio connection limits versatility.
6.6 Sports/Fitness

The Google Pixel USB-C Earbuds are okay for sports and fitness. They’re very lightweight and quite stable, so they shouldn’t fall out of your ears too easily. Unfortunately, their all-plastic construction feels a little flimsy, and their wired-only audio connection represents a potential snagging hazard.

Pros
  • Lightweight, portable build.
  • Stable, decently comfortable fit.
Cons
  • USB-C-only audio connection limits versatility.
  • Somewhat fragile build quality.
4.7 Office

The Google Pixel USB-C Earbuds are poor for office work. Since they don’t block out any ambient noise, you may hear nearby coworkers talking to one another. Their USB-C audio connection also robs them of a bit of versatility, since you can only connect to your computer with a USB-C to USB-A adapter if it doesn’t have a compatible port. That said, they’re decently comfortable and leak very little noise, so you can crank your music up to drown out any ambient noise without worrying about disrupting people nearby.

Pros
  • Stable, decently comfortable fit.
  • Great audio leakage performance.
Cons
  • Awful noise isolation.
  • Boomy sound profile.
  • USB-C-only audio connection limits versatility.
4.6 Wireless Gaming

The Google Pixel USB-C Earbuds are wired-only.

6.3 Wired Gaming

The Google Pixel USB-C Earbuds are passable for wired gaming, as long as you only game on PC and have a USB-C port or a USB-C to USB-A adapter. They’re decently comfortable and feature very low latency, so you won’t have to worry about lag at a crucial moment. If you’re gaming in a fairly quiet environment, their in-line microphone makes your voice sound clear and natural, so teammates shouldn’t have any trouble understanding you. Unfortunately, you can’t customize their somewhat boomy sound profile with an EQ or presets.

Pros
  • Stable, decently comfortable fit.
Cons
  • USB-C-only audio connection limits versatility.
6.1 Phone Calls

The Google Pixel USB-C Earbuds are unremarkable for phone calls. While their in-line microphone does a good job of making your voice sound clear and detailed, it struggles slightly when it comes to isolating speech from loud background noise. You may have trouble hearing people on the other end of the line if you’re in a loud or crowded environment, as the buds barely block out any ambient noise.

Pros
  • Impressive microphone recording quality.
  • Stable, decently comfortable fit.
Cons
  • Awful noise isolation.
  • USB-C-only audio connection limits versatility.
  • 5.3 Mixed Usage
  • 5.9 Neutral Sound
  • 4.4 Commute/Travel
  • 6.6 Sports/Fitness
  • 4.7 Office
  • 4.6 Wireless Gaming
  • 6.3 Wired Gaming
  • 6.1 Phone Calls

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style

The Google Pixel USB-C are somewhat unique-looking earbuds. They feature a minimalistic design with an all-plastic construction. The audio cables loop behind the outer buds, which are flat and embossed with the Google logo. These earbuds are only available in white, which may be disappointing if you’re someone who likes to color-coordinate your headphones with your outfit.

7.0
Design
Comfort
Weight 0.04 lbs
Clamping Force
0.0 lbs

These are decently comfortable earbuds. Their overall fit is quite similar to that of the Google Pixel Buds 2017 Wireless, with adjustable length cable loops to help you find the right fit for your ears. Unfortunately, they don’t sit quite as comfortably as the one-size-fits-all Apple EarPods, which have a more angled fit and feel noticeably less fatiguing to wear over extended periods.

6.5
Design
Controls
OS Compatibility
Not OS specific
Ease Of Use Good
Feedback Okay
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 USB-C Earbuds have a reasonably comprehensive and easy-to-use control scheme. It has dedicated buttons for turning media volume up and down as well as a single multifunction button. The latter can be used to pause and play media with a single press and also skip tracks, with a double-tap to go forward. Meanwhile, a triple tap will skip backward. Activating your phone’s voice assistant requires a long hold of the multifunction button. While the control scheme doesn’t offer any audio feedback in the form of voice prompts or beeps, the buttons are all very clicky, so it’s easy to know when you’ve made an input.

9.4
Design
Portability
L 2.0 "
W 1.6 "
H 0.6 "
Volume 1.9 Cu. Inches
Transmitter Required No

The Google Pixel USB-C are exceptionally portable. They’re very lightweight and can easily be stuffed into your pocket or a bag due to their small footprint. Unfortunately, they don’t come with a carrying case to protect them.

0
Design
Case
Type No case
L N/A
W N/A
H N/A
Volume N/A

These earbuds don’t come with a carrying case or pouch.

6.5
Design
Build Quality

The Google Pixel USB-C Earbuds’ build quality is okay. They feel less sturdy than the Google Pixel Buds 2017 Wireless, with thinner plastic used on the buds and a substantially more fragile-feeling audio cable that isn’t braided, which makes it easier to damage if it gets caught on something. For better-built USB-C headphones, check out the Samsung AKG Type-C.

7.5
Design
Stability

These earbuds are quite stable. Their adjustable-length cable loops serve as quasi-stability fins, which allow them to stay in your ears even when you’re doing moderately intense exercise. Unfortunately, their wired connection does create a potential snagging hazard if the audio cable gets caught on your clothing or some other object.

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

  • Google Pixel USB-C Earbuds
  • Manual

Sound
Sound
Sound Profile
Bass Amount
-5.62 db
Treble Amount
-6.08 db

Even though these earbuds have a somewhat boomy sound profile, their low-bass response is mostly underemphasized, which is quite similar to the Apple EarPods and Google Pixel Buds 2017 Wireless. Vocals and lead instruments may sound cluttered and muddy, but the treble is fairly well-reproduced, so they should also be fairly detailed.

5.7
Sound
Frequency Response Consistency
Avg. Std. Deviation
2.41 dB

The Google Pixel USB-C Earbuds provide sub-par frequency response consistency. Bass and treble response may vary significantly on separate listening sessions, which seems to be an unfortunate consequence of their open-fit design.

Sound
Raw Frequency Response
5.5
Sound
Bass Accuracy
Std. Err.
6.06 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
60.8 Hz
Low-Bass
-10.1 dB
Mid-Bass
1.54 dB
High-Bass
6.4 dB

These earbuds have disappointing bass accuracy. They’re substantially lacking in low-bass, which results in a notable absence of thump and rumble. High-bass, meanwhile, is overemphasized, resulting in a fair bit of boominess and muddiness in some mixes. However, due to their sub-par frequency response consistency, your own listening experience may vary.

7.4
Sound
Mid Accuracy
Std. Err.
3.42 dB
Low-Mid
5.18 dB
Mid-Mid
1.65 dB
High-Mid
0.78 dB

The Google Pixel USB-C Earbuds have decent mid accuracy. Vocals and lead instruments should sound present and clear, but the overemphasized high-bass extends into the low mids, resulting in a muddy and cluttered listening experience.

7.7
Sound
Treble Accuracy
Std. Err.
3.05 dB
Low-Treble
-1.2 dB
Mid-Treble
-3.51 dB
High-Treble
-15.21 dB

The treble accuracy is good. Vocals and lead instruments should sound present and detailed. Unfortunately, mid-treble is slightly underemphasized, which makes some sibilants sound a little dull and lispy. Treble accuracy is heavily dependent on these earbuds’ fit and positioning, so your own experience may vary.

7.0
Sound
Peaks/Dips
Peaks
2.24 db
Dips
0.93 db

The peaks and dips performance is satisfactory. While most of the range is decently flat, there are a couple of deviations. An extended bump across the bass range and early mid-range creates some boominess and makes vocals and lead instruments sound cluttered and muddy. Another bump in the high-mid through low-treble ranges causes some mixes to sound honky and harsh while an adjacent spike in the mid-treble is responsible for some slightly piercing higher frequencies.

6.1
Sound
Imaging
Weighted Group Delay
0.25
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
4.35
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
4.59
Weighted Phase Mismatch
5.45

The Google Pixel USB-C Earbuds deliver mediocre stereo imaging performance. The weighted group delay falls almost entirely beneath the audibility threshold, resulting in a tight bass and transparent treble. However, while the L/R drivers are well-match in regards to phase response, there is significant amplitude and frequency mismatch, which results in a less accurate localization of objects in the stereo image. This, in turn, gives a less immersive listening experience. These results are only valid for our test unit, and yours may perform differently.

2.5
Sound
Passive Soundstage
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
N/A
PRTF Size (Avg.)
N/A
PRTF Distance
N/A
Openness
9.3
Acoustic Space Excitation
2.2

These earbuds have a terrible passive soundstage. Since they bypass any sort of interaction with the outer-ear, they generate a fairly small soundstage. However, due to their open fit, they do a better job of providing a more open listening experience than other earbuds.

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

The Google Pixel USB-C don’t have any virtual soundstage features.

7.3
Sound
Weighted Harmonic Distortion
WHD @ 90
0.405
WHD @ 100
0.187

The weighted harmonic distortion performance of these headphones is decent. There's some distortion at moderate volumes in the low-bass range as well as most of the treble range, which has a slight impact on their ability to reproduce clean and pure audio. That said, this distortion shouldn’t be too noticeable for most listeners.

Sound
Test Settings
Firmware
No Firmware
Power
Passive
Connection
USB
Codec
PCM, 24-bit, 48kHz
EQ
No EQ
ANC
No ANC
Tip/Pad
Default
Microphone
In-line

These are the settings used to test the Google Pixel USB-C Earbuds. Our results are only valid when they’re configured this way.

Isolation
2.0
Isolation
Noise Isolation
Isolation Audio
Overall Attenuation
-5.03 dB
Bass
0.36 dB
Mid
0.32 dB
Treble
-15.52 dB

The Google Pixel USB-C Earbuds do an awful job of blocking out background noise. Despite employing a closed-back design, their open fit lets in quite a bit of sound. They don’t really block out any noise in the bass and mid-ranges, so you may hear quite a bit of rumble from passing buses and construction equipment, not to mention the chatter of nearby pedestrians. While they do slightly reduce the volume of higher-pitched frequencies, like the hum of A/C units, their performance in this respect is still quite poor. If you're looking for a pair of USB-C in-ears with an ANC feature to help cut down some ambient sound around you, check out the Razer Hammerhead USB-C ANC.

8.0
Isolation
Leakage
Leakage Audio
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
33.27 dB

The noise leakage performance of these headphones is great. Escaping audio is located in the treble range, so it may sound quite thin. However, it should be lost beneath the noise floor of an average office, so you can listen to your music at moderately high volumes without worrying about disrupting nearby coworkers.

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

These earbuds have an in-line microphone.

8.4
Microphone
Recording Quality
Recorded Speech
LFE
198.7 Hz
FR Std. Dev.
2.7 dB
HFE
20777.89 Hz
Weighted THD
0.725
Gain
2.75 dB

The recording quality of the in-line microphone is impressive. Speech sounds bright and natural.

6.0
Microphone
Noise Handling
Speech + Pink Noise
Speech + Subway Noise
SpNR
11.68 dB

The in-line microphone delivers acceptable noise handling capability. People may have trouble understanding you if you’re calling from an especially noisy or crowded environment.

Active Features
0
Active Features
Battery
Battery Type
No Battery
Continuous Battery Life
N/A
Additional Charges
N/A
Total Battery Life
N/A
Charge Time
N/A
Power-Saving Feature
No
Audio While Charging
No
Passive Playback
Passive Headphone
Charging Port None

These headphones are wired-only and don’t have a battery.

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 USB-C Earbuds don’t have a companion app.

Connectivity
0
Connectivity
Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
No Bluetooth
Multi-Device Pairing
No
NFC Pairing
No
Line Of Sight Range
N/A
PC Latency (SBC)
N/A
PC Latency (aptX)
N/A
PC Latency (aptX HD)
N/A
PC Latency (aptX-LL)
N/A
iOS Latency
N/A
Android Latency
N/A

The Google Pixel USB-C Earbuds can only connect via a wired USB-C connection. If you’re looking for a similar pair of earbuds that are Bluetooth-compatible, check out the Google Pixel Buds 2017 Wireless.

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

These earbuds are wired-only.

7.5
Connectivity
Wired
Analog Audio
No
USB Audio
USB-C
Detachable No
Length 3.8 ft
Connection USB-C
Analog/USB Audio Latency
53 ms

The Google Pixel USB-C Earbuds have a non-detachable USB-C audio connection. They offer full audio and microphone compatibility with devices that have a USB-C port or a USB-C to USB-A adapter, as is the case for our test PC. Compared to headphones with an analog audio connector, there's some audio latency, and we also measured a 60ms delay with an Android phone. However, that still isn't too bad, and they should still be adequate for watching movies or streaming videos.

Connectivity
PC / PS4 Compatibility
PC/PS4 Analog
No
PC/PS4 Wired USB
Audio + Microphone (PC Only)
PC/PS4 Non-BT Wireless
No

These earbuds offer full microphone and audio compatibility with PCs with either USB-C ports or a USB-C to USB-A adapter, but can’t connect to PS4 consoles.

Connectivity
Xbox One Compatibility
Xbox One Analog
No
Xbox One Wired USB
No
Xbox One Non-BT Wireless
No

The Google Pixel USB-C Earbuds aren’t compatible with Xbox One consoles.

0
Connectivity
Base/Dock
Type
No Base/Dock
USB Input
No
Line In
No
Line Out
No
Optical Input
No
RCA Input
No
Dock Charging
No
Power Supply
No Base/Dock

The Google Pixel USB-C don’t come with a base or dock.

Compared To Other Headphones

The Google Pixel USB-C are wired earbuds with a somewhat rare USB-C connection for audio. They're inadequate for mixed usage due to their awful noise isolation and non-adjustable boomy sound profile, not to mention plasticky build quality. That said, they’re very easy to carry around, and their in-line microphone delivers surprisingly impressive recording quality. If you’re looking for more options, check out our list of recommendations of the best earbuds and in-ear headphones, the best earbuds under $50, and the best wired headphones.

Apple EarPods

The Apple EarPods are slightly better for mixed usage than the Google Pixel USB-C Earbuds. The Apple earbuds are more comfortable and provide more accurate, open audio reproduction. They're also compatible with a greater number of devices courtesy of their analog audio connector, as the Google earbuds can't connect to devices that lack a USB-C port, such as iPhones. However, the Google headphones have a more stable fit, slightly better audio leakage performance, and a marginally better in-line microphone.

Samsung AKG Type-C

The Samsung AKG Type-C are better headphones than the Google Pixel USB-C Earbuds. The Samsung are better-built and more comfortable. They have a better-balanced sound profile, and they isolate against more background noise. However, the Google have a more stable fit.

Beats urBeats3 Earphones

The Beats urBeats3 Earphones are substantially more versatile than the Google Pixel Buds USB-C Earbuds. The Beats, which can be purchased with either a 1/8” TRRS or Lightning port connector, offer a far more consistent, balanced listening experience, not to mention a superior build quality, and much better noise isolation performance. The Google headphones have a marginally better in-line microphone and offer a slightly more open listening experience than the Beats.

Razer Hammerhead USB-C ANC

The Razer Hammerhead USB-C ANC are somewhat better USB-C headphones for mixed-use than the Google Pixel USB-C Earbuds. The Razer are better-built, have more consistent audio delivery, and they have an ANC feature which helps to cut down some ambient noise around you. However, the Google are more comfortable and have a stable fit for moderate physical activity. While they also lack some bass, they have an overall more neutral sound profile than the Razer. Their in-line mic also has a significantly better recording quality.

Google Pixel Buds 2017 Wireless

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.

TIN Audio T2

The TIN Audio T2 and Google Pixel Buds USB-C Earbuds have different advantages. The TIN are much better built, with metal buds and a detachable, replaceable 1/8" TRS audio cable. Their sound profile is also far better-balanced overall, and they isolate a greater amount of background noise. However, the Google headphones, unlike the TIN, have an in-line microphone remote that allows you to make calls as well as on-the-fly track and volume adjustments.

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