Microsoft Surface Earbuds Truly Wireless Headphones Review

Tested using Methodology v1.4
Reviewed Jun 11, 2020 at 08:56 am
Microsoft Surface Earbuds Truly Wireless Picture
5.8
Mixed Usage
5.0
Neutral Sound
5.8
Commute/Travel
7.7
Sports/Fitness
5.4
Office
4.9
Wireless Gaming
4.7
Wired Gaming
5.5
Phone Calls
Type Earbuds
Enclosure Closed-Back
Wireless Truly Wireless
Noise Cancelling No
Mic Yes
Transducer Dynamic

The Microsoft Surface Earbuds are disappointing truly wireless headphones for most uses. While some people may prefer their earbud design that doesn't enter the ear canal as deeply as most traditional in-ear headphones, they're still only decently comfortable and block almost no background noise. Their 5.8-hour battery is a lot less than the 8 advertised by Microsoft, but luckily the case fully charges the headphones in just over half an hour, which is great. Their sound profile is versatile enough for most genres but lacks a lot of bass and brightness. On the upside, their companion app allows you to customize the way they sound with a graphic EQ and presets.

Our Verdict

5.8 Mixed Usage

The Microsoft Surface Earbuds are disappointing truly wireless earbuds for mixed usage. Due to their open fit, they block almost no background noise, and their mic's recording quality is poor. People who don't like the plunger-like fit of in-ears may find them decently comfortable, though they tend to cause fatigue during long listening sessions. Their sound profile isn't very balanced and they lack a fair amount of bass, though luckily, their companion app gives access to a graphic EQ so you can customize the way they sound.

Pros
  • Earbud design doesn't create 'plunger'-like feeling.
  • Dedicated companion app gives access to graphic EQ and presets.
Cons
  • Less than advertised battery life.
  • Open fit blocks no background noise.
  • Touch-sensitive controls can be finicky and dislodge headphones.
5.0 Neutral Sound

The Microsoft Surface Earbuds aren't recommended for neutral sound listening. While their mid-range is very even and well-balanced, they're very recessed in both their bass and treble ranges. It's worth noting that their earbud design makes them very inconsistent among users, so you may experience their sound reproduction differently. Luckily, their companion app gives access to a graphic EQ, so you can customize them to better suit your taste.

Pros
  • Dedicated companion app gives access to graphic EQ and presets.
  • Earbud design gives more open-sounding soundstage than typical in-ears.
Cons
  • Inaccurate sound profile out-of-the-box.
  • Touch-sensitive controls can be finicky and dislodge headphones.
5.8 Commute/Travel

The Microsoft Surface Earbuds aren't a good choice for commuting or travel. Due to their earbud design, they block out almost no background noise, and won't do anything to block the engine noises from a bus or plane, or the chatty person sitting next to you. While they're decently comfortable, they may cause some discomfort during long flights, and their 5.8-hour battery means you'll likely need to take a break to charge them. On the bright side, they charge in just over half an hour, which is excellent.

Pros
  • Earbud design doesn't create 'plunger'-like feeling.
  • Dedicated companion app gives access to graphic EQ and presets.
Cons
  • Less than advertised battery life.
  • Open fit blocks no background noise.
  • Touch-sensitive controls can be finicky and dislodge headphones.
7.7 Sports/Fitness

The Microsoft Surface Earbuds are good headphones for sports. Depending on the fit you're able to achieve, they're decently stable and shouldn't fall out during most runs or light exercise. Unfortunately, they'll likely slide around or come out during intense workouts. Their touch-sensitive controls are also a bit finicky, and it can be difficult to activate commands without moving the headphones in your ears. On the bright side, they're rated IPX4 for basic water resistance, though this isn't something we test for.

Pros
  • Earbud design doesn't create 'plunger'-like feeling.
  • Dedicated companion app gives access to graphic EQ and presets.
  • Decently stable fit.
Cons
  • Touch-sensitive controls can be finicky and dislodge headphones.
5.4 Office

The Microsoft Surface Earbuds are disappointing for office use. They aren't the most comfortable for long periods, and their 5.8-hour battery life means you'll likely have to charge them up part way through your work day. They block almost no background noise, but luckily they leak very little audio, so you can turn them up without bothering your coworkers. They also integrate with Microsoft 365, giving you features such as the ability to control PowerPoint presentations with their touch-sensitive controls, which may be useful for some people.

Pros
  • Earbud design doesn't create 'plunger'-like feeling.
  • Dedicated companion app gives access to graphic EQ and presets.
Cons
  • Less than advertised battery life.
  • Open fit blocks no background noise.
  • Touch-sensitive controls can be finicky and dislodge headphones.
4.9 Wireless Gaming

The Microsoft Surface Earbuds are Bluetooth-only headphones that aren't compatible with Xbox One or PS4. While they work with Bluetooth-enabled PCs, their disappointing microphone recording quality and high PC latency make them a less-than-ideal choice.

4.7 Wired Gaming

The Microsoft Surface Earbuds are Bluetooth-only headphones that can't be used wired.

5.5 Phone Calls

The Microsoft Surface Earbuds aren't recommended for phone calls. While they block very little background noise, which helps you hear yourself while on a phone call, their microphone's recording quality is disappointing. Your voice sounds thin, muffled, and lacking in detail. On the bright side, it does a decent job of separating your voice from background noises, so your voice shouldn't get drowned out in moderately noisy environments.

Pros
  • Earbud design doesn't create 'plunger'-like feeling.
  • Microphone has decent noise handling.
Cons
  • Disappointing microphone recording quality.
  • Touch-sensitive controls can be finicky and dislodge headphones.
  • 5.8 Mixed Usage
  • 5.0 Neutral Sound
  • 5.8 Commute/Travel
  • 7.7 Sports/Fitness
  • 5.4 Office
  • 4.9 Wireless Gaming
  • 4.7 Wired Gaming
  • 5.5 Phone Calls
  1. Updated Jun 11, 2020: Review published.
  2. Updated Jun 09, 2020: Early access published.

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style

The Microsoft Surface Earbuds have a fairly unique design with a large, circular touch-sensitive surface on each earbud. Unfortunately, both the earbuds and the case are covered in a glossy white finish that's very prone to fingerprints.

7.0
Design
Comfort
Weight 0.04 lbs
Clamping Force
0 lbs

The Microsoft Surface Earbuds are decently comfortable. While some people may prefer their earbud fit that doesn't enter the ear canal as deeply as in-ear headphones, they tend to cause fatigue and soreness during long listening sessions.

6.5
Design
Controls
OS Compatibility
Not OS specific
Ease Of Use Okay
Feedback Good
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 controls of the Microsoft Surface Earbuds are okay. The large touch-sensitive surfaces are easy to swipe, but unfortunately, they can be a bit finicky, and making large swipes often causes the headphones to move in your ear. While we haven't tested it, when using the headphones paired to a PC, you can use them to control your PowerPoint presentations, which can be handy.

9.4
Design
Portability
L 1.5"
W 1.2"
H 1"
Volume 1.8 in³
Transmitter Required No

These headphones are very portable. Each earbud features a strong magnet to attach them together when not in their case.

7.5
Design
Case
Type Hard case
L 3"
W 1.3"
H 1"
Volume 3.9 in³

The case for the Microsoft Surface Earbuds is good. It feels like it's made of premium plastic, but looks less premium than some other options, like the Apple AirPods 2 Truly Wireless 2019.

7.5
Design
Build Quality

The Microsoft Surface Earbuds look and feel fairly durable and well-made. The case and the earbuds are made from good quality plastic that should be able to withstand a few accidental drops and bumps. They're rated IPX4 for basic water resistance, though this isn't something we test.

7.0
Design
Stability

These headphones are decently stable. Due to their earbud design, they fit people differently and how stable they feel depends on the quality of fit you're able to achieve. They should be stable enough for runs and jogs for most people, but likely will slide out with more intense movements and exercises.

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

  • Microsoft Surface Earbuds headphones
  • Charging case
  • 3x Silicone tips
  • USB-C cable
  • Manuals

Sound
Sound
Sound Profile
Bass Amount
-8.65 dB
Treble Amount
-3.03 dB

The sound profile of these headphones is fairly similar to the Apple AirPods 2 Truly Wireless 2019 and lacks quite a bit of low-bass due to their earbud design. Overall, they're decently well-balanced and should be suitable for most genres and content, though fans of bass may find them lacking in thump. It's worth noting that as they have an inconsistent sound across users, our results are an average and you may experience their sound reproduction differently.

5.3
Sound
Frequency Response Consistency
Avg. Std. Deviation
1.66 dB

The frequency response consistency of the Microsoft Surface Earbuds is poor. Depending on the quality of fit and seal you're able to achieve with the different sizes of tips, you'll likely experience their bass and treble response differently.

Sound
Raw Frequency Response
2.8
Sound
Bass Accuracy
Std. Err.
9.59 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
99.35 Hz
Low-Bass
-19.64 dB
Mid-Bass
-4.14 dB
High-Bass
0.33 dB

The bass accuracy of these headphones is bad. Due to their earbud design, they lack a lot of low-bass and don't produce much thump or rumble. On the upside, they have a bit more mid-bass which provides a decent amount of punch and body. It's worth noting that due to the inconsistent fit among users, our results are an average and your experience may vary.

8.3
Sound
Mid Accuracy
Std. Err.
2.28 dB
Low-Mid
0.39 dB
Mid-Mid
-2.69 dB
High-Mid
-2.04 dB

The mid accuracy of these headphones is great. Almost the entire range is accurate and even, resulting in clear instruments and vocals that don't sound honky or harsh.

5.7
Sound
Treble Accuracy
Std. Err.
5.79 dB
Low-Treble
-4.99 dB
Mid-Treble
-3.32 dB
High-Treble
-11.87 dB

The treble accuracy of these headphones is sub-par. Most of the range is recessed, resulting in vocals and some instruments being dull, lispy, and lacking in detail.

6.1
Sound
Peaks/Dips
Peaks
2.8 dB
Dips
1.55 dB

The peaks and dips performance of these headphones is only mediocre. The recessed low-bass results in minimal thump and rumble, while the over-emphasized high-bass may cause some music to sound boomy or muddy. There are also a few large peaks in the treble range which may cause some frequencies to be sharp and piercing, while others may be slightly dull.

7.5
Sound
Imaging
Weighted Group Delay
0.43
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
2.03
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
2.94
Weighted Phase Mismatch
3.47

The imaging of the Microsoft Surface Earbuds is good. The GD graph shows that most of the group delay response is within the audibility threshold, resulting in transparent treble and fairly tight bass reproduction. The L/R drivers of our unit are also fairly well-matched, and while there's some slight deviation between the two, it likely won't be noticeable to most people. 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
9.5
Acoustic Space Excitation
1.0

Like most other earbuds and in-ears, these headphones 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

The Microsoft Surface Earbuds don't have any virtual soundstage features.

5.4
Sound
Weighted Harmonic Distortion
WHD @ 90
1.728
WHD @ 100
0.549

The weighted harmonic distortion of the Microsoft Surface Earbuds is poor. There's some distortion present across most frequencies, which may bother critical listeners, but likely isn't noticeable to most people.

Sound
Test Settings
Firmware
3.0.0.5
Power
On
Connection
Bluetooth 4.2
Codec
aptX, 16-bit, 48kHz
EQ
Default
ANC
No ANC
Tip/Pad
Silicone (small)
Microphone
Integrated

These are the settings used to test these headphones. Our results are only valid when these headphones are used at these settings.

Isolation
1.3
Isolation
Noise Isolation
Isolation Audio
Overall Attenuation
-2.71 dB
Bass
0.14 dB
Mid
0.57 dB
Treble
-8.66 dB

The noise isolation performance of the Microsoft Surface Earbuds is bad. Due to their open, earbud design, they block almost no background noise.

9.1
Isolation
Leakage
Leakage Audio
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
26.27 dB

The Microsoft Surface Earbuds leak surprisingly little audio. Despite their earbud design, when listening to music at high volumes it falls below the noise floor of an average office, so people nearby shouldn't hear what you're listening to.

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

These headphones have an integrated microphone.

5.9
Microphone
Recording Quality
Recorded Speech
LFE
293.44 Hz
FR Std. Dev.
2.9 dB
HFE
2,673.34 Hz
Weighted THD
46.144
Gain
43.1 dB

The recording quality of the microphone is disappointing. When talking on the phone your voice sounds very thin and muffled.

7.0
Microphone
Noise Handling
Speech + Pink Noise
Speech + Subway Noise
SpNR
20.72 dB

The noise handling of the microphone is decent. The person you're speaking to should have no problems hearing you in moderately loud environments, but your voice gets drowned out in noisier situations.

Active Features
6.6
Active Features
Battery
Battery Type
Rechargable
Continuous Battery Life
5.8 hrs
Additional Charges
2.0
Total Battery Life
17.4 hrs
Charge Time
0.6 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 only okay. They last 5.8 hours off a single charge, which is much less than the 8 hours advertised by Microsoft. On the bright side, they fully charge in just over 30 minutes, which is great. They feature an auto-off timer that turns them off after ten minutes without detecting movement, but unfortunately, it can't be turned off.

7.5
Active Features
App Support
App Name Surface Audio
iOS Yes
Android Yes
macOS No
Windows Yes
Equalizer
Graphic + Presets
ANC Control
No
Mic Control No
Room Effects
No
Playback Control
No
Button Mapping No
Surround Support
No

The companion app for the Microsoft Surface Earbuds is good. It gives access to a graphic EQ and presets, so you can customize the way the headphones sound. The Windows version of the app also allows you to toggle Microsoft 365 control, so you can use your headphones for various functions, like controlling your PowerPoint presentations.

Connectivity
6.7
Connectivity
Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
5.0
Multi-Device Pairing
No
NFC Pairing
No
Line Of Sight Range
140 ft
PC Latency (SBC)
331 ms
PC Latency (aptX)
314 ms
PC Latency (aptX HD)
N/A
PC Latency (aptX-LL)
N/A
iOS Latency
92 ms
Android Latency
63 ms

The Bluetooth connectivity of the Microsoft Surface Earbuds is alright. Unfortunately, they don't support multi-device or NFC pairing, and their PC latency is quite high. On the bright side, their iOS and Android latency is very low when watching YouTube videos, though apps and devices seem to compensate for this differently, so your real-world usage will likely vary.

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 come with a USB-C charging cable to charge the case.

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

The Microsoft Surface Earbuds can only be used via Bluetooth on PCs, and aren't compatible with the PS4.

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

The Microsoft Surface Earbuds are Bluetooth-only and 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 charging case has a USB-C port for charging, but no other inputs.

Compared To Other Headphones

Comparison picture

The Microsoft Surface Earbuds are truly wireless earbuds that don't enter the ear nearly as deep as traditional in-ear headphones. They have a similar fit and feel as the Apple AirPods 2 Truly Wireless 2019, and have a unique large, circular touch-sensitive surface for controlling your music as well as Microsoft 365 software. Check out our recommendations for the best truly wireless earbuds, the best Bluetooth earbuds, and the best wireless headphones.

Samsung Galaxy Buds+ Truly Wireless

The Samsung Galaxy Buds+ Truly Wireless are much better truly wireless headphones than the Microsoft Surface Earbuds Truly Wireless. The Samsung are more comfortable, feel much more stable in the ear, and have a much better-balanced and more accurate default sound profile. Their excellent 13.3-hour battery last more than twice as long, and they block a lot more background noise. On the other hand, the Microsoft don't enter the ear canal as deeply, which some people may prefer. Their companion app also gives you access to a graphic EQ, while the Samsung app only gives you EQ presets.

Apple AirPods 2 Truly Wireless 2019

The Apple AirPods 2 Truly Wireless 2019 are better truly wireless headphones than the Microsoft Surface Earbuds Truly Wireless. The Apple look and feel more premium and better-built, have a better-balanced sound profile, and a better microphone. On the other hand, while both headphones lack a lot of bass, the Microsoft have a graphic EQ in their companion app, so you can customize the way they sound. They also last longer off a single charge, though their case doesn't hold nearly as many full charges.

Apple AirPods Pro Truly Wireless

The Apple AirPods Pro Truly Wireless are significantly better truly wireless headphones than the Microsoft Surface Earbuds Truly Wireless. The Apple headphones are much more comfortable, look and feel more premium, and hold way more charges in their case. They block out drastically more background noise than the Microsoft thanks to their excellent ANC feature, and their sound profile is also much better balanced. On the other hand, the Microsoft don't have an in-ear fit that enters deep into the ear canal, which some people may prefer. Their companion app also allows you to customize the way the headphones sound via a graphic EQ or presets, which the Apple in-ears lack.

Sony WF-1000XM3 Truly Wireless

The Sony WF-1000XM3 Truly Wireless are better truly wireless headphones than the Microsoft Surface Earbuds Truly Wireless. The Sony feel slightly better-built and have a much more accurate and well-balanced default sound profile that's more consistent among various users. They also have ANC which helps them block out drastically more background noise than the Microsoft. Finally, they also last longer off a single charge and have a much better companion app. On the other hand, some people may prefer the earbud fit of the Microsoft, as they don't enter the ear canal nearly as deep. Their large touch-sensitive surface also allows for additional functionality, such as integration with Microsoft 365, which could be useful for some people.

Google Pixel Buds 2020 Truly Wireless

The Google Pixel Buds 2020 Truly Wireless are much better truly wireless headphones than the Microsoft Surface Earbuds Truly Wireless. The Google are more comfortable and have a better control scheme that's much easier to use. They also feel more stable in the ear and have a much better-balanced sound profile that's much more consistent between different users. They also last longer off a single charge, and their case holds a lot more full charges. On the other hand, some people may prefer the fit of the Microsoft as they don't enter the ear canal nearly as deeply. Their companion app also gives access to a graphic EQ and presets

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