The Pixel Buds A Series are the more affordable successor to Google’s Pixel Buds 2 from last year, and for a price of around 99 bucks you get some pretty neat features, as far as TWS devices go.
But in a market populated with competition from established audio brands like JBL, Sony and Bose, as well as rising stars like Soundcore and 1More, how do the Pixel Buds A series fare in comparison? We’ll take a quick look at the earbuds and check out what they have to offer in terms of sound quality and functionality.
Let’s take a look!
The Pixel Buds A are very minimalist in design. They come in two color variants which are white and a darker Olive. They are quite small and while they do lack a stem, they have these small stabilizer tails that according to Google, will help them fit better in your ear. So far they do fit nicely, but there are certain times when the stabilizer can feel a bit tiring in your ears. I’ve found that adjusting the size of the eartips helps a bit in this case.
The charging case likewise has a simple look to it, and actually has gained the reputation of looking like an egg. On it you’ll find a USB-C charging port and a pairing button.
The Pixel Buds A also have IPX4 protection, so they will be safe to use in very light rain, workouts and such. Just don’t go jumping into a pool with them. There’s also wear detection that pauses music when you remove your Pixel buds.
Set-up and Controls
Setting up the earbuds is quite simple. I used my Pixel 4a 5G and Pixel 4a with the earbuds, and my devices were able to connect to the Pixel Buds without any hassle.
Once you’ve paired the earbuds to your device there’s a demo of all the control functions. A single tap on the earbuds will let you pause and play music and answer phone calls, while a double tap lets you skip music tracks. Three taps will let you go back to a previous track when listening to music. It’s an easy setup and I do like its simplicity.
Sound Quality and Usage
Now, how exactly do these earbuds sound? I’m a pretty moderate listener and I’m not a hardcore expert audio enthusiast, but from a consumer and user point of view I can say that the Pixelbuds A-series sound very good. There’s a nice balance of mids, highs and lows, and there’s even a bass-boost option that can be accessed from the settings menu.
The buds also come with noise-cancelling microphones, and calls that I made on the earbuds sounded loud and clear. There’s a nice, rich sound to the earbuds, and I can say that I’m impressed with what Google has managed to do with their budget earbuds.
Google says that the earbuds can last for 5 hours of use before needing to charge them, and you can top up battery life with the charging case for a total of 24 hours. Of course, individual usage scenarios will vary, but for the most part I found this to be accurate. The charging case has fast charging, but sadly there is no wireless option to charge up the case.
There’s also Google Assistant integration so you can use the earbuds to access the Assistant feature when you tap and hold on them, and there’s a hands-free option as well that makes things a lot more convenient. Although I’ve noticed that sometimes I am unable to play my music again after accessing google assistant, so I’ll have to manually play my music again from my phone.
As good as the Pixel Buds are, I do have some minor complaints about them. For one, there’s no active noise cancelling feature, and instead we just get an “adaptive sound” toggle in the settings menu. Competing products like the Colorbuds 2 from 1More offer a similar feature at a similar price, and it would have been nice to see something similar on the earbuds. On the other hand, their design does block out some background noise from your surroundings.
There’s also a lack of in-depth EQ customization, and aside from the adaptive sound mode that I mentioned earlier, there’s no other option to play around with the earbuds in the native settings menu.
Google has also decided to prevent users from customizing touch controls on the earbuds. Unlike products like the Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pros that give you the option to switch up your touch controls, the Pixel buds lock away any control customization. Now this probably won’t be a major issue for a lot of users, but personally I’d rather have the option to customize my tap controls.
So are the Google Pixel Buds A worth your 99 bucks? Well, you do get good sound quality, a good design, decent battery life, and a bit of water resistance. To be honest though, features like ANC, customizable touch controls, and in-depth EQ customization would have been great additions, and it would be nice to see these added with a software update.
On the other hand, it still gets all the basics right. If you’re a hardcore Pixel fan, or just want a decent pair of wireless earbuds that don’t break the bank and do everything you expect them to, then these are a great option to look into.