Google’s Pixel Buds A Series landed on my desk a couple of weeks ago and I’ve been trying them out, between all the other audio gear I use on a regular basis. At $159, they’re in that sweet spot for pricing for true wireless buds, and the design looks pretty good.
One thing we know, though, is that design isn’t everything – even the best looking earbuds can feel horrible, and conversely, the worst, most plain looking, can be the most comfortable and sound the best.
So, where do Pixel Buds A Series fit?
Promising “Rich Sound for Less”, it’s clear that Google is pitching the Buds A (as I’ll call them now) as affordable quality, and in a nutshell, they’ve achieved the stated goal. Offering crisp audio, chunky bass, and a design that will pretty securely stay in your ear even if you’re moving and bouncing around, the Buds A tick most of the basic boxes for wireless buds.
They feature adaptive sound to adjust volume to fit your surroundings, so if you move into a quiet place, the volume will drop a little to avoid deafening you, and in a louder environment, it dials it up a bit to reach you over the background noise. These are not noise cancelling buds, more noise isolating, and they do a pretty decent job of it. Personally, I prefer a little more ambient noise getting in than less, but everyone’s different.
The ability to make calls with the Buds A is fairly good; the microphone pickup is nigh on perfect and other parties reported clear audio despite background noise, breeze and general commotion.
Probably the only part I didn’t really like was the fit. I’ve spoken in previous reviews about my ears and the kinds of buds they like, and don’t, and unfortunately for me, they hate just about all of them. I’ve only really ever found a small number of buds that fit comfortably, securely and snugly for an extended comfortable wear, and that’s a JBL pair, Apple’s AirPods and a Bose pair as well.
Unfortunately, the Buds A take a bit of fiddling to get them to sit in and stay in my ears, and this is despite trying a few different strategies to get them in. Sometimes they fit easily, but once the music starts, you can tell they’re just not in quite right. Sometimes they feel loose, but actually are in about as well as they’ll go.
It’s a killer for me, but probably not for you – unless you have weird ears like me, this likely won’t affect you all that much.
For you, the battery life is ample, charging is easy with a battery case that takes a USB-C charger, and they’re life resistant, taking whatever sweat or rain you can throw at them while exercising. I wouldn’t take them in the pool, though.
Buds A will last up to 5 hours on a single charge, and with the charge case, you can get 24 hours of listening (with breaks in between to charge the Buds up, of course).
Paired with Google Assistant, you can get hands-free help whenever you want … but to be honest, this isn’t a feature I need nor want. For you, this might be much more important.
Would I buy them? If I was more ensconced in the Google / Assistant ecosystem, yeah I probably would. Not using that ecosystem, they really lose some of their appeal and become fairly standard buds with regards to what else is available around this price. For the Google aficionados, though, this is where you want to be.