Editorrating 3.2 Google Pixel Buds A-Series are well-made and classy earbuds with pleasant sound and great integration with Android devices. However, they don’t stand out feature-wise. Google Pixel Buds A-Series are a successor to the somewhat underwhelming previous Pixel Buds, improving design and sound and adding a few features. After reviewing many true wireless earbuds under $100, the new Pixel Buds A-Series feel and look much more premium. And despite a unique circular design, they’re incredibly comfortable as well. It is also nice to see that anyone can access all the features by downloading the Pixel Buds app (unlike Samsung or Apple, which force you to use their phones for some of the features). However, it is the features where we find the most problems. Compared to modern earbuds under $100, Pixel Buds A-Series lack ANC, ambient sound mode, and a custom EQ. Even the ones that you do get can mostly hurt the listening experience, not elevate it. Is there any redeeming feature or use case that would convince you to buy Google Pixel Buds A-Series? Read through our detailed review. Price: We test and review headphones based on an independent 9-point methodology. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn a commission. Learn more. Google Pixel Buds A-Series Wireless Earbuds Headphones – Dark Olive Google Pixel Buds A-Series Wireless Earbuds Headphones – Dark Olive $42.00 in stock Buy now eBay Google Pixel Buds A-Series – Wireless Earbuds – Headphones with Bluetooth – Dark Olive Google Pixel Buds A-Series – Wireless Earbuds – Headphones with Bluetooth – Dark Olive $85.00 $99.00 in stock 25 new from $84.95 9 used from $49.99 as of November 30, 2023 4:43 pm Buy now Amazon.com Google Pixel Buds A-Series – Truly Wireless Earbuds – Audio Headphones with Bluetooth – White Google Pixel Buds A-Series – Truly Wireless Earbuds – Audio Headphones with Bluetooth – White $93.95 $104.99 in stock Buy now Walmart.com Pros & Cons: Decent sound quality & balanced tuning (if you disable all smart features) Premium look & feel, with good attention to details Ergonomic fit that remains comfortable for hours Decent battery life of 5.5 hours per charge Smart in-app features can negatively affect audio performance No active noise cancelling or ambient sound mode for the price Long audio delay during mobile gaming Category ratings: Editorrating 3.2 By HeadphonesAddict Userratings 0 User Ratings: 0 Category Sound Comfort & Fit Durability Battery Features Noise Isolation Bluetooth Value Our rating 3.5 4.0 3.5 3.0 3.5 2.0 3.0 3.0 User rating 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 RATE THIS MODEL User Rating _._ No Rating 1.0 Bad 1.5 Meh 2.0 Acceptable 2.5 Average 3.0 Good 3.5 Almost great 4.0 Great 4.5 Almost Perfect 5.0 Fantastic User Rating _._ No Rating 1.0 Bad 1.5 Meh 2.0 Acceptable 2.5 Average 3.0 Good 3.5 Almost great 4.0 Great 4.5 Almost Perfect 5.0 Fantastic User Rating _._ No Rating 1.0 Bad 1.5 Meh 2.0 Acceptable 2.5 Average 3.0 Good 3.5 Almost great 4.0 Great 4.5 Almost Perfect 5.0 Fantastic User Rating _._ No Rating 1.0 Bad 1.5 Meh 2.0 Acceptable 2.5 Average 3.0 Good 3.5 Almost great 4.0 Great 4.5 Almost Perfect 5.0 Fantastic User Rating _._ No Rating 1.0 Bad 1.5 Meh 2.0 Acceptable 2.5 Average 3.0 Good 3.5 Almost great 4.0 Great 4.5 Almost Perfect 5.0 Fantastic User Rating _._ No Rating 1.0 Bad 1.5 Meh 2.0 Acceptable 2.5 Average 3.0 Good 3.5 Almost great 4.0 Great 4.5 Almost Perfect 5.0 Fantastic User Rating _._ No Rating 1.0 Bad 1.5 Meh 2.0 Acceptable 2.5 Average 3.0 Good 3.5 Almost great 4.0 Great 4.5 Almost Perfect 5.0 Fantastic User Rating _._ No Rating 1.0 Bad 1.5 Meh 2.0 Acceptable 2.5 Average 3.0 Good 3.5 Almost great 4.0 Great 4.5 Almost Perfect 5.0 Fantastic CONTENTS (show more) Sound 3.5 Almost Great Google Pixel Buds A-Series start sounding good when you disable some features otherwise meant to improve the audio. However, what you can’t improve is their poor detail retrieval. Check the Google Pixel Buds A-Series – A/B sound test: Google Pixel Buds A-Series Sound Quality Test – HeadphonesAddict Learn how to understand sound comparisons. The earbuds’ default tuning and settings make the sound muddy. Disabling Adaptive Sound and Volume EQ helps make the sound better and more predictable. After some playing around, they can sound pretty balanced, with good bass response. However, with some custom EQ, they could’ve sounded much better. Bass: Ranging from boomy to neutral Regarding bass, Google wanted to please the widest audience possible. The app allows you to keep it mild or push it to basshead levels. There are 6 levels of bass boost. By default, earbuds are set to Level 2, which is already above neutral in terms of punch. However, because there’s a dip between 125Hz and 300Hz, the sound still lacks warmth. The difference between the lowest and the highest bass setting is 15dB. The higher the bass boost level, the smaller the dip becomes, but at the expense of boomier bass. On the max setting, it starts overshadowing the midrange and treble. We recommend using a default Level 2 for the best performance and control. Level 3 is also acceptable if you like some more oomph. Speaking of bass control, earbuds sound decently detailed for the amount of low end. It doesn’t match pricier models like the Sony WF-1000XM4, but they are close. Google Pixel Buds A-Series performance is good enough to enjoy subtle bass nuances in popular songs like “Dance the Night” by Dua Lipa. On the flip side, they do noticeably worse in genres like metal and rock, where double-pedal kick drumming sounds sloppy and imprecise. It’s also worth mentioning the Volume EQ feature, a Google version of Adaptive EQ from Apple, Bose, and Sony headphones. The idea is to change bass and treble quantity based on the set volume. However, the effect is much more pronounced in Pixel Buds A-Series, resulting in a noticeably boomy response at lower listening volumes. Google Pixel Buds A-Series frequency response This is the measurement of the settings we recommend using (Bass level 2, all sound features disabled). Midrange: Natural but a bit recessed Based on measurements, the midrange doesn’t look recessed, but it definitely sounds like it is. That is due to a more pronounced bass and lower treble energy. Nevertheless, vocals and instruments sound natural for the most part. It would help to have a more detailed sound, but that’s understandable for less than $100. Furthermore, vocals can be a bit thin due to a dip in the upper bass and a peak in the lower treble. There’s also a minor boost in the lower midrange, but nothing that would flip the sound off balance. One thing that impacts listening enjoyment is poor dynamics. “Lost It to Trying” by Son Lux lacks the impact that makes this song fun. However, you will only notice that if you already own higher-quality headphones. Treble: Great in quantity, only decent in quality Higher frequencies are mostly well-tuned. There’s an unnecessary peak in the lower treble at 5kHz, and Google could reduce frequencies around 8kHz and 9kHz even lower. But, for the most part, the tuning works well. There’s enough energy in the upper treble to bring out the shimmer and a little clarity. The main things missing are details and air, despite a good tuning in the upper treble. It feels as if the sound is compressed. The beginning of “Victim” by Avenged Sevenfold shows that quite well. Cymbals produce a lovely shimmer but aren’t textured and airy enough to fill the soundstage. Earbuds still sound enjoyable, so you’ll often find yourself air drumming. Speaking of soundstage, it’s rather intimate. Not so small to think singers sing right in front of your face, but also not so vast it would make you feel like you’re at a concert. Imaging is also a bit loose, especially between the right/left and center image. But for a non-demanding user, it shouldn’t hurt the listening experience. Should you use Adaptive Sound? Adaptive Sound regulates the loudness of your music depending on the loudness of the ambient noise. While it sounds like a neat feature, we advise you to turn it off. It often makes a song start loud and soon drop in volume. That can be distracting if you’re listening someplace quiet. As you can see, the Volume EQ either lowers or boosts the bass/treble, whereas Adaptive Sound lowers the entire response. What’s the conclusion? Google Pixel Buds A-Series are true wireless earbuds with good tuning but adequate technical performance. You should be content with their sound quality if you aren’t a demanding audio purist. They produce a punchy, deep bass, natural mids, and forgiving treble. However, they desperately lack technical oomph, especially in higher frequencies. Comfort & Fit 4.0 Great Google Pixel Buds A-Series have impeccable comfort but mediocre stability, making them unsuitable for activities that involve rapid head movements. Pixel Buds A-Series borrow the circular design from the original Pixel Buds, with the addition of ear tips and a simple ear fin. Google Pixel Buds A-Series have a simple design and are unintrusive to wear for longer time periods. Unlike the charging case, which feels slightly weighty, the earbuds weigh even less than a feather (0.18 ounces per earbud, to be precise). That kind of lightness translates to comfort. You barely feel them in your ears, even when you shake your head left and right. The inner side and the nozzle are also non-intrusive. Smooth, glossy plastic is free of harsh edges and doesn’t poke or press against your skin. Furthermore, you don’t need to push Pixel Buds A-Series deep into your ears. The silicone ear tips gently sit in front of your ear canal and seal it, preventing you from experiencing an in-ear vacuum. Next to a proximity sensor (right), you can see a vent that prevents pressure from building up inside your ear canal. On the other hand, that kind of light and gentle approach hurts the fit and stability, at least if you plan to use them for sports. More precisely, earbuds can easily endure everyday tasks like sitting and walking. Exaggerated facial expressions also don’t break the seal, so you can sing and smile without affecting bass response. You can even take them outside, but you might get a subpar experience due to noise isolation. More on that later. However, despite using ear fins, you can’t use these earbuds for sports. In our head-shaking test, earbuds fell out of our ears after just a few shakes. Durability 3.5 Almost Great Google Pixel Buds A-Series have a solid, dense charging case and earbuds that lack visible weak spots where they could break open. But, they “only” have an IPX4 rating, making them water resistant but not waterproof. Earbuds are lightweight and small but glued together from only 2 (maybe 3) parts. You get a matte outer circular part (touch-sensitive) and an inner glossy part. You can’t accidentally pull the two parts apart. The only fragile thing is ear fins, which you might tear off, but not by accident. Ear fins are permanently attached and point out from the housing. Proprietary ear tips firmly attach to the nozzle, even after reattaching them multiple times. That means you shouldn’t accidentally lose them. A minor complaint is that the inner glossy part will get slightly scratched by the charging pins inside the case. Google tested the Pixel Buds A-Series for an IPX4 rating, which means complete sweat protection. Therefore, drenching them in sweat isn’t an issue. But that doesn’t mean they’re waterproof, so avoid using them under a shower or near the pool. Moving to the charging case, it’s entirely made of good quality plastic. Google paid attention to details and made the opening/closing mechanism of the lip very satisfying. The charging case feels a bit too big for earbuds that small. The magnet holding the lid is also strong, so it can’t open accidentally. On the other hand, the hinge is made of thin plastic, so it is best not to push it open too far. The charging case has no IP rating, so avoid leaving it someplace moist, like inside a gym bag next to sweaty clothes. Battery 3.0 Good Google Pixel Buds A-Series have a battery life of 5 hours and 34 minutes per charge It’s passable for daily use. While they support fast charging, they sadly lack Qi wireless charging. Google Pixel Buds A-Series Battery Comparison Google’s earbuds don’t have particularly power-hungry features, so it is underwhelming to know their battery life is below average. In our battery life test, where we leave earbuds playing music at 50% volume, we got: 5 hours and 34 minutes on a single charge. That puts them below average for true wireless earbuds, especially ANC earbuds. One good news is that in specifications, Pixel Buds A-Series last 5 hours per charge, 34 minutes less than in reality (talk time is rated for 2.5 hours). The charging case holds another 19 hours of juice and supports fast charging: You can expect an additional 3 hours added to your ears after a 15-minute charge. Unfortunately, earbuds don’t support wireless charging, which is handy if you already have Qi wireless charging pads around the house or in a car. One thing worth pointing out is that the included charging cable is 39 inches long (1 meter). With pretty much all other Bluetooth headphones and earbuds, you get an 11.8-inch cable. Features 3.5 Almost Great Google Pixel Buds A-Series offer some sound-related features, auto play/pause, and great Google Assistant integration, but lack ANC, transparency mode, and Game mode, which have become standard under $100. Google Pixel Buds A-Series sell for $99 (or $80 on Amazon), placing them among strong competition under $100, like EarFun Air Pro 3 and Edifier W240TN. What do the Google earbuds offer? Here are other things you can find in the Pixel Buds app. In-ear detection sensor (which you can turn off in the app’s settings) Adaptive Sound Volume EQ Touch controls The first page of the Pixel Buds app (left) and additional settings (right). Adaptive Sound As mentioned in the Sound category, the Adaptive Sound feature regulates the volume based on the intensity of the ambient noise. For example, earbuds lower the volume by around -5dB if you listen in a quiet room. The idea is to protect the listener’s hearing by actively regulating the loudness (preventing from blasting earbuds too loud when a listener moves into a quieter area). However, it also tends to result in strange volume swings, so we immediately turned it off during our practical testing. Volume EQ Like Adaptive EQ, the Volume EQ changes the bass and treble quantity based on how loud you set the volume. You can also find that in Sony, Apple, and Bose headphones. The idea is to raise the volume of specific frequencies when you lower the volume to maintain a rich sound. Based on the equal loudness curve, lower frequencies must be much louder for humans to hear. However, while the other brands’ implementation is more subtle, Google’s version can produce a boomy bass at a lower volume. Touch controls Google Pixel Buds A-Series don’t have customizable controls. Instead, you can only turn predetermined controls on or off: Single tap: play/pause/answer call Double tap: next song/reject a call Triple tap: previous track Touch & hold: smart assistant Out of all commands, there’s no option to set volume controls. Both sides have the same controls, which is a shame. You must use a phone or summon Google Assistant to regulate playback loudness. One good side of touch controls is satisfying auditory feedback when you press them. They’re also reliable to use and register even if you miss pressing the center of the buds. Google Assistant While other earbuds and headphones can also summon smart assistants, Google Pixel Buds A-Series give an overall better experience. Apart from regular stuff, saying “Hey Google” can tell you the time, read your notifications, manage volume and playback, find you a desired song on your streaming service of choice, make a call, send an SMS, etc. What Google Pixel Buds A-Series lack? Earbuds don’t have: Active noise cancellation is a widespread feature in earbuds under $100, even from 2 years ago when Google released the buds. Ambient sound mode to boost surrounding noise. Custom audio equalizer for making finer sound tunings. Fully-fledged customizable controls. Microphone quality Google Pixel Buds A-Series have an overall good call quality, which is even better than in Google Pixel Buds Pro, but their performance in noisier places is less than desirable. Google Pixel Buds A-Series microphone test: (no noise test from 0:00-0:23, with background noise test from O:24-0:57) Voice quality is good for the most part. Other people should easily understand what you’re saying, despite appearing a bit muffled from time to time. However, the clarity quickly degrades after moving into a noisier area. The others can still understand most of your words, but get ready to occasionally repeat yourself. Therefore, try to avoid noisy environments when making phone calls with these earbuds. Noise Isolation 2.0 Adequate Google Pixel Buds A-Series have subpar passive isolation, becoming somewhat effective after passing 2.5kHz and with an average noise reduction of -15dB. Earbud’s gentle nature of in-ear insertion hurts stability and passive noise isolation. You can’t expect excellent noise reduction since the ear tips only cover the ear canals. Based on measurements, Pixel Buds A-Series (red) start reducing noise only after 2.5kHz and up. The average reduction is around -15dB. Compared to Edifier TWS1 Pro 2 (green), the latter reduces an average of -22dB of external noise. Pixel Buds’ mediocre isolation makes them a questionable pick for commuting, as you can audibly hear engine noise and people’s chatter. What about sound leakage? Google Pixel Buds A-Series also leak some sound, especially at higher volumes. That can become distracting to others if you plan to use them in a library. It is also worth mentioning that these aren’t the loudest earbuds. You can expect to use them at 60% volume or more for casual listening. Bluetooth 3.0 Good Google Pixel Buds A-Series have a mediocre indoor Bluetooth range of 35 feet and lack the Game mode for more serious mobile gamers. Other than that, their connection is reliable enough for casual use. Google Pixel Buds A-Series are around 2 years old, using an older technology like Bluetooth 5.0. That’s still reliable for close-range connections, as we haven’t experienced any stutters during testing. The indoor Bluetooth range of Google Pixel Buds A-Series is similar to SoundPEATS Air3 Deluxe HS. However, you can notice some issues in crowded places. The more wireless gadgets around you, the more connection issues you can expect when using older Bluetooth versions. Regarding the indoor connection range test, Pixel Buds A-Series show a mediocre result: Earbuds manage to reach 35 feet (or 10.6 meters) before completely cutting off audio. That’s before we could pass a second brick wall. That said, indoor connection range primarily relies on the antenna’s strength. Apple AirPods Max have Bluetooth 5.0 and can easily pass a 65-feet mark. One thing that’s missing from the Google Pixel Buds A-Series is Bluetooth multipoint. Consequently, you can’t pair them to 2 devices simultaneously for a better multitasking experience. How to pair Google Pixel Buds A-Series? Taking them out of the case for the first time automatically initiates the pairing process. To pair them to a different device, place them in the charging case and hold the case button on the lower backside. The physical pairing button is located on the back side of the case. What Bluetooth codecs do they use? Google Pixel Buds A-Series have a standard SBC and AAC Bluetooth codec set, covering Apple and Android phones. Adding aptX HD or LDAC wouldn’t make sense based on audio performance. It would, however, help to have aptX Low Latency, which would help with mobile gaming. More on that later. Is there an audio lag? Pixel Buds A-Series show no visible lag when playing videos on popular streaming services, YouTube, and social media apps. Conversely, you get a noticeable delay when playing mobile games, making these earbuds unusable for serious gamers. Sadly, there’s no Game mode or specific Bluetooth codec to lower the latency. Should You Get Google Pixel Buds A-Series? 3.0 Good Google Pixel Buds A-Series are sleek and have a pleasant sound, but they have very little to offer next to their main competitors. Google Buds look unintrusive, a bit like an earring. You might want to consider them if you: Want something from a known brand That has a pretty design and quality feel Offers a great Google Assistant integration On the other hand, if you’re looking for a more complete package, you should pick some of the better alternatives below. Google Pixel Buds A-Series Wireless Earbuds Headphones – Dark Olive Google Pixel Buds A-Series Wireless Earbuds Headphones – Dark Olive $42.00 in stock Buy now eBay Google Pixel Buds A-Series – Wireless Earbuds – Headphones with Bluetooth – Dark Olive Google Pixel Buds A-Series – Wireless Earbuds – Headphones with Bluetooth – Dark Olive $85.00 $99.00 in stock 25 new from $84.95 9 used from $49.99 as of November 30, 2023 4:43 pm Buy now Amazon.com Google Pixel Buds A-Series – Truly Wireless Earbuds – Audio Headphones with Bluetooth – White Google Pixel Buds A-Series – Truly Wireless Earbuds – Audio Headphones with Bluetooth – White $93.95 $104.99 in stock Buy now Walmart.com How do Google Pixel Buds A-Series compare to the competition? Earbuds look and feel much better built than most other true wireless earbuds under $100. They have a slightly better integration with Google Assistant than the rest. Pixel Buds have exceptional comfort, far better than what competitors offer. Around 5.5 hours of battery life is pretty low, especially since they lack active noise cancelling. Despite ear fins, stability is worse than in earbuds at a similar price point. Sound signature is relatively balanced, but they lack a more detailed response from some competitors. Google Pixel Buds A-Series alternatives EarFun Air Pro 3 After some EQ, the Air Pro 3 offer a more balanced and detailed sound signature than the Pixel Buds. Moreover, they have outstanding active noise cancellation performance for the price and a much better battery life. On the other hand, they look and feel much cheaper and have a worse voice quality. EarFun Air Pro 3 review Edifier W240TN Edifier have an equally punchy sound but a tad better bass control. You can make the mids sound natural using EQ, but the treble always remains a bit too dark. You also get excellent ANC and ambient sound mode and even better stability (in comparison). Furthermore, there’s a Game mode, making them suitable for gamers. Edifier W240TN review What’s in the Box? Google Pixel Buds A-Series true wireless earbuds Charging case USB-C charging cable 3 pairs of silicone ear tips, dome & flat head (S, M, L) User manual Specifications Type: True wireless Connection: Bluetooth 5.0 Back design: Closed-back Drivers: 12mm dynamic Frequency range: n/a Impedance: n/a Weight: 0.18 ounces (5.1 grams) per earbud Mic & Controls: Yes Water resistance: IPX4 Battery life: 5.5h + 19 hours in case Charging time: Quick charge – USB-C Active noise cancelling: No Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC Wireless range: 35 feet (10.6 meters) Microphone: Dual beamforming microphones Peter SusicFrom a childhood fascination with sound, Peter’s passion has evolved into a relentless pursuit of the finest headphones. He’s an audio expert with over 5 years of experience in testing both audiophile and consumer-grade headphones. Quote: “After many years, I can confidently tell which headphones are good and which are terrible.” Find his honest opinion in his reviews.