They say good things come to those that wait, and wait we have. In October of 2017 when Google released the first Pixel Buds that were received with mixed reviews. Honestly, I thought the first generations sounded decent, not a game-changer but decent. Well, I’m happy to say the Google Pixel Buds 2 are an improvement over the first generation in every aspect. This is the TLR Technology’s review of Google Pixel Buds 2.
Let’s start with the unboxing as always. The Google Pixel Buds come in a pretty small and compact box with just enough space to fit the charging case. I will say when it comes to the actual packaging Google spares no expense with thick cardboard and fantastic printed text\pictures.
Once you open the box the first thing you see is the Pixel Buds in the matte white charging case. Under that, you will find a blister pack with small and large soft silicone ear tips. The medium tips come installed on the buds. Below that is a USB C to USB A cable for charging. SideNote: The Google Pixel Buds case does allow for QI wireless charging
The last thing in the box is a small booklet that explains how to use the touch controls as well as your typical warranty/ warnings.
Matte Was The Case They Gave Me!
I’m going to start with the charging case. The case has a matte coating that doesn’t show fingerprints at all. It actually feels really similar to an eggshell. It has just enough texture that it’s not slippery even if your hands are sweaty.
The case is about the same size as the Apple Ear Pods Pro case if you’re familiar with that size. If you aren’t it’s small enough to fit in the small key pocket on a pair of jeans. It is safe to say it’s small enough that it’s very easy to carry without noticing it.
The top of the case is held close with magnets similar to the earbuds. You shouldn’t have to worry about the case coming open when you don’t want it to. However, it is easy enough to open with one finger. I’d say it is just about the right amount of hold and click. If you are into quality clicks you will not be disappointed with this case at all.
Now I See The Light
When it comes to indicators there are 2 LED that indicates the charge level. One is on the inside when you open the case that indicates the charge level of the earbuds. The second is on the outside front of the case. This LED indicates the charge level of the case. Either will shine orange to indicate the charge is not full and white when the charge is complete.
The last thing to note about the case is that it can be charged with either a USB C cable or wirelessly as would be expected in 2020. I’m glad Google didn’t mess this up, the lack of USB C was the only real knit pick I had about the Echo Buds from Amazon that we reviewed here. (Come on Amazon what were you thinking, SMH)
My New Buddies
Moving onto the Google Pixel Buds themselves. What can I say, overall they are pretty great. The size is fairly small and the footprint in the ear is likely less than you expect. How did Google fit so much in so little space (magic I guess or maybe tiny jet fighters like Starburst)
The fit in the ear feels fantastic to me as well as the others around the studio that had a chance to try them. Keep in mind Google only packages 3 sets of ear tips, small, medium, and large. The reason they seem to fit so well and feel like they aren’t even in your ear is that Google scanned thousands of ears. Yep! You read that right, that is the power of Google, after scanning thousands of ears what resulted in the shape that you see.
It Gives You Wings
You have probably also noticed the wing that’s sticking from the earbuds. This is typically replaceable on other brands but not here. Again #Google. That is all I can say and I think they got it right. Like many other reviewers I didn’t get irritated by the wing until I had worn them for at least 3 hours or more.
The charging case is cool, and you’re happy to hear the fitment is good, but come on! its really the sound that most of you came for. So let’s get it.
Oh That Sound
When it comes to sound reproduction Google equipped the Pixel Buds with a single 12mm driver. These aren’t going to put some of the more Audiophile dual, triple, or other multi- driver IEM to shame. So don’t expect that!
I know some of you will want more details about the sound, so here you go. The bass is decent, it’s not as much as the Samsung Galaxy Buds +, but if the song has bass you will know it. I found the bass to be balanced and not overly bassy like something from Beats. The mid-range was solid and clear, there was decent separation on the instrument, better than a lot of other earbuds, but again nothing earth-shattering. As for treble it like the mid-range is present and clear. I’m so glad that it is not over the top and not buried in the mids. Again the trend continues with a decent sound that is hard to complain about in a package this small… Especially when you consider Google is packing a battery, Bluetooth transceiver, touch controls, etc inside.
Again, I want to point out this is coming from an Audiophile that has many thousands of dollars in headphones and amps. So what I’m saying is that I tend to be picky when it comes to sound and I really can’t find something that I dislike about the sound profile that google chose especially when you consider the size and competition. I will say they sound better than my wired Klipsch earbuds with a single driver, so that is saying a lot.
Great Deal Incoming
Now that I’ve gotten that out the way these do sound fantastic for truly wireless earbuds. In fact, they may be kicking my JBL Everest 110GA(Google Assistant) out my bag as my everyday carry Bluetooth earbuds. While I’m mentioned it the JBL Everest presently went on sale for $49… That’s a stupid good deal. Click Here!
I Have The Power (Touch Controls)
So we have established that the Google Pixel Buds 2 sounds great, but what about the touch controls? Well, you will be happy to know they too are great. Pause/ Play is a single tap on either earbud. Next track and answering call are double tap of either earbud. To go back to a previous track or dismiss a call is a triple tap. Again both earbuds work the same so it doesn’t matter if you are right or left-handed. Swiping forward or backward will adjust the volume. The last and maybe the most important touch gesture is a touch and hold for the Google assistant. Also, you can just say “Ok Google” as the earbuds listen for the wake word, similar to most android phones.
The battery life is 5 hours with the earbuds but the case will give you another 19 hours for a total of 24 hours. If you have researched earbuds you will know that 5 hours is toward the lower end on the battery life spectrum. Before you shake your head in shame, realize that both earbuds have beamforming microphones that listen all the time for the Google wake word. They also have motion sensors that know when you are talking and IR sensor to detect when the earbuds have been removed.
That is a lot of technology that requires power so 5 hours is actually better than I would expect given their small size. If you are worried about the 5-hour battery life don’t be. Google has equipped the Pixel Bud with quick-charge that will give you 2 hours of listening with only 10 minutes of charging. Getting through a full day with the Pixel Buds 2 isn’t a problem at all.
The last thing that I feel that I need to mention as far as features is the spacial vent. The Google Pixel Buds 2 don’t have active noise canceling. What they do have is a decent seal that will easily remove most outside noise. The result of that seal in other headphones is the feeling of your ears being clogged or pressure. Some people also become uncomfortable because they can’t hear their surroundings. Leave it to Google to find a solution. The spacial vent. It allows in just enough air so you don’t get that clogged ear feeling.
The second thing the spacial vent does is at lower volumes it lets in just enough sound so you can be aware of your surroundings.. If you want to ensure that you DON’T hear your noise surrounding Google has added an adaptive sound option as well. Adaptive Sound adjusts the volume dynamically according to the environmental noise level.
Problems, well they were a few that I came up and it wouldn’t be an honest review if I didn’t mention them. First, if they are problems, I’m sure its something that could be sorted with an update to the firmware.
The first is for some reason if my phone is sitting on my desk on my right side the left earbud would begin to skip. Skip is the only way I can explain it, like a skipping CD, the music would go in and out, and it did it so much that I picked up my phone and checked the battery level. It was at 74% for the left ear so that wasn’t it. I moved the phone to the left side of me and the problem largely went away. What is weird is that I can walk all around the house with my phone in the back a few rooms away and the Google Pixel Buds 2 don’t miss a beat. I have no idea why they did it that one time but they did.
The second thing that I noticed, and a few other reviews have mentioned as well is sometimes if the phone is in your pocket you can get some static. Similar to the first problem but its more of static vs the audio dropping and coming back quickly. Again this might have happened twice in the time that I’ve used them and when it has it last for maybe 3-5 seconds at most. In either case, maybe it was something else messing with the Bluetooth signal. I can’t say. Neither problem has occurred to the point where I can recreate it or to the point that I wouldn’t recommend them. They are defiantly worth the price of admission.
The Google Pixel Buds 2 are my newest best buds. The fit is nearly perfect and not even noticed in my ear. The battery along with quick charge can get me through a full day of listening easily. The sound is balanced, not overly bassy nor is the treble piercing. The Google Pixel Bud 2 are just hard to find fault with if I’m honest, especially as truly wireless earbuds. If you are in the market for truly wireless earbuds, want the full Google assistant at your beck and call then look no further.