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We have tried the Google Pixel Buds Bluetooth earphones

By Philippe Daussin |

Last November, we made in our 17th issue of Qobuz & You a presentation, including a comparison, of two systems of in-ear earphones destined to Apple mobile devices, the super high-tech Bluetooth model, the Apple Airpods, and the Pioneer Rayz Plus, a wired model equipped with Lightning connectors.

Today, it’s Android’s turn to face their competitor, as we are going to present you with the Pixel Buds developed by Google, which are semi in-ear earphones, if you will, and are designed to be used to the full extent of their capacities with the Pixel smartphones created by the Internet giant, while providing a reduced service—mostly musical—with every other smartphone running on Android.

It must be said that these Pixel Buds earphones can be used with the Google Assistant application, an Android version of Apple’s vocal assistant Siri, which also allows for real-time translation into more than 40 languages!

The Pixel Buds earphones are displayed in a small soft-shaped box covered in light gray fabric (for the black finish) and ensuring their charge via a USB C connector, and you’ll also have to leave them in this box in an open position to allow a pairing with a smartphone—automatic if it’s a Google Pixel model, and manual for the others.

They are available in three colors and, as we said previously, are semi in-ear models, as in they don’t go into the ear canal but remain positioned at its opening thanks to a loop you make and adapt with the cable by leaning on the auricle’s cartilage—a system we didn’t find to be very practical but which still provides a correct hold of this earphones. The argument put forward by Google is security, since the user isn’t isolated from the sound of the environment they happen to be in, especially if it’s the streets or public transport.

The right earbud possesses a tactile zone allowing you to command various functions: power, volume, play/pause, skip track, and to choose to talk to the Google Assistant by maintaining pressure on the ear bud or to let it look for updates.

As for sound quality, and despite the absence of aptX encoding, it seemed very decent to us (and vastly superior to the Apple Airpods’, but not quite equivalent to the Pioneer Rayz Plus), respecting rather well the various music we listened to, without however offering shaking bass, while the maximum sound volume is rather high (depending on the musical genre) and the restitution is rather good and clear, with distinct mediums and trebles with pleasing staccatos. In a nutshell, we are far from grinding our teeth and we can listen to music with some pleasure.

The Pixel Buds are not available in France yet, but you can find them in the United Kingdom for £159, and in Germany for €179.

Google Support for the Pixel Buds