There are masses of wireless earplugs – from very cheap to really expensive. Google’s new A-Series should deliver the complete package of sound and additional features at a competitive price. Does this work?
Earplugs are a competitive market. From Apple’s AirPods to plugs from well-known audio giants to inexpensive no-name products – the range is huge. After the Pixel Buds from 2020 for just under 200 euros, Google is sending the Pixel Buds A-Series into the race. They should offer a similar experience without major compromises. At half price. You can read how well Google does this in the test of the Pixel Buds A.
First impression of the Pixel Buds A
The Pixel Buds A come in a white box the size of a pack of floss. It contains the marble-sized pixel buds and a battery for almost 24 hours of listening to music or 12 hours of phone calls (information according to the manufacturer). Google advertises extensive Google Assistant integration and real-time translation of spoken language. Unlike the more expensive Pixel Buds, however, the A-Series lacks the induction coil for wireless charging. Charging is therefore only carried out via a USB cable.
The connection of the Pixel Buds A to the smartphone is very easy in the test: unfold it, press the button on the back, and almost all modern Android devices recognize the Buds immediately. Once set up and connected, all Android devices can easily access the headphones under a Google account. The Buds also get along with iPhones, but then without the Google Assistant and without direct translation. Other Bluetooth devices such as PCs can also be paired. Bluetooth 5 is used as the connection technology.
Operation and fit of the Pixel Buds A in the test
The Pixel Buds A can be adapted to different ear sizes with silicone attachments and sealed the ear canal in the test without any problems. A silicone clip clamps it in the auricle. Nothing wobbles, and nothing looks or hangs out of the ears. A sound channel for ambient noise prevents the clogged ears effect. Enjoyable.
The control of the music as well as the input of commands took place in the test of the Pixel Buds A via tap and swipe gestures. The control surfaces are on the outside of the small in-ear headphones. On the one hand, this is practical because there are no chopsticks hanging from the ears like with AirPods or the Freebuds from Huawei. The disadvantage: You like to type next to it or sometimes too vigorously. Then there is an uncomfortable boom in the ear. Only the standard commands are supported. Unlike the 2020 model, the volume cannot be adjusted with a swipe of a finger. In general, commands with the A-Series could be implemented a little faster.
Also read: Why Android users shouldn’t be using AirPods
Sound and additional functions
The sound of the Pixel Buds A, on the other hand, was full and balanced in the test, with a slight tendency towards washed-out quiet tones, with a lot of bass if desired. If you don’t turn it too loud, you will also notice something of the surroundings. On Android, the buds fade in and out pleasantly when you tap them to pause. An automatic sound adjustment ensures that the only thing you can hear in the subway is the rattle of the wheels. In quiet surroundings, the sound adjustment reduces the volume.
In addition to music playback, the Google headphones also support some additional functions. Owners can, for example, have messages and notifications read aloud, start recordings, make voice entries and start similar functions of the Google Assistant. Direct translation into languages like English or Spanish is really helpful. Start, speak, wait for the translation, done. The Google Assistant also understands what others are saying and translates it through the Pixel Buds.
Less popular languages like Norwegian and even Spanish variants unfortunately don’t work as well. The Google Assistant won’t replace language learning anytime soon. The function is extremely practical for ordering in the restaurant, for route information or simple conversation in supported languages.
Conclusion in the test: For whom are the Pixel Buds A worthwhile?
There are many good earplugs out there. The combination of price, sound and features of the A-Series is interesting. The Pixel Buds A were able to convince in the test. They’re actually almost as good as the pretty good 2020 Pixel Buds for twice the price, with a few trade-offs. Anyone who already has a Pixel smartphone or a newer Android device can get a lot of earplugs for their money here.
If you want even better sound, you should take a look at the plugs of well-known brands in the Android segment. They cost more and are sometimes absurdly large, but may also sound a little better to some ears.