Google has introduced a slightly stripped-down version of its Pixel Buds earplugs. The Pixel Buds A-Series cost only 99 euros and can be pre-ordered now. We were able to try them out beforehand.
Since April, the Pixel Buds A have been roaming the net both times Google “accidentally” announced them themselves through marketing material. Finally, they are official and, as leaked in advance, look almost exactly like the 200 Euro Pixel Buds from 2020. However, to get the lower price, Google has put the red pencil here and there.
Pixel Buds A: Google’s Mini Mentos At A Lower Price
The Pixel Buds A can hardly be distinguished from the 2020 models in terms of their design: They have the same design, size, and exact fit. Moreover, with the help of the stabilizing bow, among other things, they sit just as well and comfortably in the ear as the 200 euro version.
Google has not skimped on the drivers either: It appears that almost the same “specially developed” twelve-millimetre speakers are used as in the Pixel Buds. In a direct comparison, they sound similarly good, but the Pixel Buds A do not produce the slight noise that we complained about in last year’s Pixel Buds test. However, the drivers are not entirely identical, as Google suggests in the statement: “The speakers are the same size and offer the same high-quality sound quality as the Pixel Buds at a lower price, which we were able to achieve with the speakers as well as with complex tuning the sound balance. “
Like the more expensive Google earplugs, the Pixel Buds A deliver a balanced and neutral sound with well-defined mids and highs. However, due to its hybrid design, they can produce less bass than the Galaxy Buds Pro from Samsung. The well-measured, not exaggerated bass is pleasing but might not appeal to some.
With the help of the so-called hybrid design, the wearer is not entirely shielded from the outside world, but the Buds A still deliver a relatively powerful sound. However, due to their design, the silicone inserts of the Buds A only gently seal the ear to exclude loud outside noises. As a result, the “clogged ear feeling” is reduced using a small opening, and ambient noise continues to pass through.
Due to this structure, the earplugs insulate less than Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Pro or Buds Plus but seal off better than Apple’s Airpods from the outside.
Pixel Buds A: Volume Control Via Google Assistant
So that the Pixel Buds A sounds good regardless of the environment, Google has adopted the “Automatic Sound Adjustment” feature of the Pixel Buds. This increases or decreases the volume depending on the environment. With the help of this function, a manual change of the volume is not necessary, explains Google. Nevertheless, it would be helpful to be able to change the book comfortably without speech.
In contrast to the Pixel Buds, this is unfortunately not possible with the Buds A via the touch surface of the plug. Because Google has reduced the functionality of the touch gestures, you can still pause and resume playback using taps on the buds, answer a call or hang up, and jump back and forth on tracks. However, Google has replaced the swiping gesture for volume control on the Buds A with a Google Assistant voice command. Alternatively, you can control the volume via the connected device if you are uncomfortable with the voice command in public.
The assistant and when making calls, the Pixel Buds A have two integrated beamforming microphones to be understood. Instead of the two IR sensors on the Pixel Buds for carrying detection, Google has integrated an IR sensor into each of its Budget Buds. Despite the cost-cutting measures, Buds A will immediately recognize when you take one of the plugs out of your ear. The music playback is paused promptly and continued when it is inserted. With the Pixel Buds A, Google also saved the voice acceleration sensor, which can be used to register speech through the vibrations of your jawbone. According to Google, however, Buds A’s beamforming microphones are sufficient to be understood when making calls while on the move.
Pixel Buds A: Charging Case Can Only Be Charged With A Cable
Like the Pixel Buds, the inexpensive earplugs are resistant to water and sweat according to protection class IPX4. This means that they can also be worn during workouts and in rainy weather. The connection between smartphones or other devices is via Bluetooth 5.0 – according to Google, each of the two plugs is directly connected to the player.
The connection with Android devices from version 6.0 is conveniently established via Fast Pair, which is almost as elegant as the connection of Airpods with an iPhone. The buds are also integrated into Google’s “Find my device” so that you can find out the last location if you lost it.
You can see the battery level of the individual Buds and the charging case in the Pixel Buds app and on Pixel smartphones in the settings. The charge status of all units is also shown in a pop-up message when connecting, which is reasonably practical. As far as the plug’s life is concerned, Google speaks of up to five hours for music playback, which sounds quite realistic. Depending on the volume of the media and the length of the phone call, the running time will be shorter. Non-stop calls can be made with the Buds for 2.5 hours.
You can use the charging case to recharge the plugs several times so that you can use them for up to 24 hours. In contrast to the more expensive Pixel Buds, the case itself can only be recharged by cable.
Pixel Buds A-Series: The First Impression Indicates An Excellent Price-Performance Ratio
The new Pixel Buds generation will not replace the Pixel Buds introduced last year but rather complement them. With the addition of “Series A” to the name, Google is placing the upcoming earplugs in its budget line, which currently consists of the Pixel 4a (test) and Pixel 4a 5G smartphones.
The Pixel smartphones have already shown that Google has a knack for putting the red pencil in the right places. For example, the Pixel smartphones have the same excellent camera as the current top model Pixel 5 (test) and a three-year guarantee for Android updates. Still, Google has opted for cheaper materials and waived wireless charging.
It’s similar to you, Pixel Buds A-Series: Google has primarily retained the design, comfort and even the sound. However, Google has dispensed with wireless charging and the convenient volume control via swiping gestures. Nevertheless, the overall package that Google has put together with the new earplugs is quite attractive for the price. According to Google, the earplugs can now be pre-ordered in the colors white and olive for 99 euros and should be available “soon”.