Google Pixel Buds A-Series review: Worth the Adaptive Sound tech
Google makes an impressive addition to India’s under-₹10,000 market for truly wireless earbuds, with the adorable and ergonomic Pixel Buds A-Series
If the Pixel Buds are anything like the cameras on their much-loved smartphones, we should expect nothing less than high-definition output at a consistent level. Even though the Pixel Buds have not been made available to the Indian market, its affordable — but still capable — cousin thankfully is: the Pixel Buds A-Series.
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The 6-centimetre Clearly White egg-like case with a matte finish can fit into your pocket, but there is a chance it could pop out due to the fluid shape. There is a discreet USB-C port at the bottom for easy charging. The case also has a single light on the front to indicate the different modes of charging and pairing, as well as a Half Effect sensor for case closing detection. Pairing via the typical Bluetooth 5.0 is also seamless; just make sure your device is charged well.
Ear earbud is less than 3 centimetres in length and I am glad that these are stalk-less earbuds for that snug fit. For these earbuds, Google has done ergonomics right, in that each earbud’s stabiliser arc comfortably tucks in the ear, and together with the soft-fit ear tip, offers a snug fit that stays put even during the most movement-heavy of activities… even if you get a bit sweaty.
The sound profile is great for the under-₹10k price. As expected, the Buds A-Series use dynamic drivers, the most common and lowest priced drivers. At 12 millimetres, they also consume the least amount of power out of the various driver types out there but still have high functionality. That said, the Buds A-Series provide clear sound at even the highest volume with barely any thrum. You can adjust bass with a bass toggle option, ideal for music and multimedia streaming, but I would otherwise recommend you keep the original mode for podcasts, calls and other vocal-focussed audio.
The passive noise reduction — thanks to the spatial vent for in-ear pressure reduction and spatial awareness — is not jarring either. Most earbuds get this wrong and the result is a pair of blocked ears and a frustrated user.
Google’s Pixel Buds A-Series in Clearly White | Photo Credit: Divya Kala Bhavani
No, the Pixel Buds A-Series do not have Active Noise Cancellation but do offer something else: Adaptive Sound that uses AI to adjust the volume based on your surroundings. For example, when I was in the supermarket, the volume increased slightly but not abruptly. When I was meditating in a quiet room and listening to white noise, the volume lowered accordingly. Adaptive Sound adjusts for sustained noise instead of just one-off background noise. Does this use up more battery power? It is likely, but I did not notice much of a difference.
I rarely trust mics in earbuds, but the Pixel Buds leverage their dual beam-forming microphones to make sure your voice is prioritised. Other earbuds that do this well are the ear (1)s by Nothing and the Galaxy Buds series by Samsung.
The battery level of the Buds A-Series is impressive but not new. On a single charge, I got about four hours of listening time and the case itself holds a 24-hour charge. The case charges fast too; a 15-minute charge of the earbuds lends a couple of hours of playback time while a solid hour is a complete charge.
The Pixel Buds A-Series are great for those who are using a Google or Android smart-home ecosystem; you can use them to communicate with the other linked devices in your home. These earbuds also offer real-time translation: I put this to the test using French dialogues and it worked quite well and quickly. This feature, however, is better optimised if you have Android 6.0 or later (which is a given) or a Pixel device.
I like the Pixel Buds A-Series; they are a savvy buy for those who want a hardy yet stylish device that performs well at a decent price bracket. Earbuds of late have been upgraded with countless settings made available through granular controls but with these earbuds, Google reminds us it is just about good sound and no fuss.
Google Pixel Buds A-Series are available for ₹9,999 across major retailers and e-tailers.