On top of all of today’s other big I/O news, Google is adding a new set of true wireless earbuds to its lineup of audio accessories. The Pixel Buds Pro are the first earbuds from the company with active noise cancellation (ANC) and soon they’ll support spatial audio when paired with a compatible Pixel phone. However, noise blocking and immersive sound aren’t the only big features Google has packed into these $199 buds.
Inside, there’s a new custom-built six-core audio processor powered by Google algorithms that blasts sound through custom drivers. The company says all aspects of the setup, including the active noise cancellation, were tuned by its in-house audio engineers. A feature called Volume EQ feature adjusts lows, mids and highs when you change the volume level to maintain a balanced sound profile. If you turn down the volume, for example, the buds automatically increase the bass while also keeping mid-range and treble in check. Touch controls give you the ability to play/pause, skip tracks, adjust volume and activate (or deactivate) noise cancellation. Like both the Pixel Buds and A-Series, the Pro is IPX4 rated so you shouldn’t have any reservations about using them during a workout.
Google has also accounted for the fact that everyone’s ears are different. Even though the company says it scanned thousands of ears to find a shape with the most comfort for the most people, the included tips may not work perfectly for all users. With a tool called Silent Seal, Pixel Buds Pro can adapt to your ears to maximize the effectiveness of the ANC. Google says the earbuds also monitor pressure inside your ear canal and they can relieve it as needed to keep you comfy.
Multipoint connectivity is a must for earbuds and headphones these days, allowing you to switch seamlessly between your phone and a computer or tablet. Pixel Buds Pro offer this feature, swapping from the last two Bluetooth devices you’ve connected them to — including TVs and iPhones. There’s also hands-free access to Google Assistant so you won’t have to reach for your phone to summon some help with a range of tasks. And yes, the list of chores still covers real-time translation for 40 languages. Transparency mode is another handy feature, allowing outside noise to come in when you need to be aware of your surroundings or have a quick chat.
Speaking of voice, Google has employed bone conduction to help pick up your speech during calls. Combined with beamforming microphones, a voice accelerometer and wind-blocking mesh covers, the company says you can expect clear calls even in less than ideal environments. Mileage varies greatly claims like this from earbuds companies, so we’ll hold off on any proper judgement for now.
Google promises up to seven hours of use with ANC on or up to 11 hours of listening with it turned off. That second figure is more than double the battery life of both the 2020 Pixel Buds and the Pixel Buds A-Series, neither of which have true noise cancelling abilities. Even if you opt for ANC mode, you still get two more hours than Google’s previous two sets. The case, which looks similar to one that came with the most recent models, supports wireless charging (Pixel Stand or Qi-certified accessories) and adds 13 hours of noise-cancelling use. Lastly, there’s a quick-charge feature that gives you one hour of ANC listening time in five minutes.
The Pixel Buds Pro will be available for pre-order on June 21st for $199. They’re expected to start shipping on June 28th. And if you do decide to make a purchase, you’ll be able to choose from Coral, Lemongrass, Fog and Charcoal color options.
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