The Pixel Buds Pro seem understandably destined to get lost in the shuffle (deluge, really) of today’s Google hardware announcements — so we’ll keep things relatively short. The tl;dr here is that the company is finally bringing active noise cancellation to the line with the Pixel Buds Pro.
Google is late to the party here — but let’s be real, being late to the party is kind of Google’s whole thing when it comes to consumer hardware. “Noise cancellation is a really difficult challenge,” Google hardware head Rick Osterloh explains, “because it needs to be smart enough to account for noise across a wide frequency spectrum and powerful enough for super low latency.”
The company built a custom six-core chip to achieve the task. It utilizes Google’s algorithm to adjust its sound and EQ levels. There’s also the standard transparency mode for those times when you need a little more awareness of your surroundings. There are beam-forming mics and a mesh wind blocker for making better phone calls. Interesting little tidbit here: The Buds use bone conduction to determine when you’re speaking.
The headphones also have built-in pressure monitors to help relieve uncomfortable fits with the silicone tips. Spatial Audio, which seems to be all the rage among headphone makers these days, won’t be available at launch, but will be coming to the headphones at an unspecified point later this year.
The Pixel Buds Pro support multiple connectivity and device switching between Android, iOS and laptops. I’m always a little wary of this one, because, well, device makers don’t seem to have cracked the code as far as how this is best deployed.
The Buds Pro are rated IPX4 sweat-resistant and can get up to seven hours of battery life with ANC on and 11 hours with it off. Factoring in the case gets you up to 20 hours. The case supports wireless charging with Qi, or you can plug in a USB-C cable and get an hour’s charge in around five minutes.
The go up for pre-order July 21 and start shipping a week later (along with the Pixel 6a). At $199, they’re $50 more expensive than the standard Pixel Buds and double the price of the budget Pixel Buds A. They’re available in Charcoal, Fog, Coral and Lemongrass, which are definitely colors and not items on a tasting menu at an upscale gastropub.