Wireless headphones are available everywhere, and a lot of them are pretty great. However, Google has introduced a new auto pair feature with its latest Pixel phones that sets some wireless headphones apart from the crowd, and one of the first to support it is the Q Adapt On-Ear from Libratone.

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HARDWARE |

Design

Libratone’s Q Adapt On-Ear have a pretty simple design. On the unit I’ve been testing, you get a subtle dark blue color with silver accents and a black mesh look on the headband. It’s nothing too flashy, but it’s nice. Certain aspects try to stand out, like the lit up bird logo on the left earcup, but nothing about these headphones seems designed to grab the attention of passersby.

The headband meets adjustable metal bars which help with the fit, and those connect to the earcups themselves at an angle. There’s nothing functionally added by this, but that look is really nice in my opinion.

Fit & Comfort

As for the actual fit of these headphones, I was pleasantly surprised. Typically I don’t like on-ear headphones because they’re uncomfortable to me and typically don’t easily stay on, but the Q Adapt solves both problems.

The leather earcups are very comfortable and give the headphones enough grip to stay on my head even while walking around. As long as the headband is adjusted properly, you shouldn’t have any problems with these headphones falling off.

SOUND QUALITY |

Obviously, the most important part of any pair of headphones is sound quality, and I’m glad to report that these headphones are quite good. You probably won’t be blown away, but I’m very happy overall.

In neutral mode, these headphones have a very balanced sound that don’t overdo it on the bass. There are, however, a couple of other sound profiles which can enhance the bass and treble respectively. Both work well, but the sound is definitely at its best here in the neutral profile.

Noise Cancellation

Libratone has also included noise cancellation on these headphones and while I can immediately say it doesn’t live up to the Bose QC35, it works really well. There are 4 levels for noise cancellation on these headphones, and all do a relatively good job.

At level 1 you’ll basically be making it a bit easier to hear your tunes over background noise, but once you reach level 4 you’re essentially blocking out the world around you. These levels are great for those who wear their headphones around town, because it gives you a good balance between your music and what’s going on around you.

Libratone has also included a feature called “Hush” which pauses music, turns off noise cancellation, and activates microphones on the headphones to let you fully hear the world around you. Simply press your palm against the left earcup to activate it.

FEATURES |

Fast Pair

The main reason Pixel owners should be considering these headphones is for one feature and one feature alone — Fast Pair. Like Google’s own Pixel Buds, this feature talks between your Pixel phone and Libratone Q Adapt headphones and gives you a notification to make pairing super easy.

Once the pairing notification comes up, simply tap it to pair the headphones, and you’re good to go. The pairing process takes all of about 5 seconds, and it’s a breeze compared to digging through your settings menu to get them paired the old-fashioned way.

App Control & Gestures

Like a lot of other headphones in this price range, the Libratone Q Adapt also features some gestures to help with playback. These are all enabled through a single “action” button and a touchpad hidden on the left earcup.

You can press the button to adjust the noise cancellation levels, swipe in a circular gesture to adjust volume, and tap to pause and play (double tap for next track). All of the gestures work as intended, but they don’t feel intuitive at all.

Using the connected Libratone app, you can also manually control a lot of these features. There’s a toggle for “Hush,” slider for noise cancellation, and even built-in internet radio for stations from around the world.

Google Assistant

Update: Fortunately, everything I said following this was incorrect and due to a fault with my original unit. Using a three finger press on the earcup on this new unit triggers Assistant as designed and the integration is flawless.

What’s bizarre to me is that, despite the Made for Google branding and the fact that these are sold in the Google Store, there’s absolutely no integration with Google Assistant. The product manual says that a long press activates whatever assistant is on your device, but no matter how much I try, it doesn’t work.

For something that is literally sold in the same store as the Pixel and advertised as working with it on the box, it’s ridiculous to me that there’s no integration with such a core service. Hopefully, an update of some sort will enable that on what are otherwise excellent headphones.

FINAL THOUGHTS |

At $249, the Libratone Q Adapt On-Ear headphones won’t be for everyone. This is an expensive pair of headphones, but I think they live up to the price tag. You’re getting great materials, a well thought out design, and excellent sound quality with stellar noise cancellation. If you’re a Pixel owner looking for headphones like these, the Q Adapt is a no-brainer.

WHERE TO BUY |


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