Truly, wireless earbuds are usually best used for music, but they can also make phone calls a whole lot more convenient. Usually, though, that comes with a drop in voice quality. In a new microphone test, Pixel Buds Pro competes with the king of the hill, AirPods Pro, along with Samsung’s new Galaxy Buds 2 Pro – and Google holds up surprisingly well.

In our review of the Pixel Buds Pro, we found the microphone quality to be relatively solid indoors and out. But recently, The Verge was able to throw the Pixel Buds Pro into a true torture test of microphone quality and compare it with some other major options.

The microphone test puts Pixel Buds Pro, AirPods Pro, Sony LinkBuds S, and Samsung’s brand new Galaxy Buds 2 Pro through a variety of challenging situations surrounding a New York City ferry. The stages of the test were as follows:

  • Waiting for a ferry, with the sounds of Manhattan, boat engines, and a nearby helicopter pad (Pixel Buds Pro didn’t participate in this test due to time)
  • Inside a ferry, seated nearby the engines
  • The top of the ferry, exposed to heavy wind and other loud noises

All three are clearly tough scenarios for the microphones to both hold up with noise cancellation, and to simply hear a user speaking at all. You can hear the full audio tests in The Verge’s post, but the short version is this.

In the first test, the difference between the AirPods Pro and LinkBuds was minimal, but the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro sound starkly different, and not in a particularly positive way. In the second test, Samsung’s option further degrades in voice quality as it struggles to compensate. AirPods and LinkBuds again easily win here, but Pixel Buds Pro hold up fairly well, sounding better than the Galaxy Buds overall, but still clearly struggling to strike a balance with the voice quality.

It was outside of the ferry that Pixel Buds Pro seemed to shine, as when compared to AirPods Pro, they clearly held onto the voice better and with far less distortion and breaking up compared to Apple’s.

A couple of excerpts from the recording really show the difference quite clearly.

AirPods Pro

Pixel Buds Pro

The verdict reached in this test was that, despite stiff competition, Pixel Buds Pro certainly hold their own against the best of the best in microphone quality, if not exceeding them. To quote The Verge, a “cut above the rest.”

Of course, it all depends on the situation. In a recent comparison, our Kyle Bradshaw felt that the AirPods Pro have “significantly better microphones than the Pixel Buds Pro,” with the AirPods capturing more depth to the audio and Pixel Buds Pro sounding “tinny.” But at the end of the day, it’s all subjective – earbud microphones never sound great, but it’s clear that Google has made efforts to stay competitive with the best of the best, and it’s equally clear that in all situations, it’s succeeding.

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Ben Schoon

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