I’m a mobile-oriented guy. If you’ve not seen it yet, you should check out our entire desktop in a bag setup I actually leveraged for months. Sure, since we’ve moved into our new office space I’ve settled down a bit on what I carry with me on a daily basis, but I’ve not settled down on my search for the perfect on-the-go headphones. I’m looking for truly-wireless, minimal-lag, comfortable, noise-cancelling (or at least reducing) headphones that I can wear in nearly any situation. That’s not asking too much, right? If the Google Pixel Buds 2 do show up at Google’s October hardware event as 9to5Google reports (thanks to and inside source), there’s a chance they could be the ones.
I currently carry 5 sets of headphones with me at any given moment. I know, I know: I have a problem. Hear me out, though. I have my simple, wired headphones for PUBG Mobile gaming as the lag with Bluetooth headphones isn’t good enough or, when it is with the AirPods & iPad combo, the game itself won’t recognize the AirPods as a microphone. Wired headphones (one standard and one set of USB-C) are a nice fall-back when everything else just fails.
I then carry my Bose QC II over-ear headphones for those situations when I need to detach and get some work done. Nothing I’ve owned combines the noise cancelling, comfort and sound that these headphones do, and they’ve been insanely valuable to me on numerous occasions. Along with them, I have a set of AirPods and then a $35 pair of wireless earbuds by SoundPeats that I honestly love.
The AirPods are great for a walk or for use when the room around me is basically quiet. If it gets noisy or there is overhead music (like in a Starbucks), I have to crank up the AirPods so loud to drown out the outside sounds that it really defeats the purpose of personalized music in the first place. That’s where the SoundPeats come in. They are the more standard earbud with the silicone tips that seal off a great deal of outside sound. They sound great and I can wear them for an hour or so before getting a bit fatigued, but their latency is bad for anything other than music. In contrast, I can wear my AirPods for hours on end before wanting to remove them.
A New Entry, New Features
I say all of this to make the point that there is still room for a truly wireless earbud to come in and deliver on most of what I’m looking for in a single package. Tech like the new Qualcomm QCC5126 in the Vivo TWS Earphone that just launched has my hopes pretty high. In those buds, you get purported active noise cancelling, a similar fit and setup to the AirPods, low-latency, and great battery life. When the Pixel Buds first hit the scene, fully-wireless earbuds were still relatively new and Apple had basically shown up and created desire for a product category that wasn’t matured in any real way.
Fast forward to today and we have wireless earbuds on offer everywhere you look. With new silicon from Qualcomm being made just for wireless headsets, it is clear that the true race for best wireless earbuds is just now getting started. Though the first-gen Pixel Buds weren’t the worst, they were far from the best option at the time. In this current climate with all the options available to them, it stands to reason that Google could launch a very good pair of wireless earbuds that do most of what I’ve spoken of in this article. Sure, the open-air fit of the AirPods offered with noise cancelling may not be a thing just yet, but if all the other parts were there, the rumored Pixel Buds 2 could offer up something no other device could at this particular point: working interoperability between Google products.
We’ve been tracking the feature in Chrome OS and Android known as Fast Pair that will eventually allow your paired Bluetooth devices to follow your Google account and thus be leveraged instantly on whichever device you choose. Apple does a similar thing between MacOS and iOS, allowing you to pair up your AirPods once and leverage them on your desktop, tablet or phone instantly. This feature could debut with the Pixel Buds 2 alongside the Pixelbook Go and Pixel 4, giving these new wireless earbuds a fun and useful feature that will be unique to them in the Google ecosystem for a bit.
While this all excites me a ton, I’m also ready for the inevitable letdown as well. I’m fully aware that Google may show up with a slightly-improved version of the clunky and awkward Pixel Buds, but I’m hoping they aren’t that foolish. In a climate where there are literally hundreds of options for wireless audio, anything but a thoughtful entry into the market really isn’t even worth throwing out there. Here’s to hoping Google doesn’t just phone this one in and the Pixelbuds 2 become the surprise star of a hardware event that has almost leaked in its entirety already.