After being announced at Google I/O in May, the Pixel Buds Pro are now on-sale in Australia bringing a Pro name and higher price tag – but a lot more features.

These buds are Pro in name and at $299, they’re also premium in price, which is a steep jump from the Pixel Buds A-Series which remain on-sale as their entry level option at $159.

Feature wise, Google have added a lot of features to the Pixel Buds Pro to justify the name and the price including Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) which includes a transparency mode so you can hear what’s going on around you, and there’s also noise suppression and multi-device connectivity which lets you switch connection to different devices as you need to.

They come with a new fin-less design to incorporate a new custom designed cheap to support the new features and in three colours: Charcoal (Black), Fog (white to light bluish) and Lemongrass, which is the colour they’ve sent along for me to check out, which is a light yellow colour.

So, I’ve had the Pixel Buds Pro for over a week and here’s how they went.

Hardware

First up, what’s in the box? The Pixel Buds Pro include the buds inside the eggshell textured battery case that’s become a familiar mainstay of the Pixel buds line, which can be charged wirelessly or through the USB-C port – though you don’t get a USB-C cable in the box. There’s a Safety/Warranty card and a quick setup guide, as well as ear-tips in three sizes though the medium sized tips are pre-installed.

The design of the buds is very different to the Pixel Buds Gen 2 and Pixel Buds A-Series, with the stabilising fin removed. The buds fit well into your ear – once you choose the correct ear-tips (more on this later), but do feel a little less secure than previous generations. That said, I’ve yet to get one to fall out, despite fairly rigorous movement, so you shouldn’t have any issues.

There’s no spatial vent included in the Pixel Buds Pro like previous models to prevent the blocked ear feeling you get with some Totally Wireless Stereo (TWS) bud – instead, Google uses ‘Silent Seal’ to relieve that pressure on the fly and it works very well.

I ended up going with a small ear tip on my left ear, with a medium on the right – and while I initially felt the small was a better fit in my right ear, the Silent Seal test in the Pixel Buds app didn’t agree – so I went with their recommendation and it’s been very good.

After removing the swiping gestures for their Pixel Buds A-Series, they’re back for the Pro model. You can swipe and tap to perform functions including controlling music or calls and volume. There’s also options to long-press to cycle through ANC, Transparency mode or just summon the Google Assistant, which you can customise in the Pixel Buds app.

The swipes and taps work really well, though it certainly emphasised I needed a haircut as I was brushing my hair back and accidentally tapped or swiped.

The colour options for the Pixel Buds Pro include a good range for Australia, but we do miss out on the Coral option (available in the US) which would pair perfectly with my organe Pixel 4. But, that said, I really like the Lemongrass colour, it’s subtle and quite elegant.

As a fidgeter, I’ve always loved the Pixel Buds case and the open/close still offers a satisfying clack when you close it. The buds are secured in the case with magnets so they won’t just fall out, and after initial fumbling I am able to whip them out very easily. They also start charging once you drop them back in using pogo pins on the buds themselves

The case will carry a few extra charges for the buds and can be charged wirelessly through Qi charging or the USB-C port – and of course it sits easily on Google’s Pixel Stand 2 if you have one of those.

In terms of battery life, the Google Stats list 11 hours with ANC off, 7 hours with ANC on – with the case offering a further 31 hours with ANC off, or 20 hours with ANC active. The case can top up the buds quickly with 5 minutes giving you an hour of ANC.

In my usage, these stats are essentially correct, but as I spent most of my time enjoying the ANC, I obviously found my usage very much in-line with the ANC stats they list.

One ‘missing’ feature from the Pixel Buds Pro which I’ve previously loved on models from other manufacturers is the audio prompt when the battery runs low. You can still see the battery stats in the Bluetooth menu, or the Pixel Buds app, so you can still readily see the info if you want an up to date check on where you’re at.

Sound Quality & Features

Hardware wise, Google includes 11mm drivers in the Pixel Buds Pro and they’ve also used their own custom 6-core audio chip that runs Google-developed algorithms tuned by their in-house audio engineering team. There’s also a Triple microphone array on each earbud which includes wind blocking mesh covers for when you need to use them on a call – or for the ANC.

In terms of audio quality, I have been quite impressed with the Pixel Buds Pro. I’ve been using Scott’s Audio mix for a broad array of sound if you want to check it out.

I’ve been using their Pixel Buds A-Series for a while now and there’s a definite jump in performance with richer highs and mids, with actual bass included as well. There’s no Bass slider option which I’ve had on the Pixel Buds A-Series, but I’ve been fairly impressed with the Pixel Buds Pro bass overall.

There’s a ‘Volume EQ’ option in the Pixel Buds app, which increases the bass and treble frequencies at lower volume, but there’s still no actual equaliser to give you more personal control over your sound. The Google-developed algorithms are essentially taking the wheel here, and it’s working quite well – for my money at least.

Of course the Active Noise Cancellation is a big feature and it works well. I’ve found them to be great around the house to quiet any background noise, including the vacuum cleaner, and also worked pretty well even while mowing the lawn.

When you’re not listening to audio, or need to interact with someone then the Transparency mode is available, and it’s pretty good, though you can still tell you’re listening to a relay. It’s good enough to use though.

The big feature – for me at least – on the Pixel Buds Pro was multi-device connectivity, which Google refers to as multipoint. You will need to enable this in the Pixel Buds app for it to work, but once enabled it works very well, and if you’ve never used the feature before it really is well worth enabling to be able to listen to your PC while still getting incoming call alerts from your phone.

I’ve been asked about connectivity, which is a fair question given the Pixel Buds gen 2 suffered from dropouts for a lot of users, and the Pixel Buds A-Series improved a lot, but still had issues for some users. I’m happy to say I haven’t had any latency or dropouts to date, so that particular bone of contention appears to have finally been laid to rest.

In terms of how they stack up against the competition, Scott will be doing a comparison against the top TWS buds in the very near future – so stay tuned.

Software

The Pixel Buds Pro, like previous generations, supports Google’s Fast Pair on devices running Android 6.0 and above, with a prompt to pair popping up as soon as you open the case. If you’re not running Android 6.0 and above, or Android, you can still pair them to any iOS, or Windows tablet, laptop or any device running Bluetooth 4.0+.

To get the best experience from your Pixel Buds Pro, you’ll need to be using the Pixel Buds app, which comes already installed on a Pixel phone, or can just be downloaded from the Google Play Store – but unfortunately there’s no iOS app.

Onboarding

The Pixel Buds app has a decent on-boarding experience which guides you through the Silent Seal setup, as well as letting you see presets for the touch controls – which of course you can change to your preference in the app later.

There’s not a lot to the Pixel Buds app itself, once you set it up and configure the touch controls and enable multipoint audio you won’t really go into it a great deal – unless you lose a bud, in which case the ‘Find my device’ section can ring the buds if they’re in connected and in range – it’s not hugely loud but can be heard in a quiet-ish room once they get ringing.

Should you buy them?

It’s been a bit of a rough road for Google’s Pixel Buds since the first corded versions were announced back in 2017, but they’re finally good and not just good, the Pixel Buds Pro are worth the $299 price tag.

The previous issues we’ve seen with connectivity are gone and have been replaced by a set of feature rich buds offering multipoint connectivity, Active Noise Cancellation with a decent transparency mode and they’re comfortable to wear.

There’s some higher end options, but they also cost a lot more and the Pixel Buds Pro offer a good amount of features for the price.

You can pick up a pair of Pixel Buds Pro for $299 from the Google Store, or you can head in-store and pick-up a pair from JB HI-FI, Officeworks and Harvey Norman or from your favourite carrier with Telstra, Optus, Vodafone all stocking them.