Despite having a strong feature set, it’s safe to say Google’s premium wireless earbuds have flown a bit under the radar. But a new update bringing surround sound with head tracking support to the Pixel Buds Pro may be enough for movie fans to reconsider TWS headphones.
The Buds Pro already feature noise cancellation, user detection, and multi-point technology with automatic audio switching, but a new firmware makes them compatible with competing Apple Airpods Pro 2 and Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 headphones, offering access to 3D sound.
This feature aims to increase immersion by adding a surround sound effect to the audio instead of the standard two-channel audio we’re used to, while dynamic head tracking means the sounds are changed according to the orientation of the head.
The update is currently rolling out to users automatically, however, you must be able to pair your Pixel Buds Pro with a Pixel 6, Pixel 6 Pro, Pixel 7 or Pixel 7 Pro smartphone to install the new firmware.
To update Buds Pro, you must have the latest version of Android on your phone.
Once you’re up to date, go to Settings, then Sound & Vibration, and finally turn on the Surround Sound setting. From the list of connected devices on your phone, select your Pixel Buds Pro, press the settings cog, and finally turn on Head Tracking.
To experience this effect, you must be watching or listening to a content source that provides 5.1+ surround sound, such as a movie or TV show on Netflix, Disney Plus, or HBO Max, with Google advising your phone to be on a flat surface or standing while listening for optimal head tracking.
Unfortunately, it looks like the new feature won’t be rolling out to lower-tier handsets like the Pixel Buds A-Series, with the spatial audio upgrade limited to the Pro model, at least for now.
Analysis: The 3D sound feature is cool, but it doesn’t solve the Bud Pro’s main problems
While this is a fairly narrow substratum of users affiliated with the Pixel ecosystem that is expected to benefit, it is nevertheless a welcome move from Google to bring an undoubtedly cool new feature to the Buds Pro, especially for people who enjoy watching shows and movies on their phones .
However, as good as it gets, the Pixel Buds Pro remain a tough sell with so much competition from better wireless earbuds, and this update doesn’t address their major flaws.
Their woolen and compressed feel coupled with a not-so-secure fit means you might want to look at a different set of earbuds from our guide to the best wireless earbuds for surround sound listening.