Microsoft's $200 Surface Earbuds carve out a unique space in today's increasingly saturated "buds" market. Whether everyone needs them is not a question, as the answer is no. But after spending the last two weeks with Surface Earbuds, I am hard-pressed to want anything else either.
What unique features make Surface Earbuds stand out, what do I think can be better, and should you get them? All of these shall be answered and more in my deep-dive review.
$200Bottom line: Microsoft's Surface Earbuds are extraordinarily comfortable, sound great, and get great battery life. But weird omissions like wireless charging, or in-ear detection make it hard to justify the $200 over stiff competition.
- Super comfortable for long durations
- Particularly good, balanced audio
- Excellent battery life
- Unique design with gestures
- No wireless charging
- No killer feature
Bold, different, but functional
Surface Earbuds design, specs and features
Microsoft took a distinctive approach to the design of Surface Earbuds, yet we saw hints of what they would look like as early as 2015 in its "Productivity Future Vision" video. With a white, glass-like rounded exterior that sits outside the ear users can have a literal surface to swipe and tap gestures on without complications.
Nothing looks like Surface Earbuds, which is good and bad, depending on how you feel about them. But in a world that went from laughing at Apple's bold AirPods design to acceptance and even normality, I don't see Surface Earbuds as that unusual. I prefer the look over Surface Earbuds as I will never be convinced that AirPods look better.
Besides the pragmatics of having a gesture-enabled surface that can be easily discerned without looking, the Earbuds also have a low profile. When someone is looking at you straight on, like in a conference call, you can barely notice them as they do not jut out from your head — they are nearly invisible. Where Surface Earbuds become evident is when viewed as a profile/side shot. The semi-glossy white orbs are then difficult to miss, something that could be lessened if Microsoft ever offers a darker grey version.
|Dimensions||Each earbud: 0.98" (25 mm) x 0.78" (19.9 mm)|
|Charging case||2.96" (75 mm) x 1.31" (33.2 mm) x 0.98" (25 mm)|
|Weight Each earbud||7.2g with ear tip|
|Charging case||40g without earbuds|
|Frequency response||20 –20 kHz|
|Microphone||Two microphones per earbud|
|Battery life||Up to 24 hours battery with included charging case|
Up to eight hours of continuous listening per charge
A 10-minute charge provides up to one hour of battery life
|Cord||USB-A to USB-C cord (1 meter)|
|Wireless||Bluetooth 5.0 LE|
|Audio codecs||SBC and aptX|
|Compatibility||Windows 10, Android 4.4, iPhone 5, iOS9, Bluetooth 4.1/4.2|
|Controls||touch, tap, swipe, voice|
|Warranty||One-year limited hardware warranty|
There is a lot of detail in Surface Earbuds. While the exterior looks and feels like glass, it is a polycarbonate (plastic). That's good as no one wants a shattered earbud were it to fall on the sidewalk. Additionally, glass would weigh down the earbuds, which are already 7.2 grams each. That weight is slightly heavier than Samsung's Galaxy Buds (5.7g) and Google's Pixel Buds (5.3 g). But Microsoft also didn't want the earbuds to "squeak" when dragging your finger across it for a gesture, so it used material to be completely silent.
The 13.5mm drive per bud is also slightly larger with Surface versus Pixel Buds (12mm). For codec support, you get SBC and aptX, but there is no AAC.
In the box, you get the rather large Surface Earbuds case, Type-A to Type-C charging cable for the case, and two sets of fitted earbuds (small and large in addition to the mediums). It's a pleasant packaging experience, too, with a printed "Everyone's ear is as unique as their fingerprint" declarative on the inner box.
That carrying case is divisive. It is the largest out of all the popular earbud options on the market. It does, however, still fit in the coin pocket of my stretch jeans, but I'm not sure it'd be great to carry them there. This is where Apple and Google's case design is much preferred. The lid of the case has a small spring to let it snap open, but it is also a surprisingly thin lid. It does stay closed with a satisfying snap when closing, but it all feels a bit hollow.
On the bottom of the case is a Bluetooth pairing button, in the rear, a Type-C charging port. Inside, there is a white LED that pulses when charging or stays on when paired.
Conspicuously missing from the Surface Earbuds rather large case is any wireless charging. That's a bizarre oversight considering its girth and price.
Perfected all-day wear
Surface Earbuds comfort and feel
Surface Earbuds are extraordinarily comfortable. Microsoft envisions users wearing these eight hours a day (to match that eight-hour battery life), but for that to be possible, you cannot experience "ear fatigue."
Microsoft did an incredible job on the design. The earbuds twist into your ear with ease and just stay there with no active pressure points. I was able to wear the earbuds for four hours straight and not even come close to being bothered.
Seeing as there is no active or passive noise cancellation, these earbuds do not touch your ear canal at all. I prefer that design as it allows you to hear someone talking to you, or a car coming up from behind. It also means your ear canal won't get sore from hours of having something jammed into it.
Likewise, these earbuds to not rattle, shake, or even fall out. They really lock into your ears. You can run with them and do light exercise with no problems (they are IPX4 rated too). You can also lay down on a pillow with your head on the side while listening to a podcast or music or watching a movie with no discomfort.
Removing the earbuds from the case is also tricky. Due to how they lay flush, you must dig into prying them out. Same with placing them back in as the orientation needs to be correct.
Let's talk software
Surface Earbuds paring and Surface Audio app
Surface Earbuds, because they work on iOS, Android, and Windows 10, relies on standard Bluetooth. While Swift Pair (Windows) and Fast Pair (Android) help the process with a pop-up notification that "seamlessly" assists in the pairing process, the Surface Earbuds are not immune to the fussiness of Bluetooth even in 2020.
This finicky Bluetooth behavior is also complicated by the new Surface Audio app, which is excellent. But in all headphones with an assistive app, pairing becomes this weird dance between hitting the pairing notification, using Bluetooth settings on your phone, and letting the app try to make it all happen. Surface Earbuds are no different.
The Surface Audio apps, which are available on iOS, Android, and Windows 10, let you control the equalizer with presets, or customize and save your own. You can also see volume level, battery life (per earbud), disable touch controls, choose language support, watch tutorial videos, and download firmware updates.
For some reason, however, you can't see the battery life of the carrying case. By comparison, the case for my Bose SoundSport Frees has a simple five-point LED to assist in such matters.
On Android, there is also a persistent notification to help keep the connection alive to Surface Earbuds, which is annoying (I already have one for Spotify, my Tesla, and Microsoft's Your Phone). There doesn't seem to be any downside, however, were to you turn it off.
Surface Earbuds can be paired up to seven devices, but there can only be one active connection at a time. That functionality is in contrast to the Surface Headphones, which can handle eight pairings and two active connections. But the excuse is reasonable: One of the pairings is actually between the left and right earbuds, which communicate wirelessly to operate. And because that counts as an active pairing, there an only be one more connection to your PC or phone allowed at a time.
This active pairing limitation is very frustrating as it prevents users from jumping between smartphone usage and PC video conferences effortlessly. Instead, users must force disconnect (turn off Bluetooth) on one device, connect to the other, and hope it all works. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't. While annoying, this is just how Bluetooth operates, and I am not sure how Microsoft can solve it, but I wish it could.
Even when connected to the PC, there are still Bluetooth quirks. Under Skype, there are two Surface Earbud options under the audio settings page, one for Surface Earbuds with hands-free AG audio, and another for Surface Earbuds stereo. Why? I don't know, but only one of them works with Skype (AG audio), and the other is what you want for music. And Windows itself is still not very friendly to streamlining audio selections, which can be a labyrinth of options.
On the plus side, you can use just one earbud at a time with the other in the case. There is also no lag when using earbuds to watch movies or live TV — lips and sound matches perfectly.
Surface Earbuds support whatever voice assistant is on your phone, but no voice assistant is built-in. On Android, this means you can use Google Assistant, Bixby, or Alexa with a simple long press on either bud. For the iPhone, you can only use Apple's Siri as there is no way to assign them to Google Assistant.
Surface Earbuds gestures and control
Gestures with Surface Earbuds is another adventure. For the most part, the gestures work and work quite well. But there is a breaking-in period in which you must get used to them to figure what works.
Some gestures work on both earbuds (double tap, touch, and hold), while others are left-only (swipe forward, back for audio tracks, PowerPoint), or right-only (swipe up/down for volume). It is not bad, but it is all a bit different if you are coming from Surface Headphones. It would seem a better option to have all the gestures available on either earbud, but Microsoft likely omitted this to prevent mistakes in gesture actions. There is also no way to customize those gestures with the app.
Even how you perform the gestures takes some practice since you are never looking at yourself while executing them.
To further confuse things, on Android, you can triple-tap to open Spotify, which then auto-starts playing algorithmically picked songs for you. Another triple-tap during Spotify playback puts a kibosh on that song and goes to the next algorithmically picked one. It's a neat feature, but due to Apple's limits, a triple tap doesn't do anything on iOS. Luckily, swiping between tracks in Spotify works for iOS, Android, and Windows.
Reversing things, on iOS, you can use the Play My Emails feature in Outlook to hear your emails and respond to them. But you can't do that on Android…yet (it's coming in the next few months).
But once you get used to the gestures on Surface Earbuds, it is quite satisfying. Being able to change tracks, pause, and control the volume of your music or a phone call while never touching your phone is liberating.
One strange omission is the inability to auto-pause when the earbuds are removed from your ears. This feature is becoming increasingly common, and while Surface Headphones can auto-pause when placed around your neck, no such function is found with Surface Earbuds.
Surface Earbuds audio quality and battery
Microsoft has a knack for doing an impressive amount in sound with little hardware. You don't need to look further than its long history in the Surface PC lineup to see it knows how to get a lot of audio out of a small speaker.
This audio talent translates well to Surface Earbuds. Are they the best out there? I don't know; there's a lot of subjectivity in that claim. And seeing as these headphones don't go into the ear canal, volume and bass will not be as intense as some other options. What I can tell you is I think they sound great.
A few of us at Windows Central now own the Surface Earbuds, and the consensus is the audio quality is competitive against Apple, Samsung, and Google — they are up there with the best. But due to the differing design, the sound profile here is distinct.
Audio is crisp and vibrant but not overwhelming, falling in a very middle range. Users have access to a five-band equalizer in the app, which lets you fine-tune the sound profile to your liking. I recommend boosting the lows a bit higher if you prefer a more bass-heavy experience.
As already mentioned, there is absolutely no noise-canceling ability here. Microsoft would gladly point you to Surface Headphones 2 for that feature, but Surface Earbuds have a different goal. Microsoft sees these as being used all-day in the office, or at home where background noise is not an issue. Could you use these on a plane or a subway? Sure, but it won't be any different than using Apple AirPods.
The microphones are also particularly good. It's not clear Microsoft is excelling here compared to the competition, but they are not lagging either. Even when I used them on our podcast, the audience's consensus was that their quality was excellent and better than expected.
For battery, Microsoft promises eight hours of usage per charge, with two more recharges in the case for 24 hours. For streaming music, and just leaving them in, I would push that number closer to seven hours, and maybe only five if using them for calls the entire time. But they are incredibly good for battery life.
Dropping them in the case for ten minutes gains you an extra hour of usage.
On a peculiar note, the right headphone tends to have a lower battery percent reading than the left. This behavior is likely due to the right being the "master," which does more work for audio broadcasting.
The bottom line
Surface Earbuds amazingly comfortable, but tough competition
Like Surface Headphones, Microsoft has proven it can create impressive and competitive headphones in an increasingly saturated market. While Surface Earbuds look different with a bold, but functional design, I can say they do distinguish themselves from the crowd.
Where Surface Earbuds take the lead is comfort, battery life, and audio quality. Microsoft intends for these to be worn all day, and that goal is achieved. I'm not sure other headphones can outmatch Surface Earbuds in this regard.
Gestures, while finicky, are also a unique selling point. Being truly hands-free from your phone is fantastic. But that advantage is weakened if you have a smartwatch (notably the Apple Watch), which is just as functional (maybe even more). Being able to use live translation or dictation in Microsoft Office is neat, but very niche (plus any microphone can do the same).
But while audio quality and battery life are excellent, it is the price versus features that make Surface Earbuds a tough sell. With no wireless charging for the case, no ability to see how much battery is left in that case, no in-ear detection, all while charging $20 to $60 more than the rest, is difficult to justify. (It is worth noting students can get a 10 percent discount knocking the price down to $180).
Surface Earbuds have a particular target audience, and I'm a part of that, which is why I like them so much. They are outstanding. But I am not convinced that the market is big enough for people to take an interest in Surface Earbuds over the more widely available and cheaper Galaxy Buds, or AirPods.
While Surface Earbuds are excellent, they only shine in a few areas, and I'm not sure many people care about those particular advantages to pay such a premium. If Surface Earbuds were priced at $150-$175, that would level the field. But Microsoft is going to need something else to warrant that $200 asking price, and right now, that killer feature is not here.
Microsoft's super smart earbuds
Surface Earbuds have an excellent, albeit unique, design that is comfortable for all-day wear. However, incredibly good audio and exceptional battery life may not be enough to justify $200 compared to more affordable options.
Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.
I really like the earbuds! I put them in my ear around 9:00 am and take them out around 11:00 pm. The sound quality is real good for music and calls. But the only and major problem I have is I cannot get a good fit. They kept felling out of my ears after some time of use. The only time that the fit right is if I leave the tips off, but the gestures directions get messed up. The gestures directions must be hard coded. I am currently using the small tips because they are close to using no tips.
Another problem I am having with the earbuds are that the right earbuds is draining 20% - 30% faster than the left earbuds. I am now setting at L - 59% and R - 38%.
Agreed I had that issue to but after a few listens they seem to be good but the right ear does drain more. And I notice you can't see how much battery is in the charging case.
i have a 25$ MS gift card and i wans thinking of getting these for the office. dictating emails, etc. I don't need NC for this class of tasks, and my Xperia Ear Duo start to bother my ears after a few hours of wearing them.
aptX, it's noted twice.
AptX is generic if you’re not specific. Shame it doesn’t do LL or HD.
I also got a pair of them. The only thing I got a problem with is that I got allways something like a white noise. Allways and doen't matter if I change the volume or not. It is allways the same noise there. Only if I listen to music with a higher volume I can't hear the noise. But with a normal volume the noise is there.
I can recognize it everytime the connection is made between client and the earbuds. Do you have the same experience? Are mine a faulty pair?
I believe that is the BT LE kicking in to preserve battery life, it's a less power-hungry version to allow things like system notifications to come through without being "high fidelity."
No, I don't think we talk about the same. It's more like the other one said, "gtbuzz".
It is a static noise, like with a bad amplifier. Is't allways there as soon as the amplifier is powered...
Is it possible you got a defective one?
Send it back for replacement to check
It's a bad ground. You need a wire from the earbud to a patch of aluminum foil stuck to the bottom of your show.
I have this same issue with mine and it kind of drives me crazy. I've never owned a pair of headphones that does this before and I haven't seen any reviews mention it so I'm thinking there may be an issue. There's actually a Microsoft Answers thread about this where others have complained and they said they're looking into it https://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/surface/forum/all/constant-hissing-n... I will probably try to exchange mine.
I have had mine for 3 days now and I love them.
Granted, I bought them for their integration with Office as my main point and they perform very well there.
My Surface headphones always gave me issues in MS Teams. Getting them to work was a total hit and miss (more miss than hit). The earbuds just work.
The translation feature in PowerPoint works really well.
As productivity devices within the Office environment, they're really hard to beat.
As consumer day to day buds, I'm not sure they'll sell in large numbers.
The big test for me will be how they work with the Duo and later the Neo.
If everything is smooth then, I got my dream setup.
They look silly. As a bit of an audiophile id say get the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1's (9 hour battery life, small case with multiple charges) However, all earbuds, its the same, its about the seal in your ear, Melomania's sound tinny, get the right seal (3rd party or the large foams) and its WOW - You dont need ANY active noise cancelling, you can click your fingers next to your ear with no music playing and you wont hear it, but the bass, the Trebble! The Control! The Soundstage! and they are half this price, made by music experts, rather than a tech company and puts most tech companies to shame!
That form factor is the exact reason I don't want the Melomania 1. You missed the whole point here in the review. It's not about "soundstage" and "being made by experts." It's about comfort and being able to wear them for hours and hours. I want to hear ambient noise, not shut out the world. I absolutely do not like jamming buds into my ear canal. You're confusing headphones you put on to shut out the world and listen to music (while wanking to weird terms that audiophiles use, sorry, it's true) with headphones you used for work/conferencing/some music and just life. There are dozens of options there that are in-canal form factor. I prefer something that does what Surface Earbuds do.
Based on what I see, if listening to music is your main purpose, these are not for you. The Earbuds are tuned for voices more. Further, hearing background noise isn't a problem, it's a feature. If I'm in an office setting, I'd like to hear somebody say hello to me. So your review of the Melomania is targeted to a difference audience than the Earbuds.
For critical listening I will always use over ear headphones over buds. My personal preference. I do like these buds and planning on picking up a pair because I do need something that I can use to listing to music and take calls while at work. Personally, ANC is not a requirement.
As long as you are listening to music and taking calls on the same device. Remember these don't do multi-point pairing. Can't listen to Spotify on your Surface and answer a call on your Galaxy.
The Your Phone application would help in that regards? would it not?.
My wife owns the Melomania 1's and loves them but they look way more silly. They look like an RGB gaming keyboard in your ear. Also, if you were an audiophile, would you really be using BT headphones? Ha, I out-snobbed you...
You can, the Beyerdynamic Amiron Wireless, are the best I've got, fantastically comfortable, phenomenally sounding, and built in Germany, you can use them wired, in USB mode, in 3.5 mm jack, and wirelessly, and seriously they sound bloody unreal wirelessly...
I was really looking forward to these. I love the idea of this fit because I can't stand having something in my ear canal. I'm sensitive to sound and it makes me hear myself breathe, which drives me nuts. However, not having multipoint pairing is kind of a deal breaker. I have way too many devices that I would use these for to make constant switching practical. It's interesting that you note the connection between the two buds counts as one connection, because I've seen people mention that you can't get too far away from the right bud without losing connection. Apparently this isn't the case with other wireless earbuds. I'm going to have to think more about whether these would be useful enough for me given the limitations to justify the high price.
Seconded. I have the Surface Headphones and they’re amazing to switch between devices.... when it works. Sometimes an iPhone or a Mac will gobble up a stream of audio until I turn off Bluetooth on that device. But I’ll take ‘do that once in a while’ rather than ‘every time I switch devices ever’. Total deal breaker, I can’t go back to single-paired devices again. Real bummer if these can’t improve In future generations due to the ear pairing as Dan suggested
I want these but want is really at it is. I got some refurb Galaxy Buds for $60 bucks (Best Buy have one day sales on them ever so often). The Buds sound great for what I need, which is mainly for listening to podcasts while I'm exercising.
Given the content of the review, 3/5 seems a bit harsh. That extra $60 seems to pay for the gestures and Office integration, plus that excellent in-ear fit, which sounds unique. It's not for me personally but a productivity-oriented pair of earbuds with these features (though missing those two DR mentioned) for $200 isn't that bad IMHO.
We debated about 3 or 3.5, it's kinda arbitrary TBH, so I wouldn't put too much in it (vs the points made in the review). And my personal rating would be higher, but I'm reviewing these everyone else. I just see this space as incredibly competitive right now and I think Microsoft overreached on price. Like the Pro X, for a certain audience these are awesome (and again, I'm a part of that). I'm just not sure many others will see the value or big deal. For example, while it's great you can wear them for 4-6 hours with no issue, Iis that something that many people are looking for? I dunno.
Chinese airpods are basically free. They have a 3 hour battery life and come in black. 🤔 Nadella.. Nadella
Well, two days in... and I sent mine back. The fitment wasn’t great for “my” ears. Their claim of (Innovative design of four anchor points sits each earbud securely in your ear) works for some, but not for me. How the hell they get four anchor points is beyond me, but have to guess they’re talking about the Concha, Tragus, Antitragus, and Antihelix (parts of the outer-ear) as it anchor points. To be specific, the outer-ear has an anatomy that of a fingerprint, no two are alike so I was ready for issues. Due to the lack of a secure fit, using the gestures makes me feel as though I will try to advance a slide during a PowerPoint presentation and that sucker is just going to plop out of my ear and onto the floor! So, fitment was my number one issue. The second issue is the integration with Microsoft 365 (formerly known as Office 365) just isn’t compelling enough. I mean I can dictate to Word with my desktop mic, I can advance PowerPoint slides by clicking my Surface Pen’s eraser. I’m just not seeing enough Microsoft 365 integration to warrant the Surface Earbuds. There you have it, I’m happy for the folks that can wear the Surface Earbuds... I wish I was one of them. I hope I have better luck with the #Duo and #XboxXSeries. Thank you for your review Daniel!
The Grey color would help. I'm waiting for those. But if this is just a trial. I'll wait for a sale before I jump
Gotta say, I don't think the point about the Surface Earphones case being 'the largest out of all the popular earbud options' is very accurate. Comparing the Surface Earbuds to the Samsung Galaxy buds case, they are basically the same. The Samsung buds case isn't quite as long, but it is taller.
Comparing the Surface Earbuds to the Sony WF-1000xM3 case, the case is less than half the size.
Comparing to the Airpods case (not the Pro), they are totally different shapes. Yes the Airpods case is smaller, but the size difference is very minor.
Comparing to the Sennheiser Momentum 2 True wireless, the Momentums are bigger in just about every dimension. So, comparing to the other big name brands in the same category, the Surface Earbuds case sits right in the centre for the case size. When I first heard there was no wireless charge on the Surface Earbuds I thought it was a bummer. I use wireless charging for my phone everywhere. But then I sat down and really thought about it. With my Samsung Galaxy Buds and Buds+ I had used the Wireless charger maybe 4 times. The issue with wireless changing them is how damn long it takes to get a decent charge. It's simply not fast enough on the buds to be worth the time. So the missing wireless charge isn't much of an issue, to be honest. I'm far more happy for extra battery charge than wireless charging. I also don't agree with your assessment of the device switching. I've been using my Surface Earbuds since release, having them paired to my 3 surface devices (Surface Pro X, Surface Go 2 and Surface laptop 3) and my Phone (Samsung Galaxy Note 10+) and all it takes to switch is to jump onto which ever device I want to use and hit Connect in Bluetooth. There is no need to disconnect the old device first, no need to fiddle in the settings or pairing, or anything. Simply go to the device you want and hit connect. This has worked flawlessly for me, and is far more straight forward than any other earbuds I have used. When you team the easy connection switching up with the great sound (which is very clear, and much more open than most other Earbuds out there), the fantastic comfort, brilliant phone/online meeting audio quality, and the great battery life, I think the asking price is very good. As a full package, I personally think they are the best currently available.
Has anyone tested these in a moderately loud environment with other voices around? I'm looking for call quality... Noise handling in particular. If it's like the surface headphones where the other person can hear every single background noise, I'll pass..
What about certification for Teams. The Surface earbuds are not on the list https://www.windowscentral.com/e?link=https%3A%2F%2Fclick.linksynergy.co...
It is my understanding that the reason why the Surface Headphones and Earbuds are not certified for Teams is that they do not have a USB dongle.
I am using them with teams on a daily basis and to be honest, they perform miles better than the Surface Headphones, which was a surprise to me.
I use these Surface Earbuds in Teams calls and it's fantastic.
So far I'm loving the Earbuds. Wish they ceiled a little tighter in the ear thought. But they are super comfortable. I've had zero issues of them falling out during my workouts or runs. Been great for office work too. I'm really interested to see how Microsoft reacts to these review with version 2.
I am interested in these but they just don't quite offer enough for their price. I HATE the in-ear canal design (of other buds) so these fit the "not painfully in your ear" bill just fine (which it's tough to find a quality earbud that isn't required to be shoved in your ear) but they are missing auto-pause when you remove one bud, cannot play just off the left bud, cannot multi-pair (though the pairing is quick with new devices), the design is meh, and I don't care for white. I will be waiting for Sammy's latest ANC "bean" buds (galaxy X or whatever they may call them). Those look more like my cup of tea.
I understand you can use just one bud, left or right, as long as the other is in the case. You do only get to use the gestures of the one that is in your ear though.
Regarding switching between devices, it would be nice if there was a gesture that would disconnect them from the current device and then you would only have to go to one device to connect.
This would be amazing. You can unpair the second device on Surface Headphones, but not both. It’d be great to have something like a gesture to flip between known paired devices
Or you can just disconnect from the earbuds with one device and then connect with the other device like everything else does.
Actually my headphones can connect to multiple devices at once, so I don't have to disconnect from my phone to use them on my PC, so no, not like everything else does.
They could have solved this if they support NFC on Surface Earbuds for quick pairing. Sony at least has this so there is still a way to quickly pair with another device, though not as convenient and seamless as having multi-pair support, but better than nothing. Since most phones have NFC, this should have been included WITH Surface Earbuds and Headphones.
Yeah, not sure how to solve that. Maybe a gesture. My Bose SoundSport Frees have a physical button that lets you toggle/switch between devices, which I find useful.
I value 4 things the most: long battery life, the ability to wear for long stretches in comfort, great sound quality and call quality. And the Surface Earbuds does that better than practically anything out there. I've worn so many brands and models that I'm very sensitive to the little details. The only earphones that are like the Surface Earbuds are the original Airpods and both of them don't really go into the ear canal. But the battery life o fthe Airpods are terrible. And Airpods pairing with Android is awful. And a lot of headsets only have audio during phone calls come out of one earpiece.
These are AU$320 here in Australia. The Surface Headphones 2 are AU$400. I have the original Headphones but sometimes I want something easier to pop in and out. I'm saving my Microsoft Rewards points to soften the blow a bit and I'll get a pair of Earbuds when I've got enough points to take AU$100 off. The shape is a big plus for me as I have trouble getting conventional earbuds to stay put. That's a big problem when there are no wires.
Have a look at the Nuraloop mate, they sound phenomenal, have fantastic noise cancelling, and they are not truely wireless https://www.nuraphone.com/products/nuraloop I have numerous earbuds and by far the Nuraloop once you get the correct fitment, sound the best.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but it looks like the Nuraloop earbuds DO go in the ear canal at least a little bit, right? The Surface Earbuds NOT sealing the ear canal really is part of the draw for some of us...I just wish that design existed as an option more frequently.
They do go in the ear canal, but they have a mode called social mode, which can allow outside noise to be heard clearly, even if you are listening to music, podcasts, etc, it's sort of like a reversal of the noise cancelling, they also support Aptx hd, one of few ear buds that do as far as I know. https://www.tomsguide.com/reviews/nuraloop
I've had my Surface Earbuds since launch day. They fit great/comfortably, sound great, and battery life has been excellent. The Surface Audio app for Windows 10, Android and IOS is a plus too.
Do to hearing loss (I can not hear--50 db drop--at frequencies above 4,000 htz), I wear hearing aides from the moment I wake to the moment I got to sleep. I have what are called open hearing aides. These allow ambient sound to enter your ear canal. I can hear a locomotive from miles away. But I can not hear the "ch" in the word "channel" or the "t" in the word "the". Yes my right hearing aid runs out of battery life in about 3 days (that's about 40 hours) before my left hearing aid. Given that I have to buy batteries and replace them makes the operational cost at about $1 every 3 days in new batteries. Plus my hearing aides cost $1500. So I don't want to hear people complain about $200 versus $160. Why do I invest so much in my hearing aides? Spend the first 40 years of your life avoiding social environments because you simply can not comprehend what people are saying to you and you will understand the importance of hearing speech in a productive environment. I doubt my hearing aides are no different in terms of Bluetooth connectivity than surface ear buds. If I can enjoy life dealing with connectivity issues than everyone else can as well. There are some comments about ambient noise, noise cancellation, quality etc. that seem childish to me. Each environment (the office, at a bar, in a car, on an airplane, at home) presents unique requirements for sound perception. As such the form factor and functionality of devices is tailored to a specific use case. I will never buy Surface Buds, unless they come with the high end noise processing that match hearing aides (essentially my hearing aides have many channels that are tuned to amplify various frequencies). Surface Earbuds and its competition provide a mechanism where you can enjoy things with better productivity. I would assume the productivity of switching audio from one source to another combined with active noise cancellation will just take a lot of engineering across multiple industries. Here is the one particular problem that seems difficult to resolve. If my hearing aides are connected via bluetooth to my phone, I can comprehend what people are saying to me much easier. However, since my hearing aides are designed to pickup ambient sound and amplify high frequencies, what do you think the person on the other side of my conversation hears? Alot of high frequency noise. This amplification bothers my wife, so I have to switch to speaker phone or simply find a much quieter place to continue the conversation. So, how do you mitigate the issue of noise amplification/cancellation on all types of different form factors and how does this impact what another person my hear in your conversation. How do you tell the system to cancel the ambient noise from being transmitted to the other side of your digital conversation, but allow you to hear the ambient noise on your side?
The cons on this review hardly warrant the rating to be dropped to 3 stars. No sure what they were thinking. All of the features that are important to earbuds (comfort, sound quality, and battery) are there. Also, what the hell is a Killer feature on a pair of earbuds? You triple tap and they start your car, you slide left and then slide right and you mother-in-law is blocked on your phone? $200.00 for a high quality set of earbuds is not that bad of a price. People will pay 1300 dollars for a phone then complain about pay $200 for a quality set of earbuds. I'm confused.
It's OK to be confused, but I stand by the score. For $200, most people will likely be better served with Pixel Buds, Galaxy Buds, or AirPods. I think for $200 these are missing a lot of features. re: killer feature, I have no idea either. Not my problem to solve, but if you're going to charge $200 they should be something that really entices users. Being comfortable and lasting eight hours is a selling point, for some people, not all.
Sorry, I accidentally responded to you when I didn't mean to.
The fact that they don't enter the ear canal is huge for me, it's what I want in a earbud design as I would predominantly wear them while riding my bike. One thing I do notice with buds of that design though is they often lack clarity in the low end, is that also an issue with the Surface Earbuds or is it a fairly even output across the board?
I just got mine in the mail.
1. they look *a little* silly. More like Uhura than hippy ear gages. In business casual, they don't look out of place. If you were wearing shell beads and and a Rip Curl t-shirt, they still look fine, but the result is totally different.
2. They sound a lot better than i expected. More overall volume and a fuller sound. Not for audiophiles, but they sound better than my Xperia Ear Duos
3. fit is TBD. I have the small buds in and the right is more secure than my left. I can feel them but they pinch "differently" than my Xperias. I'll have them in for the rest of the evening. I run with my xperias and they are designed to let outside noise in. But their under-ear design makes them a little more secure (but they pinch more around the earlobe). Misc: case is smaller than i expected. I wear slim pants and it's just about twice as chunky as some of thsoe new keyless entry dongles on new cars. So in a pinch, it goes in my pocket. Otherwise it's in my man-bag.
I bought both the earbuds and headphones 2 at the same time, for all the reasons above, they do have different use cases, love them both
So I received my earbuds yesterday and after about 12 hours of use I can honestly say I am pleased with my purchase. As with the rest of the Surface brand, it has a eloquent and high end feel. I agree with Daniel's review for the most part. I've stayed away from most listening devices that fit in your ears because they just weren't comfortable over time for multiple use. You can definitely tell MSFT did their homework here. I like how intuitive they are. As soon as I took them out of the case, they were informing me that they were ready to pair. The audible quality is better than I expected, and I expected great. More acoustic centric audible output I think really captures how great they sound, but all audible output sounds pristine. Now regarding the price, while I'd agree the $200 price tag may be a little high, I see MSFT expanding on the gesture input and equalizer to add more customization to enhance your experience. The price point while high, isn't by much. For the most part they have provided a very nice product to a field that can hold it's own and provide enough authenticity for consideration.
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