My first candidate for something that sucks are the original Google Pixel buds.
I got these. I was initially satisfied with them, not for their sound quality, but because I finally had buds that didn’t insert into my ear canal and had a pretty good interface to my Android phone. All IEMs cause my ear canals to ache after as little as 10 minutes of use, so I try very hard to avoid them. Besides, this was a convenience thing, not an audiophile thing.
After my Koss Porta Pros arrived, these sat unused. Well, I put them on again tonight because I had to walk my dog (he was getting cabin fever so bad), and it’s really really cold out, so I needed to wear a cap. The Porta Pros don’t do well with caps.
To describe the sound, I’d say it is an upside down W shape. The bass rolls off early, the mids are withdrawn, and it had no treble to speak of. Kick drums have no impact at all, guitars have no bite, and cymbals have no splash. Most vocals come across compressed. It’s just a bad sound.
They also sound very different if they aren’t pointing directly into your ear canal. (More on fitment later.) This routinely leads to one being off tone from the other, which can be maddening.
Further, the controls are wonky. If you don’t execute the swipe forward and back perfectly, they think you are trying to use Assistant and stops all music playback while telling you it didn’t understand what you asked it to do. You’re better off pulling out your phone and controlling volume and track playback manually.
To make things worse, the stiff cable that also acts as the ear-stays (so they don’t fall out) are not the same length on each bud. They generally won’t expand enough to get a really firm seat in the ear, or they loosen as you wear them which causes them to shift and ruining the sound even further, and then eventually fall out.
Given that there are so many true wireless headphone options out there, this design just doesn’t make sense.
So, I could deal with mediocre sound so long as they fulfilled the convenience they were supposed to provide, but they utterly fail at that too… So what’s the point?