As Amazon continues to push Alexa, and Apple’s Siri keeps chugging along, the race for the best virtual assistant rages on. Google, of course, is no stranger to this and has teamed up with a handful of brands for direct Google Assistant integration. If you want to receive notifications and take full control of your music by the power of your voice, this list is for you.
Editor’s note: this list of the best Google Assistant headphones was updated on August 21, 2020, to replace the Sony WH-1000XM3 with the Sony WH-1000XM4.
The best headphones with Google Assistant support are the Sony WH-1000XM4
The Sony WH-1000XM4 have garnered plenty of deserved attention from media outlets and consumers alike: these are truly the cream of the crop when it comes to noise canceling headphones. Not only do these effectively attenuate external noise, but they also feature Bluetooth multipoint and ambient noise passthrough features.
Sony WH-1000XM4Full Review
In order to assign a button to activate Google Assistant access, listeners must use the Sony | Headphones Connect app. From there, users can designate the NC/Ambient button to Google Assistant. From the same app, listeners can also make granular EQ adjustments; although, be aware that doing so bumps the audio quality back to SBC rather than LDAC.
Sony WH-1000XM4 microphone demo:
Noise cancelling technology has come a long way in the past few years, and Sony has proven time and time again that it’s here to stay at the top of the pack. The WH-1000XM4 offer a great value for the money, and are really only outperformed by the Shure AONIC 50. That said, the WH-1000XM4 are actually better than the Shure AONIC 50 at attenuating low and low-midrange frequencies, and the AONIC 50 lacks voice access to any form of virtual assistance.
What you should know about headphones with Google Assistant
Headphones with Google Assistant integration are officially certified by Google to work seamlessly with the company’s voice assistant software. For some headsets, this means hands-free access to Google Assistant, while for others it means a dedicated Google Assistant button. Listeners can use their voices to receive notifications along with other comprehensive controls without ever having to reach for their phones. Their functionality is comparable to the Apple AirPods Pro, which feature Apple’s H1 chip for hands-free Siri access.
Bluetooth codec support
It’s no secret that wireless cans can’t compete with wired contenders, which is fine for most people because we either 1) can’t tell the difference between streaming quality or 2) go wireless for the convenience of it. If you’re an iPhone user, it’s worth looking out for headphones that support AAC for improved, lag-free playback. On the other hand, Android fans should stick to aptX because AAC streaming is unreliable on Android. This isn’t the fault of the codec, but rather how the operating system handles it.
How your headphones and earbuds fit matters
Isolation is a necessity if you want accurate sound reproduction. If you’re unable to create a proper seal between the headset and your ears or head, then you’re bound to experience auditory masking. When it comes to headphones, over-ear options do a better job at insulating listeners since the earcups encompass the ears—as opposed to on-ears, save for the Beats Solo Pro which use excessive force to clamp against the head. As far as earbuds are concerned, invest in third-party ear tips; it makes a world of difference.
Take steps to prevent hearing loss
Hearing impairments comes in a variety of types, ranging from sensorineural to conductive hearing loss, but there exist some basic precautionary measures we can take to prevent hearing loss in us and our children. When it comes to Google Assistant headphones, listeners who frequently commute and spend their time on noisy subway platforms should consider any of the noise cancelling options listed. By actively filtering out external noise, they reduce the likelihood of you turning the volume up to drown out environmental din. Alternatively, if you don’t want to shell out for premium ANC cans, you can go the budget route, which is unlikely to feature Google Assistant integration.
Stay comfortable with the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700
If you keep pace with the competitive noise canceling headphone sphere, then you know that many pit Sony against Bose and are curious as to which company’s product is better. Well, it depends on what you prioritize. The Bose Headphones 700 feature a revamped design, touch controls, and retain Google Assistant integration.
Bose Headphones 700Full Review
What’s more, the Bose brand is a household name and is recognized for its comfortable products. The Headphones 700 aren’t quite as comfortable as the QC 35 II, but that’s because these use stiffer ear pads. The tradeoff is improved isolation over last generation’s model, which further improves noise-cancelling performance.
Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 microphone demo:
Connection strength is reliable and you can easily switch between source devices via Bose’s app. The same app allows you to adjust how aggressive ANC is; it can be adjusted on a scale of 1-10. Unfortunately, these don’t support any high-quality codecs aside from AAC, which doesn’t perform reliably on Android devices. What’s more, Bose uses a 2.5mm input for the included cable rather than a standard 3.5mm one. Even with the Headphones 700 quirks, these are a worthy update from the QuietComfort 35 II. Putting the Bose Headphones 700 against the Shure AONIC 50, now that’s a completely different story.
The new Google Pixel Buds (2020) are great for true wireless fans
Google is unquestionably Apple’s greatest competitor, and it’s playing hardball with the new Pixel Buds (2020). Although these don’t feature noise cancellation as some hoped, they do have other great features like the best charging case we’ve used, auto-pairing with Android, and hands-free Google Assistant access.
Google Pixel Buds (2020)Full Review
These IPX4 water-resistant earbuds are more durable than the Apple AirPods and feature a better design, thanks to the dedicated nozzles that actually seal to the ear. Unfortunately, even with this seal, isolation isn’t great and a lot of background noise can still be heard. However, this is technically a feature of the headset: Google included a spatial vent in each earbud to keep listeners aware of their surroundings. This design neatly compromises awareness benefits from nozzle-free ‘buds like the AirPods while retaining slightly better sound quality.
Google Pixel Buds microphone demo:
Interestingly enough, the earbuds only support AAC which is performs unpredictably across Android devices, Pixel smartphones included. That said, the raw sound quality output is great for a pair of all-purpose earbuds. There’s minimal bass emphasis which helps kick drums stand without egregiously masking vocals.
The charging case is brilliant and supplies listeners with an addtional 24 hours of playtime on top of the six-hour standalone battery life. It also supports fast charging: 10 minutes in the case provides two hours of playback. Unlike Apple, Google includes wireless charging capabilities from the jump, so you don’t have to pay extra for this feature.
Listen in style with the LG Tone Flex XL7
The LG Tone Flex XL7 is a wireless neckband headset with great features including quick charging and Meridian Audio technology. The earbuds feature a retractable mechanism that silos them off into each end cap of the neckband, keeping things organized when inactive.
LG Tone Flex XL7Full Review
Although the Tone Flex XL7 doesn’t support aptX, it does offer AAC streaming to the benefit of iPhone users. Google Assistant integration is helpful and LG even added a dedicated, physical button on the right side of the neckband as an alternative method of contacting Assistant. It also vibrates during incoming calls, so even if your phone is far away, you’ll be notified.
LG Tone Flex XL7 microphone demo:
Sound quality is superb: the earbuds have a neutral-leaning frequency response that reproduces nearly all genres of music accurately. There’s slight de-emphasis to low frequencies (e.ge. kick drums and sub-bass), which works to further prevent any auditory masking. What’s more, aside from Meridan Audio tuning, the earbuds house a 32-bit DAC, which can upscale low-resolution audio files.
The JBL Live 650BTNC has the best bass response
Many of us immediately recognize JBL for its speakers, not necessarily its headphones, but the JBL Live 650BTNC integrates Google Assistant and features a consumer-friendly design that’s vaguely reminiscent of the Beats style.
JBL Live 650BTNCFull Review
These over-ear headphones are equipped with ample padding that works in tandem with the around-ear design for solid passive noise isolation. Accessing Google Assistant is a matter of touching the earcup to control music or receive notifications. The headphones support multipoint connectivity, which allows you to connect to two devices simultaneously and alternate between them. Bass is significantly emphasized and does tend to mask other frequencies, vocals in particular. That said, if you just want your cans to add that extra oomph to your music and aren’t concerned with studio-grade sound, these are a smart pick.
How we chose the best Google Assistant headphones
We did our research to ensure that each product integrates Google Assistant, which is not to be confused with simply supporting it. Surprisingly, there aren’t nearly as many offerings as one might expect, hence why we see Sony popping up on this list twice.
Of course, while we are focusing on Google Assistant integration, the headphones have to be comfortable, easy to use, and sound good too. Extra marks, of course, if a pair of headphones or earbuds also received some sort of water-resistance certification or support passthrough technology, which allows users to become temporarily aware of their surroundings.
Why you should get Google Assistant headphones
If you’re someone who’s frequently on-the-go and are overwhelmed by responding to messages and alerts, Google Assistant integration makes life easier: you can respond to incoming messages as they come in without wasting any time to fumble with your phone. What’s more, using headphones with integrated Google Assistant functionality yields faster response times than their counterparts that only support, not integrate Google Assistant access. If you’re really interested in upgrading your audio products, it may be worth considering a smart speaker. Be aware though, they come with their drawbacks, too.
Again, this is most comparable to any headset which allows for virtual assistant access compared to a headset with Apple H1 chip integration. The former will let you talk to Siri by holding down a multifunction button on your headset, but it isn’t the same instantaneous effect as using proprietary Apple hardware like the AirPods Pro or Beats Powerbetas Pro.
Google Assistant headphones: notable mentions
- Bang & Olufsen H9: These are premium noise canceling headphones with Google Assistant integration. Their performance and value isn’t as great as either the Sony or Bose ANC headsets, but if you prioritize build quality, these are worth saving for.
- JBL Everest 710GA: These are a meatier version of the Live 650BTNC sans-noise canceling capabilities. One of the more unique non-Google Assistant related features is the ability to transfer data between wireless headsets, just pair the Everest 710GA to another headphone.
- Mobvoi TicPods 2 Pro: If you don’t want to pay a premium for Google Assistant-integrated headphones, Mobvoi has figured out a brilliant bypass system. Its TicHear technology let’s users say the phrase, “Hey Tico,” to activate their preferred virtual assistants, be it Google or Siri.
- Sony WF-SP700N: These kidney bean-shaped true wireless earbuds are one of few that provide noise cancellation. While these earbuds support the coveted LDAC codec, it’s really only impressive when using the 660kbps or 990kbps modes.
- Sony WF-1000XM3: Traveling listeners who don’t have room to spare in their bags should pick up a pair of Sony’s famed noise cancelling earbuds. These fit extremely well, and remain comfortable for hours on end. The company supplies listeners with a wide array of ear tips, so you can get the best fit and enjoy optimal audio quality.
- Sony WH-CH700N: This lower-tier over-ear, noise canceling headphone model is great for frequent travels as the headphones are lightweight and rotate for easy storage.
- Sony WH-1000XM3: If you want more options for high quality codecs than the WH-1000XM4 provide and want to save some money, get these headphones. They have phenomenal ANC, though not quite at the same level as the WH-1000XM4.
Frequent Amazon users should get the Amazon Echo Buds with Alexa
The mention of Amazon Alexa in an article about Google Assistant headphones may be technological sacrilege, but the fact remains that the Echo Buds are a great option for those who want a cheap alternative to pricier smart headsets. For just $130, you get Bose active noise reduction, hands-free access to Alexa, and IPX4-rated earbuds.
Related: Best AirPods Pro alternatives
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Adam, Chris, and Lily dedicate their time to deepening their audio knowledge. Individually, each team member brings multiple years of keeping tabs on audio industry happenings and brings diversified skills to the table. Collectively, we believe audio to be a subjective and objective experience and our work speaks to that.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Between the AirPods and Pixel Buds, only the new Pixel Buds support hands-free Google Assistant access. That said, you can still access Siri via Pixel Buds by a basic tap-and-hold gesture. Now, when it comes to battery life, the Google Pixel Buds outperform the AirPods; the same applies to sound quality. If you have time, be sure to check out our in-depth Google Pixel Buds vs. Apple AirPods article.