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 was updated on January 29, 2020, to make note of the Mobvoi TicPods 2 Pro, which enable listeners to access their virtual assistants hands-free via TicHear technology.
The best headphones with Google Assistant support are the Sony WH-1000XM3
The Sony WH-1000XM3 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 the plush padding and spacious earcups are conducive to long listening sessions, too.
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.
While the Sony WH-1000XM2 is still a great pair of headphones, this iteration benefits from an increase in bass reproduction and improved noise cancellation. If money isn’t an object, we highly recommend the WH-1000XM3.
What you should know about headphones with Google Assistant
Headphones with Google Assistant integration go a step further than cans that simply support Google’s AI by letting users take full control of their listening experience. 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. The upcoming Google Pixel Buds 2 also boast Assistant integration alongside wireless charging and a new and improved fit.
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.
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.
Stay comfortable with the Bose 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.
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.
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.
The Sony WH-1000XM3 are great for true wireless fans
These true wireless earbuds are one of few that provide noise cancellation, which is excellent at blocking out low-frequency noises; in fact, they even outperform the Apple AirPods Pro. Listeners are also afforded a selection of EQ presets and can choose to prioritize connection stability or sound quality in the Sony | Headphones Connect app.
The sound signature vaguely resembles that of the over-ear headphones but with more oomph in the low-end for an even more consumer-friendly sound. These don’t support LDAC, or aptX for that matter, but do support AAC. What’s more the Q1Ne chip and DSEE HX processing produces clear audio with minimal masking. If you want a sleek pair of true wireless earbuds with effective touch controls and great ANC, these are it.
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 endcap of the neckband, keeping things organized when inactive.
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.
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.
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-supported 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.
- 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.
- 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 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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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