Microsoft Surface Earbuds Impressions: This ain’t it chief

Over the last few weeks, I have been excited to get the chance to try out the new Pixel Buds 2 and have been pleasantly surprised with my experience so far. Then, Microsoft decided to drop its new lineup of Surface products, including the new Surface Go, Surface Laptop 3, Surface Headphones 2, and Surface Earbuds. Yeah, Microsoft has a lot going on as of late.

Naturally, I skipped all the other releases and put in my pre-order for the Surface Earbuds. When they were initially announced last year, I was excited, despite the odd “gauge-looking” design that Microsoft opted for. In my mind, there are only so many designs for truly wireless headphones, so I was willing to give the Earbuds the benefit of the doubt.

The box finally arrived on my doorstep, and then I proceeded to take them out to just juice them up before actually trying them. Once they hit 100%, I took them out and put them in my ears and it was jarring. I’m not sure if it’s because my ear shape is whacky or what, but these style headphones just don’t really work with my ears.

Instant regret

I am constantly worried that they are going to fall out, even when following the instructions provided both in the packaging and the app. That’s a nice addition as it gives you a tutorial of how to use the gestures, and some EQ controls. And considering the EQ settings are nowhere to be found with the Pixel Buds 2, Microsoft’s decision to add them is nice.

Back to the fit though. I know these aren’t designed to be smushed into your ear canal as far as you can get them, as is the case with other earbuds. The flat design provides “four anchor points”, according to Microsoft’s landing page for these. This, paired with the silicone ear tips aim to keep the Earbuds in your ear and not on the floor.

But no matter what ear tip I tried (Microsoft gives you three sizes to pick from), I just never felt like the Earbuds were secure. Maybe that’s the point because Microsoft is attempting to do something different in an already-saturated market. It’s just not my style.

Actual usage

I must say that right after putting the Earbuds in and starting up some music, the sound is pretty good. Unfortunately, there’s no noise cancellation on board, so there’s definitely some noticeable sound bleeding. That’s rough for someone who has the need to shut out the outside world from time to time, but they’ll be just fine over time.

By no means do I find myself to be an audiophile, but I have been able to tell a difference between these and the AirPods/Pixel Buds. They just don’t sound great. Regardless of the aforementioned EQ settings, my music still just sounds muffled. And that problem is compounded by the little bits of “outside” noise that can leak in.

It’s just frustrating. And this goes back to maybe just being my odd ears, but I started feeling some ear fatigue after 20-30 minutes of playback. That’s just not going to get the job done.

Microsoft aesthetics

From an aesthetics standpoint, these are absolutely gorgeous to look at and take pictures of. The case is sleek, despite having a glossy and plasticky look and feel. The pairing button is found on the bottom, with the USB-C charging port placed on the back.

The earbuds themselves actually look pretty cool, and they fit in perfectly with the new design aesthetic that Microsoft has moved to with its Surface line. One issue that I have with the case design is that the top flap is light and feels flimsy.

While you get a nice “click” when closing the case, it’s not something that would be recommended for those who tend to fidget with the lids. It feels as though I would have to be super careful, only to open my computer bag one day and see the lid popped off from the rest of the case, adding to my frustrations.

What’s the verdict?

As much as I wanted to add the Surface Earbuds to my arsenal of headphones, these just aren’t it. Having to force myself to use these and put them through their paces is just not an experience I want, because it means that they will just collect dust until they get misplaced or lost. I’ll be hitting up Microsoft for the return label since stores are still closed.

In the meantime, I’ll be sticking with my AirPods Pro and the Pixel Buds 2. And my excitement for the Pro may continue to grow after Comply finally ships the new foam ear tips that were put up for pre-order a couple of weeks ago.