On a boat, we experimented with the best headsets for phone conversations

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But since this review, his two new flagship earbuds have come out: the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro and the Google Pixel Buds Pro. Of course we had to test them with the final round winner. We wanted to up the stakes this time, so we put Chris on the boat. To be precise, New York City ferries – a very noisy environment: engines, waves, noise, helicopters, wind. It’s not fun to call there. You can listen to this entire section about 24 minutes into his Vergecast on Wednesday, but I wanted to share some of the results I found here.

A few months ago on The Vergecast, I wanted to answer the question of which wireless earbuds to buy to use for phone calls, Zoom meetings, or chatting with your voice assistant. So The Verge’s Chris Welch went to his coffee shop in noisy Brooklyn, and Vergecast co-host called David Pierce to test his earbuds wirelessly in a noisy environment. The clear winners in this test were the Apple AirPods Pro and Sony LinkBuds, which had the sharpest audio detail and a good deal of background noise rejection.


  • Chris then went to an even worse place, the top of an outdoor ferry, to compare the call quality of AirPods Pro and Pixel Buds Pro. A strong wind was blowing over the boat. It’s not an ideal situation to wear earplugs to make a call, but wearing earplugs can get you caught up in a storm of calls. Neither of you can hear well, and the person you’re calling won’t be happy to talk to you in these situations. But you can hear the AirPods cutting out much of your speech, struggling with boat winds and other elements.

  • The first part of testing was done at a dock waiting for a ferry. There was the noise of a busy city coupled with nearby boat engines, helipads, PA announcements and all the unpredictable sounds of downtown Manhattan. Then we had to catch the ferry. I sat at a table inside the boat fairly close to the engine.Unless you’re wearing noise-cancelling earphones, the engine is quite loud. After this test, David’s stress ruled out the Sony LinkBuds and his Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro because they failed his test.

The Pixel Buds Pro heard his Chris voice amazingly well and actually made calls with no problem. Admittedly, the New York City ferry is no ordinary place for a large portion of the population to use earbuds to make calls or attend Zoom meetings.

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