(Image courtesy of Apple)
The Apple AirPods Pro are also the only truly wireless earbuds made by Apple that connect with the latest iPhones. If you’re not an Apple fan, there are plenty of other headphones on the market that offer a similar feature set and better sound, in our opinion. The Sony WH-1000XM3 is one such example.
AirPods Pro setup experience
Like many other Apple products, the AirPods Pro connects quickly to your iPhone or iPad; essentially, open the case to get started.
You’ll need to make sure that iOS 13.2 or later is installed on your device to gain access to, in Apple’s words, “all the advanced features” – we presume these are the new symbols for the AirPods Pro as well as the ability to control Transparency and noise cancellation straight from the Control Center.
As soon as you turn them on, the AirPods Pro will instantly pair with your phone and any other Apple devices linked to your iCloud account (such as an Apple Watch, iPad, or Mac).
Once logged in, navigating to the Bluetooth options will analyze your fit by determining if the earbud tips you’ve selected (small, medium, or large – the medium is the default) are producing the proper seal.
Achieving a tight seal against the ear canal is crucial to the overall sound quality of the earbuds, as it contributes to the creation of physical sound isolation and passive noise control; in an ideal world, no sound enters or escapes.
This is accomplished by playing a brief music sample with the AirPods Pro microphones evaluating if this sounds as it should — if you’re like most people, you’re given the go-ahead.
Playing with the fit and letting them dangle loosely demonstrated that the AirPods Pro can detect sound leakage – a friend of ours who tried the new AirPods for the first time discovered that Apple advised a bigger bud, and then the seal was good.
Changing between the box’s tips is, once again, very Apple; whether that’s a good or bad thing depends on your attitude toward the corporation. Instead of a silicon bud that must be wiggled onto or off a little stem, they snap into position.
The AirPods Pro can have a more compact form, and their setup seems more luxurious. However, at $4 each, they are not precisely inexpensive to replace. And while it is simple to acquire replacement silicon tips for traditional earbuds, attaching them to the new AirPods is more difficult due to the tiny clips than just wriggling silicon onto a stem.
However, putting on and taking off the ear tips is quite tricky; they do not snap off fast and take some force to remove. However, the approach appears to be reliable, and if you get the necessary trust, it’s relatively simple – and you won’t have to do it very frequently.
You may occasionally need to remove them for cleaning purposes, but we’re still a little nervous about removing and reattaching the buds to the stem without breaking something.
AirPods Pro design and usability
We noticed during our first testing that the AirPods Pro are lightweight – so light, in fact, that it’s difficult to tell they’re in the ear. This lightness is a benefit in terms of comfort, but it may be a disadvantage in other ways — it’s easy to envision losing one and not realizing that it’s gone for a while.
The AirPods Pro have shorter stems than the normal AirPods, and although you could tap the body of the earlier AirPods to skip tunes or activate Siri, the design of the AirPods Pro makes this less comfortable.
Instead, there is a ‘capacitive force sensor’ in the stem of each AirPods Pro, a slight ridge where squeezing will enable noise-canceling / Transparency mode or move between and stop tunes.
You may feel like you’re ripping buds out of your ears every time you activate it at first because of the short stems. However, as you get used to this, it becomes second nature, although it feels awkward because the buds are so tiny.
After a week of use, we discovered that utilizing this way to play, pause, and skip music was instinctual and completely second nature.
Unfortunately, the new AirPods Pro lack a haptic sensation on the bud itself to indicate the contact since this would have made them considerably more tactile.
Each earbud may be assigned a separate function (noise cancellation on one, Siri on another), and the ridge can be configured to control Siri.
Touch-sensitive volume control on the stems would have been a fantastic addition. The Powerbeats Pro, for example, includes a clickable button for adjusting the volume, which is quite convenient.
Apple’s AirPods Pro should have included a touch-sensitive outside for volume control.
When you remove your AirPods, an accelerometer and an optical sensor in the buds allow them to stop and start the music appropriately.
The AirPods Pro fit is far superior to that of the original AirPods. The silicon buds keep the earphones securely in place, and the earbuds are so light that they won’t jiggle even if you’re jogging down the street or sprinting up a staircase at the railway station.
However, we would not argue that these are the most securely fitting earphones on the market. When jogging and perspiration are present, the silicon tips might shift somewhat.
Additionally, they are IPX4 water resistant, implying that you may want them in the rain and that buckets of sweat will not hinder their function. Big thumbs up from us.
Another issue was that taking off a coat or accidentally brushing them knocked out the “Pods.” Compared to the earlier AirPods, the fit of the Pro versions is light years ahead.
Apple has engineered an air vent inside the earbuds to firm the seal, but there is no ‘sucking’ sensation when the buds are removed.
The AirPods Pro were always comfy in our ears, so we can’t say for sure if this has made a significant impact – but we’ve never had any issues with other true wireless earbuds.
Overall, the AirPods Pro are expensive, but they are well-designed and constructed throughout, with subtle design touches that enhance the whole experience.
AirPods Pro sound quality
It’s one thing for the new AirPods Pro to fit correctly, but how do they sound? Apple touts its new headphones’ unique drivers, enhanced bass, “clear and detailed mid and high frequencies,” and customizable equalization.
We evaluated the Apple AirPods with a range of musical genres and discovered a lot of correlations. We observed that vocalists frequently sounded quite full, and the bass, in particular, was stronger than the AirPods 2.
This was evident in acoustic/indie music, electro, pop, and hip-hop, although the separation between high, mid, and low frequencies was adequate. There is still a ‘closed off’ sensation (i.e., it seems like the music is coming from within your skull, which is unnatural; excellent headphones make it sound as though the sound is coming from all directions).
Compared to a high-end set of on-ear headphones, it was more difficult to hear all of the music’s intricacies through the AirPods Pro.
Audible voices indicate that the midrange frequencies are well-balanced and resonant. Even while audiophiles might not appreciate this since it isn’t entirely ‘natural,’ it provides an entertaining listening experience.
Listening to classical music, such as Mozart’s Symphony No. 41 in C Major, “Jupiter,” sounds a little less exciting. You can distinguish the various string harmonies enough, but the flute lacks the glitter that should propel it to the forefront of the mix.
Apple appears to be looking for a louder voice or bass performance, making sense if it’s attempting to appeal to pop music fans.
Part of that sound quality is due to the noise cancellation, which is robust and prominent when on — you activate it by pressing the capacitive stem of the AirPods Pro or by navigating to the volume area of your iPhone and sliding to the left symbol.
Apple has equipped the AirPods Pro with two microphones, enabling both internal and exterior sound analysis.
The former uses an algorithm to adjust the sound quality of the music you’re playing based on the listener’s ear feedback. The latter eliminates background noise and produces a far more tranquil listening experience.
While we cannot verify how effectively this technology that analyzes the sound within your ear truly works – because there is no way to switch it on or off – the active noise canceling has a significant and noticeable effect.
It won’t block out all ambient noise; a tiny amount may still leak through if you’re in an office with music playing. However, when strolling down the block, the AirPod Pros effectively block out any motorbike noise and any persistent noise (such as fans or persistent wind).
The AirPods Pro noise cancellation performed particularly effectively on a train, with the difference between when we used the feature and when it was deactivated being very pronounced.
Even while the noise cancellation on the AirPods Pro is impressive, it might hinder making or receiving phone conversations while wearing them.
This is likely because one instinctively lowers their voice in louder environments, which prevents microphones from picking up your speech as well as they might.
When you turn on Transparency, the world comes to life in terms of sound, and you’ll notice that you talk louder. Using the new AirPods, you can have a pleasant conversation, but it’s not as good as simply holding your phone to your ear.
Hearing health is a feature that we are particularly interested in. If you use AirPods, Powerbeats Pro, or AirPods Pro, they transmit precise sound levels to your iPhone, allowing you to determine if you’re listening to anything too loudly.
When we switched from the Powerbeats Pro to the AirPods Pro, we saw a significant increase in the volume pushed into our ears, indicating that the noise cancellation enabled us to lower the sound levels while maintaining the same music quality.
AirPods Pro Spatial Audio
The new AirPods Pro come with a Spatial Audio feature to enjoy Dolby Atmos audio. The firmware update also supports 5.1, 7.1, and Dolby Atmos formats.
What is Spatial Audio? It’s a new audio format developed by Apple that uses the accelerometers and gyroscopes in iOS devices to track positional data on a head-worn device and positional data from an iPad or iPhone. To experience spatial audio, you’ll need 5.1, 7.1, or Atmos content to be streamed through compatible apps or services like iTunes Movies, Netflix, and Sky Q.
AirPods Pro battery life
When fully charged, the AirPods Pro charging case will provide over 24 hours of listening time, with each full charge of the AirPods Pro providing five hours of listening (with noise canceling or Transparency off – you’ll get four and a half hours with it on) or 3 ½ hours of use if you use the AirPods Pro as a hands-free headset for calling.
These statistics are pretty accurate in actual use; you’ll never use the AirPods without noise cancellation or Transparency, but you’ll seldom encounter a dead battery while inserting and removing them from their case.
Apple promises you’ll get one hour of listening time from five minutes of charging for the new AirPods Pro, but we found that to be a bit of a stretch – placing them in the carry case from dead resulted in 35% battery life, or around an hour’s worth of use.
This charging case is a little irritating because it is difficult to determine how much energy remains. When you remove the AirPods from your ears, you can check the remaining battery life on your iPhone’s battery widget, but otherwise, you’re left with a green or amber LED on the front.
Even though we only had to recharge the case twice in a week of heavy usage, we did encounter a circumstance where the battery was fully depleted; it would be helpful if there were some early warning.
Apple has unhelpfully included a USB-C to Lightning cable for charging the case. If you don’t have an iPhone 11 Pro (or a more recent iPhone or MacBook, you won’t have the required charging block, as there isn’t one included in the package.
If you have a wireless charging pad, you can just place the phone in the case and charge it up. You could believe this is a ‘nothing’ feature that you don’t want to pay for, but believe us when we say that investing in the ecosystem is a good idea.
Should you buy the Apple AirPods Pro?
The AirPods Pro are the latest version of the Apple AirPods, and they offer a lot of great features for music lovers. They have better sound quality than the original AirPods, and they also come with functions like noise cancellation and transparency mode. The best part is that they currently only cost $179 on Amazon, so you don’t have to pay much more to go ahead and get them now.
If you’re looking for a good pair of headphones that offer excellent sound quality, then the Apple AirPods Pro are worth considering. Keep in mind that they may not be as affordable as the original AirPods, but they offer more features. So if you’re looking for something special, then the AirPods Pro should definitely be at the top of your list!
If you are looking for a great pair of headphones that will stay in your ears and provide good sound quality, the AirPods Pro is a great option. They offer noise canceling capabilities, perfect for commuters or students, and they come at a very reasonable price. Additionally, suppose you are an Apple user and own other products like the iPhone or iPad. In that case, it makes sense to buy the AirPods Pro because you can easily integrate them into your existing Apple ecosystem.
Don’t buy the AirPods Pro if you’re on a tight budget- they’re not cheap! The Powerbeats Pro and Jabra Elite Sports are better choices if you’re looking for headphones to work out with.
Wireless headphones might not be the best option for everyone. Some people find them uncomfortable or inconvenient, so there are other better alternatives if that’s the case.
Apple is developing a second-generation version of the AirPods Pro with a more compact design and a new wireless processor. Bloomberg reports that Apple intends to reduce the size of the AirPods Pro by deleting the small stem that protrudes from the bottom. Apple is reportedly exploring a “more rounded form that fills a user’s ear more,” comparable to Amazon and Google’s designs.
Apple apparently found it difficult to incorporate AirPods Pro features, antennae, and microphones into such a compact container, so there might be eventual adjustments to the design. Still, some speculations suggest there would be none. The future AirPods may have fitness monitoring features enabled by built-in motion sensors; however, it is still uncertain what these fitness tracking functions will entail.
Lossless audio is also a possibility, and it is anticipated that the forthcoming AirPods Pro will have better Find My technology that allows them to play a sound.
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