Airpods Perfected

Apple AirPods Pro

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

It’s easy to dismiss the Airpods pro and say they are a money grab by Apple. but the truth couldn’t be farther from that. Apart from active noise-cancellation, the Airpods pro have a new design for better wearing comfort, water resistance for exercising, decent sound, and a fantastic ambient listening mode that makes them fantastic true wireless earphones for any iphone user.

Apple has spent great effort designing the Airpods pro to maximise comfort. First of all, the earpieces themselves have a different profile so that when worn, less of it touches your ears. The silicone ear tips have a different mounting point so they are very short and do not intrude deeply into the ears. These mounting points also prevent the ear tips from detaching by accident, and the internal rubber passageway of the tip tapers to minimise contact inside the ear.

The Airpods pro even has a system of vents that equalises pressure inside and outside your ears so that you do not get that stuck in your head feeling. You can feel this equalisation at work whenever you put the Airpods pro on. And at 5.4g, the Airpods pro is incredibly light and one of the most comfortable earphones I have ever worn.

You can also run an ear Tip Fit Test, a short test to check if you have a good seal with your Airpods pro. This is important because how good any in-ear headphones sound depends greatly how on good a seal they can achieve. The test plays a short test track and the Airpod pro uses its internal microphones to measure the sound within the ears and the sound that it expects to hear. It then tells you if you have a good seal or to switch to ear tips of a different size.

The Airpods pro’s active noisecancellation is surprisingly good and the hum of the aircon or the whirr of printers, at home and in the office, was imperceptible. Walking around, you are hardly aware of the buzz of the streets. I even played a jet engine noise test track and the Airpods pro performed almost as good as my full-size Sony noise cancellers.

Even more impressive is Transparency mode. In this mode, the microphones and vents in the Airpods pro work together to let you hear your surroundings. It can be activated simply by giving the stem of the earpiece a long squeeze. To be clear, rival noise-cancelling headphones have similar modes but they always sounded unnatural. The Airpods pro sound uncannily life-like. I suspect the vents have a lot to do with it and it means you don’t have to take them off if you want to hear your surroundings or have a conversation.

The tech doesn’t end there. The Airpods pro also have something called Adaptive eQ. As the internal microphone listens for unwanted noises, it also measures the sound being played within your ears and measures them against what it “expects” to hear. It then tunes the low and mid frequencies to accommodate for the differences in sound due to your ear shape.

The Airpods pro uses new “Apple-designed, high excursion, lowdistortion” drivers. but I found the sound to be fairly similar and consistent with the regular Airpods and beats headphone. They are clearly cut from the same cloth. Detail retrieval and clarity are decent and the overall sound signature is one with a strong, punchy bassline and fairly smooth mids. The highs, unfortunately, are noticeably recessed.

The upside to such a signature is that most genres sound agreeable and pleasant and that the Airpods pro are easy to listen to for long periods. The downside is that discerning listeners might find the Airpods pro to sound unexciting and safe.

All things considered, the Airpods pro is a stunning set of earphones from Apple. Its only real rival in this space is the Sony WF1000Xm3. I think the Sonys sound better, but noise-cancellation performance is similar. The Airpods pro though, are more comfortable to wear and significantly more portable ― try stuffing the Sony charging case into your pocket. They are also water and sweat-resistant — the Sonys aren’t.

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The AirPods Pro have a completely new driver that minimises distortion.

Hands down the finest true wireless earphone for your iPhone.
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A wireless charging case comes as standard.
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