Airpods Pro review: noise cancellation takes control

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Apple Airpods Pro:

In less than two years, Apple has released three generations of its AirPods. The new models, called AirPods Pro, get that last name for one main reason: the inclusion of active noise reduction, which raises their level (and price) and makes them much more interesting than previous generations.

Apple has released three generations of its AirPods. Recently Apple released new model, called AirPods Pro.
Image via Apple

Apple Airpods Pro Data Sheet

DIMENSIONS AND WEIGHT3.09 x 2.18 x 2.4cm. // 5.4g
CARGO BOX4.52 x 6.06 x 2.17 cm // 45.6 g
Compatible with Qi-certified chargers and the Lightning connector
BATTERYUp to 4.5 hours of audio playback on a single charge (up to 5 hours with active noise cancellation and ambient sound mode off)
Up to 3.5 hours of talk time on a single charge
ENDURANCEIPX4 (sweat and water)
CHIPSiP based on H1
TECHNOLOGYActive Noise Cancellation, Adaptive Equalization
CONNECTIVITYBluetooth 5.0
PRICE$174.99
Apple Airpods Pro Data Sheet

More discreet and less universal design:

Without losing part of its identity so much replicated at this point, especially the glossy white finish, the AirPods Pro is presented with a slight design change that makes them somewhat bulkier, substantially shorter “leg” and the most relevant: the shape of intra-auditory headset thanks to the inclusion of pads.

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Airpods are not now more comfortable or universal headphones, but they gain a very important improvement in grip with any of the three sizes of tips that come in the box.

The AirPods Pro lose the universality of their design to gain more security when wearing them and noise cancellation:

Choosing the most suitable ones is important for the comfort of use but much more for the acoustic insulation functionality that they claim from the moment you put them on. Apple offers us help through an assistant so that we can try them and keep the right ones.

With AirPods Pro, for some users, the constant unpleasant feeling of dreading an accidental drop is lost. And I insist that to be in-ear models, are very comfortable, leaving behind the excessive pressure that, as in my case, is suffered from headphones with a good seal inside the ear.

Could we use them for sports? We’ve done it quite successfully in terms of grip, plus they’re now IPX4 certified, which basically means it’s splash and sweat resistant. There is no 100% certainty that they will not fall but the grip is much more secure when doing sports than in previous generations.

Apple AirPods Pro design to gain more security when wearing them
Image Via Apple

For indoors, without the risk of losing them due to falling, they are a great option for playing sports with music or a good podcast.

The IPX4 resistance to sweat makes it easy for us to use them doing sports

The modified design of the AirPods Pro also affects the interaction with the headphones. Apple has decided that touches to pause or replay what we are listening to are no longer valid. Now it is necessary to “pinch” on the headphones. At first, it is difficult to get hold of this idea, but in the end, it is effective and with practice, it even seems more appropriate than simply hitting or touching the surface.

The default options when “pinch” only once is the usual ones: pause or continue with the audio that is playing at that moment. And there is no possibility to change them.

The modified design of the AirPods Pro also affects the interaction with the headphones. Apple has decided that touches to pause or replay what we are listening to are no longer valid.
Image Via Social Media

For options that require more than one pinch in a row, such as moving forward or backward on the track, some practice is necessary. They are also not configurable.

AirPods Pro improves pinch interaction but still doesn’t support volume control

Customization comes only on actions that require a longer pinch, like a second. The activation of Siri and the change of cancellation type are reserved for them, being able with each long pinch to go from activation to deactivation and to transparent mode as we have indicated in our preferences. The response of the AirPods Pro to our interaction with them can be heard in the form of a “click”.

Another element of the AirPods Pro that changes are the charging and transport box. It is somewhat wider but within an acceptable size and weight to carry it everywhere without inconvenience in the pocket.

In it we find the Lightning charging port, although it is also compatible with Qi wireless charging. Follow the outer indicator LED and pairing button on the back.

Apple Airpods Pro
Image Via Apple

Noise cancellation is at the heart of the user experience

The AirPods Pro are not only understood by the change in design. In reality, the modifications meet the needs of the great novelty and reason for being of these new headphones: the noise reduction system.

Only with the in-ear design, there is already very welcome isolation that directly benefits the perception of sound quality, which is now significantly higher than that of previous generations.

Apple AirPods Pro are not only understood by the change in design. In reality, the modifications meet the needs of the great novelty and reason for being of these new headphones: the noise reduction system.
Image Via Social Media

We have treble with a great level of detail as well as a reproduction of consistent medium frequencies with the great weight of the voices, something that is also appreciated when we use it to make calls, a situation where the Airpods stand out again both for sound quality and for the very good performance of the microphones, something that is appreciated when asking Siri for help.

Passive isolation as an intra-auditory model leaves us with a higher quality sound experience:

As for the bass sounds, their presence is balanced and respectful of the rest of the frequencies, responding precisely to what Apple presents: flat listening at all frequencies.

 Apple introduces in these Airpods to adjust medium and low frequencies with the sole objective that listening is always similar even if we have placed a headset differently. 
Image Via Apple

The only exception is the so-called active equalization that Apple introduces in these Airpods to adjust medium and low frequencies with the sole objective that listening is always similar even if we have placed a headset differently. Also noteworthy is that the level of distortion is well controlled even at high sound levels.

Premiere level of active noise cancellation

We now focus on the star feature of the AirPods Pro: active noise cancellation. It was indeed a functionality that one would have expected from the first generation of Airpods given their price. Now, the performance-price ratio is much more balanced and consistent with level headphones in its range.

In our tests with the AirPods Pro, noise cancellation has shown an excellent level in scenarios for which this type of device has been specially designed. We refer to busy places, with a murmur and continuous noise, airports, or train trips.

When there is not such a prominent noise outside, the noise reduction of the AirPods Pro is still very effective due to the inclusion of a microphone inside the earpiece, in charge of neutralizing possible residual noise.

It is more common situations such as a closed room where there are people talking, with active cancellation we can continue to hear the high-pitched voices although slightly altered in tone, notably more metallic.

To one of the best active noise reductions in this price range and type of headset, Apple adds a very useful Ambient mode

The classic active noise reduction mode, as well as in which there is no more reduction than the passive one caused by the use of in-ear headphones, is complemented in these AirPods Pro with one called Environment and the one that the external microphones are responsible for moving to our ears the full ambient sound and without any distortion or delay. The result is as if the headphones were completely transparent to outside sound.

Apple giving us some leeway when it comes to customizing the listening experience out of the box as it gives us a neutral starting point. 
Image Via Apple

At this level of overall sound quality and effective noise cancellation, we really miss Apple giving us some leeway when it comes to customizing the listening experience out of the box as it gives us a neutral starting point. An audio element with so much to say deserves an application and configuration to match.

Somewhat less autonomy for the AirPods Pro

The inclusion of more active elements in the AirPods Pro has somewhat lowered the theoretical autonomy of Apple’s headphones, although only if you have active cancellation working. Official figures speak of between 4.5 and 5 hours of audio playback on a single charge. If it is a conversation, the autonomy drops by one hour.

In our tests, with continuous listening to audio at a level of 50-60% volume and a couple of occasional calls of no more than 15 minutes between them, we have measured an autonomy of 4 hours and 5 minutes on average.

Somewhat less autonomy for the Apple AirPods Pro
Image Via Apple

As in previous generations, the case where we store the AirPods Pro acts as a charging system. Its theoretical autonomy would give us between 4 and 5 full charges of the headphones.

As usual, it will not be that we leave the AirPods in the box for recharging from scratch, the autonomy measurement of the set is more complex. In our tests, with a mixed-use of the headphones of about 3-4 hours a day, we have been able to forget about charging the case for the whole week, from Monday to Friday.

With the charging case at 100%, the AirPods Pro can be used for 5 days at an average of 3-4 hours a day

From the battery of the AirPods Pro, we are left with the unknown of its useful life. The experience with the first generation of Airpods, which is now two years old, has not been positive in this regard, having lost autonomy and even charging reliability. It is a great margin to improve for Apple in this type of product.

Our Opinion:

With a price of $249, a box with wireless charging included, the AirPods Pro have shown in our test that they are devices that very well join lines between price and performance in a more correct way than the first AirPods. In addition, the change in design has made them gain in the reliability of use and overall sound quality.

The addition of noise cancellation makes them very complete headphones that play in the highest category of this type of device where hardly Sony was present until now. They would be the logical choice for users of iOS devices, while those who move in the Android ecosystem should find the Sony WF-1000XM3 more interesting. But for a simple ecosystem.

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