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Apple AirPods Pro review – great audio quality with active noise cancellation

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  • VERDICT

The AirPods Pro is a remarkable achievement in audio engineering and offer brilliant sound quality, impressive noise cancellation, a generous level of bass and an excellent experience all round.

Apple didn’t make a big song and dance about the release of the AirPods Pro. But it had every right to. The new AirPods Pro offer remarkable audio quality, impressive active noise cancellation and are a huge improvement over the regular AirPods.

They certainly deserve the Pro tag.

But they are also more expensive at $399. That $80 more than the AirPods with a wireless charging case and $150 more than the AirPods with a regular charging case.

For your money you get the AirPods Pro and a wireless charging case.

DESIGN

Both the AirPods Pro and the charging case have a new and interesting design.

The AirPods Pro have a slightly larger earbud and now includes a silicon tip to create a seal and assist the active noise cancellation.

That little bit of added size also makes them sit in your ear more securely.

We’ve heard complaints that the regular AirPods fall out too easily – that’s never been an issue for us.

But the new AirPods Pro fit like a glove and, even with the soft silicon tip creating a seal, they are really comfortable.

Unlike every other wire-free earphones with silicon tips, the AirPods Pro don’t have to be jammed deep into your ear canal to create the seal.

As a result you won’t hear your footsteps in your head when you’re walking or running.

The medium size tips are already in the AirPods Pro when you them out of the box with a small and large also tucked away so you can find the perfect fit.

And to illustrate Apple’s attention to detail there is even a way to test whether you’ve chosen the right tip and created a good seal.

In the iPhone Bluetooth settings you click on the information icon the to the AirPods Pro name in the list of paired devices.

From here you’re taken to the page that offers noise cancellation control as well as an Ear Tip Fit Test.

When you hit it, you’re taken to the test page where some music is played to detect any sound leakage and test acoustic performance.

Then you’re told if the seal is up to par or whether you need to try another silicon tip.

The medium tips already on the AirPods Pro were the right fit for us.

The stem, the long piece that can be seen outside your ears, is much shorter as well so they are not as visible as the previous version.

The new AirPods Pro are now also sweat and water resistant thanks to an IPX 4 rating so can handle exercise and activities.

The charging case for the AirPods Pro is slightly larger than the previous case but still small enough to easily fit in your pocket.

PAIRING

The AirPods Pro is powered by the Apple H1 chip which makes them really easy to pair.

You simply open up the case and see the image appear on the iPhone screen and click connect. That’s it, you’re paired.

And not only to your iPhone but every Apple device that’s linked to your iCloud account.

ACTIVE NOISE CANCELLATION

The Active Noise Cancellation on the AirPods Pro is remarkable considering how small the earbuds are.

There are two microphones onboard – one that faces out to pick up any external sounds before generating a reverse sound way to eliminate it – and an internal microphone that listens inside your ear and eliminates unwanted internal sales in the same way.

And this is happening 200 times per second for true real-time noise cancellation.

We were quite impressed by how well the ANC worked.

While it’s not the same level of noise cancellation on larger headphones, it certainly isn’t far off it.

Activating ANC for the first time is like all the sound being sucked out of the room.

With ANC activated on the AirPods Pro we were unable to hear a Dyson fan/air purifier located less than a metre away on our desk.

So all you are left with is your music.

Eliminating that ambient noise gives your music a chance to shine through in all its quality. That’s exactly what we heard – amazing quality.

The ANC really takes it to the next level and allows the music to have a larger and bolder feel.

TRANSPARENCY

There are times though when you need to hear the outside world which is where Transparency comes into play.

When activated, Transparency uses both microphones and a system of vents along with low latency processing to hear the sound around you.

This is handy for anyone using the AirPods Pro walking or running near a road or when you need to be able to hear an announcement on the train platform or at the airport.

And you can also hear yourself talking if you need to talk to someone with your voice sounding as natural to you as it is to the other person.

You can easily shift between Transparency and ANC with a gentle squeeze of either of the AirPods Pro stems.

You can also access these controls on the iPhone settings page or from your Apple Watch.

ADAPTIVE EQ

The part of the AirPods Pro that does a lot of the heavy lifting to deliver incredible sound is the Adaptive EQ.

We all hear music differently and the AirPods Pro’s Adaptive EQ is smart enough to tune the low and mid frequencies to suit our ear.

What you get is audio quality that will stop you in your tracks and bring tears to your eyes when you hear your favourite song.

This is a serious improvement over the previous AirPods.

We were also able to get a bit more volume out of the AirPods Pro.

That was one of the only complaints we had from the regular AirPods – they  didn’t have that added level for those who want to add some extra punch to the music.

That’s not the case here. Not only do you get that increased output but you also get a tremendous increase in bass performance.

It’s hard to believe you can get this much bass from a pair of earphones this small and again, in this department, it leaves the previous AirPods in the dust.

When we played the Queen hit song Another One Bites The Dust – with that beautiful bass guitar intro – we got goosebumps.

CONTROL

On the right stem of the AirPods Pro are tiny capacitive force sensors which gives users complete control of their music and phone calls.

Pressing and holding switches between ANC and Transparency mode.

One press allows you to play or pause your music or answer a call or two presses allows you to skip forward a track and three presses allow you to skip back.

CALL QUALITY

Call quality through the AirPods Pro is superb thanks to the sensors that engage the dual beamforming microphones whenever you on the phone or want to access Siri.

These are so clear, we’ve done radio interviews wearing them and the hosts could not tell the difference.

BATTERY

You’ll get up to 5 hours of listening time from the AirPods Pro and with the additional charging available through the case you can enjoy more than 24 hours of listening.

PRICING

The AirPods Pro are priced at $399. The weakness of the Australian dollar isn’t doing us any favours here because in the US these are priced at $US249.

A direct conversion is $AUD362 but it should be noted that US price does not include sales tax.

These are $80 more expensive than the regular AirPods with the wireless charging case. If you’re considering buying those it’s definitely worth the extra $80 to get the AirPods Pro.

The AirPods Pro are also the same price as the Sony WF-1000XM3 noise cancelling earphones.

VERDICT

The AirPods Pro is a remarkable achievement in audio engineering and offer brilliant sound quality, impressive noise cancellation, a generous level of bass and an excellent experience all round.