AirPods Pro: What I Like About You!

Dr. Mac’s Rants & Raves
Episode #361

Last week I told you how much I liked my 1st generation AirPods, and that after testing literally dozens of other headphones, earphones, and earbuds, I always looked forward to returning to my AirPods. And, I told you that I like Apple’s new AirPods Pro, which have both passive and active noise cancellation, even better before running out of space.

Why I Love AirPods Pro

So, here are the reasons I love my new AirPods Pro even more than I loved my original AirPods.

First and foremost, AirPods Pro sound distinctively better than the original, and sounding good is my first criteria for earphones—if they don’t sound good nothing else matters.

And, I believe AirPods Pro sound as good as or better than the other Bluetooth earbuds I’ve tried, and noticeably better than the 1st generation AirPods.

I'm loving my AirPods Pro!
I love my AirPods Pro!

AirPods Pro combine several features to produce clear, clean sound.

    • Adaptive EQ automatically tunes music to the shape of your ear
    • An inward-facing microphone hears sound in your ear canal as you do, and then fine-tunes it on the fly
    • A new low-distortion speaker driver provides clearer lows
    • Soft silicone ear tips seal your ear to reduce ambient noise

It all adds up to a set of earbuds that sound great regardless of what’s playing. Podcasts are easier to understand; rock music sounds like rock ‘n’ roll; and jazz or classical music sound as good on AirPods Pro as any other in-ear headphone I’ve tried.

More to Love

In addition to sounding great, AirPods Pro’s silicone ear tips make them even more comfortable than the original AirPods. Plus, unlike many other earbuds, AirPods Pro’s silicone ear tips are a snap to attach and remove.

Furthermore, AirPods Pro’s active noise canceling is as good as any wireless earbuds I’ve tried. To my ear, almost all noise-canceling earphones and headphones sound muffled and weird with noise-canceling enabled. So, I used to only enable it in super-loud environments like airplanes, trains, and woodworking with power tools.

AirPods Pro adjust their noise-canceling 200 times per second, and although they sound slightly different when noise-canceling is enabled, they retain more musical detail than others I’ve tried.

Finally, AirPods Pro offer Transparency Mode, which lets you hear outside sound, works better and sounds more natural than other headphones with a similar feature. I disliked this feature in other headphones since it made music sound distant and weird; AirPods Pro Transparency Mode is better and sounds noticeably more natural than the others.

I have only two complaints…

First, AirPods Pro are relatively expensive at $249. That being said, having tested numerous less-expensive options, I’d still buy AirPods Pro again.

Second, while the silicone ear tips are easy to put on and take off, and super-comfortable, none of the three sizes is a perfect fit for my ears. While my 1st generation “Universal Fit” AirPods never, ever fell out of my ears or even felt unstable, I need to fiddle with my AirPods Pros regularly to keep them securely in place.

In the end, however, the good features far outweigh the bad and I recommend AirPods Pro without hesitation if you can afford ’em.

…and that’s all he wrote…

Apple AirPods with Charging Case. $159; Apple AirPods with Wireless Charging Case. $199; Apple AirPods Pro. $249

8 thoughts on “AirPods Pro: What I Like About You!

  • Bob:

    I enjoyed your posts on this topic, and wanted to wait for part II before weighing in.

    First, many thanks for providing your review. Although technical and comparison – specific reviews are essential for the informed consumer, it’s always helpful to get an angle from a user’s perspective, specifically an authoritative consumer, like yourself, who knows the industry and the competition.

    I share your enthusiasm for the performance of the Airpods Pro. These are my first Bluetooth ear buds, so I have nothing against which to compare them, except for a wired pair of Bose noise cancellation ear buds. Just on the noise cancellation effect, that of the wired Bose buds was/is noticeably more pronounced and complete, which I verified on my iPhone X. Indeed, so subtle was the noise cancellation effect on the Airpods Pro that I had to rifle through the Transparency and Off settings to ascertain that I had enabled noise cancellation. I can readily hear conversation and other background and ambient noises around me with noise cancellation activated, although it is noticeably reduced, just not off.

    Pairing these with any of my devices is stupid-simple, and it readily offers pairing to my Apple TV which I have yet to do.

    The sound range is great, and these are a particular pleasure to use when listening to classical music, which is my main musical genre (listening to Mozart Piano Quartet No. 1, K478 as I compose this). However, and likely a function of Bluetooth vs wired headsets, the transmitted energy of sound pumping through the Airpods Pro seems marginally less than my Bose wired set. This is probably a function of entropy inherent with wireless transmission, but I could be wrong.

    My only complaint is, similar to other in-ear pieces, including Apple’s old wired earbuds; the things simply will not stay in my ears. I did the sound check to insure goodness of fit (yeah, I know, a mathematical term) and apparently the medium tips provide the best seal, however if I talk, chew, laugh, or so much as cant my head to either side, the damned things fall out. Forget trying to use these in public whilst walking or, heaven forbid, working out; if I’m not perfectly still and symmetrically poised, they go to ground. I have better in ear retention with the smaller tips, but the software and the admitted ambient noise tell me that the seal is suboptimal. I wish there were a third party over-the-ear adapter for the Pro, perhaps there already is. For this reason, I use them less frequently than I had planned and will investigate one of the Powerbeats variants, just for the over-the-ear support for those more active use cases.

    Cheers.

    1. My left ear seals perfectly with the medium tip, but none of the three sizes is right for my right ear. So, it doesn’t seal as well as the left and occasionally comes loose. Powerbeats, with the ear-stabilizer thing, may be just the ticket – I’ll have to check them out. For what it’s worth, I’m waiting for third-party tips like the Comply tips I love for my wired Klipsch earphones…

      1. Bob:

        I can confirm that the Powerbeats 3 (non-noise cancelling), which arrived today, do not have quite the clarity of the Airpods Pro, for classical music (higher notes are not as distinct), although opera is decent. AC/DC’s Back in Black sounds great.

        I got these on sale at Amazon for $80, and thought I’d at least see if they were sufficiently secure for moving about and working out, with minimal financial risk. They do have the virtue of staying on my ears with a good seal using the medium tips. Not sure if I want to spring for the $200 for the Pros. Now more than ever I appreciate the brilliance of Apple’s Airpods. Still, I’ll see which of these, the Airpods Pro, which have substantially superior sound, or the Powerbeats, which stay in my ears courtesy of the over-the-ear hook, end up getting more use.

      2. Thanks. For what it’s worth, I’m waiting until I find and try some third-party tips before I do anything. We’ll see.

  • Plus, unlike many other earbuds, AirPods Pro’s silicone ear tips are a snap to attach and remove

    How secure are they? I have too many tips fall off as I remove the earbud.

      1. That was what did the trick for me… but then I had the wonky one replaced (for $69) and my wife is now happily using my 1st generation AirPods. And everyone is happy. 🙂

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