Apple Announces AirPods Pro with Active Noise Cancellation, Available October 30th [Update]

Apple announced AirPods Pro Monday — without a media event — featuring an in-ear design with active noise cancellation, as predicted by a recent leak. AirPods Pro are available for preorder now, and will ship October 30th for $249.

Apple AirPods Pro

In-Ear AirPods

Apple’s new AirPods Pro feature an in-ear design. That means they’re designed to fit just inside your ear canal, where they form a seal. Regular AirPods are specifically designed to just sit in your ear without fitting into your ear canal and without forming a seal.

There are pros and cons to both approaches. Regular AirPods allow you to maintain more awareness of your environment, for instance, which might be better for walking through a city. AirPods Pro, however, will have more responsive bass, and isolating you from your environment enhances the active noise cancellation process.

Apple also claims to have an “innovative vent system to equalize pressure, minimizing the discomfort common in other in-ear designs.”

Active Noise Cancellation

Each AirPods Pro will use two microphones for the active noise cancellation process. One microphone is outwards facing and samples the world, while the second microphone samples inside your ear. AirPods Pro will then eliminate noise by creating sound waves that negate external noise.

More importantly, each AirPods Pro is customizing this process for each ear, and Apple said noise is being checked 200 times per second.

But, Apple is taking it another step, too, by allowing users to use a “Transparency Mode” that artificially adds in enough environmental noise to make it more appropriate for, again, walking through a city.

“Using the pressure-equalizing vent system and advanced software that leaves just the right amount of noise cancellation active, Transparency mode ensures that a user’s own voice sounds natural while audio continues to play perfectly,” Apple said. In other words, with Transparency Mode, you won’t be That Guy who’s yelling in a conversation because he can’t hear himself. Our experience with this technology on other earphones like Earin’s M-2 make this a great fit for chatting with flight attendants on airplanes, for example.

AirPods Pro Exploded View

AirPods Pro In-Ear Tips and Apple’s In-Ear Sound Test

Apple is shipping every pair of AirPods with three different sizes of silicone tips. That’s all well and good, but Apple is doing something I haven’t seen before by having the AirPods Pro actually test to make sure you are using the right tips for your ear.

According to Apple. “After placing AirPods Pro in each ear, advanced algorithms work together with the microphones in each AirPod to measure the sound level in the ear and compare it to what is coming from the speaker driver. In just seconds, the algorithm detects whether the ear tip is the right size and has a good fit, or should be adjusted to create a better seal.”

If it works, that should greatly improve customer satisfaction for AirPods Pro.

Battery Life

Apple said AirPods Pro will have the same battery life as regular AirPods, which is up to five hours of listening time—without active noise cancellation. With active noise cancellation on, AirPods Pro will have up to 4.5 hours of listening time and up to 3.5 hours of talk time on a single charge.

Other Features of AirPods Pro

AirPods Pro feature Adaptive EQ, “which automatically tunes the low- and mid-frequencies of the music to the shape of an individual’s ear — resulting in a rich, immersive listening experience.”

Bass response reaches down to 20Hz.

I ordered a pair while working on this story and was offered delivery on October 31st. They’ll be in stores on October 30th.

3 thoughts on “Apple Announces AirPods Pro with Active Noise Cancellation, Available October 30th [Update]

  • Bryan:

    So, dude, I don’t want to rub it in or anything, but my AirPods Pro arrived today, and….I’m wearing them.

    These replace my old Bose in-ear noise cancellation buds, which were great back in the day when wired was a thing, but are utterly useless with my iPad Pro, and minimally useful with an adapter on my iPhone X.

    Oh, you want to know my verdict? Thought you’d never ask.

    They are fan-freaking-tastic. They come with instructions, but you don’t really need them to get up and running. Out of the box, you pop them in, and I had my classical music already playing on my iPad Pro and the query immediately popped up asking if I wanted to connect my Airpods; I clicked connect and boom, immediate sound. More on that in a second.

    The switch between noise cancellation and transparency is seamless. The noise cancelling function is more subtle than on the Bose buds I have, but definitely present. The landscapers are outside mowing the lawn and once noise cancellation kicked in, the muffling was pronounced, even though I could still hear them. Switching to transparency made just how effective the noise cancellation was. It is less about shutting out the world than it is in making a seal for UN disturbed input clarity, at least in my use.

    As for the sound, I mainly listen to classical music. The range was great, although I probably will continue to pipe the music through my iPad Pro when working, as the quad speakers are superb for close encounters, and work well for movies and music. That said, I switched to Rock with some serious guitar work, and was rewarded with clear high notes and bass and everything in between. I then played the liftoff sequence from Apollo 11, and wow. Almost as good as my home theatre setup down in our basement quarters (less chance of disturbing the neighbours, or anyone in the two floors upstairs).

    One can decide for themselves whether or not the Pro moniker is deserved, and for each person that calculus will be different and be driven by different factors, but for my money, these were the AirPods worth waiting for. As in-ear buds go, I’ve not had any thus far, perform noise cancellation and sound any better.

    Curious as to how a true sound specialist feels about them (looking at you, Dave Hamilton).

  • Bryan:

    FYI, I was greeted this morning with a text from Apple that my AirPod Pro’s have shipped and will arrive tomorrow, 30 October, one day earlier than originally promised. Thus saith the Apple. You probably received a similar message.

  • Bryan:

    Many thanks for the heads up. These were the AirPods I’ve been holding out for. My first pair. Ever. Arriving at a front porch near me on 31 October. Can.Not.Wait.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.