Tested and Reviewed The Air Pods Pro

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

More discreet and less universal design

Without losing part of its identity so replicated at this point, especially the glossy white finish, the AirPods Pro are presented with a slight design change that makes them somewhat more bulky, substantially shorter “leg” and the most relevant: shape of in-ear earphone thanks to the inclusion of ear cushions.

Airpods are now neither more comfortable to wear nor as universal earbuds, but they gain a very significant grip improvement over any of the three ear pad sizes that come in the box.

The AirPods Pro lose the universality of their design to gain more safety 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 want from the moment you put them on. Apple offers us help through an assistant so that we can test them and keep the right ones.

With AirPods Pro, for some users the unpleasant continuous feeling of fear of an accidental fall is lost. And I insist that, to be in-ear models, they are very comfortable, leaving behind the excessive pressure that, as in my case, is suffered with headphones with good sealing inside the ear.

Could we use them for sports? We have done it quite successfully in terms of grip, plus they are now IPX4 certified, which basically means that it is resistant to splashes and sweat. There is not 100% certainty that they will not fall but the grip is much more secure when playing sports than previous generations.

Indoors, without the risk of losing them due to falls, they are a great option to play sports with music or a good podcast.

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

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The modified design of the AirPods Pro also affects the interaction with the headphones. Apple has decided that the touches to pause or replay what we are listening are no longer worth. Now you need 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 “pinching” once are the usual ones: pause or continue with the audio that is playing at that moment. And there is no possibility to change them.

For options that require more than one pinch in a row, such as backing up or down the track, some practice is needed. They cannot be configured either.

AirPods Pro enhance interaction through “pinching” but do not yet support volume control
Personalization comes only in actions that require a longer pinch, like a second. For them, the activation of Siri and the change of cancellation type are reserved, with each long pinch being able to go from activation to deactivation and to transparent mode as we have indicated in our preferences. The AirPods Pro’s response to our interaction with them can be heard in the form of a “click”.

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

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

Noise cancellation at the center of the user experience

The AirPods Pro are not understood only by the design change. Actually the modifications cater to 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 a very welcome isolation that directly benefits the perception of sound quality, which is now significantly higher than that of previous generations.

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We have treble with a great level of detail as well as a reproduction of consistent mid frequencies with 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 requesting help from Siri.

Passive isolation for being an in-ear model leaves us with a higher quality sound experience
Regarding the bass sounds, its presence is balanced and respectful with the rest of frequencies, responding just to what Apple presents: a flat listening in all the frequencies.

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 the listening is always similar even if we have placed a headset differently. Also noteworthy is that the distortion level is well controlled even at high sound levels.

Premiere level of active noise cancellation

We now turn to the flagship 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 its price. Now, the price-performance ratio is much more balanced and in line with top-level headphones in its range.

In our tests with the AirPods Pro, noise cancellation has shown an excellent level in scenarios for which these types of devices have been specially designed. We refer to busy places, with constant murmur and noise, airports or train trips.

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

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

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To an active noise reduction among the best in this price range and headphone type, Apple adds a very useful Ambience mode
The classic active noise reduction mode, as well as in which there is no reduction other 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 are completely transparent to outside sound.

At this level of overall sound quality and effective noise cancellation, we greatly miss that Apple leaves us some leeway when it comes to customizing the listening experience as standard as it provides us with 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 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 conversation, the autonomy drops by one hour.

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

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 measure of autonomy of the set is more complex. In our tests, with a mixed use of the headphones for about 3-4 hours a day, we have been able to forget about charging the case for the whole week, Monday to Friday.

With the 100% charging case, the AirPods Pro can be used for 5 days at an average of 3-4 hours a day
Of 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 reliability in charging. It is the great margin to improve by Apple in this type of product.

AirPods Pro, the opinion of Engadget

With a price of 279 euros, box with wireless charging included, the AirPods Pro have shown in our test that they are devices that join very well lines between price and performance in a more correct way than the first AirPods. In addition, the design change has made them gain in reliability of use and overall sound quality.

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