Apple ticks the boxes (including noise)

After the rumors, Apple formalized in 2021 its True Wireless headphones, the AirPods Pro. With a slightly different design from its classic AirPods, Apple has brought active noise reduction and Transparency mode. Check out our AirPods Pro review.

2019 will have been the year of the Pros at Apple. After the iPhone 11 Pro, the Mac Pro, the Beats PowerBeats Pro or the Beats Solo Pro, here are the AirPods Pro. If the term “Pro” does not designate a product for professionals, the fact remains that the AirPods Pro represent a real step forward compared to the AirPods.

In question, the contribution of active noise reduction which, fortunately, is not reserved only for professionals. At least, that’s what we saw during our AirPods Pro test.

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Base price: €279

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The AirPods, a complete range

AirPods have revolutionized the world of headphones for owners of iOS, iPadOS or Mac OS X devices. If they don’t shake up the genre, they have been designed around Apple’s ecosystem.

AirPods are so popular that they have become lifestyle objects, despite some real flaws. Note, for example, that they do not fit all ears, that they are open headphones and that outside the Apple ecosystem, they are “only” fairly basic Bluetooth headphones.

After a few leaks, the AirPods Pro have been made official at a price of 279 euros (we find them, however, around 200 euros in 2022). If the price is no longer the same as the classic AirPods, it’s not innocent: Apple has added a number of additional functions such as active noise reduction, Transparency mode (which we discovered with the new Beats Solo Pro) and all the support from Apple’s ecosystem.

The case is no longer in height but in width and it is more voluminous. That said, it’s still relatively portable, which many of the competition aren’t. The case is recharged via a Lightning port (or wirelessly) and provides 24 hours of autonomy in all. Some returns report a less intuitive handling than with the AirPods case.

fter our test of the AirPods Pro, we think it’s mostly a matter of habit – especially since the long part of the AirPods Pro is placed outside in the case (it was inside on the previous AirPods) . It should be noted that the AirPods Pro are delivered with silicone tips of different sizes but above all a Lightning to USB-C cable.

Expected features on these AirPods Pro

The AirPods Pro come as shorter AirPods but with an in-ear design. We appreciate the fact that they are more discreet than the AirPods. The tips are made of silicone and they are a little different from what we are used to seeing from the competition. The part that goes into the ear canal is built into the earmolds and not the earpiece itself. As a result, it’s a little more comfortable.

Apple has integrated a kind of air outlet in the headphones. As a result, unlike competing in-ear headphones, there is no air trapped in the ear canal and this avoids this echo effect as if you had your head under water. Added to this (via iOS only), a test that allows you to use the microphones of the AirPods Pro to determine whether you are using the correct tips or not.

Apple insists that it’s okay to use different sizes for each ear. The design is different because the AirPods Pro offer active noise reduction that requires a particular format. Not everyone will like this choice, but it remains a mandatory condition to ensure active noise reduction and it allows AirPods Pro to be worn by more people.

Once in place on the ears in our test, the AirPods Pro will not move. Unlike several rivals, the AirPods Pro work much like the Bose: the silicone tips fit into the ear canal but remain somewhere at the entrance to the canal. As a result, the very body of the headphones is used to hold it all together.

This is not the case, for example, with Sony or Sennheiser where the earphones fit a little more into the ear canal and at the same time ensure the overall hold of the earphone. The AirPods Pro sit a bit on the cartilages of your ears and can eventually press down on them during long sessions. I had already had the same problems with the AirPods but this does not concern everyone.

With this choice, you can still hear the outside world, but the AirPods Pro provide a minimum of isolation without having to go through active noise reduction. In the end, whether it’s everyday life or in a sports environment, the AirPods Pro hold up really well, I’ve tested everything and they’ve never failed me.

In terms of weight, despite the new technologies, the AirPods Pro weigh the same as the classic AirPods: they are super light on a daily basis and with the Transparency mode, we even tend to forget about them. The AirPods Pro are not dedicated to sports but thanks to the IPX4 certification, they are quite resistant to water and perspiration.

As with the AirPods, there aren’t really any controls like the buttons on the Beats Powerbeats Pro or the touch surfaces on the Sony WF-1000X Mark III. There’s also no tapping system like on the AirPods. In fact, there’s a flat capacitive button on the stem of the AirPods Pro and you kind of have to “press” the stem to launch the options.

Even if I don’t find this way of doing things more logical than what the competition or even the AirPods offer, it has the merit of not moving the AirPods Pro. One press allows you to start / stop the music or pick up, two presses to go to the next track, three to the previous one and finally a long press to activate the active noise reduction or the transparency mode. A great classic in itself. There is a habit to take but after a few hours of testing these AirPods Pro, I had assimilated everything.

All of these functions can be found in the iOS control center or on your Apple Watch. And as with the AirPods, no volume control, it will be either on the smartphone, or via an Apple Watch, or via Siri. Note that via Siri, in my tests, it was super long.

The AirPods Pro differ from their predecessors by the presence of active noise reduction. The natural isolation is already better but with the addition of active noise reduction, it really allows you to isolate yourself in your musical universe. For the reduction itself, it works well and will allow you to cut yourself off from the outside world.

That being said, we are not at the level of noise reduction headphones and for those who like comparisons, it is a little worse than the Sony WF-1000X Mark III. However, it is more than enough, both in everyday life and in the metro for example. In addition to noise reduction, Apple takes what Beats brought with its Solo Pro, namely the Transparency technology which allows you to hear the outside environment without having to remove your headphones.

The technology already exists with competitors, but Apple offers the most natural listening experience. We don’t have this feeling of amplification and we often forget that we are wearing AirPods Pro to chat with people.

Decent autonomy

On the autonomy side, if the case provides 24 hours of autonomy, it will take approximately 3h30 to 4h per charge when the active noise reduction or the Transparency mode are activated! It’s clearly worse than the competition (5h30/5h45 on the Sony for example) but it’s rare that I use the headphones for more than 2 hours every day.

For longer periods, you will just have to go through the recharge box and fortunately, it is relatively fast. Can’t wait for the AirPods Pro 2 with 6 hours of battery life. The AirPods Pro incorporate Apple’s new H1 chip, which ensures an almost immediate connection to any iOS device. As with products already using the H1 chip, you can switch between the different devices connected to your iCloud account.

On Android or others, we obviously do not benefit from these little facilities and if the sound and functions remain unchanged, they will connect like simple Bluetooth headphones. For the lag, there are no lags in the sound on streaming videos, the H1 chip works perfectly.

Improved sound quality

For sound, Apple continues its momentum. The classic AirPods were already good, but with their lack of insulation, we tended to forget that Apple offered balanced sound. This is again the case with the AirPods Pro: the sound quality is there and even if they are not the best, they are more than enough for the greatest number.

There are bass present but not intrusive, mids and clear highs. We were able to enjoy jazz, pop, rock, background music with good audio quality. Apple wouldn’t be Apple if the Cupertino company did the same thing as Beats. As a result, Apple offers a technology, Adaptive EQ, which allows you to modify the audio spectrum in real time according to your ears, while optimizing the mids and bass a little more and with an appreciable balance.

AirPods Pro at the best price
Base price: €279

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