The first impression
The loading box has gone far in comparison to its predecessor in the width. Because the silicone ear tips that hold the AirPods (finally) safe in the ears need space. The earplugs themselves come again in the classic shiny white. Other colors, as initially suspected, are not available for now. The pins on the AirPods, which peep out of the ears, have become a little shorter. And now on the heads sit the soft ear pieces. Here Apple emphasizes that the connection between AirPods and silicone needs only minimal space compared to the competition. This leaves a lot of material left, which can adapt to the ear and provide a secure hold.
The LEAD tester, the previous AirPods repeatedly slipped out of his ears. Jogging would not have been possible. This is actually over with the AirPods Pro thanks to the silicone inserts. Head wobble, headbanging, running – sit! Apple delivers the inserts in three different sizes. Which size fits best, can be checked in all seriousness in the Bluetooth settings with the “fit test for ear inserts”. Apple sends music to the AirPods – and then measures with its own microphone in the listener, as the music arrives in the ear.
If everything fits, there is the green message “Good seal”. If not, Apple recommends that you better adjust the AirPods or choose a different size. The measurement is done independently for both ears. And the AirPods and their inserts are ventilated so that there is no pressure or dizziness. The first test confirms that, the AirPods Pro sit barely noticeable in the ears.
If in-ear earplugs such as the AirPods do not fit well in the ear, the basses will be the first to suffer. First generation AirPods users know the problem. Although the audio hardware in the new Pro models has apparently not changed much, Apple’s exclusive waterproof silicone inserts provide more powerful bass and powerful sound. Compared to the previous AirPods is the progress also thanks to the sound that automatically adapts to the ears (Adaptive EQ) eye or ohrenfällig. Subjective first impression: Apple can compete in terms of sound now with the previously superior competition from Sony, Sennheiser or Bang & Olufsen.
The noise cancellation
Apple equips the AirPods for the first time three years after its premiere with an active noise suppression, as it has long been standard in the competition. Two microphones on each AirPod measure the environmental noise and mask it. After the AirPods have to catch up here, Apple offers a particularly sophisticated noise insulation. There are two settings: Noise suppression – so the user can listen to music undisturbed. In the test of LEAD, this effectively seals off the environment. The second shot, which similarly offers Bang & Olufsen in the Beoplay E8, is called “Transparency”.
The transparency mode
Apple used the word “Magic” several times during the presentation – among other things for the coupling of the AirPods with the iPhone, which works as easy as before thanks to the H1 chip. Mobile phone and charging box next to each other, done! “Magic” should also be the transparency mode. Touching the new sensor areas on the AirPods or in the iPhone menu will switch users between “Noise Suppression” and “Transparency”.
With transparency enabled, environmental sounds and your own voice are clearly audible again – an amazing effect. This should improve traffic safety if users are not completely isolated from the environment while listening to music. Because the silicone inserts seal the ear anyway, Apple actively channels the environmental noise into the ear via a microphone. Result: The environment sounds so natural, as if the AirPods were not there. Despite this battery-hungry technology, the battery life remains at five hours.
The price and the alternatives
With 279 euros, the AirPods Pro are now among the most expensive in-ears on the market – in addition to the equally expensive Beoplay E8. After all, there is now a charging box with wireless charging at this price. For 179 euros remain the current AirPods with wired box on offer. And with wireless boxes it is 229 euros. A LEAD overview of the current AirPods competitors can be found here. Especially the Beoplay E8 and the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless (250 Euro) are likely to inspire Apple fans.
The conclusion of LEAD
Sound, seat in the ears and noise suppression – Apple has consistently eliminated the weaknesses of the previous AirPods with the usual attention to detail. Reinvented, as in 2016, Apple does not have the in-ears with it. Many features of the AirPods Pro come later than the competition, but sometimes even more sophisticated. The white earplugs – in future with a larger black line on the side, which marks the AirPods Pro – will be seen more often than before in our cities from Christmas.