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Can the New Apple AirPods Pro Pass “The Test”?

March 11, 2022
By David Wallach

The new Apple AirPods Pro have hit the market, with new features that include a customizable fit that forms an exceptional seal for Active Noise Cancellation that blocks out the world so you can focus on what you’re listening to. The stem is 33% shorter than AirPods (2nd generation) and has a much more robust battery.

Apple said they are more comfortable, have better sound, and are more responsive, making it easy to connect to your phone, computer, iPad, etc.

That’s all great to read, but how do they really stand up to some very real-world tests? We decided to see if all that innovation and updating was for hype or worth the money? Here’s what we found.

AirPods Pro vs. The Super Trendy Coffee Shop on a Saturday

If you live in Chicago and are single, young, or just trying to look cool, then you know the best place to meet a potential mate, meet up with friends, or just hang out, is the Starbucks in Old Town. Many call it the Hook Up Starbucks.

David Wallach photo

There is most likely a similar place in your town. This is our proving ground for the review.

On any given Saturday morning, the hook up Starbucks is bustling with people, meeting, flirting, working and yes, drinking coffee. It’s fun, energetic, and very loud.  To top it off, Starbucks has a constant stream of groovy music blasting to add to the vibe.

It also happens to be the coffee shop in the same building where my son takes a class on Saturday, so this is where I write as I wait for him (like I am doing at this moment). 

Unlike other Saturdays, I did not bring my over-the-ear Beats, but my new AirPods Pro to see how they could stand up to the “vibe.”

While I write and listen to Cautious Clay, I am able to drown out the “vibe,” thanks to the Active Noise Cancellation and spatial audio with dynamic head tracking. This means the sound in the AirPods Pro is being placed all around me to create an immersive, three-dimensional listening experience for music.

How does it help me hear my music and not the very bad first date at the table next to me?

It comes down to fit. The AirPods Pro seals to your ear canal and prevents external noise from drowning out your music. This preserves the sound quality without the interference of auditory masking. Passive isolation along with effective noise-canceling means that you’re less likely to try and increase the volume to block out those external sounds.

AirPods Pro vs. The Gym

My Beats stink. Stink like my kid’s hockey bag! They sound great, but there is no kind of magic to get the stink out of the ear padding. I recently wore them on a plane the guy next to me commented on a weird smell.

So they are now relegated to my workout headset. I sweat all over them, hit them with Febreze, and back on a hook.

Which is where they might stay.

Both AirPods Pro and the MagSafe Charging Case are rated IPX4 water-resistant — so they’ll withstand anything from rain to heavy workouts and as a bonus, they don’t stink. 

If I’m on the treadmill, the bike trainer, or lifting weights, they stay in place and the sound is clear. The internally tapered tips conform to your ear shape, keeping AirPods Pro secure and with vents helping equalize pressure, it helps eliminate the feeling of someone sticking a finger in your ear. They are very comfortable.

When I am done, I can simply use a soft cloth to dry them off or a bit of isopropyl alcohol and use it to loosen anything that might be stuck in the speaker mesh and help keep the stink at bay.

AirPods Pro vs. My Very Loud Wife on a Zoom Call in the Next Room

The kids are all back in school, but my wife and I are still working remotely (he types while sitting outside on a snowmobile in a shed to get some privacy.) We have our own space to work that is far away-ish from each other, but we still can hear one another on meetings and calls.

David Wallach photo

Normally, I am a speakerphone guy with the door closed. But when she gets going on a Zoom, it can sound as if she’s in the same room and it cuts into my own calls.

The AirPods Pro sync up via Bluetooth to my MacBook Pro, my iPad, and my phone with ease. So I am able to take Zoom, Teams, Google meetings as well as calls, without having to worry about anything dropping or outside noise (Wife) interfering.

The AirPods Pro have two tiny microphones — both on the inside and on the outside, and they work in pretty much the same way all active noise-canceling headphones work. The inward-facing microphones are measuring sound 200 times per second in order to ensure that it’s producing the correct sound to counteract it, giving you clear mostly unobstructed sound.

While they’re not going to completely rid you of the overwhelming vibe of your favorite coffee shop or a super loud spouse, they do a great job of providing a custom immersive experience where the new tech actually lives up to the hype.

The most important feature of the new version is without a doubt the active noise canceling, and these are some of the best noise-canceling wireless earbuds on the market.

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