A brand that we actually pay little attention to is Apple . And secretly that’s pretty crazy. Apple has a rich history with music. Listing everything Apple has done for us music lovers is quite a task. But let’s start with the product we have now available; the Apple AirPods Pro.
The AirPods have been around for a bit longer, but there are big differences between the AirPods and the AirPods Pro. Although the latter could pass in size as a crown or large filler for a molar, it packs a huge amount of technology into it. But can they compete with, for example, the Bowers & Wilkins PI3 ? Before we can make a comparison, first have a look at the technology it contains.
|Active Noise Cancellation||Yes|
|Hey Siri||Always on|
|Sweat and water resistant||Yes|
|Battery life (listening time on one charge)||Up to 4.5 hours of listening time|
|Battery life (listening time with charging case)||More than 24-hours|
|LED Charging Light Location||Front of case|
|Weight||AirPods (each): 0.19 ounce (5.4 g); Wireless Charging Case: 1.61 ounces (45.6 g)|
|Dimensions||AirPods (each): 0.94 by 0.86 by 1.22 inches (16.5 by 18.0 by 40.5 mm), Wireless Charging Case: 1.78 by 0.85 by 2.39 inches (45.2 by 21.7 by 60.6 mm)|
|AirPods Sensors (each):||Dual beamforming microphones, Dual optical sensors, Motion-detecting accelerometer, Speech-detecting accelerometer|
|Power and Battery||AirPods Pro with Wireless Charging Case: More than 24 hours listening time, up to 11 hours talk time|
Apple Airpods Pro: the shape
For years, the street scene has been dominated by white earplugs. The iPod was therefore an unprecedented success for Apple, and the white earplugs that belonged to it from the beginning also later returned to the Apple iPhone. Other parties then also started supplying white earplugs. The original round shape of the earplugs has been replaced for some time by a new design. For the AirPods Pro, Apple decided to get started again. They made use of 3D scans of the ears.
The goal was simple, a comfortable and stable design. Everything was addressed. For example, it looked very specifically where it should make contact with the ear and where not. Everything was focused on audio. Also the Eartips. Three sizes are included, with a clicked mechanism. We also saw a similar system with the Klipsch in-ears . But Apple pays just a little more attention to it. This makes the implementation of a higher level. That is something we notice in the whole.
A lot of attention has been paid to and thought about everything, but at the same time we also see a lot of Apple minimalism. Take the packaging of the Apple AirPods Pro is minimal: a small square box.
Let’s go back to the form, because we said earlier that it contains a lot of technology. This is made possible by the ‘system in package’ design. The Apple H1 chip is particularly responsible for this. It is the brain that sees behind many innovative things. Consider, for example, a stable connection, the format, audio architecture and Active Noise Canceling. Everything from sound to “Hey Siri” command, it’s possible through the H1 chip.
Just a side note, much of the functionality is only possible in combination with an iPhone. That is bad luck for Android users, although we have to nuance that the audio quality does not suffer.
Then with something genius and again typically Apple. With many in-ears we are always looking for the best size dome. At Apple you can test in the menu whether the dome closes properly. The iPhone runs a small test, which immediately indicates whether it is good. Simply genius!
Roots in music
It may come as a surprise to some, but Apple has deep roots in audio. Both music and the equipment to play it with. Buy music via iTunes, the iPod, Apple AirPlay and so there are a few more examples. But with the AirPods Pro, Apple wants to make it very clear that they are a good choice for the music lover. Maybe for the audiophile. But how good are the Pros in terms of audio quality?
Before we really review the AirPods Pro, let’s let them run for a good 20 to 30 hours. In terms of music selection, we try to maintain a broad spectrum and choose music that is worth mentioning. To start with, the album Tron: Legacy (original soundtrack), because it was made by none other than Daft Punk and that is clearly audible. The electronic roots do justice to the title. It provides an electronic symphony with an 80s touch through it. With the song The Son of Flynn, the eye for detail can be heard clearly in the rendering of the Apple AirPods Pro. It’s on a similar level to the B&W PI4. Because the song focuses on high and middle tones, the comparison between the two models is possible. As soon as we listen to the song Armory, we are surprised by an unprecedented good reproduction of the bass. The number Armory is made up of different layers. The layer itself also has different dimensions. The Apple AirPods Pro knows how to display many of these dimensions. To take the B&W PI4 as a comparison, it comes just a bit further in terms of layer, and knows just a bit more of the dimensions.
The album Night Visions by Imagine Dragons dates back to 2012 and always provides a lot of listening pleasure. It has a high pop / rock content. Yet there are surprises in the music and the record has a refreshing sound. That image is very well portrayed by the Apple AirPods Pro. The cheerful and cheerful intro in On Top of the World is widely expressed by the AirPods. As soon as the whole thing is deployed, vocals and background, the AirPods Pro know how to distinguish neatly here. That not only makes it a very pleasant listening experience, it also shows that the Apple AirPods Pro play at a level. That they are worthy of the Pro indication.
The fact that a lot of technology is incorporated in the Airpods Pro is also reflected in the Charging case. This also works wirelessly. Wireless charging is a godsend. That is also what we want. We want technology that becomes transpart. Which we no longer realize that we are using. It will be natural. And right there, Apple is very good there. The Apple AirPods are included within the Apple Ecosystem and work seamlessly with all other Apple products.
That also brings us to the Active Noise Canceling (ANC). Although you would almost think that it is not possible with such a small product. You will find three positions on the AirPods Pro; Off, On and Transparent. With the Off position, a lot of ambient noise is already muted, but in a natural way. With the ANC on, we feel the damping kick in. We also hear that much more is being blocked. It’s almost bizarre how much the Apple AirPods manage to keep out. That is of course nice in a busy train or office environment, but less so in traffic, for example. That is where the Transparent booth comes in. The AirPod Pro lets the sound through. There is a slight filtering on certain frequency ranges, but the AirPods actually disappear; you are no longer immediately aware that you have them. Sound around you is audible. This is probably also the main reason why you see people standing by the cheese, who still have the AirPods in them. You just hear your surroundings. But the moment you put on music, everything around you becomes a movie. It’s like having background music in all the things you do. Put on some exciting trailer music from Two Steps from Hell while shopping and the whole thing takes on a completely different meaning.
The integration within the Apple Ecosystem has been done with a lot of refinement and detail. The moment you open the case and take out the AirPods, an animation shoots up on the iPhone. This shows how much battery the case and the AirPods Pro have left. The AirPods are even indicated with a small AirPods Pro icon when calling and not with a generic Bluetooth headset. It all becomes self-evident, especially in combination with an Apple Watch or iPhone. But that is also the greatest strength of Apple products.
Do we have no criticism at all? Sure it is. The AirPods Pro are so small that we’ve often been afraid of losing them. The charging case must always be taken along to store it, otherwise you will lose it. The battery life is fine, but many other brands last considerably longer on one charging cycle. That is something you specify for the format. The AirPods Pro do indeed sound Pro, but have little added value for an Android user compared to, for example, the B&W PI4. The added value is much within the Apple Ecosystem, which makes these in-ears less interesting for Android users.
It’s hard not to love the Apple AirPods Pro. They quickly become a natural element in your daily life. The combination of technology and sound quality is well worth the price. Apple might as well have called them the HiFi Pods. Of course there are also disadvantages, because they are particularly interesting for the Apple user, and not so much for the Android users among us. That is also the biggest downside. Chances are that you will get deeper into the Apple ecosystem, because it works together so beautifully. The downside of this is that people ignore the other very nice hi-fi brands.
Apple AirPods Pro – Conclusion
The Apple AirPods Pro are an impressive piece of audio technology. The brand clearly shows that it is a worthy player in the head-fi market. However, much added value can be found within the Apple ecosystem. As a result, an Android user will find the Apple AirPods Pro a less interesting choice. But that does not detract from the sound quality.
Positives of Apple AirPods Pro
- Sophisticated integration into Apple Ecosystem
- Small & Compact
- Sound quality
Negatives of Apple AirPods Pro
- Less interesting for Android users due to more limited integration