Apple Airpods Pro True Wireless IEM.

In my fourth True Wireless review I get to grips with the Airpods Pro. Can the tech giant compete with the rest?

Disclaimer:
Apple have not paid or sponsored me for this review.
This is an unbiased review of an item I purchased myself.
The views and opinions in this piece are my own.

The Apple Airpods Pro currently retail at £249. ( At the time of this review. )
You can find them and other products on their website here-
https://www.apple.com/uk/airpods/

Review equipment:
Apple Airpods Pro.
Apple iPad Pro 12.9″ 2019 edition.
Apple iPad Pro 12.9″ 2018 edition.
Apple TV 4K.
Apple MacBook Air.
Apple iPhone XS Max.
Apple Watch Series 4.
Qobuz Studio Premier.
Spotify Premium.

What’s in the box:
2x Airpods Pro.
1x Wireless charging case.
1x Lightning to USB Type-C cable.
6x Silicone ear tips.
1x Instructions and information leaflet.

Spec:
Active Noise Cancellation
Transparency mode
Adaptive EQ
Vent system for pressure equalisation
Custom high-excursion Apple driver
Custom high dynamic range amplifier
Dual beam forming microphones
Inward-facing microphone
Dual optical sensors
Motion-detecting accelerometer
Speech-detecting accelerometer
Force sensor
H1-based System
Sweat and water resistant (IPX4)
Dimensions:
Height: 30.9 mm (1.22 inches) Airpods
Width: 21.8 mm (0.86 inches) Airpods
Depth: 24.0 mm (0.94 inches) Airpods
Weight: 5.4 grams (0.19 ounces) Airpods
Height: 45.2 mm (1.78 inches) Case
Width: 60.6 mm (2.39 inches) Case
Depth: 21.7 mm (0.85 inches) Case
Weight: 45.6 grams (1.61 ounces) Case
Charging and battery:
Works with Qi-certified chargers or the Lightning connector
AirPods Pro
Up to 4.5 hours of listening time with a single charge (up to 5 hours with Active Noise Cancellation and Transparency off)
Up to 3.5 hours of talk time with a single charge
AirPods Pro with Wireless Charging Case
More than 24 hours of listening time
More than 18 hours of talk time
5 minutes in the case provides around 1 hour of listening time or around 1 hour of talk time
Connectivity
Bluetooth 5.0
Accessibility
Accessibility features help people with disabilities get the most out of their new AirPods Pro. Features include:
Live Listen audio

Build and finish:
The build and finish of the Airpods Pro are what you would typically expect from Apple.
Clean minimal looks, robust build and a premium finish.
Admitted, Apples style isn’t every ones cup of tea. However if you’re like me and love the minimal user friendly aesthetic that they use then you’re going to enjoy the Airpods Pro.
They are lightweight and out of every True Wireless IEM I have reviewed, they are by far the most pocketable model.
The case is compact and the wireless charging is fast. Battery level for both the case and Airpods can be seen in iOS in the side bar.
The ear tips are made from a premium grade silicone and Apples unique mount works well without being fiddly. You’ll be glad to know that there are aftermarket tips available that are made specifically for the Airpods Pro, including brands such Spinfit.
The stems are a lot less obtrusive than on the previous Apple Airpod model and benefit from the force sensors inside them. The feedback is just enough to simulate a light button click.
I just wish Apple would ditch the chrome rings as It takes away slightly from the otherwise very clean white and black. Then I’m probably being a touch petty as they’re not that noticeable. And they are an integral part of the Airpod Pro.
They don’t come across as an audiophile product in their looks but then they’re not aimed at the audiophile market.
Do they pass the upside down open case shaky shaky test? Yes, with flying colours.

Setup:
This is where Apple are leaps and bounds ahead of the rest.
Have your Airpods in their case next to your iPhone and open the case.
They will pair instantaneously and iOS will take you step by step through the setup process.
Once set up you’ll find the Airpods pro to be very easy to use and they will integrate into your Apple eco-system very nicely.
Swapping between devices is a breeze, whether it be Mac OS, tvOS, iOS or iPadOS. Your devices will see the Airpods Pro automatically and all you need to do is select them in the menu. Apple have also now made it possible to share what you are listening to by allowing more than one pair to me connected at one time.
There is no app to speak of as iOS does all the software and firmware management.
Noise cancelling, transparency mode and spacial audio can be accessed either in the Control Panel by clicking on the Airpods slider or through Siri.
Siri works effortlessly with the Airpods Pro and so far I’ve had a 100% success rate.
Apple have now included another handy feature called Live Listen which utilises the iPhones mic to amplify the outside world. This can be accessed in the Control Panel.


Comfort:
The contrast between the Airpods and Airpods Pro in terms of comfort is night and day.
I could not get on with the original Airpods, they would not stay in my ears and if I used aftermarket ear-hooks to hold them in place I found them extremely uncomfortable within a short space of time.
The Airpods Pro are completely different, more in line with a tradition IN-ear design unlike the previous “in/out/slipping all about-ear” design as I like to call it. Sorry, Not sorry!
No the Airpods Pro are comfortable to wear for longer listening sessions and have a good seal and fit. IF you do struggle with keeping them in there are aftermarket ear-hooks available for the Airpods Pro online.
As always I gave my head a good old shake to the point of my eyes almost coming loose, I’m afraid to say in my case they will shake loose if I shake my head vigourously enough. In normal use they stay put with no issues. Ok for me as I’m not a gym-bunny or very active. However if you’re in the prime of life and out there running your posterior off then this is something you may want to consider when looking at the Airpods Pro.

Active Noise Cancelling:
Apple have nailed it with the Airpods Pro on the ANC front.
Easily accessible through iOS, a few second squeeze of the left or right stem or through Siri. “Hey Siri, Activate Noise Cancelling.” or “Hey Siri, Activate Transparency Mode.” It’s that straight forward!
It’s good enough that I never feel the need to take the Airpods out of my ears.
If I’m out and about I leave them in and with a click or quick voice command I can hear everything around me, if anything even a little amplified. On the same note switching to noise cancelling is just as fast and it works really well, muting almost everything outside of my ears. It’s definitely one of the better implementations I’ve experienced.
Calls are crystal clear and my voice is picked up really well with hardly any background noise.

Sound:
Here’s where it gets a little interesting.
By most, the Airpods Pro aren’t considered an audiophile product.
However I think it depends on your interpretation of the term audiophile.
Anyway we won’t get into that here today.
In stereo with no eq’ing or tweaks the Airpods Pro sound good.
We get a medium-wide soundstage with a satisfactory audio image.
Separation is ok but gets lost in noisier parts of songs.
Bass is tight and punchy and can reach the low notes without too much difficulty.
Mids are forward and vibrant. Vocals and classical instruments sound particularly good here.
Highs are crisp and well paced if a little rolled off at the higher end.
The Airpods Pro do have a detailed sound but you could find better at this price point.
Source is the key here. Find a good source in hi res and they will sound great.
Play anything below Redbook ( 16bit / 44.1kHz ) or something that’s been recorded/mastered poorly and it’s going to sound bad.
Things change however when we view the Airpods Pro as a multi media IEM.
Apple just recently introduced a firmware update that included “Spatial sound”.
When watching a video or playing a game on iPhone it turns the Airpods Pro into a virtual home theatre with a genuinely great 3D audio image. And you don’t lose any bass performance or detail.
And as I stated before, switching between devices is easy. So if you need to use them with your iPad for a zoom meeting or your MacBook to edit a movie you can switch seamlessly and get straight to it.
Being able to use them with the Apple TV is awesome. I sometimes enjoy having a Netflix or Amazon Prime binge into the early hours and being able to use the Airpods Pro has become an invaluable tool to allow me to enjoy my programmes without waking the rest of the household.

Summery:
At £249 the Apple Airpods Pro are priced well when considering the tech and features packed into a compact IEM.
If you’re looking for a truly audiophile pair of True Wireless IEMs these aren’t going to be the model for you.
However if you’re invested in the Apple eco-system, and looking for a great all rounder with excellent active noise cancelling with the added bonus of extra features then you could do far worse.
Yes there are other brands that will work with the iPhone that sound far better, however they won’t have the long list of features or the flexibility that the Airpods Pro offer.
It’s a decision that each user will need to weigh up taking into account what’s important to them as an end user.

Thank you to my readers for taking a look and please don’t forget to subscribe, like and share.

All my very best. Paul.

Published by The Audiophile Cafe

40 something audiophile, writer, disabled carer, bookworm, gamer, parent, uncle... I love listening to great music on great gear.

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