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Can AirPods Pro 2 win the ULTIMATE test

Turns out the ANC on AirPods Pro 2 really is better

AirPods Pro 2
Image courtesy of author

Still that good?

You may recall I wrote recently about AirPods Pro 2. I raved about them then, after only a few days of use. Well, wind that on a few weeks, and they continue to impress – on all levels, and it starts with the case.

The case to change

The case has had so many improvements, to it, that I could see one day it may even be sold as a product in its own right. Small, but meaningful, thoughtful improvements across the board, just now makes the case more useful.

Firstly, it is the numerous ways you can now charge the case – it makes it so flexible. You can charge via lightning, MagSafe, your Apple Watch charger or even Qi‑certified chargers.

The speakers, have proven more beneficial day-to-day, than I had thought. Initially, the speakers, mounted at the bottom of the case, had been touted as a method to find AirPodsPro 2 if you happen to lose them. But that, really, is only part of the story.

The chimes they emit when placing them on charge is really handy. And, a neat function I came across for the first time over the weekend, was the low-charge sound. It’s very similar to when your Apple Watch is low…you get the same sound from the case. It saves that pain of grabbing your case, and realising it is not fully charged. The magnet also feels as if it’s been ‘beefed’ up – it seems a super strong connection when I place it on the watch charger. Again, a small detail, but a little more peace of mind.

The U1 chip clearly helps out with much of the case wizardry, and also has one other neat trick that I had not noticed at first. The remaining charge of your AirPods Pro 2 automatically shows up on your lock screen. Neat!

What makes AirPods Pro 2 special?

They feel more comfortable, when wearing them for long periods. I don’t know if the design has been changed, but there feels less of a pressure build-up, inside the ear with AirPods Pro 2. I nearly always have Automatic Noise Cancelling turned on when I wear my AirPods Pro, but on the first pair I had, there was a perceivable, and uncomfortable pressure that built around the tips – well, for me at least.

The tips of AirPods Pro 2 are less dense now, which is where some of the newly found clarity and bass is coming from. The bass and sub-bass, was one of the first things that hit me when I first popped these AirPods 2 in. The original version were OK, but my goodness, they really have the lower frequencies sorted now. Loads of bass by itself, though, is not a good listening experience. But I have found AirPods Pro 2 to be so balanced, particularly for in-ear, earbuds. I am listening to some Bobby Womack (link below), as I write, and the delicacy with which they are delivering the guitar work, is hugely impressive. A beautiful, balanced sound.

Whatever the new drivers & H2 chip are doing, the audio signature has been totally re-assigned with this new version of AirPod Pro. The fact these AirPods are so small, leads me to believe that the level of computational audio going on here, is pretty special. But, the clever part of it is the sound is natural and airy, and not mechanical.

When I first wore these new AirPods Pro 2, I mentioned that I initially found the volume controllers on the stems, a little tricky to get the hang of. But, as I thought, muscle memory has kicked in and, now, it has become second nature. I really can’t imagine it not being there. Amazing how quickly we adapt, right? The way Apple have gone about the implementation of the volume controller is, well, very Apple! Each swipe, only increase the volume by one, comfortable increment, rather than a free-fall approach. It makes sense, as if it were not limited, it would be a quick way to damage your hearing. Also, depending upon which hand you use to flick up the volume, you will get a tiny haptic sound in that ear only. I am a sucker for details like that.

Gone too is the old infra-red method of detecting when the AirPods have been removed from your ears. With my older pair, they would seem quite sluggish in stopping playing, when put on a table or in my pockets. AirPod Pro 2 have the same tech that was first seen in AirPods 3, and that is skin detection. The sensors pick up moisture from the skin, and as such, respond virtually immediately when taken out.

And those modes!

So, AirPods Pro 2 really start to come in to their own, with the various audio modes that they come packed with. I’ll come on to ANC in a bit, but first, the couple of settings that just do nothing for me…

Personal Spatial Audio was dressed up as if it would make a massive difference. I have to say, though, I have not found it has made any difference at all. I’d be interested to hear what you make of it, actually. Have you set it up and tried it out? The odd thing is, you can’t turn it off, you have to delete the setting and start over. But, having now done that procedure a few times, honestly, I cannot hear any difference.

Another function that you can’t switch off, is the new Adaptive Transparency. In theory, it is supposed to compress harmful, loud sounds from the ‘real world’. But, as you can’t turn it off, I have no idea whether it is working or not! I guess we’ll just have to trust Apple on that one.

However… Automatic Noise Cancelling on these AirPods is insane. I can’t quantify, it is twice as good, as they claimed at last month’s keynote, but geez, it is good.

The whole premise of this week’s video will be talking about the ANC. I decided the best way to test it, was to really put them to the test. So yesterday, I took myself to Heathrow and tried out both pairs in front of taxying planes. The ANC on AirPods Pro 2 just blew me away. The planes behind me were attenuated to a level where they were not interfering with my audio playback – impressive huh! Even more dramatic, was that I could not hear the cars at all on the road just in-front of me. I had my original AirPods with me and there truly was a massive difference.

If the ANC can block out planes at Heathrow…that’s good enough for me.

Overall

As I said at the start, there are small improvements across virtually every element and user experience of AirPods Pro 2. Each one of them by itself, not huge, but together, they all go to making AirPod Pro 2 a serious upgrade.

At the price point, even if your current AirPods Pro are in good shape, there are enough benefits to honestly think at treating yourself. If you wear yours anywhere near as much as I wear mine, the payback is huge.

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Get in the vibe and listen along to today’s chosen soundtrack. I wrote this whilst listening to get in the vibe and listen along to today’s chosen soundtrack. I wrote this whilst listening tohttps://music.apple.com/gb/album/the-poet/1551256064

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