David Lewis Talking Tech & Audio
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AirPods Pro 2 – the best yet!

I keep on being surprised just how good they are

AirPods Pro 2 - the best yet

AirPods Pro are the kind of gadget that is hard to do justice to.

They look so small and innocuous that it’s hard to believe they are as good as everyone keeps saying. When we get blinded by new iPhones, Macs or M3 Apple silicon these amazing earbuds get overlooked – so today I just want to sing their praises one more time.

It was not all that many years ago that Apple’s earbuds were pretty awful – actually thinking about it they were plain terrible. Muddy, with no punch and a thin wishy-washy sound. Those wired buds we used to get shipped with iPhones were ok for taking calls with but that was about it.

If you wanted to listen to music forget it! I always had to shop around for aftermarket third-party alternatives. When Apple decided to remove the 3.5mm audio out jack I remember the fallout was harsh. How could they? What would we do for earphones now…

Then, in a very Apple way AirPods the brand was announced in the iPhone 7 event in September 2016. They went on sale for $159 in December of that year and pretty much from day one re-defined what was possible with in-ear buds.

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AirPods Pro building on success

So successful were they that in 2019 AirPods Pro were launched.

Last year the AirPods division added an estimated $10 billion to the bottom line on Apple’s balance sheet – not bad for a tiny pair of moderately priced earbuds is it? Giving some context to that figure is that Apple Watch only added around $15 billion.

AirPods are serious business then and Apple was quick to recognise how popular AirPods were becoming and invested heavily in making them better and better. What AirPods had started AirPods Pro finished.

I was fairly late to the AirPods party and only started to use them in 2020 during lockdown. I was walking loads every day and AirPods became an essential part of my daily kit. The audio even in the most basic pair was ever so good, the fit was amazing and they seemed to last forever! The only weakness with them was the lack of any noise cancelling. Walking near roads & traffic meant that you’d struggle to hear whatever content you were listening to.

Enter AirPods Pro…

By the time I’d bought my first pair of Pros in March 2022, I was already writing regularly and making content on YouTube which meant as I bought them I knew there was a very high chance that they were about to get an upgrade – but the truth was I didn’t want to wait…I needed some noise cancelling.

So although life with my first pair of AirPods Pro was fairly short I had no regrets as they were such a huge improvement over the basic AirPods – not just the noise cancelling but the audio too was even better.

The 2nd Gen AirPods Pro though are just in another league in every respect.

Why so good?

Let’s start with the H2 chip as that is where much of the magic happens and in many ways makes them superior to the much more expensive AirPods Max.

Working alongside a custom-made driver and amplifier the audio is notably crisper, clearer and delivers more bass than the original AirPods Pro. The mids where the voice sits are so much more defined making the total audio delivery of these tiny earbuds full and rich.

However, the main task of the H2 chip is in the noise-cancelling algorithms it carries out processing audio in real-time to deliver genuine hi-fi sound. That amp I mentioned reduces any distortion during playback which is what helps with the bass sounding so good even at lower volumes.

The chip even works to make your phone calls better as well with inward-facing mics both recognising and improving your voice making calls much clearer but without sounding over-processed.

Out & about

Adaptive Audio was a recent upgrade to AirPods Pro 2 and has been yet another game-changer. It blends Active Noise Cancelling and the Transparency modes to create a more personalised audio experience depending on your environment.

AI will start to learn your listening preferences over time based on the volume you generally choose and your surroundings and will automatically change and adjust the volume of your content – it’s hard to detect it at work but I have noticed that I have to reach far less for the volume controls now.

Another bit of Apple magic is Conversation Awareness. AirPods Pro 2 will detect when you start a conversation and duck or attenuate the volume of your media letting you have a natural conversation and then will turn your music or podcast back up a few seconds after you finish talking.

Although it does work like a dream I still feel a bit self-conscious leaving AirPods in when I’m chatting to someone – it just feels a bit rude…

The silent winners

There are two features of AirPods Pro 2 though that I’ve not mentioned yet that are possibly the highlights for me.

Design is the first one and that has only come to light since trying other pairs of earbuds out. Last year I tried using the Pixel Pro buds, Nothing Ear 2 and a pair of Beats Pro buds too.

With the additional silicon tips shipped with AirPods Pro 2 now you can find the perfect fit which means they feel way more secure than before. With my first pair of AirPods Pro, I had to continually fiddle as they felt like one was always just on the verge of falling out. But AirPods Pro 2 now are more comfortable than any of the other pairs that I’ve used.

Not only do they fit better but they are also more neatly thought through when it comes to putting them in their case. The others all have idiosyncrasies and are fiddly, but the AirPods Pro are clean and simple in their design – a small point I know but an important one.

And the case leads me to the other point that I adore about these earbuds – the battery life. For starters, even with ANC enabled I still get around 5 hours of listening time which is pretty impressive – but it’s how quickly they recharge that is the thing for me. You only need to pop them back in the case for 10 or 15 minutes to get another good couple of hours of use from them – this feature is brilliant in day-to-day use.

I have AirPods Max but rarely use them as the AirPods Pro 2 are that good and are more convenient. But the fact I can compare and choose a pair of in-ear buds instead of a pair of $500 over-ear headphones says it all.

If you’ve not tried AirPods Pro 2 out for yourself yet…wait no longer. Like Apple silicon, all the hype is true. They really are that good. It’s the start of a new year and with no immediate prospect of any upgrades coming, now is a good time to experience what you’ve been missing.

Go on – treat yourself. Not only are you worth it – so are AirPods Pro 2!

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