David Lewis Talking Tech & Audio
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One month with AirPods Pro

Are AirPods Pro worth the change?

Apple AirPods Pro
image courtesy of author

I had always enjoyed my AirPods 1st Gen. They were the one item in my Apple arsenal, that would be used every day. They were now two years old, and I fancied trading up to AirPods Pro. If that sounds familiar, then read on.

It happened by luck

image courtesy of author

I had not really given owning AirPods much of a thought a few years back. Why? Well, I thought they would be no good! I mean, how could a pair of tiny earbuds compare to what I am used to, and my exacting audio standards? To give you some context, I had been a radio host for years, and had built my own studio. I’d possibly stop short of calling it state-of-the-art, but it is not bad. Part of that set-up, meant headphones…and I had more pairs than I needed. So many, in fact, that when I started my YouTube channel, I focused on talking about them.

I happened upon the world of earbuds, and AirPods by happy accident. My daughter required a new MacBook Air for her uni studies. Using her student number, when ordering, meant we were entitled to a free pair of the OG AirPods. She already had some, so, these babies were mine. This was just before the pandemic, which, as it turns out, was perfect timing. Many of my lockdown days, were spent wandering the fields near where I lived, listening to podcasts. They were convenient, paired easily (sometimes too easily actually), had great battery life, were small, comfy and compact.

The important bit

Apple AirPods Pro
image courtesy of author

With my background, clearly, audio is important to me. I was really surprised at the quality of audio these little fellas were delivering. The bass was not overemphasised, the highs not too present or piercing and the all important mids, clear and not muddy. Whether I was listening to music or speech, they were a good listen. Of course, they were no comparison to my Beyerdynamics, and I never expected them to be. I had come from a world of neutral, flat, balanced over-the-head headphones to a commercial pair of in-ear buds. But equally, the Beyers were far from comfortable out of the studio. The Apple AirPods Pro USP, almost, was their ability to perform any place, anywhere. Comfortable, unintrusive and discreet. Yup, I was hooked. Every time I left home, I grabbed them, and still do to this day. The only difference now being I grab the Pros.

Why the change

AirPods Pro
image courtesy of author

As you can see, I still have that original pair, just in case, as a back-up. I was happy enough with them, but had heard great things about the Pros and in particular ANC (Active Noise Cancellation). Transparency Mode intrigued me, as did Spatial Audio. ANC, I can tell you, is just stunning. It is partially achieved, through a custom fit to the buds, with a choice of three sizes of soft, silicone tips. The rest is sorted out by Apple and their unique brand of magic. The moment you engage ANC, the outside world becomes a distant memory. I was sceptical it would work, and very nearly bought AirPods Max. £549 is a hefty sum to pay, though, for not hearing outside noises. Time to give the AirPods Pro a chance I reasoned, and they have not disappointed, and I saved £300!

Spatial Audio is odd. It’s subtle, but it is there. If you have not experienced it, I can only describe it as, well, surround sound for your head! Which ever way you turn, the music comes with you. I wish I could put it in to words better, but the sensation is tough to describe. Unlike ANC, Spatial Audio is neither a game-changer nor dealbreaker for me.

The Apple hook

I mentioned earlier, they pair, almost too easily. It is not unusual for me to have three or four Apple products around me. AirPods Pro will try to connect to the device with current audio playing. It is one of the few time, Apple is almost too clever. Certainly with your phone, though, it’s a pickup and go situation. Pairing has never failed me. I also mentioned that you got the choice of ear tips. With all the tricks AirPods Pro are pulling, a good fit is, clearly, essential. You can actually run a test to ensure you have the optimal fit. Go to Settings>Bluetooth and tap the info button next to your AirPods in the list of devices. Then, simply tap Ear Tip Fit Test. It will play some audio and give you feedback on the fit you have for each ear. Gotta love Apple, right – I am a sucker for detail like that.

Pretty much the moment I bought mine, rumours started to circulate about AirPods Pro 2 coming out later this year. I can’t see that there will be any features that would make me switch so soon. But, if you are still running a pair of 1st or 2nd gen AirPods, and are loving them, do yourself a favour, and give AirPod Pro a go. Honestly, it opens up a whole new world of audio on the fly. My only regret, is I took so long to make the change. Don’t you make that same mistake.

The audio man is suitably impressed.

AirPods Pro are available here

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