More comfortable and more stable in the ear, AirPods Pro especially allow us to enjoy our music, our podcasts or a call more, by isolating us from ambient noise in a very successful way.
The first two generations of AirPods, that of 2016 and that of 2019, have for them the magic of ease of configuration and daily use, as well as good autonomy for true wireless headphones. However, the fact that they are open often affects listening comfort, especially in noisy environments. With the AirPods Pro, Apple promises to fix this problem and improve the overall experience. With success ?
A new design for more comfort …
No more open design, easy to slip into one ear but not always suitable for quality listening. AirPods Pro take a more compact in-ear approach… and very slightly heavier. Some will wince, because in-ear devices have their detractors. However, in this case, Apple offers good ergonomic comfort.
The soft silicone ear tips – available in three sizes: small, medium and large – are easily interchangeable and fit snugly in the ear. They are also different enough that you can feel a difference trying them all. Note also that if you have any doubts about the earpiece to choose, it is possible to perform a small test from the AirPods settings, which will tell you if your ear is properly sealed with the chosen size. Then it’s up to you to feel whether you need a little wider or, on the contrary, narrower.
In any case, the ear cups are compact and discreet enough that you can wear them when you try to doze off, on an airplane for example. Even the pressure of a pillow will not dislodge them or sink them further.
With the arrival of the in-ear, AirPods fit even better in the ear, making them perfect companions for those who like to go for a run or play sports to music. The AirPods Pro are also splash and sweat resistant (IP4X). However, swimming is strictly prohibited… or in any case not recommended.
Finally enjoy the sound … unhindered
The in-ear design also has the advantage of allowing better orientation of sound in the ear. We hear more nuances of sound and enjoy a balanced and clear sound. The frequency range covered is wide without collapsing, with good sustain in the mids and highs. The bass seemed a little more present to us, without becoming omnipresent, but it is unclear whether it is the signal processing that produces this impression or if it is the in-ear format.
Ultimately, this is undoubtedly one of the first times that we can really enjoy (fully?) The sound quality of AirPods. Anyway, if the sound is very clean and pleasant enough, it remains quite neutral, without really character. Apple has no bias, we do not find the ample and enveloping rendering of Bose or Sony headphones, in particular the WF 1000-XM3.
But it doesn’t end there. Because the in-ear format is also the sine qua non that allows active noise reduction (RDA) with true wireless headphones. The ear is less isolated from extraneous sounds than with a model that covers it completely, but this type of device is also lighter and more compact.
In this case, Apple achieves a very good performance. The RDA offered by the AirPods Pro is indeed very effective. Outside sounds are muffled but perfectly understandable – in a particularly noisy environment, it’s even a good way to hear someone speak to you. Thus, if we shout your name, you will be able to recognize it, the sound is just reduced.
Active noise reduction adapts perfectly to variations in environmental noise whether the user wears his earbuds in the street, in the subway or on the plane. Even when noises occur intermittently or occasionally – probably the H1 chip should be thanked for this result. Thanks to a microphone turned towards the outside and another towards the inside of your ear, it carries out 200 measurements per second to produce a “counter-noise”, which covers that produced by the environment.
Unlike some noise canceling headphones, AirPods Pro do not have the unpleasant feeling of overpressure on the eardrum. The pressure inside the ear canal and that outside are balanced by a small channel that allows air to circulate. Comfort is enhanced.
The active noise reduction of AirPods Pro is excellent. It does not seem to us to be unworthy of what the competition offers – although once again, due to the form factor, the ear is not as well insulated as with circumaural headphones. But, like most of its competitors, Apple also had the good idea to offer a Transparency mode. When activated, from the AirPods Pro or from the iPhone, this function allows you to hear what is being said outside, very clearly without having to remove (if not out of politeness) the headphones from your ears . This is particularly useful for answering someone who calls you briefly or for listening to an audio announcement on a train or plane.
The Transparency mode is all the more pleasant to use as it does not cause the small breath that this kind of function often produces. It is a great success.
Pressure instead of touch
An Apple representative explained to us during the AirPods Pro presentation that the teams started from the principle that tapping an earpiece that has been placed in the ear is not necessarily very pleasant. The touch surface of AirPods, which allows them to be tapped to access certain commands, is therefore replaced by a pressure sensor. It sits on the outside of the short vertical rod of the AirPods Pro.
Slightly flattened, this surface is very easily found with your fingertip, although it will take some getting used to exerting pressure in the right place.
If we have not encountered a problem with short presses, on the other hand, we still regularly fail to activate the Transparency mode the first time, which requires a long press. It is undoubtedly a question of pressure which must be frank and well distributed from the outset. In any case, the little click, intended to confirm the pressure, is convincing and goes well with the use of this surface on a daily basis.
It is therefore thanks to this surface that we will be able to activate Transparency mode, or skip a song, pause or go back to the previous song, depending on the number of pressures that will be exerted.
What we regret more is that this tactile surface does not allow you to control the sound volume. This requires going through the device to which the AirPods Pro are connected, whether it is the iPhone, an iPad, a Watch or a Mac.
Of course, we can always invoke Siri with a simple “Hey Siri” to adjust the volume. We can also ask the assistant to calculate a route, start a song, call a contact, etc. All this without taking the smartphone out of her pocket, as long as Siri deigns to emerge from the limbo in which she sometimes hides herself.
The power of integration
Of course, Siri voice activation is just one manifestation of the advanced integration of AirPods Pro into Apple’s ecosystem. As with the first two generations of AirPods, the setup takes no more than a few seconds and comes down to opening the AirPods Pro case next to an iPhone, then validating the pairing. On a daily basis, the time to put the headphones in their ears and they are connected to your phone or iPad. A quick run through the widgets will tell you the charge rate of each headset and that of the case. Likewise, you can easily activate Transparency mode or noise reduction from the Control Center. The integration is perfect… or almost.
Why almost? Because Apple has still not found the solution so that we can easily connect to an iPhone and then to an iPad with his headphones without having to go for a walk in the Bluetooth settings to force the connection.
It would be great, if not perfect, to listen to music on your iPhone and when you launch a video on your iPad that a small window offers to switch the sound on the AirPods Pro.
Autonomy that keeps its promises
The first two models of AirPods succeeded in ensuring the magic of use as well as a very honest autonomy and in line with the promises made by Apple. What about AirPods Pro? The autonomy measured with deactivated noise reduction is slightly lower than the promise made (4h48 against 5h). On the other hand, the pleasant surprise was to note that active noise reduction has only a small impact on battery performance.
Returning to the case for five minutes is supposed to charge the AirPods Pro to give them an hour of listening time. We hit 43 minutes for a five minute charge. The time is therefore not there, but the result is rather honest.
Because, you will understand, like all true wireless headsets and like its predecessors, the AirPods Pro fill up with energy when they return to the base. The case of the AirPods Pro, like that of the AirPods launched last June, can be recharged in two ways, either with a classic Lightning cable (the one supplied connects to USB-C), or through wireless charging (technology Qi). A small LED on the front indicates the charge status of the case. Apple could however have used it to provide more information on the charging of the case or the earbuds.
In fact, in a framework of classic daily uses (outside, transatlantic flight or intensive use for “marathon” calls, we are never found to be low on battery in our AirPods.
TECHNICAL SHEETApple AirPods Pro
|Model||True Wireless In-Ear Headsets|
|Active noise reduction system||Yes|
|Weight (with cord and batteries)||10 g|
- + Sound quality
- + Comfort and autonomy
- + Noise reduction
- + Transparency mode
- – No volume adjustment
- – The price higher than that of the competition
THE VERDICT OF THE TEST
Apple AirPods Pro
At 279 euros, the AirPods Pro are clearly to be classified in the category of expensive true wireless. They are even a little more expensive than the new benchmark, launched recently by Sony. Still, Apple’s headphones clearly rank among the best around. The quality of the sound produced is good if it does not have character. Noise reduction does not have to be ashamed of that offered by the competition. The ergonomics, both hardware and software, are excellent and integration into the world of Apple, of which the iPhone is the center, is a strong argument for fans of this smartphone. Without forgetting the autonomy, which places them on the top of the basket. The AirPods Pro are clearly the “headset” expected from Apple, which is difficult to resist.
AirPods Pro review
These first generation AirPods, if they were, when they were released, a little revolutionary, are correct, nothing more, with for me a defect that still bothers me often: they absolutely do not reduce the noise of the environment, this which can be annoying in means of public transport for example.
But they are so practical, holding in the pocket, without cables that get tangled, with their rather good autonomy, their small box which allows to extend it several times, that I gave them this small defect specific to this type of earphones. .
So, when Apple announced the availability of the new AirPods Pro, I thought to myself that they could correspond to what I expected: a product capable of reproducing sound in a correct way (I was not expecting a miracle, such small in-ear headphones that cannot compete with very large speakers) that would allow me to listen to music comfortably, also on public transport.