Can Confirm — Apple Really Did Take It Up a Notch With Its New Airpods Pro 2

Though I’ve used other models of Apple’s AirPods with noise cancelling for the past two years, putting in a pair of the latest AirPods Pro 2nd gen last week, I was immediately struck by how much of my surrounding noise it cancelled out. It was like it had zapped the loud chatter to a low hum.

In fact, I couldn’t even hear what my work colleague sitting next to me was trying to tell me — I had to take my AirPods out (though, I could’ve also adjusted their settings on my iPhone to transparency mode — more on that later).

AirPods Pro

Before I get into the rest of what these latest AirPods are like, let’s do a little recap of previous AirPods models, shall we? Because with the different generations and Pros vs, well, non-Pros, it can all get a bit confusing.

Related: What’s the Difference Between the Apple Watch Series 8, Ultra and SE?

Related: Apple Watch Ultra, iPhone 14 Plus and AirPods Pro 2: Everything New Coming to Apple

Currently, you can buy four different types of AirPods. The AirPods 2nd generation have the long, slim stem; AirPods 3rd generation were released last year and have a shorter, thicker stem; AirPods Max are over-ear headphones; and AirPods Pro 2nd generation are the newest, released on September 9.

Here’s a handy infographic from Apple:


So, back to the noise-cancelling. Basically, it was noticeably more apparent than in previous models, which makes sense, given the AirPods Pro 2 use a new H2 chip.

In addition to better noise cancelling, the chip also allows a new feature: Adaptive Transparency. The optional feature — you can turn it on or off in the AirPods settings on your iPhone — will automatically reduce loud noises around you like sirens. While I didn’t notice this, I also didn’t happen to walk past any loud noises.

The AirPods Pro 2 are also the only AirPods with ear cushions, which, personally I don’t love using. I prefer the look and feel of AirPods 3rd, which are cushion-free and, in my opinion, are sleeker. The case of the AirPods Pro 2 is also larger and heavier than AirPods 3rd gen. Conveniently, though, it allows for a lanyard attachment for the first time in AirPods.

As for the listening experience, Apple really did take things up a notch from previous models, which were already impressive. Listening to podcasts, I felt like the voice of the person or people talking was coming from where they’d stand if they were talking to me in person.

Also new is the fact you can switch between noise cancellation and transparency mode (where you can hear surrounding noises) from your iPhone. Doing so makes you feel a bit like you’ve gone up or down many floors in a high-rise lift — it’s similar to that ear pop feeling.

AirPods Pro

Finally, worth mentioning is a feature that became available to previous models of AirPods in June: Personalised Spatial Audio. You set up it on your iPhone similar to how you’d set up Face ID, turning your head to fill in a circle around your face. The idea is that it makes the sound experience better, adjusting as you move your head. I didn’t notice much of a difference with it turned on, but users online rave about it.

So, should you invest in the AirPods Pro 2? Personally, if you don’t already have a pair of AirPods 3rd generation and don’t want to splurge for the Pro — AirPods 3rd generation are $279, while AirPods Pro are $399 — I’d go with those instead. Yes, the listening experience is definitely better with the Pros and the lanyard attachment on the case is super handy, but the AirPods 3rd generation are still an amazing product and, in my opinion, look sleeker, too.

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