Going Pro again: Apple AirPods Pro

AirPods Pro

Apple has announced the all-new AirPods Pro featuring Active Noise Cancellation and a superior and immersive sound. The new AirPods come in a notable different form factor and have become lightweight with an in-ear design. Apple has long used “Pro” as a means of communicating that the gadget is supposed to include better technology—while selling at a premium—and the AirPods Pro are no exception. 

“AirPods are the best-selling headphones in the world. The one-tap setup experience, incredible sound and iconic design have made them a beloved Apple product, and with AirPods Pro, we’re taking the magic even further,” said Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “The new in-ear AirPods Pro sound amazing with Adaptive EQ, fit comfortably with flexible ear tips and have innovative Active Noise Cancellation and Transparency Mode. We think customers are going to love this new addition to the AirPods family.”

Design

The AirPods Pro appear to have a different design than the original AirPods. Most notably, these Pro ‘pods have swappable in-ear tips, undoubtedly an effort to appeal to customers who never bought the fixed-fit AirPods because of comfort concerns. The new AirPods will come with three different sets of flexible silicone ear tips. To further maximize comfort, AirPods Pro use an innovative vent system to equalize pressure, minimizing the discomfort common in other in-ear designs

The “stick” that extends from each earbud appears to be shorter than the stick on the original AirPods, and more angled. The AirPods Pro charging case is also more compact than the previous model. And the new AirPod Pros are sweat and water-resistant, with an IPX4 rating, but don’t expect to go for a swim with them anytime soon, since they’re designed for “non-water sports and exercise.”

Transparency Mode and Noise Cancellation

The key pitch, though, is active noise cancellation. Previously a feature of expensive, over-ear headphones, noise cancellation has been getting into in-ear headphones more recently. The microphones in AirPods Pro will listen to external sound and work to block it in the user’s ear, updating up to 200 times per second. Users will be able to swap between this active noise cancellation and a “Transparency” mode, which allows more external sound, either with a new force sensor on the hardware itself or by bringing up a software menu on the iOS, watchOS, or iPadOS device with which the AirPods Pro are synced.

Immersive Sound

The new AirPods deliver superior sound quality with Adaptive EQ, which automatically tunes the low- and mid-frequencies of the music to the shape of an individual’s ear — resulting in a rich, immersive listening experience. A custom high dynamic range amplifier produces pure, incredibly clear sound while also extending battery life, and powers a custom high-excursion, low-distortion speaker driver designed to optimize audio quality and remove background noise. The driver provides consistent, rich bass down to 20Hz and detailed mid- and high-frequency audio.

The ear tips

Unlike the current AirPods, these will come with flexible ear tips for a more secure, sealed in-ear fit. Three sizes of silicone tips are included in the box. Apple even says there’s a software audio test that can tell you if you’ve chosen the right-sized tip by “measuring the sound level in the ear and comparing it to what is coming from the speaker driver.” This should reduce any guesswork or confusion for customers.

Charging case and battery life

Apple promises a battery life of 4.5 hours of listening time per charge for the buds themselves, and like AirPods, the buds will come with a charging case. With multiple in-case charges, the company claims up to 24 hours of total listening time.

Pricing and Availability

AirPods Pro are available to order on apple.com and the Apple Store app starting today and in stores beginning Wednesday, October 30. AirPods Pro will cost $249 and will come only in the colour white, despite earlier rumours that they might come in additional colours. They’re available to order online today, and orders will ship on October 30. They’ll also be available in Apple retail stores on that date.

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