Apple AirPods Pro’s second gen is more about the same, yet better in every way

Don’t be surprised it took so long for Apple to usher in the second generation of the AirPods Pro wireless earbuds, which first launched in late 2019. True wireless earbuds, and mostly audio products, don’t usually line up for annual upgrades by consumers. Sony’s equally brilliant WF-1000XM3, which launched in early 2020, was finally succeeded this year by the WF-1000XM4s. These timelines are part of the course.

The fame is striking. At first glance (or second, for that matter) nothing has actually changed in the design of the earbuds. The second-generation AirPods Pro retains the same design as before, including the stem (note, it was already shortened when asked the first time, compared to the standard AirPods). That also means, and this is a bit heartbreaking, no color options. An AirPods Pro to match your Deep Purple or Blue iPhone would have been the ticket. We must persevere, with hope in our hearts.

The case against wholesale changes

Nevertheless, once we get past what hasn’t turned into what is (quite significantly too), there’s a sense that the second-generation AirPods Pro are indeed taking a good step forward. All upgrades are on the inside. Except for the addition of the speaker on the AirPods Pro charging case, which should make it easier to locate, just in case these buds decide to slip quietly down the side of the couch.

Also read: Apple Launches iPhone 14 Series, Rugged Watch Ultra, and Updated AirPods Pro

The microphones have been moved in some places, including the use of a new grille design. That is to give the noise reduction technology a better understanding of the ambient noise.

There’s the redesigned audio driver composition and architecture in each earbud, significantly improved noise cancellation and slightly longer battery life – these are the three main pillars of the second-generation upgrades Apple AirPods Pro. Mind you, these build on the previous edition AirPods Pro, which have remained the benchmark for premium wireless earbuds all along – such as the Sony WF-1000XM4 and the Samsung Galaxy Buds2 Pro have closed the gap considerably, but this can again take the lead further. .

New noise reduction technology, for the better

As for the audio hardware in each ear, there’s the new H2 audio processing chip (this is the successor to the H1) and the updated custom audio driver. It is the H2 chip that is essentially the brains behind the audio processing and noise cancellation management. The generational improvements there are pretty obvious.

Noise cancellation is significantly better than before, which should see the second-generation Apple AirPods Pro rival the Sony 1000XM4 in the area where the latter had a clear advantage. We tested this in several sound levels (the decibel meter on the Apple Watch was a handy tool), the loudest outdoors and close to 91db readings.

When the AirPods Pro’s noise canceling is turned on, this value drops to 46db. That’s almost half the level of what is frankly loud noise around you, in the real world. For noise reduction technology at work, that’s a significant impact. For the sake of your hearing health. Apple claims that its noise reduction algorithms calculate and execute processing on the device as much as 48,000 times per second. Frankly, there is no way to test that claim. Nevertheless, the results speak for themselves and show clear progress.

We have often felt that the ears become stuffy or warm over time due to pressure build-up. An issue especially true for wireless earbuds, when noise cancellation is turned on (and in some cases, you’re in control of setting the intensity). This generation of AirPods Pro also manages to negate that constricted ear feel better than most, meaning you can wear it longer.

It is now very common to have a three-layer noise canceling configuration – off, on and transparency mode (this is the intermediate one, which you will probably use from time to time). The transparency mode of the second-generation Apple AirPods Pro sounds, and we don’t say this lightly, more lifelike than most competing earbuds. If you listen to a human voice somewhere around you, it sounds like a human voice. Not a robot.

Consistent gain, but no big leap forward with sound

There is a step forward in the audio signature, but you still wouldn’t classify this as revolution. The AirPods, at least for iPhone users, still remain by far the most sensible choice. But the range of alternatives is wider than before, including Sony and Sennheiser’s arsenal – Samsung could have been with the Galaxy Buds2 Pro, but they seem happier within the Android phone ecosystem.

There is a marked improvement in finer detail and there is also a very light dial-up connection of the lower frequencies. Not much, meaning the second-generation AirPods Pro still sound neutral from the get-go. But there is certainly more vibrancy that can be heard. We would consider that a direct result of the new audio drivers in each earbud, as well as the updated amplifiers.

While subtle, the improvements of the new dynamic drivers are felt across all genres. Trance tracks sound much more lively, the uptempo remixes have so much more bass to work with, while the more vocal content (including the podcasts) is extremely crisp, without ever coming across as trying too hard with audio sculpting to focus on the sound. spoken word.

That said, Spatial Audio remains in the form you may have already experienced in the previous generation AirPods Pro. It really does add that extra bit to movie and TV show content (there’s even more fun watching Netflix on an iPad), but there’s really little to gain for music. There’s a big push for Dolby Atmos content on Apple Music, and there’s two parts: the newer Dolby Atmos-processed songs will sound better than older music that’s theoretically upscaled.

A real upgrade or do the rivals have an advantage?

There was very little wrong with the previous-generation AirPods Pro, which made Apple’s job harder for the second-generation AirPods Pro. Still, this can’t be classified as a “meh” update. There’s a real step up in sound (it doesn’t matter the most), as well as longer battery life. Noise cancellation is now significantly better too, giving the AirPods Pro a strong chance to compete against the Sony WF-1000XM4s. And then there’s the case that can scream his whereabouts, in case you’ve lost him.

In case you hadn’t noticed, the original AirPods Pro didn’t have the capacitive touch controls for volume on the stem of each earbud. That has now been corrected. It also seems less prone to accidental touches.

But on the software side, things are largely as they were. Lossless Audio remains a no-go, Spatial Audio does not add new features and the design remains unchanged. It means you won’t have any new tools to play with (just better audio and noise cancellation to enjoy) and these won’t stand out in a crowd (unlike the original, which was the first benefit).

But again, are you really concerned about the consistency and reliability the second-generation AirPods Pro should deliver, especially within the Apple device ecosystem?

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