Top positive review
4.0 out of 5 starsImproved, but still a little “Meh”, and I returned.
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on April 27, 2023
I’ve been using the AirPods Pro v1 for about 2.5 years. They’ve been pretty solid and consistent, but the other day the left one just started making crackling noises, to the extent where it’s unusable. So my search for the next great set of ear buds began.
I’m firmly within the Mac universe (iPhone, iPad Pro, MacBook Pro), and pretty much every earbud review you read presumptively points Apple users to these. I get it, but frankly I’d never been overwhelmed by the audio quality of my AirPods Pro, and as someone who travels for work the ANC was very mediocre. Additionally, the “seamless connectivity” between Apple devices that all the reviews tout is, in actual practice, quite annoying to me when the airpods automatically and presumptively switch devices without my input.
With this in mind, below are my pros and cons for the AirPods Pro 2:
- ANC is better than v1. Not as good as the Bose QCII which I also tried, but very solid. I could still slightly hear my wife on conference calls in the other room of our home office (with Bose I heard nothing) but it wasn’t disturbing.
- Connectivity seemed solid. Instant connection to iPhone. I also set up connection with my Windows partition and no issues (some static but I think it was interference from another device on my desk, and not anything to do with the AirPods).
- Same lightweight feel as prior AirPods.
- Nice haptic-like controls for pause, playback, forward, etc. Easy to switch between ANC and Transparency mode.
- Transparency mode was also solid. Not a big deal for me as I’m more interested in blocking out other noise, but I understand that for some this is important.
- Mic was good. Took a couple calls and the other party heard me clearly. Similar experience w v1 airpods.
- Overall audio quality is very good, but nothing special. I’m mostly saying this in comparison to the Bose; I’m no audiophile but sound on the Bose was just richer, more depth or something. Not sure if the ANC had anything to do with it, but the Bose was just a joy to listen to; the AirPods were good/adequate but again nothing special.
- Controls. In typical Apple fashion, they give you none. Want more bass? Too bad, Apple has already optimized that for you. Treble? Same thing, Apple says just trust us, we’ve got it covered. They do offer controls for switching off some of their other features (Spatial Audio, for example) but it’s a shame that Apple doesn't recognize (or care) that different people have different preferences for EQ settings.
- Case. They’ve added a lot of features to the new case (none of which I really care about) but I’ve never liked how slick the v1 case was, and these are no different. Just a personal preference though; the case is still small and very portable, which obviously trumps texture.
- One other annoyance: No idea why Apple feels that, by default, I need to be sent an alert any time I’m more than 100 feet or so away from my airpods. You can turn this off in the Find My app, but again when I’m driving my daughter to school or whatever I don’t require a notification on where my AirPods are located.
In summary, while I generally love Apple products, I just wasn’t overly impressed by these. To be honest, if I hadn’t stepped outside the box and tried something from a competitor (Bose) then I probably would have been fine with these. Again, there are definite improvements to the original AirPods Pro (if I had to put a number on it I’d say they are 35-40% “better”), and they are way beyond adequate in every way. However, due in no small part to Apple’s approach to sound quality (ie not even providing the user with some basic controls for customization), I returned these.
I will say that one thing I’ve learned through reading dozens of reviews is that each person’s use case is different, and that the best earbuds for one person may be different than for someone else. And in terms of the best “all around” earbuds for Apple users, the AirPod Pro 2, as the professional reviews indicate, may very well be the best fit. However, if you are looking for best in class ANC and sound quality, I’m not sure all will be impressed with these. I certainly wasn’t.