The missing link between wireless headphones and wired headphone jacks.
One of my biggest frustrations when traveling is heavy packing. No matter how much I try to pack light, I end up finding things I ‘have’ to take with me. One of those things is a wired set of headphones for air travel. I would much rather just take my AirPods or favorite set of noise-canceling over-ear headphones, but if I want to take advantage of in-flight entertainment, I’m forced to take a second set of wired headphones or use the ones provided by the airlines. Fortunately, Twelve South, one of my favorite accessory companies, has created the ideal solution for me — the AirFly Pro.
DETAILS & FEATURES
The AirFly Pro is the latest addition to the AirFly family of products. It’s a Bluetooth transmitter and receiver that is designed to work with Apple AirPods. There are four different models of the AirFly — Classic, Duo, USB-C, and Pro. The differences are outlined in the image below. The AirFly Pro is ideal for my uses because, in addition to acting as a transmitter, it can also receive Bluetooth signals, which is great for automobile transportation, as well as air travel.
The AirFly Pro is a wireless adapter that makes it possible for wired audio connections to provide a signal to wireless listening devices. AirFly Pro can allow two people to share a listening experience and the device can last up to 16 hours on a single charge. Some of the examples of use include gym equipment, car auxiliary ports, and airplane audio ports.
- Dimensions: 57 x 25.5 x 11mm
- Weight: 15.6g
- What’s in the Box: AirFly Pro, non-removable headphone cable, USB-C to USB-A charging cable, travel pouch, keyring storage, owner’s guide
Twenty-one years ago, I embarked on a once in a lifetime journey. I was not quite 17 yet and I was given the opportunity to travel from the United States to Europe with a tour group. It was an incredible experience and the only thing I would really trade would be the extremely long plane ride we had to endure to cross the Atlantic Ocean. If I had the technology that I have now, it would have been a lot more tolerable. Since then I’ve been on flights many other times and each time I have a strong distaste for using the airline’s headphones and not being able to use my own. At this point in time, I don’t have any airline travel planned in the near future so I wasn’t able to test out the AirFly Pro on an airplane, but I did connect it to the headphone jack on my MacBook and then connect a set of Bluetooth headphones to it so that I could listen to my iTunes collection without having to connect another Bluetooth device to my laptop. I also was able to use it with my Nintendo Switch and that was absolutely priceless. No more long AUX cable draping down from my ears to the Switch.
I had just a little trouble getting the AirFly to enter pairing mode and timing that correctly with the pairing mode on my headphones. Since I didn’t have a display to go off of, I wasn’t sure when the two devices were connected. All of a sudden, I started hearing music playing through the headphones and I knew they weren’t connected any other way. One thing I was concerned about was sound quality. Sometimes sound quality can degrade when you go through a transmitter, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that the sound quality did not suffer through the AirFly Pro connection. In fact, it sounded as if I had the headphones connected through a wired connection. The sound was rich and full and it sounded as if I was hearing it being performed live.
The AirFly Pro comes with a rather thorough user guide. I found it very helpful as I was trying to connect to it for the first time. It is important to note that the AirFly Pro does have to be charged in order to use it. It does not receive power from being plugged into a 3.5mm port. Unfortunately, it does not have a battery indicator so there is no way to know exactly when it will discharge completely. The LED indicator light on the AirFly will flash amber 3 times to alert you that it will need to be charged ‘soon,’ but you don’t know for sure how much time you have left with it at that point. In addition to that, you do have to manually turn the AirFly Pro on and off. It will stay on and run the battery down if you don’t turn it off.
This is a great accessory to add to your collection even if you don’t travel by air often. It comes in quite handy for trips to the gym as well as connecting to your car stereo when you don’t have a Bluetooth accessible vehicle. It’s a clever device with some impressive features. While the retail price is around $55 USD the AirFly Pro is priced higher than some other Bluetooth receivers. But, since it does both transmitting and receiving, I think the premium cost is justified.