AirPods Pro 2nd Generation
The sound quality of the AirPods Pro 2nd Generation is out of this world. While the basic physical design is the same as the previous model, the new features and upgraded technologies really make these AirPods the next evolution for listening experiences. I felt like everything I was hearing was elevated and that I was hearing movies as if I were placed into the scene. After listening to them side by side with the AirPods Pro 1st Generation and AirPods Max, you just feel like you are missing something when you aren't using the AirPods Pro 2nd Generation.
- EASE OF USE
- SOUND QUALITY
AirPods Pro 2nd Generation elevates the listening experience to the next level.
While I wouldn’t consider myself an ‘audiophile’, I do consider myself a nerd when it comes to high-quality, premium listening experiences. I really love complicated soundtracks and I always cheer for the Sound Mixing and Sound Editing categories at award shows. That said, headphones are some of my favorite gadgets to test out as a content creator.
When I heard about the AirPods Pro 2nd Generation I honestly didn’t think it would be possible for a set of earbuds to provide the best possible listening experience for any type of audio. I was wrong and the new generation of AirPods Pro is worth every single penny you pay for them.
About AirPods Pro 2nd Generation
AirPods Pro was first introduced in 2019. They are wireless Bluetooth in-ear headphones designed by Apple and are considered Apple’s ‘mid-range’ headphones with the standard AirPods and AirPods Max on either side of them in the product lineup. Apple announced the AirPods Pro 2nd Generation during their Keynote event on September 7, 2022.
While some of the main features remain the same as the 1st generation model, the AirPods Pro 2nd Generation has some impressive new features added in as well. The complete list is included below. Items marked with ** indicate upgrades to the 2nd generation model.
- Custom high-excursion Apple driver
- Custom high dynamic range amplifier
- Active Noise Cancellation
- Adaptive Transparency**
- Vent system for pressure equalization
- Personalized Spatial Audio with dynamic head tracking**
- Adaptive EQ
- Dual beam-forming microphones
- Inward-facing microphone
- Skin-detect sensor**
- Motion-detecting accelerometer
- Speech-detecting accelerometer
- Touch control**
- Apple H2 headphone chip**
- Apple U1 chip in MagSafe Charging Case**
Sweat and Water Resistance
- Sweat and water resistant (IPX4): AirPods Pro and charging case
- Charging case Works with MagSafe charger**, Apple Watch charger**, Qi-certified chargers, or the Lightning connector
Battery – AirPods Pro
- Up to 6 hours of listening time with a single charge (up to 5.5 hours with Spatial Audio and Head Tracking enabled)**
- Up to 4.5 hours of talk time with a single charge**
Battery – AirPods Pro with MagSafe Charging Case
- Up to 30 hours of listening time
- Up to 24 hours of talk time
- 5 minutes in the case provides around 1 hour of listening time or around an hour of talk time
- Bluetooth 5.3 wireless technology**
Size and Weight
Earbuds Dimensions & Weight
- Height: 1.22 inches (30.9 mm)
- Width: 0.86 inch (21.8 mm)
- Depth: 0.94 inch (24.0 mm)
- Weight: 0.19 ounces (5.3 grams)
Charging Case Dimensions & Weight
- Height: 1.78 inches (45.2 mm)
- Width: 2.39 inches (60.6 mm)
- Depth: 0.85 inch (21.7 mm)
- Weight: 1.79 ounces (50.8 grams)**
Pricing & Availability
The AirPods Pro 2nd Generation has a list price of $249.00 from Apple. They can also be purchased from Apple-authorized resellers such as Target, Best Buy, Verizon, and Amazon.
The AirPods Pro comes in a familiar Apple box. The earbuds are pictured on the front and the basic description is provided on the back. When you open the box, you’ll see the “Designed by Apple in California” stamp on the face of the paperwork holder. Included with this paperwork are a quick start guide, warranty summary, safety and handling, and regulatory compliance information.
The quick start guide walks the user through connecting the AirPods Pro, changing the ear tips, charging the earbud and the case, and an explanation of the controls, and the audio controls available in the Control Center. Directly beneath the paperwork is the AirPods Pro in their charging case, and below that is the ear tip holder and a charging cable. The charging case is wrapped in Apple’s protective plastic, which is easily peeled off.
The first thing I did when I took the AirPods Pro out of the box was to switch the ear tips. Because I had the first generation model, I knew that the new XS ear tips would come in handy for me. I have had an issue with the AirPods Pro working themselves out of my ears the longer I wear them. So, I was ecstatic to hear about the addition of the XS ear tips. The next thing I did was complete the Ear Tip Fit Test in the Settings for the AirPods Pro.
Once you place your ear tips and make sure the AirPods Pro are securely placed in your ears, you play a short track within this audio test and the AirPods Pro is able to detect whether or not you have a tight enough seal within your ear for you to get the full benefit of the AirPods Pro’s features. Even if you think you are using the right size, I highly recommend using this feature. It really helped me determine which size was the best for my ears.
The next thing I did while setting up the AirPods Pro was to set up the Personalized Spatial Audio. This really does make a difference when you are listening to any audio through the AirPods Pro. I had standard Spatial Audio set up on my AirPods Pro 1st Generation and my AirPods Max and I could immediately tell a difference between the two audio features.
Once the AirPods Pro 2nd Generation was completely set up, I started watching some video clips from movies I knew had complex soundtracks. I have included a list below of what I watched/listened to while testing out the AirPods Pro but I will say that I was stopped dead in my tracks when I came to Star Wars, Episode I: The Phantom Menace. I literally heard sound effects in that movie that I’d never heard before and I’ve probably seen it 50+ times. I have nearly every line memorized of that film and I never caught the things I heard when watching with the AirPods Pro 2nd Generation.
The AirPods Pro is comfortable to wear. If you notice in the specs area, the dimensions of the AirPods Pro are not marked as different from the 1st Generation model. They are exactly the same size, shape, and weight as their predecessor. So, if you have used the 1st Generation version and have found them comfortable, you shouldn’t have any problem wearing these. During my first day with the earbuds, I wore them off and on for almost 8 hours. I never ended up having a headache, earache, or any related discomfort.
The noise cancellation is far superior to the 1st Generation model. I noticed a big difference — even when nothing was playing. I was doing my testing in a fairly isolated room, but it’s not soundproofed. My fiancé was in a separate room playing a video game online with some friends. His voice carried throughout the hallway and I could hear him talking without any headphones on.
When I put the AirPods Pro 2nd Generation in my ears and turned noise canceling on, I could hear him at all. The AirPods Pro 1st Generation did not provide the same effect. I got some bleed-through sound and could still hear my fiancé even though it was muffled and intelligible.
I got the same type of effect when I turned Transparency mode on. With the AirPods Pro 1st Generation, it’s just standard Transparency but the 2nd Generation model provides Adaptive Transparency which allows the user to hear through their audio but softens the ambient noises that are above a certain decibel level. When the audio was playing, I couldn’t hear anything outside the headphones. The same wasn’t true for the 1st Generation version.
Spatial Audio has been taken to the next level with the Personalized Spatial Audio feature. I found that once I set up the personalization option that it was available for my AirPods Max and AirPods Pro 1st Generation, too. According to Apple’s information on the feature, the AirPods Pro 2nd Generation provides the best functionality with Personalized Spatial Audio. This feature is available because of the partnership between Apple’s new hardware and the latest releases of iOS, iPadOS, macOS, and tvOS.
It’s currently available with iOS 16 but will be released with iPadOS 16, and macOS Ventura in October. While Spatial Audio as a feature separated AirPods from other headphones when it was released in June 2021, this next evolution of the feature immerses the user in the entertainment they are enjoying.
The sound quality of the AirPods Pro 2nd Generation is out of this world. I felt like everything I was hearing was elevated and I was hearing movies I’ve been watching for 20+ years again for the first time. You feel the sound more and it’s easy to lose yourself and become displaced from your surroundings.
I would say the feeling is similar to if you are reading a book and everything just fades away into the background. The 1st Generation model provides less isolation and the experience while still good, just isn’t as grand as the 2nd Generation version. Every sound is more precise and fuller with the 2nd Generation model. You lose the nuances in your sound experience when you don’t use the AirPods Pro 2nd Generation.
As I was testing the AirPods Pro out, I went through a specific sequence. As I mentioned above, I watched a few clips from movies that I knew had complicated soundtracks just to experience the AirPods Pro 2nd Generation. Here’s the list of those movies. All of these movies were played on my iPhone 14 Pro and were streamed from various streaming services.
- Jurassic Park — the Brachiosaur scene where the audience sees the dinosaurs for the first time. Streamed using Hulu
- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 — The opening scene and credits sequence. Streamed using Disney+
- Hamilton — The opening sequence and Yorktown Streamed using Disney+
- The Lion King (animated version) — The Circle of Life and Scar’s first scene Streamed using Disney+
- Star Wars, Episode I: The Phantom Menace — The main battle scene at the end (”Duel of the Fates”) Streamed using Disney+
Each of these scenes provided a different level of audio experience. Jurassic Park, Star Wars, and GOTG both have highly layered audio tracks complete with multiple sound effects, dialogue tracks, and musical scores. The Lion King was primarily a mix of an original song and sound effects.
Hamilton was probably the most interesting use case because while the audio track is most definitely cleaned up and re-mastered for viewing, it was originally recorded in a performance venue live. Therefore, it’s not the purest sound you can get. Still, the experience was like nothing I’ve experienced before when viewing or listening to that soundtrack.
After the pleasure of listening to those movies with the AirPods Pro 2nd Generation, I then added in comparing them to the 1st Generation model and my AirPods Max. I want to add here that until the AirPods Pro 2nd Generation arrived, my AirPods Max was the best listening experience I’d ever had with a set of headphones. I didn’t think it would be possible that earbuds could beat an over-ear listening experience — until I used the AirPods Pro 2nd Generation.
To complete this comparison test, I made sure all three headphones were at the same volume level (around 50-60%) and that they all had noise canceling turned on. Then, I would start a specific clip from the following titles with the AirPods Pro 2nd Generation, pause and switch to the AirPods Pro 1st Generation or the AirPods Max.
There was an obvious difference between each set of headphones. With the AirPods Max, the overall feeling was different because of their style but the sound quality was just better with the AirPods Pro 2nd Generation.
The main title I did the testing with was The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug — the first scene with Smaug. It’s a very layered soundtrack with lots of highs and lows (the ting of a gold coin versus the boom of Smaug’s vocal track is a HUGE contrast). You really feel the movie with the AirPods Pro 2nd Generation and when you listen to the same track with the other two sets of headphones you just feel like you are missing something by comparison.
Other Titles I Tested:
- The Dark Knight — The opening sequence up through the bank robbery.
- Star Wars, Episode VII: The Force Awakens — The first scene with Rey. No vocal audio; only musical score and sound effects.
- Doctor Strange – The opening scene up through Dr. Strange’s first operating scene.
I didn’t only test these headphones with movie tracks. I also listened to music using Apple Music’s Spatial Audio playlist. I was surprised to hear layers of vocal tracks on titles like “You Give Love a Bad Name” by Bon Jovi that I’ve never heard before. I’d like to add that I did think while my office window was open and I was using Adaptive Transparency. There were chainsaws and lawn equipment being used in my neighborhood and I couldn’t hear it while the audio was playing.
As one of my final tests, I watched House of the Dragon (streamed on HBO Max through Hulu) on my iPad Pro 4th Generation. Since iPadOS 16 has not been released yet I didn’t have the Personalized Spatial Audio active during this show. I found that this test — along with the non-Spatial audio tracks in Apple Music, was probably the best test option for the AirPods Pro 2nd Generation.
It really gave me an idea of how well they work — just as earbuds. My listening experience was still elevated. Without getting too graphic about it, the opening scene of the episode I viewed included a character giving birth to a baby. There were sound effects that were enhanced and included that go along with that that were very realistic.
Sometimes there is a slight blip in the earbuds when they are making adjustments for your surroundings or the incoming audio tracks. This is a momentary glitch, but I figured out that it isn’t a mistake; it’s just an adjustment that the headphones make.
I honestly think it’s a shame that people can’t take these headphones to the movie theater. That would be the next evolution of entertainment. These headphones are simply amazing and are better than anything I’ve ever heard. The AirPods Pro 2nd Generation allows you to hear the soundtrack the way it was meant to be heard and immerses you into the environment of whatever you listening to.
If you want that type of experience, run, don’t walk to get your next set of AirPods Pro. If this is what Apple has done with the AirPods Pro, I can’t wait to see what they do with the next generation of the AirPods Max.