Apple’s New AirPods Pro Feature Active Noise Cancellation, Flexible Ear Tips, and More

Getting tired of your old pair of earbuds? Now’s a good time to upgrade: Apple has released an all new version of its AirPods, called AirPods Pro. With noise-cancelling tech, flexible ear tips, and more, there are plenty of features that set these wireless earbuds apart. Here’s what you need to know.

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The AirPods Pro continue some of the hallmarks of the original AirPods, including one-tap setup with other Apple devices, Siri voice assistant compatibility, and the all-white colorway with the charger/carrying case. It’s also powered by the same H1 audio chip. But there are plenty of new features to look out for.

Out of the box, one of the most obvious changes is the soft, flexible tip on each ‘bud—a first for AirPods. According to Apple, the tips are made from silicone and each earbud comes with three sizes. They’re designed to conform to the shape of the ear for a comfortable fit and create a good seal to make your playlist sound as good as it should (more on that in a bit).

Already anxious about finding the right size? Don’t be—the AirPods Pro come with a software feature that uses the built-in microphones to test the quality of the seal, so you can select the tips that offer the best fit for you. The earbuds also come with a venting system to equalize pressure, so you shouldn’t get that annoying plugged-up feeling that other soft-tip earbuds sometimes have.

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The AirPods Pro also come with active noise cancellation, which is great for traveling or anytime you’re trying to listen to music in a noisy area. To keep out background noise, the earbuds utilize two built-in microphones: An outward-facing mic detects external sounds. A second, inward-facing mic acts as a second defense against unwanted sounds: It listens inside the ear and helps the buds cancel out any remaining noise. That means you should get clearer audio even when you’re in a crowd or seated deep in economy class on your next flight.

AirPods ProCourtesy of Apple

Of course, there are also times when you still want to hear what’s going on around you. For that, Apple offers what it calls Transparency Mode, where some ambient sound is allowed into your ear—it’s ideal for running or cycling, when situational awareness is key, or when you need to hear an announcement over a PA system. You can toggle Transparency Mode using a new force sensor on the AirPods’ stem, and that same sensor can be used to control music playback, too.

As for the music, the AirPods Pro come equipped with Apple’s Adaptive EQ system, which tunes the low- and mid-frequencies for your unique ear shape, and the speaker driver is designed to deliver quality bass down to 20 Hertz. Add in the Active Noise Cancellation and the close fit provided by the soft tips, and the AirPods Pro should deliver excellent sound quality overall.

Of course, a wireless earbud also has to have stellar battery life, too. The AirPods Pro are rated for five hours of playback on a single charge (the same as AirPods), but if you turn on Active Noise Cancellation, there’s a slight penalty: Battery life decreases to four and a half hours. The Pro version is also rated for three and a half hours if you’re, say, talking on the phone. Need to charge them up? It comes with a case that’s rated to keep the earbuds going for over 24 hours.

If you’re ready to make the Pro leap, you can order the AirPods Pro online starting today, and they’ll be available in stores starting later this week.

[$249; apple.com]

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