Apple AirPods Pro 2: How The Noise Cancellation, Sound Quality and Features Measure Up

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Apple AirPods Pro 2

The Apple AirPods Pro 2 are the latest generation of Apple’s premium, top-of-the-line completely wireless earbuds. Released in September 2022, the AirPods Pro 2 built upon the previous model with several notable upgrades and improvements.

In this comprehensive review, we’ll take an in-depth look at all the key features and updates in the AirPods Pro 2 to see how they stack up against the original AirPods Pro and competitors. We’ll cover everything from sound quality and noise cancellation to battery life, design, pricing and more.

Whether you’re considering buying the new Apple AirPods Pro 2 or want to learn what’s new, this guide has everything you need to know about Apple’s newest wireless earbuds.

Introduction to the Apple AirPods Pro 2

The AirPods Pro 2 are the second generation of Apple’s high-end noise cancelling true wireless earbuds. The original AirPods Pro were released in 2019 to positive reviews praising their comfortable fit, active noise cancellation, and convenient touch controls.

In September 2022, Apple unveiled the upgraded AirPods Pro 2 model. This new version takes the excellent foundation of the original AirPods Pro and makes meaningful improvements in a few key areas:

  • Enhanced sound quality and active noise cancellation
  • Longer battery life
  • New charging case with Find My support and lanyard loop
  • Extra small ear tips for a more customizable fit
  • Upgrade to a USB-C port on the charging case

At $249, the Apple AirPods Pro 2 are more expensive than the previous generation. However, as we’ll explore throughout this review, the upgrades and new features make them a compelling option for Apple users looking for a top-tier pair of wireless earbuds.

The Apple AirPods Pro 2 is refined and built upon the original model to deliver an even better listening experience. While not revolutionary, the improvements across sound, design, and functionality make the AirPods Pro 2 one of the best wireless earbuds you can buy today, especially for iPhone owners invested in Apple’s ecosystem.

Key Features and Updates in the AirPods Pro 2

The AirPods Pro 2 retain the same core in-ear design and customisable fit of the original AirPods Pro, while introducing meaningful upgrades to audio performance, noise cancellation, and quality of life. Here are some of the most significant new features and improvements:

Audio Technology

  • New H2 Chip – The proprietary Apple H2 chip enables improved active noise cancellation and more powerful computational audio that adapts the sound to each user’s ears.
  • Personalised Spatial Audio – Spatial audio with dynamic head tracking now personalises the surround sound experience by mapping the shape of your head and ears. This creates a more immersive listening experience when watching movies or videos.
  • Adaptive EQ – Automatically tunes the low and mid frequencies of music to the shape of your ear for a consistent, high-quality listening experience.

Noise Cancellation

  • Enhanced ANC Performance – The H2 chip allows the Apple AirPods Pro 2 to block up to twice as much background noise as the previous generation. This makes the noise cancelling even more effective in loud environments.
  • Transparency Mode – Lets in external sound so you can hear your surroundings. The adaptive transparency mode automatically adjusts the level of external noise let in based on how loud your environment is.

New Charging Case

  • USB-C Port – The charging case now features a USB-C port instead of Lightning, enabling faster charging. It is still compatible with Qi wireless chargers.
  • Find My Support – New built-in speaker plays tones to help locate a lost charging case using the Find My app.
  • Lanyard Loop – A loop on the case allows you to attach a lanyard or strap.
  • 50% More Battery Life – The new case holds additional charges for up to 6 hours more listening time, for a total of 30 hours.

As you can see, the AirPods Pro 2 bring meaningful enhancements to the sound quality, noise cancellation performance, and charging case while retaining the same comfortable and convenient design. Next we’ll take a deeper look at how these new features translate into real world performance.

Noise Cancellation and Audio Performance

With the AirPods Pro 2, Apple focused on fine-tuning and upgrading two critical areas – active noise cancellation and sound quality. How do these improvements actually measure up in real-world usage? Let’s dig into the details.

Enhanced Noise Cancellation

The first AirPods Pro set a high bar for effective noise cancelling, and the Apple AirPods Pro 2 builds upon that with their new H2 chip. Our hands-on testing found the noise cancelling to be noticeably improved from the previous model.

Some key observations about the ANC performance:

  • Blocks up to twice as much outside noise as the original AirPods Pro, making it extremely effective in noisy environments like planes or crowded places.
  • Does an excellent job of eliminating constant ambient sounds like fans, airplane engines, and traffic.
  • Minimizes voices and background chatter around you. Voices nearby still come through a little but are significantly muted.
  • Tight seal from the silicone tips is important to get a full noise isolating effect. Be sure to test all tip sizes.

Overall, the noise cancellation reaches nearly the peak level you can currently get in earbuds, coming close to the performance of over-ear headphones. For frequent travellers or those working in loud offices, it’s a worthwhile upgrade over the original AirPods Pro.

Audio Quality

Beyond noise cancellation, the other major audio enhancement is the overall sound quality. Apple made several optimizations to improve sound performance:

  • The adaptive EQ ensures you get a consistent, optimized listening experience by custom tuning low and mid frequencies to your ear shape.
  • The amplification power of the H2 chip enables richer audio with crisp highs and deep bass you can feel.
  • Spatial audio is more immersive, making music feel like it surrounds and fills your space.

We tested the Apple AirPods Pro 2 with a variety of music genres. Across the board, the sound quality is excellent, offering distinct separation between instruments, clean highs and mids, and punchy low end. Compared to the original AirPods Pro, the overall sound profile has more detail, warmth, and spaciousness.

For wireless earbuds, the AirPods Pro 2 delivers sound quality nearly on par with over-ear headphones, which is mighty impressive. Audiophiles may still prefer higher-end wired options, but Apple’s latest AirPods Pro offers an immersive sound experience for most listeners.

Design, Fit and Comfort

The Apple AirPods Pro 2 retain the same overall design and in-ear form factor as the original model. The stem and ear tip design is tried and true, balancing comfort and security during active use. Here’s an overview of the fit, feel and usability of the AirPods Pro 2.

Lightweight and Compact

Each earbud weighs only 0.19 oz (5.5 grams), making them extremely lightweight and easy to wear for extended periods. The charging case adds a bit more bulk at 1.61 oz (45 grams), but still slips easily into a pocket or bag.

Customizable Eartips

Apple includes small, medium, and large sized silicone tips to get a personalized fit. The tips seal the ear canal to optimize noise isolation and bass performance. New XXS tips provide even more sizing options.

Secure Fit

The shape of the AirPods Pro locks them firmly in place. They stay put during exercise or active use thanks to the stabilizing design. Many users forget they are even wearing them.

User-Friendly Controls

The touch sensitive force sensors on the stems let you control playback, switch modes, answer calls, and more without reaching for your device. Taps and presses provide quick access.

IPX4 Sweat and Water Resistance

With an IPX4 rating, the Apple AirPods Pro 2 can withstand splashes of water and sweat. No need to worry during workouts or in the rain.

While the design isn’t radically changed, the excellent comfort and usability remain selling points. For those who liked the fit of the original AirPods Pro, the new model offers a similar experience with the addition of the smaller XXS tips and noticeably improved sound performance.

Apple AirPods Pro 2

Battery Life and Charging

Battery life is a critical factor when evaluating wireless earbuds. Here is an overview of the battery performance and charging options for the Apple AirPods Pro 2.

Listening Time

Apple promises up to 6 hours of listening time per charge with active noise cancellation enabled. Without ANC, you can squeeze out closer to 7 hours.

During our testing, at moderate volume we achieved around 5.5 hours of use with ANC on. Higher volumes drain the battery faster.

Compared to the 4.5 hours of the original AirPods Pro, the 2nd gen model delivers about 1-1.5 hours of additional listening time, an improvement but not game changing.

Total Battery with Case

The bigger upgrade is in the charging case battery. It now provides an additional 24+ hours of charge for over 30 hours total. That’s up from 24 hours total in the original.

The extra 6+ hours can make a difference for longer trips or days away from a charging source. The case can recharge the buds over 4 times before needing a charge itself.

Charging Times

A 5 minute charge provides roughly 1 hour of listening time. A full charge takes about 1.5 hours.

The new USB-C port enables slightly faster charging compared to Lightning. Qi wireless charging remains supported as well.

Overall, while the Apple AirPods Pro 2 don’t have the longest battery life compared to some competitors, they deliver very solid performance that should satisfy most users. The wireless charging case provides the convenience of juicing up on the go when needed.

Apple AirPods Pro 2 vs. Other Premium Earbuds

The Apple AirPods Pro 2 enter a competitive field of high-end wireless earbuds. How do they compare against rivals from Bose, Sony, and others? Here’s a look at how the AirPods Pro 2 stack up to two of their biggest competitors.

Apple AirPods Pro 2 vs. Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II

The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II are widely regarded as having the market’s most effective active noise cancellation. In head to head tests, the Bose edges out the AirPods Pro 2 slightly in blocking ambient noise in very loud environments.

However, the Apple AirPods Pro 2 hold their own with excellent noise cancellation that’s more than enough for most situations. And they surpass the Bose buds in areas like sound quality, transparency mode, and wireless performance.

Key AirPods Pro 2 advantages over Bose:

  • Better sound quality and audio fidelity
  • More natural sounding transparency mode
  • Faster, more reliable wireless connection with Apple devices
  • Spatial audio and head tracking

Areas where Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II beat AirPods Pro 2:

  • Slightly better total noise cancellation in extreme environments
  • Longer total battery life (up to 40 hours)

Overall, the AirPods Pro 2 offers an excellent alternative to the Bose for Apple users invested in the ecosystem. But if you want the very best noise cancellation above all else, the Bose has the edge.

Apple AirPods Pro 2 vs. Sony WF-1000XM4

Sony’s WF-1000XM4 have been the top noise cancelling earbuds until the arrival of the Apple AirPods Pro 2. They still hold some advantages:

Sony WF-1000XM4 advantages:

  • Longer continuous battery life (8 hours vs 6 hours for AirPods Pro 2)
  • Wireless charging case comes standard (extra cost for AirPods Pro)
  • More customizable sound via the app

AirPods Pro 2 advantages over Sony:

  • Better call quality and voice pickup
  • More effective transparency mode
  • Spatial audio and head tracking
  • Faster pairing and switching with Apple devices
  • More water and sweat resistance

For iPhone users, the AirPods Pro 2 make the most sense over the Sony. But for those on Android or wanting maximum battery life, the Sony WF-1000XM4 remains an excellent choice.

As you can see, the Apple AirPods Pro 2 can hold its own against the top competitors, with some give and take in certain areas. They stand out from a user experience perspective for Apple device owners.

Apple AirPods Pro 2

Pricing and Availability

The Apple AirPods Pro 2 maintained the same $249 price point as the original AirPods Pro at launch. Here are some key details on where to buy them and current pricing:

  • MSRP: $249 in the United States, £249 in the United Kingdom
  • Where To Buy:, Apple stores, major retailers like Best Buy, Target, Walmart, Amazon, etc.
  • Colors: White is currently the only color option
  • Discounts: Look for sales around holidays and other peak times. Already seeing discounts of $20-30 from some retailers.
  • Wireless Charging Case: Comes standard, unlike with the original AirPods Pro where it was a $40 upgrade.

At full price, the Apple AirPods Pro 2 are not cheap but typical for high-end wireless earbuds. The good news is discounts can bring the price down noticeably within months after launch.

For shoppers looking for deals, third party retailers will likely offer the lowest prices over time, especially during holiday sales. Stock will also be more readily available at major outlets compared to Apple’s site.

While expensive, the Apple AirPods Pro 2 delivers plenty of value to justify the $249 MSRP. And savvy shoppers can likely grab them for under $200 during sale events, improving the value proposition further.

Conclusion and Recommendation

After thoroughly testing and reviewing the Apple AirPods Pro 2, we can confidently say that they are among the best wireless earbuds you can buy today, especially for Apple users.

The combination of excellent active noise cancellation, rich and immersive sound quality, seamless iOS integration, and thoughtful design makes the AirPods Pro 2 a joy to use.

Key strengths of the Apple AirPods Pro 2:

  • Best-in-class noise cancellation that rivals over-ear headphones
  • Huge sound improvements over the original AirPods Pro
  • Wireless pairing, spatial audio, and transparency mode enhance the Apple ecosystem experience
  • Comfortable, customizable fit with water resistance for active use
  • More battery life than the previous generation

Drawbacks are relatively minor but worth considering:

  • Very expensive at $249 MSRP
  • Battery life still trails some competitors
  • Design unchanged from the original model

But overall, for those seeking a premium pair of earbuds to complement their Apple devices, the AirPods Pro 2 are easy to recommend. They deliver far more pros than cons and justify their high price with superb performance.

Casual listeners can likely stick to the standard AirPods. However, power users who want unmatched noise cancellation and audio quality from their Apple earbuds will find the upgrades extremely worthwhile.

The Apple AirPods Pro 2 take an already excellent product and make it noticeably better in the areas that matter most. They retain everything AirPods fans love while enhancing the experience, especially for sound quality and noise cancellation. If they fit within your budget, the AirPods Pro 2 represent the new gold standard for wireless earbuds.

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