Apple has just launched the rumored noise-canceling AirPods Pro — not with an October product event, but via a press release. The premium earbuds are set for release on October 30th for $249. They’re up for preorder starting today. And yes, they still only come in white.
Apple has built microphones into the AirPods Pro that detect external sound, and the earbuds then cancel it out. The system used here sounds very similar to the noise cancellation in the new Beats Solo Pro headphones, just miniaturized to a much smaller form factor. Apple says noise cancellation is adjusted up to 200 times per second.
The AirPods Pro feature a transparency mode that will let you hear your surroundings while wearing them. The earbuds have a “force sensor” that you can use to control music playback and activate transparency mode.
The company is promising fantastic audio quality from the AirPods Pro for that $249 price. They have a feature called “Adaptive EQ” that “automatically tunes music to the shape of your ear.”
Unlike the current AirPods, these will come with flexible ear tips for a more secure, sealed in-ear fit. Three sizes of silicone tips are included in the box. Apple even says there’s a software audio test that can tell you if you’ve chosen the right-sized tip by “measuring the sound level in the ear and comparing it to what is coming from the speaker driver.” This should reduce any guesswork or confusion for customers.
Like the second-gen AirPods, the AirPods Pro support wireless charging and hands-free “Hey Siri” voice commands. Apple says they get around 4.5 hours of continuous listening battery life. (You can see that the active noise cancellation takes a bit of a toll there.) But as usual with AirPods, the case has enough extra battery for around 24 hours of total listening time, including those recharges.
The AirPods Pro are sweat and water resistant — get ready to start seeing these in gyms everywhere — and they include “an expanded mesh microphone port that improves call clarity in windy situations.”
They still charge via the Lightning connector, but they now come with a Lightning to USB-C cable in the box.
Apple’s new AirPods come just as noise cancellation — long a convenience offered by over-ear headphones from Bose, Sony, and others — has begun making its way to truly wireless earbuds. Sony’s noise-canceling 1000X M3 earbuds cost $229. And Amazon’s Echo Buds, with Bose noise reduction (not full-on cancellation) technology, are about to hit shelves for $129.99. AirPods have seen a meteoric rise in popularity since they were first released, so it’s safe to assume that Apple is about to have another smash hit on its hands.
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