AirPods Pro are Apple’s next move in the wireless earbud chess game

Apple includes active noise cancelling, and a Transparency mode

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After Amazon announced Echo Buds last month and Google joining in just a fortnight ago with the new Pixel Buds, Apple is returning fire, announcing AirPods Pro. These are not so much a pro audio product, but an upgrade from its predecessor with new features such as noise cancellation and Transparency Mode.

Did you hear that?

Apple claim that “AirPods Pro are the only in-ear headphones with Active Noise Cancellation that continuously adapts to the geometry of your ear and the fit of the ear tips – blocking out the world so you can focus on what you’re listening to”. Active Noise Cancellation is achieved with a series of microphones on the outside of the earbud detecting ambient sound waves and ‘cancelling them out’ by creating a sound wave that is the exact opposite. This is continuously adjusted at 200 times a second, to achieve an immersive experience.

Though this is a rare function among wireless earbuds, Sony achieved this with its WF-1000XM3 earlier this year. However, Apple claims that AirPods Pro will also feature Adaptive EQ, which “automatically tunes music to the shape of your ear for a rich, consistent listening experience” – making it a unique earbud in this instance.

Attention, passengers…

Transparency Mode is activated by simply pressing and holding the ‘force sensor’ on the stem of the earphone. This will turn off Active Noise Cancellation to allow ambient sound in, a feature suitable if you’re listening out for an announcement, or need to hear something happening in the outside world.

The silicone ear tips come in three sizes (large, medium or small) and provide extra comfort and enhanced passive noise rejection. In previous models of Apple earbuds, it was common for users to crank the volume to avoid hearing ambient noise, which can lead to long-term hearing damage.

AirPods Pro offer over four hours of battery life, plus a further 24 hours of listening time with multiple additional charges in the case. They will also be sweat and water-resistant, and can activate Siri with the usual “Hey Siri” command, allowing you to control music, calls, directions and more. They are available from 30 October for $249, a clear $100 more than the regular AirPods.

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