In preparation for the over the head cans coming "soon", I decided to take these out for a spin. I have owned them for three weeks now and have a few notes.
First off, I have used these with my iPhone XR for the most part. While I write this, I am listening to them on my stack (PC>DX7S>Bluetooth transmitter>Airpod Pros). The dac does little to change the sound compared to my iPhone.
In the box, you get a puzzle! One thing about apple that I have noticed is that they like to make weird boxes, fun but strange. In the box, you get a short quickstart manual, a usb c to lightning cable, and the headphones/case. You also get extra rubber tips for small and large sizes, i use the medium size. I find it odd that the pros come with the C to Lightning cable but no wall adapter. It seems like a big F for any iPhone user as I doubt many have a usb c wall charger. Regardless, the pro case recharges with a lightning cable, just like you iphone. The case is a nice size, half the size of my sony xm3 bud case. Play time is about the same as the xm3s', 5-ish hours depending on volume and settings.
The Airpod pros have a few key features: ANC, iPhone instant connect, and transparency mode. While there are certainly more, I would like to speak to these. The ANC on these buds are pretty darn good. As compared to the bose 700 they are just as good, it seems to focus on the low/mid blocking sound. On a moving car, high pitched sounds come through but the buds block a majority of sound from the car speakers. The nicest feature these have is when you open the case, seriously. I pulled them out the box and opened the case and watched my iPhone say "hey, did you buy some Pros? Want me to connect?" It was nice, and damn near instant. Now, there is a downside. At work, I work with many people who have iPhones. Many have noted that the pros my first few days asked if their phone wanted to pair, which I found odd.... Transparency mode is amazing, no joke. This is my favorite feature on these buds. I talked a bit about a similar mode on the XM3s, you can choose how much sound comes through from outside the buds. The pro's version is so good, I couldn't tell that the buds were still in until the battery died. These transparency modes are my favorite, turn the music just enough to hear it is like making your own soundtrack to your life.
Highs: For a enclosed single driver it sounds clear and natural. One of my favorite aspects about these buds is how natural the buds sound. Unlike my T2's sound, these sound like the drivers have plenty of air to breath and the result is fantastic. This "fresh" sound is even present in the mids.
Mids: As neutral as these buds are, the mids seem -.5 behind the highs and bass. Its not alot, but switching from the DEVA to these makes it noticeable. Vocals are very nice and natural again. The detail is great too! Its like Apple looked at beats and said "not that, anything but that" sound. The low mids sound a little more forward from the mid-highs if that makes sense. I feel like there is a dip in the mid-highs and a bump in the mid lows.
Bass: This is the kind of bass I am looking for. Strong, not a long roll off, and not boosted. These buds are what I wanted from the Bose 700, strong bass that doesn't overpower and doesn't take forever to roll off. Now, if you don't have a great seal (wrong size buds) you will get very little bass. This can be solved by trying a new tip and testing it through the settings on you iPhone. You can't test this on any other device, sadly.
The soundstage is weird. I find that many songs are well presented with about a 2 foot soundstage, but some other songs seem much closer. Ill listen to a live album like "Tim Minchin and the heritage orchestra" and have a great time picking out where sounds are, but flip to "The Police Live" and it feels intimate. It could be the recording, but I'm experienced in this area. I'll be exploring it more.
The separation has one issue for me, which I'll cover in my conclusion. Otherwise, using "Amaranth" by Nightwish is what I will use here. You can pull apart most sounds with ease. I can pick up hints of the chimes, but it seems to be overshadowed by the choir for the majority of the chorus. It does better than the $150 headphones I've reviewed by doesn't do quite as good as headphones like the 95x or 177X.
So, what is my complaint about these buds? The active eq. Apple built in a chip that takes the sound in and actively fixes the eq to change the sound. This happens mostly at the beginning of a song, but is noticeable during the song as well. This really distracts from the overall performance in my testing. Now, this is lest noticeable in transparency mode but very noticeable in ANC mode. I can use these at work as I need to use transparency, but when I want the quiet it sucks. The other complaint is the seal and keeping them in your ear. The rubber caps help and super easy to swap, but I recommend something in the after market as these do not stay in well while moving. Or use a lanyard, defeating the purpose of TWS. Apple, please R&D a better shape.
In conclusion, these are super nice and convenient buds to have. I got a $5 case at walmart that clips to my keys, so I have them on me all the time. The speed of the connection plus the features I can use with my iPhone beat out most TWS buds easy. The sound is natural and worth every penny. While I have complaints, I feel the convenience factor beats them out and are worth $250 easy. If you want a better TWS experience, get the XM3. If you have an android, get the XM3. If you want features AND have a iPhone, get the Pros. I want to hate them so much, but I can't find enough issues to not recommend them.
(The photo is taken from Apple.com. I paid for the buds in the review, Apple doesn't know me and didn't provide anything for this review. I doubt they know this site exists. T_T)