Apple’s new AirPods Pro 2 headphones: crisper sound, better noise cancellation

This story is part of Hotspot iPhone 2022CNET’s collection of news, tips, and advice on Apple’s most popular products.

The long-rumored AirPods Pro (2nd generation) are official. Apple has unveiled its latest true wireless noise-canceling headphones as part of its headphones iPhone 14 event ‘away’. It’s available for pre-order on Friday and will ship starting September 23 for $249 (£249, AU$399).

The new AirPods Pro follow the original noise-canceling model that debuted in October 2019. They’re powered by Apple’s new H2 chip, which delivers more processing power while being more energy efficient, according to Apple. The new chip, along with new low-distortion drivers, allows for improved audio that should provide better clarity and depth. Noise cancellation has been improved too — Apple says the new AirPods have “double” noise cancellation than the original AirPods Pro.

Apple / screenshot by Sarah Lord / CNET

Pre-orders for the 2022 AirPods Pro begin on September 9, with the first sets of new earbuds beginning to ship on September 23.

My early working impressions

I had a chance to try the AirPods Pro 2 for a limited time at the launch event in the buzzing display area, with hundreds of people around. The noise cancellation seems to have improved, although it was only able to dampen the noise in the room so much. I also thought the earbuds sounded cleaner and sharper than the original AirPods Pro while listening to some tracks on Apple’s iPhone 14 test phones. (I wasn’t able to use the headphones with my iPhone and the tracks I normally use to test headphones.)

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I think it’s really important to have a tight seal for the best noise cancellation and sound quality. Apple hasn’t changed the design of its ear tips — with the original AirPods, I use oversized tips and also use third-party foam tips — but it will now include an extra-small fourth ear tip for those with smaller ears.

The second generation AirPods Pro earphones are powered by Apple’s new H2 chip.

apple

Some people were hoping the new AirPods Pro could stream Apple Lossless tracks over wireless. Apple hasn’t said anything about it, but it’s possible that some features will be revealed at a later date. With the original AirPods Pro, for example, Apple didn’t introduce spatial audio until months after its release.

On the spatial audio front, Apple says AirPods Pro now have custom spatial audio that creates a more personalized listening experience for your ears. Transparency mode is also improved and adapts to the ambient noise you encounter, and there’s a new custom spatial audio feature along with touch scroll controls on the stems to add to the tweaks controls.

Battery life is now up to six hours on a single charge (up from five), and the case gives you four additional charges. In addition, the case now has a built-in speaker, allowing it to play sounds to precisely use Apple’s Find My feature.

AirPods Pro 2 case now has a lanyard option

The new case has a place to attach a lanyard, but Apple doesn’t include one with the new AirPods Pro.

David Carnoy/CNET

While some people may be disappointed that Apple didn’t do more to upgrade the design of the AirPods Pro 2 (there are some tweaks to the microphone configuration and a few other small improvements including the openings), the second-generation AirPods Pro are pretty much what I expected they would be: AirPods Pro sound better with better noise cancellation, better battery life, and a wireless charging case with some enhanced features.

I’ll have a lot more to say about them in my full review – stay tuned – where I’ll compare them to some of our other best noise-canceling earbuds, including New Bose’s QuietComfort II Earphones which was also revealed this week.

Key Features of AirPods Pro 2

  • Same design as the previous AirPods Pro
  • Powered by Apple H2 . chip
  • Improved audio with new low-distortion drivers
  • Improved noise cancellation (Apple says twice the amount of ANC)
  • Adaptive Transparency Mode
  • personal spatial sound
  • The charging case now has a speaker built into the bottom that allows it to play audio using Precision Find My
  • 6 hours of onboard battery capacity (1 hour more than the original AirPods Pro) with an additional 24 hours in the charging case
  • Touch controls added To tweak the controls on the stems
  • Can now be charged using the Apple Watch charger in conjunction with Qi wireless chargers
  • Cord can be attached to the case (cord not included)
  • Price: $249, £249, AU$399
  • Shipping date: September 23 (available for pre-order September 9)

The second generation AirPods Pro headphones are powered by Apple’s new H2 chip.

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Read more: Best wireless earbuds of 2022

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