The main reason that I bought the US$249 AirPods Pro (2nd generation) with MagSafe Charging (USB‑C) is that I hope to purchase an Apple Vision Pro — assuming that I can save up enough money.
The US$3,499 (and up) “Spatial Computer” is due in early 2024. Even then it will apparently only be available in limited quantities at first.
According to Apple, the AirPods Pro (2nd generation) with MagSafe Charging Case (USB‑C) will enable Lossless Audio with ultra-low latency to deliver the “perfect true wireless solution” for the Vision Pro. The tech giant adds that “the H2 chip in the latest AirPods Pro and Apple Vision Pro, combined with a groundbreaking wireless audio protocol, unlocks powerful 20-bit, 48 kHz Lossless Audio with a massive reduction in audio latency.”
For me, that’s the big attraction of the new AirPod Pro. Of course, Apple could easy the pain of the Vision Pro’s price tag by including AirPods Pro for free — or at least offering a discount when you buy the pricey headset. And note that 20bit lossless audio at 48KHz is less than what Apple Music delivers: 24bit/192Khz.”
Also, the new AirPods Pro are updated with a USB‐C connector, so you can use a single cable to charge Mac, iPad, AirPods, and the iPhone 15 lineup. Users can even charge AirPods directly with iPhone 15, iPhone 15 Plus, iPhone 15 Pro, and iPhone 15 Pro Max, which also come with a USB‐C connector. This is a nice touch, but not a good enough reason for most folks to upgrade from a non-USB-C version of the AirPods Pro.
Along the same line, iOS 17 adds several features to all second-generation AirPods Pro, including Adaptive Audio, Conversation Awareness, and Personalized Volume. Here’s how Apple describes these features:
- Adaptive Audio: This new listening mode dynamically blends Transparency mode and Active Noise Cancellation, adjusting the noise control based on the sound in a user’s environment. The breakthrough experience, unlocked by advanced computational audio, allows users to stay aware of their surroundings, while distracting noises — like group chitchat at the office, a vacuum at home, or the din of a local coffee shop — are reduced.
- Conversation Awareness:When a user begins speaking to someone nearby — whether they’re having a quick conversation with a colleague or ordering lunch at a cafe — Conversation Awareness helps to lower the content volume, enhance the voices in front of the user, and reduce background noise.
- Personalized Volume: Using machine learning to understand environmental conditions and volume selections, Personalized Volume automatically fine-tunes the listening experience for users based on their preferences over time.
Note that these software features are also available on the original second-generation AirPods Pro released in September 2022, so, again, theses aren’t reasons for upgrading.
Still, the features are pretty much nice. Adaptive Audio pretty much cancels environment noice the same degree as the full noise cancellation mode. However, it does reduce outside sound enough to make listening to your tunes less distractive when you’re in a busy environment.
Conversational Awareness is useful and, for the most part, kicks in when you need it. For example, when I was using Apple Music, it lowered the music when I began talking to my wife.
On the other hand, I found little advantage to Personalized Volume. But your mileage may vary.
However, there are features of the updated AirPods that Apple didn’t mention that are with considering. They boast an updated IP54 rating for both the AirPods and the case; that’s an upgrade from IPX4. This offers increased water resistance and more protection against dust.
All things considered, the AirPods Pro with USB-C are worth considering for those planning a Vision Pro purchase. Others who already have AirPods Pro can probably save their moolah for something else.
Apple World Today rating (out of 5 stars): ★★★★