Apple AirPods Professional 2 Assessment: The Greatest Small Earbuds You Can Purchase


Because the AirPods Professional 2 had been introduced for $249 (£249, AU$399), individuals have requested me, “How significantly better are they than the originals?” That is largely as a result of lots of people personal the first-gen AirPods Professional and need to know are these new Airpods definitely worth the improve. There are additionally loads of people who handed on the primary model of the Airpods Professional, however surprise how the latest ones stack up towards premium earbuds from Sony, Bose and different massive headphone manufacturers.

Placing a precise share on how a lot AirPods Professional 2 have improved over their predecessors is not really easy, however that is what I’ll attempt to do on this assessment. I am additionally going to attempt to provide you with an concept how they stack up towards a few of the different high new earbuds on the market. 

Learn extraGreatest Wi-fi Earbuds for 2022


  • Considerably improved sound and noise canceling
  • Powered by Apple’s new H2 chip
  • Higher battery life (6 hours)
  • Upgraded microphones
  • Charging case has U1 chip and built-in speaker for Discover My
  • New swipe quantity controls
  • Adaptive transparency mode
  • Spatial Audio
  • Further-small ear suggestions are actually included

Do not Like

  • Mainly the identical design as earlier mannequin
  • No high-resolution audio
  • No XL ear suggestions

AirPods Professional 2 design: Small modifications

Let’s begin with the exterior design. That is a kind of conditions the place Apple hasn’t actually achieved something to alter the scale and form of the buds or considerably alter their bodily look. The unique AirPods Professional had been compact and light-weight and match lots of people’s ears very well, so I can not fault that call.

Some individuals had been hoping for shorter stems and maybe some new colour choices and even higher water resistance — sure, they’re nonetheless IPX4 splash-proof. However I figured Apple would persist with its tried-and-true design and deal with bettering the areas that had probably the most room for enchancment, similar to sound high quality, noise-canceling efficiency and battery life, which is now as much as six hours from about four-and-a-half hours with noise canceling on and an additional 4 prices within the charging case (30 hours whole). These numbers go as much as seven hours and 35 hours whole with the noise canceling off. A fast five-minute cost offers you about an hour’s value of battery life.

The upgraded skin-detection sensor on the brand new AirPods Professional 2 (left) is smaller than the identical sensor on the unique AirPods Professional (proper). Additionally, the noise-canceling microphone has now been separated from the pores and skin sensor and moved to the highest of the bud.

David Carnoy/CNET

There are some small however noteworthy modifications to the design, notably to the microphones placement. On the unique AirPods Professional, the skin-detection sensor and noise-canceling microphone had been mixed on the within of the bud. Now, they’re separated with the skin-detection sensor in the identical spot, however the noise-canceling microphone has been moved to the highest of the bud the place it is uncovered to the surface world and higher at choosing up and processing ambient sound. The microphone configuration is much like what you see on the AirPods 3, however the skin-detection sensor is smaller, and Apple says it is improved that sensor so it extra precisely activates and off playback and is extra vitality environment friendly. 

I also needs to point out that Apple now features a fourth set of additional small ear suggestions, which ought to assist these of you with actually small ear canals who had hassle getting a safe match with the originals.

However this is not just like the AirPods 3, the place Apple made massive modifications to the earbuds’ exterior design. So far as I can inform, these match my ears the identical because the originals. I personally would really like Apple to incorporate a brand new extra-large ear tip, however I do get a comparatively good seal with the biggest dimension that is included. (I’m able to move the seal check within the Ear Tip Match check that is a part of the AirPods Professional’s Ear Tip companion app, however I do should generally regulate how the buds sit in my ears to move the check.) I may most likely do just a bit higher with an XL tip, and I generally use third-party foam tricks to get a safer match. They’ve a little bit extra grip, and that helps maintain the buds very securely in my ears, notably after I’m operating with them.

The AirPods Professional 2 are IPX4 splash-proof just like the originals. 

David Carnoy/CNET

Upgraded AirPods Professional 2 wi-fi charging case

The brand new MagSafe-enabled wi-fi charging case is similar dimension however now has a built-in speaker and Apple’s U1 chip, which permits it to play sounds to be used with Apple’s precision Discover My characteristic (the case primarily has an Apple AirTag constructed into it). Beforehand, the buds may play a sound by means of their drivers, however typically they had been within the case, so that you could not hear that sound. Now, you should use Discover My to find the case or the left or proper earbuds individually ought to one or all of them go lacking (the buds use Bluetooth Low Vitality or BLE for monitoring). The case additionally now has a spot for attaching a lanyard, however sadly, Apple would not embody a lanyard with the buds.


The brand new wi-fi charging case nonetheless prices through Lighting however provides a speaker and a spot to connect a lanyard.

David Carnoy/CNET

It is value noting which you could’t cost the unique AirPods Professional within the AirPods Professional 2’s circumstances and vice versa. In case you attempt that, you may get a “mismatched AirPods” notification in your cellphone.

Whereas Apple has retained the pinch controls on the stems, which I most well-liked to the contact controls on the unique AirPods, it is now added swipe controls on the stem for adjusting the quantity. You may nonetheless ask Siri to boost and decrease quantity — these do have hands-free Siri — however lots of people will admire the brand new swipe controls.

That is actually it so far as exterior design modifications go and most of them are tied into some characteristic or efficiency enhancement.

Learn extra: Greatest Noise-Canceling True Wi-fi Earbuds for 2022

New AirPods Professional 2 drivers and inner parts

As I stated in my preliminary first look video, the true modifications are on the within, the place every thing is mainly new. The AirPods Professional 2 are powered by Apple’s new H2 chip, which delivers extra processing energy whereas being extra vitality environment friendly. To get higher sound, Apple has mixed that chip with a brand new amplifier and new low-distortion drivers together with new digital processing algorithms. The H2, new microphones and algorithms are additionally what drive the improved adaptive energetic noise canceling that Apple says is twice as highly effective as its predecessor’s noise canceling. And at last, there is a new Adaptive Transparency Mode that lets you hear the world round you in a pure, lifelike method whereas decreasing loud noises that may usually shock your ears. It is an excellent transparency mode and you may flip the adaptive half off if you’d like. 


Some individuals needed shorter stems.

David Carnoy/CNET

AirPods Professional 2 sound analysis

You may undoubtedly hear the enhancements to each the noise canceling and sound. As for sound, you get higher readability, extra bass punch with higher definition, and simply extra all-around depth and dynamic sound. The sound simply has a little bit extra girth and dimensionality. I in contrast a couple of tracks I all the time use throughout testing, like Spoon’s Knock Knock Knock, and you may actually discover a distinction within the bass efficiency. The earbuds use Adaptive EQ, which makes use of an inward-facing microphone to watch the sound going into your ears, and the H2 chip, which optimizes the audio that you simply’re listening to on the fly (there aren’t any handbook EQ settings). The chip’s elevated computational energy helps it course of and optimize a wider vary of frequencies, notably the highs.

One of many extra spectacular issues concerning the buds is how loud they play. For me, I discovered they performed lots loud at about 65% to 70% quantity. I in contrast them to the brand new Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2. The AirPods Professional 2 sound glorious, however there’s one thing concerning the tonal stability of the Bose that I favored a little bit higher at occasions — there is a bit extra heat and naturalness to it — and the bass has a bit extra oomph. However I needed to push the quantity as much as about 85% to listen to a few of the finer particulars and to get the additional bass kick on the Bose. With the AirPods Professional 2 you hear extra element and get good bass even at extra reasonable volumes.

Some individuals had been hoping that the brand new AirPods Professional would be capable of stream Apple Lossless tracks over wi-fi. They presently cannot try this, which will definitely disappoint some individuals. Whether or not they’ll be capable of try this sooner or later and presumably get different new characteristic upgrades is anyone’s guess. However for now, they use Bluetooth 5.3 and help the AAC LC3 audio codec, which provides 16-bit 48 kilohertz bit charges in contrast with the 16-bit 24 kilohertz bit charges of AAC. Not high-resolution audio, however a little bit bump up.

Samsung’s Galaxy Buds 2 Professional help 24-bit high-resolution audio. The catch is to get that 24-bit audio you want a Galaxy system geared up with Samsung’s One UI 4.0 and a music streaming service like Qobuz, Tidal or Amazon Music that streams high-res audio tracks. On all different gadgets, together with Android telephones and iPhones, these buds default to the AAC audio codec.

AirPods Professional 2 noise canceling testing

The energetic noise canceling is impacted by how tight a seal you get from the ear suggestions. In case you lose that tight seal, some ambient sound could leak in and you could hit the uncommon ANC hiccup because the AI shifts gears for a fraction of second to make changes (this can be a phenomenon with all adaptive noise-canceling earbuds). However it was straightforward to sense that the noise canceling was decreasing extra cabin noise throughout a cross-country flight I took and likewise muffled extra sound after I rode the subway in New York. The buds even have simply sufficient venting to keep away from that oppressive occluded feeling you generally get with ANC buds.

The noise canceling did not really feel twice as sturdy to me as I switched between the AirPods Professional 2 and the unique AirPods Professional, however by double the noise canceling energy what Apple means is that noise canceling is improved throughout all frequencies and doubtless extra so with high- and mid-range frequencies which are more durable to muffle than decrease frequencies. So that you’re more likely to hear extra enchancment with the muffling of individuals’s voices, for instance.

The AirPods Professional 2 of their charging case.

David Carnoy/CNET

Finally, the noise canceling is likely one of the greatest on the market proper now and only a slight step behind what I skilled with Bose’s new QuietComfort Earbuds 2, which arguably have one of the best noise canceling at this second. However I am going to say it once more, the noise-canceling expertise can and can differ with the match of the earbuds, so hopefully, you get a very good match.

In case you occur to personal an Apple Watch, you’ll be able to hearth up the Noise app — or complication, as Apple calls it — to get a readout of the precise decibel ranges the AirPods Professional 2 are decreasing with their noise canceling (you simply have to have a Watch operating WatchOS 9). It would be good should you may simply see that very same dB stage verify in your iPhone.

AirPods Professional 2 Spatial Audio

I am not going to speak an excessive amount of about Apple’s Spatial Audio digital encompass mode, however it’s right here and enjoyable to mess around with — it is a good bonus characteristic, and Apple appears to do it greatest in contrast with different buds which have their very own digital encompass or spatial mode with head-tracking (for instance, Samsung’s Galaxy Buds 2 Professional use 360 Audio). I favor utilizing Spatial Audio with motion pictures, however I additionally tried it with numerous music tracks, notably people who Apple designates as Made For Spatial Audio. It would not essentially make music sound higher, however it does make it sound completely different, and it is attention-grabbing to attempt it out with tracks you realize effectively and need to hear another way.

iOS 16 brings Customized Spatial audio to any AirPods that help Spatial Audio. Just like what you do when establishing Face ID, the personalised expertise comes from taking photos of your ears, and the largest profit is the extra correct placement of dialogue straight in entrance of you if you’re watching a film. That placement would not transfer even should you flip your head you probably have head-tracking turned on (you too can use Spatial Audio in “mounted” setting).

AirPods Professional 2 voice-calling efficiency

The unique AirPods Professional had been largely glorious for making voice calls and these are even barely higher. As I stated, the microphones have been upgraded, and there are two beamforming microphones for calls — one on the surface of the bud and one on the backside of the stem, each of which have some mesh protecting them to assist scale back wind noise. While you’re utilizing the buds to make a FaceTime name over Wi-Fi as a substitute of a name over a mobile voice community the place the audio will get compressed, individuals could possibly discover an even bigger distinction within the readability of your voice in contrast with what they’d hear with the unique AirPods Professional. (You may take heed to a check name on the Verizon mobile community in my companion video assessment, on the high of this web page.)

The one factor I observed when evaluating the AirPods Professional 2’s voice calling with that of the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2 is that if you’re having a dialog, the AirPods Professional 2 let extra background noise in, however your voice sounds clearer to callers. While you’re not speaking, the Bose earbuds utterly silence the background noise — it solely bleeds in a bit if you begin speaking. The AirPods Professional 2 do not attempt to silence the background noise; they only scale back it to decrease ranges. There’s one thing fairly spectacular concerning the Bose nearly utterly silencing the background noise, however the general expertise for callers (the individuals you are speaking to) appears to be higher with the AirPods Professional 2, as a result of your voice does sound clearer and so they can hear you effectively over the diminished background noise. 

I made calls with noise canceling on as effectively calls with the adaptive transparency on. Individuals you are speaking with cannot hear a distinction, however there will probably be a giant distinction in your finish, notably should you’re in a loud surroundings, the place you may need to flip the noise canceling on (there’s simply sufficient sidetone to listen to your voice within the buds with noise canceling on). In much less noisy environments, it is higher to show transparency on as a result of you’ll be able to hear your voice because it sounds and you will not discuss too loud. And the transparency does make you’re feeling as should you’re not sporting headphones, although you should still really feel them in your ears.

You need to use one bud independently — with noise canceling on if you’d like — and go away the opposite within the case to cost. It would not matter which one you employ when making calls; with the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds it seems which you could solely use the best bud for calls if you wish to use solely a single bud.

AirPods Professional 2 buried options

I’ve spent most of this assessment specializing in the AirPods Professional 2’s top-level options and the issues that folks care about most, similar to sound high quality, noise-canceling and voice-calling efficiency. However the AirPods Professional do have plenty of further options and settings buried inside iOS 16 beneath the Accessibility setting that assist you to tweak the buds, play masking sounds and even create a customized audiogram. And for individuals who have slight to reasonable listening to loss, there is a Dialog Enhance that flip the buds into listening to amplifiers.

These options aren’t distinctive to the AirPods Professional 2 — they’re obtainable for all the newest AirPods. However they’re value exploring, and I believe we’ll see extra options added sooner or later. For example, there was some chatter about new well being options coming to the AirPods Professional 2. These have not materialized, however you by no means know what may get added. For instance, Spatial Audio did not come to the AirPods Professional till effectively after their preliminary launch, and Apple by no means even hinted at when it initially launched the headphones. 

One other good little bonus: Along with charging through Lightning, MagSafe or normal Qi wi-fi pads, the AirPods Professional 2 may even be juiced up with an Apple Watch magnetic charger. 

AirPods Professional 2 in comparison with different high earbuds

As I stated at first, it is onerous to place a precise quantity on simply how significantly better the brand new AirPods Professional 2 are than their predecessor. However I’ll go together with someplace round 40%.

The actual fact is that when the AirPods Professional got here out nearly three years in the past, it was actually their compact dimension, snug match and Apple-only options like auto switching between all of the gadgets in your iCloud account that had been their massive promoting factors. That is all right here nonetheless, however now the sound and noise canceling, which had been good however not nice earlier than, are what you’d anticipate from a $249 set of buds.

Audio high quality is subjective, and a few individuals could barely favor the sonic traits of buds just like the Bose I discussed earlier or the Sony WF-1000XM4 or Sennheiser Momentum True Wi-fi 3, all of which have equalizer choices of their companion apps. However others may very well favor the AirPods Professional 2’s sound; it actually does stack up effectively towards what you get with different premium earbuds on this value vary.

Ultimate tackle AirPods Professional 2

Whereas the AirPods Professional 2 will pair with Android gadgets, you do lose numerous their particular options, together with Spatial Audio, so Android customers are higher off with buds like Google’s excellent Pixel Buds Professional, Samsung’s glorious Galaxy Buds 2 Professional or the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2 that I discussed earlier. And you could discover that different buds just like the Bose and even Apple’s personal Beats Match Professional, which do not sound fairly nearly as good or supply nearly as good noise canceling or voice calling efficiency, could suit your ears extra securely, which is a crucial issue when shopping for wi-fi earbuds.

I am amongst those that want Apple had made the AirPods Professional 2 look a little bit completely different than the originals. (I actually do need them to come back in additional colour choices.) However should you’re an Apple person, they’re onerous to beat as long as they suit your ears. Whereas they could not fairly be good, they really feel like a way more totally advanced, refined product that packs not solely a powerful set of options however top-notch efficiency in a really small design.

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