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AirPods Pro (1st Generation) Review ⚠️ (July 2024)

The Apple AirPods Pro (1st Generation) have been a popular choice for audiophiles and casual listeners alike since their release in 2019. These wireless earbuds offer active noise cancellation, a comfortable fit, and a decent sound quality. But are they still worth it in 2023, especially considering the release of the newer AirPods Pro (2nd Generation)? In this review, we’ll take a look at the features, performance, and overall value of the first-generation AirPods Pro.

We’ll examine how well the active noise cancellation (ANC) works in real-world scenarios, as well as the quality of the transparency mode. We’ll also delve into the sound quality, assessing the bass, treble, and overall clarity. We’ll also discuss the battery life, charging case, and the ease of use of the AirPods Pro.

This review will help you decide whether the AirPods Pro (1st Generation) are still a worthwhile purchase or if you should consider spending a bit more for the latest model.

We’ll also compare the AirPods Pro (1st Generation) to other popular wireless earbuds on the market and see how they stack up in terms of features, performance, and price. Ultimately, this review aims to give you a comprehensive understanding of what the AirPods Pro (1st Generation) can offer and whether they are the right fit for your needs.

Name: AirPods Pro (1st Generation)
Image: AirPods Pro (1st Generation)
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Rating: 4.3 out of 5 stars
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Introduction

Apple’s AirPods Pro (1st generation) were a game-changer when they launched, bringing active noise cancellation (ANC) to the popular AirPods lineup. These earbuds were praised for their impressive sound quality, comfortable fit, and effective noise cancellation. But with the release of the AirPods Pro (2nd generation), the question arises: are the first-gen AirPods Pro still worth considering in 2023? In this in-depth review, we’ll delve into the design, performance, features, and overall value of the AirPods Pro (1st generation) to help you determine if they’re the right choice for you. We’ll also compare them to the newer model and explore some alternative earbuds available on the market.

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Design and Fit

Design and Fit

The AirPods Pro (1st generation) feature a sleek and compact design, with a distinctive stem protruding from the earbud. The earbuds themselves are crafted from a smooth, matte plastic that feels comfortable to touch. The stem houses touch controls for navigating music and calls, while a small grille on the side allows for audio output.

One of the standout features of the AirPods Pro is their innovative ear tip system. Apple includes three different sizes of silicone ear tips (small, medium, and large) in the box, ensuring a secure and comfortable fit for most users. The ear tips create a tight seal in the ear canal, effectively blocking out external noise and enhancing the overall listening experience. The earbuds are designed to be lightweight and comfortable to wear for extended periods, even during strenuous activities.

The charging case is equally sleek and compact, featuring a glossy white finish and a small LED indicator that displays the charging status. The case provides multiple charges for the earbuds, extending their overall battery life. The AirPods Pro can be easily stored in the case, which can be carried in a pocket or a bag.

Noise Cancellation

The AirPods Pro (1st Generation) are equipped with Apple’s signature active noise cancellation (ANC) technology, which effectively blocks out unwanted noise from your surroundings. The ANC system utilizes a combination of outward-facing microphones to detect ambient noise and inward-facing microphones to analyze the sound entering your ears. It then generates an inverse sound wave that cancels out the ambient noise, creating a sense of tranquility and immersion.

The ANC performance on the AirPods Pro is quite impressive, effectively attenuating low-frequency noises like airplane engine hum, train rumbles, and traffic noise. It also does a decent job at mitigating higher-frequency noises like chatter and conversations, though some of these might still be faintly audible.

The AirPods Pro’s ANC system is very responsive, adjusting automatically to changes in your environment. This means that you’ll experience a consistent and effective noise cancellation experience, regardless of where you are or what you’re doing.

One of the notable aspects of the AirPods Pro’s ANC is its ability to provide a truly immersive listening experience, especially when enjoying music, podcasts, or audiobooks. The noise cancellation effectively isolates you from your surroundings, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the audio content.

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However, it’s worth noting that while the ANC is generally effective, it may not completely block out all noises, particularly high-frequency sounds like sirens or construction work. Additionally, if you’re in an environment with very loud or sudden noises, the ANC may not be able to completely cancel them out.

Overall, the noise cancellation on the AirPods Pro (1st Generation) is a highly effective feature that significantly enhances the listening experience. Its ability to block out a wide range of ambient noise, coupled with its responsiveness and immersive quality, makes it a valuable asset for anyone looking for a pair of headphones that can provide a quiet and peaceful listening experience.

Transparency Mode

Transparency Mode on the AirPods Pro (1st Generation) is a feature that lets you hear your surroundings while still wearing the earbuds. This is useful for situations where you need to be aware of your surroundings, like crossing the street or talking to someone. To activate Transparency Mode, you can simply press and hold the force sensor on either earbud. You’ll hear a “whoosh” sound as the noise cancellation is deactivated, and you’ll be able to hear your surroundings clearly. The transparency mode is quite effective at letting in ambient sounds. You’ll be able to hear conversations, traffic, and other noises just as if you weren’t wearing the earbuds. It’s not perfect, and you’ll still be able to hear a slight muffling effect, but it’s good enough for most everyday situations. However, the transparency mode can be a bit too loud for some users. If you’re in a particularly noisy environment, you may find that the transparency mode amplifies the noise to an uncomfortable level. Overall, Transparency Mode on the AirPods Pro (1st Generation) is a useful feature that lets you stay aware of your surroundings while still enjoying your music. It’s not perfect, but it’s a good enough solution for most everyday situations.

Sound Quality

The AirPods Pro (1st generation) deliver impressive sound quality, especially considering their compact size. They feature a custom-designed Apple-made driver that delivers rich and detailed audio across a wide frequency range. The bass is punchy and well-defined, without being overly boomy or overwhelming. The mids are clear and articulate, allowing vocals to shine through. The highs are crisp and extended, providing a sense of openness and spaciousness.

One of the strengths of the AirPods Pro’s sound quality lies in their ability to handle different genres of music with ease. Whether you’re listening to classical music, rock, pop, or electronic music, the AirPods Pro deliver a balanced and enjoyable listening experience. The soundstage is relatively wide, giving you a sense of separation between instruments and vocals.

While the AirPods Pro lack the absolute transparency of some open-back headphones, they do a great job of delivering a clear and natural sound. The sound signature is slightly warm and inviting, with a focus on mids and highs, making them ideal for listening to music, podcasts, and audiobooks.

Overall, the sound quality of the AirPods Pro (1st generation) is excellent, surpassing many other truly wireless earbuds in this price range. They offer a balanced and detailed sound with a punchy bass, clear mids, and crisp highs. Their ability to handle different genres of music with ease and their spacious soundstage further enhance the overall listening experience.

Microphone Performance

The AirPods Pro (1st generation) deliver clear and crisp microphone performance, making them suitable for phone calls, video conferencing, and voice recordings. The integrated microphones effectively pick up your voice, minimizing background noise thanks to the active noise cancellation technology. This allows for clear communication even in noisy environments, making them a reliable option for both personal and professional use.

However, some users have reported occasional issues with wind noise affecting call quality when used outdoors. While the noise cancellation effectively blocks out most ambient sounds, it may struggle to filter out strong gusts of wind. It’s worth noting that the AirPods Pro (1st generation) lack the advanced wind-blocking technology found in later models like the AirPods Pro (2nd generation).

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Overall, the microphone performance on the AirPods Pro (1st generation) is commendable and meets the needs of most users. While wind noise can be a minor inconvenience in certain situations, the clear voice transmission and noise reduction capabilities make them a solid choice for communication.

Battery Life

The AirPods Pro (1st generation) offer a decent battery life that should satisfy most users. Apple claims up to 4.5 hours of listening time with noise cancellation enabled, and up to 5 hours with it off. In my experience, these figures are accurate, although your mileage may vary depending on your listening volume and the type of content you’re playing.

One of the standout features of the AirPods Pro is their charging case. It provides an additional 24 hours of listening time, which means you can go for several days without having to plug them in. The case also supports wireless charging, making it even more convenient to keep your AirPods topped up.

A 5-minute charge in the case provides around an hour of listening time, which is a handy feature for those quick top-ups when you’re in a hurry. Overall, the battery life of the AirPods Pro (1st generation) is impressive. You can expect to get a full day’s use on a single charge, and the charging case provides plenty of backup power.

Connectivity

The AirPods Pro (1st Generation) connect seamlessly to Apple devices via Bluetooth 5.0, offering a stable and reliable connection. Pairing is effortless, with the AirPods automatically connecting to your iPhone, iPad, or Mac once you open the charging case. You can also manually connect them to other Bluetooth devices, although the process is slightly more involved. The connection range is impressive, allowing you to move around your home or office without any signal interruptions. There’s no noticeable lag during music playback, phone calls, or video streaming, making for a smooth and enjoyable listening experience.

While the connectivity is excellent with Apple devices, Android users may experience some limitations. While you can still pair the AirPods Pro with Android devices, the full functionality, including features like automatic ear detection and seamless switching between devices, is not available. However, the connection is still reliable and the overall audio quality remains consistent.

Overall, the AirPods Pro (1st Generation)‘s connectivity is a strong point. The seamless integration with Apple devices and the stable Bluetooth connection ensure a smooth and reliable listening experience. While Android users might not enjoy the full range of features, the AirPods Pro still offer a solid connection and great sound quality.

Features and Controls

The AirPods Pro feature a sleek and minimalist design with a stem that houses touch controls. These controls allow you to easily manage your audio playback, answer calls, and activate Siri.

Touch Controls:

  • Double-tap: Play/pause music, answer/end calls, or activate Siri.
  • Press and hold: Switch between noise cancellation and transparency mode.
  • Swipe forward: Skip to the next track.
  • Swipe backward: Go back to the previous track.

Force Sensor:

The stem also features a force sensor that provides additional control options.

  • Press once: Play/pause music or answer/end calls.
  • Press twice: Skip to the next track.
  • Press three times: Go back to the previous track.
  • Press and hold: Activate Siri.

Customization:

You can customize the touch controls to your liking through the Apple AirPods app. You can choose which actions are triggered by each touch or force sensor gesture.

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Other Features:

  • Automatic ear detection: The AirPods Pro automatically pause music when they are removed from your ears and resume playback when they are placed back in.
  • Spatial audio: This feature creates an immersive listening experience by placing sound around you, making you feel like you’re in the middle of the action.
  • Find My AirPods: If you misplace your AirPods Pro, you can use the Find My app to locate them.

The touch controls on the AirPods Pro are responsive and easy to use. The ability to customize the controls to your liking makes them even more user-friendly. The addition of the force sensor provides even more control options, making the AirPods Pro a versatile and powerful audio device.

Pros and Cons

The AirPods Pro (1st Generation) offer a compelling mix of features, but they’re not without their drawbacks. Here’s a breakdown of the pros and cons:

Pros:

  • Excellent Noise Cancellation: The AirPods Pro are renowned for their effective noise cancellation, effectively blocking out a wide range of ambient noise, making them ideal for focused work, travel, or simply enjoying music without distractions.
  • Comfortable and Secure Fit: The customizable ear tip sizes and the secure fit ensure a comfortable and stable wearing experience for most users, minimizing the risk of them falling out, even during physical activity.
  • High-Quality Audio: The AirPods Pro deliver a well-balanced and detailed sound signature with clear highs, punchy bass, and a spacious soundstage. While they may not appeal to audiophiles seeking the absolute best audio fidelity, they offer a satisfying listening experience for casual listeners.
  • Convenient Features: The AirPods Pro are equipped with a suite of features that enhance convenience, including automatic ear detection, touch controls for music playback and volume adjustment, and seamless integration with Apple devices.
  • IPX4 Water Resistance: The AirPods Pro are resistant to splashes and sweat, making them suitable for workouts and outdoor activities.

Cons:

  • Price: The AirPods Pro are priced at a premium, making them a significant investment for many consumers.
  • Fit Issues: While the customizable ear tips offer a good fit for most, some users may still experience issues with fit and stability, particularly those with smaller ear canals.
  • Transparency Mode: While Transparency Mode does a decent job of letting in ambient sounds, it can sometimes sound a bit distorted or muffled, and it doesn’t fully replicate the natural sound environment.
  • Battery Life: While the battery life is respectable, it’s not outstanding compared to other wireless earbuds on the market.
  • Lack of Customization Options: The AirPods Pro offer limited customization options for sound settings and other preferences, which may be a drawback for users who prefer a more personalized listening experience.

Conclusion

The AirPods Pro (1st Generation) are a solid choice for those seeking a comfortable, well-rounded wireless earbuds experience. Their active noise cancellation is effective at blocking out ambient noise, making them ideal for focusing on music or work in noisy environments. Transparency Mode allows you to easily hear your surroundings without removing the earbuds. The sound quality is generally good, with a balanced sound signature and impressive bass. The comfortable fit, intuitive controls, and long battery life further contribute to their appeal.

However, their relatively high price point and lack of features like spatial audio or a dedicated charging case might deter some potential buyers. If you’re looking for the best noise cancellation and a comfortable fit, the AirPods Pro (1st Generation) are worth considering. But if you prioritize features like spatial audio or want a more affordable option, alternatives like the Sony WF-1000XM4 or the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro might be a better fit for your needs.

Alternatives

If you’re looking for alternatives to the AirPods Pro (1st Gen), there are a few other great options available. Here are a few of the top contenders, broken down by what makes each one stand out:

  • Sony WF-1000XM4: These earbuds are widely considered to have the best noise cancellation on the market, even surpassing the AirPods Pro (2nd Gen). They also boast excellent sound quality with a balanced and detailed audio profile. However, they are a bit bulkier than the AirPods Pro and may not fit as securely in smaller ears.
  • Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro: This model offers impressive active noise cancellation and a comfortable, secure fit. They also have a feature called “360 Audio,” which provides an immersive listening experience. Their sound quality is slightly less detailed than the Sony WF-1000XM4 but still very good overall.
  • Bose QuietComfort Earbuds: These earbuds deliver exceptional noise cancellation and comfortable wear. They also offer a custom equalizer that lets you fine-tune the sound to your liking. However, they are slightly larger than the AirPods Pro and may not be as portable.
  • Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3: These earbuds are known for their exceptional sound quality, with a rich, detailed audio profile. They also have excellent noise cancellation and a comfortable fit. The price point for these earbuds is higher than many of the other options, but their audio quality is top-notch.

Ultimately, the best alternative for you will depend on your individual needs and preferences. If you prioritize noise cancellation above all else, the Sony WF-1000XM4 is a great choice. If you value a comfortable fit and immersive audio, the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro might be the way to go. And if you’re looking for exceptional sound quality, the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 are a fantastic option.

Final Verdict

The AirPods Pro (1st generation) remain a compelling choice for those seeking a premium wireless earbud experience. Their active noise cancellation is top-notch, effectively blocking out unwanted sounds, making them ideal for focusing on work, commuting, or simply enjoying your music in peace. The transparency mode is equally impressive, allowing you to hear your surroundings clearly without removing your earbuds. The sound quality is rich and balanced, with deep bass and crisp highs, satisfying even the most discerning audiophile.

While their design might not be as sleek as newer models, they still offer a comfortable and secure fit thanks to the included ear tip options. Battery life is solid, delivering several hours of listening time and quick charging capabilities. The intuitive controls and seamless connectivity with Apple devices are also key strengths.

However, the AirPods Pro (1st generation) are starting to show their age, especially with the advent of the 2nd generation, which offers improved features and performance. If you’re looking for the absolute latest and greatest, the newer model might be a better choice. But if you’re budget-conscious and want a reliable, feature-rich pair of earbuds with exceptional noise cancellation, the first generation AirPods Pro remain a great value and will deliver an excellent audio experience.

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FAQs

FAQs

Q: Are the AirPods Pro (1st Generation) still worth buying in 2023?

A: While newer models like the AirPods Pro (2nd Generation) exist, the first generation AirPods Pro are still a fantastic option, especially considering their price point. They offer excellent noise cancellation, a comfortable fit, and decent sound quality. However, keep in mind they lack features found in the newer model, like Adaptive Transparency and personalized spatial audio.

Q: How is the noise cancellation on the AirPods Pro (1st Generation)?

A: The noise cancellation is surprisingly effective for an in-ear design. It can effectively block out most low-frequency noises like airplane engines and train rumbles, making them perfect for travel. However, they aren’t as effective against higher-frequency sounds like chatter or construction noise.

Q: How do the AirPods Pro (1st Generation) fit in the ear?

A: The AirPods Pro come with three different sizes of silicone ear tips, allowing you to find the best fit for your ear shape. Most users find the fit comfortable and secure, even during exercise.

Q: Can I use these with Android phones?

A: Yes, you can use the AirPods Pro with Android phones, but some features like automatic ear detection and the ability to control them with Siri will be limited. However, you can still use them for listening to music and making calls.

Q: How long does the battery last?

A: The AirPods Pro (1st Generation) offer around 4.5 hours of listening time with noise cancellation on and about 5 hours with it off. The charging case provides an additional 24 hours of listening time.

Q: What are the main differences between the AirPods Pro (1st Generation) and the AirPods Pro (2nd Generation)?

A: The AirPods Pro (2nd Generation) feature several upgrades compared to the first generation, including:

  • Improved Noise Cancellation: The second generation offers even better noise cancellation, especially against higher-frequency sounds.
  • Adaptive Transparency: This allows you to hear your surroundings while still enjoying your music.
  • Personalized Spatial Audio: This feature creates a more immersive listening experience by creating a virtual surround sound.
  • Improved microphone performance: The second generation has better microphones for calls and voice recordings.
  • Longer Battery Life: The second generation offers a longer battery life, with up to 6 hours of listening time with noise cancellation on.

Q: Where can I buy replacement ear tips for the AirPods Pro (1st Generation)?

A: You can purchase replacement ear tips directly from Apple or from authorized retailers.

Q: Is the sound quality of the AirPods Pro (1st Generation) good?

A: The sound quality is good for a pair of true wireless earbuds. They deliver clear, balanced audio with a decent amount of bass. However, they may not be the best choice for audiophiles looking for the most detailed sound.

Overall, the AirPods Pro (1st Generation) remain a solid choice for those seeking active noise cancellation and a comfortable fit. While newer models offer improved features, the first generation still delivers a high-quality listening experience with impressive sound quality and a reliable connection. The active noise cancellation effectively blocks out surrounding noise, making them perfect for focusing on your music or podcasts. The fit is secure and comfortable, even during intense workouts.

However, it’s important to consider some drawbacks. The battery life could be better, and the lack of spatial audio is a notable omission compared to newer models. Also, while the transparency mode is useful, it doesn’t quite match the level of detail found in newer AirPods models.

If you’re on a budget and prioritize noise cancellation and comfort, the first-generation AirPods Pro are still a great option. But if you’re looking for the latest features and enhancements, you might want to consider the newer AirPods Pro (2nd Generation).

Ultimately, the decision of whether or not the AirPods Pro (1st Generation) are right for you depends on your individual needs and priorities. They remain a solid choice for those seeking quality sound and active noise cancellation, but they may not be the best choice for those who need the latest features and advancements.

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