Last week, I bought the new AirPods Pro. Similar to the original AirPods, their value isn't fully obvious at first, but you quickly fall in love with them.
- The Magic of AirPods (all versions)
- AirPods Pro—Analysis
- AirPods Pro—Drawbacks
- Sell My Old AirPods?
- Final Thoughts
The Magic of AirPods (all versions)
“Happiness equals reality minus expectations.”
When Apple released the original AirPods, I remember thinking they looked odd—strange techy earrings with no clear benefit.
It wasn't until I got them (at the recommendation of a friend) that I fully understood the value, which can be subtle and easy to miss beforehand.
- Zero to sound: Cars sell you on “0 to 60” but a parallel for headphones is “0 to sound,” which AirPods win by a mile. This is especially helpful when you get a phone call, and quickly pop in your AirPods before answering.
- Phone calls: you're no longer tethered to your phone via a wire.
I wouldn’t have thought it possible, but the jump from “AirPods to AirPods Pro” is similar (in both quality and non-obviousness) to the jump from “0 to AirPods.” The main benefit of the new AirPods is active noise cancelation. A feature that sounds cool, but is even cooler when you try it.
Hold your AirPods stem for 3 seconds, and the world goes quiet—not fully, but enough to forget about it. You feel like a god, or Adam Sandler in Click. Over the past week, I've showed this feature to several friends and each time, the reaction is approximately
Unlike traditional noise cancelation (which acts like earplugs), active noise cancelation detects the frequencies of the room and uses "anti-noise" to actually cancel it.
It’s especially useful for:
- Focus in coffee shops: Most days, I work in either a coffee shop or coworking space. The other day in a coffee shop, a couple sat next to me, seemingly on a first date. The man sends back his coffee because it "tastes like water." The lady can’t believe another year went by just like that. It’s not right. Then I realized—transparency mode was on! I toggled my AirPods to noise cancelation, and the couple's worries faded out completely. It's hard to completely ignore a first date next to you unless you actually can't hear it.
- Planes: these are quite loud. On my flight the other day, I listened to a podcast comfortably at 30% volume (would’ve had the old pods at ~ 80%).
- Ear health: blasting music directly at your ear drums is not healthy. In the words of a doctor I saw this year, “listen on max volume if you want to go deaf by 50.” Which sucks because blasting music is so fun (and hard to avoid entirely). If the Pro’s get me from 70% to 50% volume consistently, it's an easy investment in my health.
- Comfort: they're not uncomfortable, but (unlike prior models) they're not so comfortable you forget you're wearing them. The fit is just more snug. For me, the small ear tips fit best.
- Road Safety: what happens when you combine active noise cancelation with important street sounds? Potentially something. This is especially concerning if you're on a bike or scooter.
Sell my Old AirPods?
For now, I plan to keep my old AirPods for phone calls in quiet environments (where they're more comfortable). For all else, I'll use the Pro's.
Why did I write this? I don’t even have a blog, this is the first article. What makes AirPods Pro compelling enough to start a blog?
I think it's this: the internet economy has made it harder and harder to focus. We have digital epipens in our pocket 24/7 to cure even the briefest moment of boredom.
Social media companies spend billions to distract you (based, specifically, on what distracts you). Dog being cute. Political unrest. MeUndies Ad. "Win pizza with Pete Buttigieg." From one point of view, it's modern magic, and from another, it's a highly addictive, scatter-brained emotional roller coaster.
AirPods Pro help me focus, and that's priceless.