The Apple AirPods have quickly become the go-to wireless earbuds for a lot of consumers in the Apple ecosystem. With its fast pairing and optimizations for Apple products, there is very little space for competitors in this market.
Apple currently offers two models in the AirPods lineup, the AirPods and the AirPods Pro. New consumers may be a bit confused in selecting which model of the AirPods best fits their needs.
The Apple AirPods Pro is the superior device when it comes to the sound quality and features over the original AirPods. Its feature set has impressed both regular consumers and audio enthusiasts alike.
However, that doesn’t mean the original AirPods is a bad product. It still does a lot of things that the AirPods Pro does. And, it has been dominating the market way before the arrival of the AirPods Pro. So with those things in mind, which one is truly the better pair of earbuds? Keep reading the rest of the article to find out.
(For this article, we will be limiting our discussion with the AirPods Pro and the 2nd Generation Apple Airpods with wireless charging case).
AirPods Pro vs AirPods Gen 2
|AirPods Gen 2
|Customizable With Eartips
|Active Noise Cancellation
|5 Hours (4.5 with Active Noise Cancelation)
|Up to 19 Hours
|Up to 19 Hours
|Wireless Charging Case
Why You Should Buy the AirPods Pro
The AirPods Pro takes the concept of the original AirPods to the next level without sacrificing anything. They feature a superior form factor that has a better fit and a better seal. The AirPods Pro utilizes the in-ear form factor instead of the earbuds form factor that the originals had.
With the in-ear design, the AirPods Pro achieves a superior and more stable fit that can be tailored to each user’s ear with the different sized ear tips. The new in-ear design is also unique to other in-ear-based wireless earbuds. Unlike traditional IEMs, the AirPods 2 actually has a very short nozzle. Most of the nozzle is composed of just the tips themselves. This helps a lot for users who do not like the feeling of inserting a foreign object deeper into their ear canals.
In terms of stability, the original AirPods did well. The AirPods Pro, however, does it even better. A lot of wireless earbuds, including Apple’s own Power Beats Pro, incorporate ear hooks in order to have a stable fit. The AirPods Pro does not need these ear hooks. They sit into your ears without giving the feeling that it will eventually fall out. Plus, it does this in a smaller form factor compared to the Power Beats Pro and other competitors.
Better Sound Quality
Both the new in-ear design, as well as the new drivers, significantly improve the sound of the AirPods Pro over the original AirPods. Since there is now a proper seal, the bass response is a lot better both in quantity and quality. Bass has more punch and impact without overpowering the other frequencies.
The mids, which contain vocals and instruments such as the guitar, are also more full-bodied compared to the original AirPods. There’s no contest here. The original AirPods sounds exactly like the EarPods, which didn’t stand out from its competition. The AirPods Pro, on the other hand, can compete with the rest of the true wireless earbuds market.
The most notable addition of the AirPods Pro is Active Noise Cancellation. This is a feature that was first introduced with full-sized headphones such as the Sony WH1000 XM3. What’s happening here is that the microphones in the AirPods Pro detect the noise present in the environment. It then produces a sound that cancels these noises.
In addition to the passive noise canceling that the in-ear design already provides, the addition of active noise cancelation ensures that you can use the AirPods Pro in noisier environments. In contrast, the original AirPods don’t provide any form of isolation. It would be unusable in noisy environments such as the airport.
Some consumers, however, do not want total noise isolation since they can be prone to accidents or missing important sound queues. Luckily, the AirPods Pro has a feature called transparency mode, which utilizes the microphones of the AirPods Pro to control the amount of external sound that can be heard when wearing the AirPods Pro. This minimizes the claustrophobic effect that is associated with wearing closed-back headphones and IEMs and also allows users to hear important sounds when they are outdoors.
As a bonus, the AirPods Pro features an adaptive EQ. What this does is optimize the mid and high frequencies with the shape of your ear. This is automatically done when using the AirPods Pro in the active noise-canceling mode.
Keeps the Best Features of the Original AirPods
Despite all of the new additions in the AirPods Pro, you might think that it would sacrifice some features of the original AirPods. However, this does not seem to be the case. All of the best features of the original AirPods are kept intact.
The battery life of both the earbuds themselves and the charging case is still the same. The case also still has wireless charging capability. It also utilizes the same H1 chip found in the original AirPods that take care of the seamless pairing process with Apple devices.
They also retain both the touch-based controls and ear sensors, which control the automatic play/pause functionality when one of the earbuds is removed. Each earbud can also be used independently when you only want to use one of them.
There is no compromise with the AirPods Pro. They are truly the evolution and a proper successor to the original AirPods. With the minimal price difference of both models, the AirPods Pro should be an easy winner. Although, we will still be talking about some reasons why you should pick the original AirPods over the AirPods Pro.
Why You Should Buy the Original AirPods
Despite the improvements of the AirPods Pro to the in-ear design, some people cannot tolerate the feeling of wearing them. And for those kinds of people, the earbud design of the original AirPods is going to be better for them. Plus, using the original AirPods is a lot simpler. There’s no need to find the correct tips that fit into your ear.
Also, since this design has no isolation, it can make sure that you do miss any important sounds when using the AirPods Pro outside, which can prevent accidents from happening. The AirPods Pro may have a transparency mode, which is very effective, but the original AirPods provide a more natural feeling since there is no processing involved.
In fact, you can have a conversation with other people while using the original AirPods. You can’t do these with the AirPods Pro since those naturally have a passive noise cancelation when inserting them inside your ears.
Some users are very critical of the size of their wireless earbuds. When taking a walk or a quick trip to a convenience store or other nearby locations, the buds should be able to fit in a pocket along with other devices such as a smartphone without looking too awkward.
The case of the AirPods Pro is already smaller than most of the wireless earbuds in the market. However, if you want an even smaller case, then the original AirPods will be a better fit for you. Despite the earbuds themselves being longer than the AirPods Pro, the overall package is smaller and more pocketable than the AirPods Pro.
Device For Convenience
The AirPods Pro is no doubt a great sounding device. Even audio enthusiasts are starting to acknowledge the good sound qualities of the AirPods Pro. The sound quality alone is superior to the original AirPods.
However, some people aren’t interested in listening to music with AirPods. The reason why the original AirPods was so popular despite its lackluster sound quality was because of the convenience that it provides. It pairs quickly with Apple devices, it is easy to put on, and it is also easy to remove.
Some users want a device that they can quickly use to do basic tasks such as use Siri or answer phone calls without holding their smartphone. Some users just want to quickly check out a video on YouTube or on other social media websites. And some users may want access to content with audio such as video or music without losing awareness of the voices around them.
For these kinds of users, where convenience is the priority over sound quality and other features, the original AirPods are a better fit.
Which Model Should You Buy?
The AirPods Pro is simply the better product. It is better in every way over the original AirPods. If all you want is a wireless earbud that is easy to access and remove for short sessions, then the original AirPods should be just fine. However, the price gap between these two isn’t big. So if you want a complete package that also sounds better, then we highly recommend getting the AirPods Pro over the original AirPods.
Stephen is a musician, cinematographer, and headphone enthusiast who is passionate about reviewing audio equipment. He has been playing guitar for at least a decade, which introduced him to professional recording equipment such as headphones and in-ear monitors. With the help of reviews and online content, he was able to learn the ins and outs of the hobby. His goal is to give back to the community by providing quality content to help others enjoy the beautiful (and expensive) world of audio.
Favorite Headphones: Sennheiser HD660s