SoundGuys We Live Audio! Thu, 20 Jan 2022 21:12:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 SoundGuys 32 32 8CC434 JBL Clip 4 review Thu, 20 Jan 2022 20:00:37 +0000 Few companies are capable of drawing intrigue around a carabiner, but JBL has built quite a fanbase for its Clip series of Bluetooth speakers. The JBL Clip 4 seeks to rectify the Clip 3’s shortcomings with a more robust integrated carabiner, improved durability rating, and louder output. However, while JBL added some neat features to the Clip 4, it also took away the headphone jack, leaving users with no way to enjoy lossless playback.

Do the new features and design actually make this better or should you stick with the old dog?

Editor’s note: this JBL Clip 4 review was updated on January 20, 2022, to expand the list of buying options and to add the JBL Flip 6 and Bose SoundLink Flex to the Notable mentions section.

Who should get the JBL Clip 4?

A woman wears the JBL Clip 4 speaker on her backpack strap.

The JBL Clip 4 comes in six colorways: grey, squad, black, pink, red, and blue.

  • Bike commuters will greatly appreciate the redesigned carabiner on the Clip 4.
  • Students may not have room for something like the JBL Charge 5, but they can still enjoy dorm-filling sound from this tiny speaker.
  • Outdoor enthusiasts can take full advantage of the IP67 rating on their adventures. (Just make sure you don’t blast your music too loud: people want to appreciate nature too.)
  • Anyone can use the Clip 4, and it even makes for a great shower speaker.

What’s it like to use the JBL Clip 4?

JBL wants you to bring this playful Bluetooth speaker anywhere, or at least have the option to do so. The IP67 build protects it from dust and water, while the integrated carabiner makes attaching it to the outside of your bag a cinch. A familiar fabric wrap covers the front and rear sections of the speaker, so you can easily grip it under any condition. Much like the JBL Xtreme 3, rubberized ribs line the backside and prevent it from sliding about when you lay it flat on a table. The company’s logo occupies the bulk of the front panel and its only purpose is to inform passersby that you purchased a JBL speaker.

A hand pushes the JBL Clip 4 carabiner down while attaching the speaker to a bag.

The carabiner is much beefier than before.

Five buttons live on the speaker, three on the front and two on the left side. The button trio controls playback and volume (though you can’t go back a track), while the side buttons are for pairing and powering the speaker on/off. While JBL’s aesthetic may not appeal to all, its button layout and definition are great: it’s easy to find and differentiate between controls without looking at the speaker.

Start here: What makes a good Bluetooth speaker?

The Clip 4 houses a completely accessible USB-C input whereas, with the Clip 3, you have to pull back a flap to reveal the microUSB and auxiliary inputs. JBL also redesigned the carabiner. The previous generation was prone to breaking along the hinge, but this time around, JBL embedded the most tenuous parts of the clip into the casing. It takes no effort to operate the clip with one hand, which is great for biking around the city.

Does the Clip 4 support PartyBoost or Connect+?

The rubberized ribs of the JBL Clip 4 Bluetooth speaker in gray.

These rubber lines keep the speaker from sliding off a table.

No, the JBL Clip 4 doesn’t support JBL PartyBoost or JBL Connect+, which is a real shame. It would be great to bike with a friend and wirelessly daisy chain two Clip 4 speakers. Alas, that’s why the Flip 4 and Flip 5 exist. There is no software for the Clip 4, so don’t hold your breath for any firmware updates.

Does the JBL Clip 4 stay connected?

The JBL Clip 4 uses Bluetooth 5.1 and has a 10-meter range, which is typical for any Bluetooth speaker. According to JBL support, the range can extend to 15 meters if you’re in an open environment. While Bluetooth 5.1 reads like a great feature, its main benefit is power efficiency, hence the extended playtime of the Clip 4 compared to the Clip 3.

An iPhone 12 Mini rests against a wall, next to the JBL Clip 4 Bluetooth speaker, and the phone displays the Apple Podcast app homepage.

You can’t connect the Clip 4 to more than one phone at a time.

In typical JBL fashion, the Clip 4 supports just the SBC Bluetooth codec and this time around it lacks a 3.5mm headphone jack. Some may frown at these specs, but isn’t a crushing blow. The Clip 4 is an adventure speaker, not an audiophile’s companion. There is a significant audio-visual lag though, so expect spoiled punchlines and a delay when streaming your favorite comedy special.

Related: How do speakers work?

You can’t connect the Clip 4 to more than one device at a time, unlike other Bluetooth speakers. When it comes time to switch source devices, you have to press the Bluetooth button on the side and dive into the designated device’s Bluetooth menu to make a new connection.

How long does the JBL Clip 4 battery last?

JBL amped up the battery life on the Clip 4: it lasts 10 hours and charges via USB-C. It takes three hours to recharge the speaker and there is no fast charging. The 10-hour battery life varies, and depends on the volume output. If you crank the volume to the max, don’t be surprised to find the battery life falls short of the official readout.

Our battery tests are ongoing and we’ll update this review once we have official data.

How does the JBL Clip 4 sound?

A frequency response chart for theJBL Clip 4 Bluetooth speaker, which shows output that with heavily attenuated bass notes and a fairly accurate midrange and treble response.

This is a very good response for a single-driver, portable speaker.

The JBL Clip 4 sounds very good and houses a standalone dynamic driver. Its accurate frequency response complements many music genres, though the attenuated bass doesn’t bode well for electronic or hip-hop music. While the bass under-emphasis appears alarming, it’s representative of portable Bluetooth speakers generally. What the JBL Clip 4 lacks in low-end response, it makes up for in raw volume output. This mighty speaker has a 5W output—a 1.7W increase from the previous generation.

Related: How do speakers work?

Lows, mids, and highs

The JBL Clip 4 Bluetooth speaker hands from a shower as it's sprinkled by water.

The IP67 rating protects the speaker from dust, dirt, and water.

In the song Vertigo by Paces and Yorke, Yorke’s introductory vocals sound clear through the Clip 4. The quieted bass notes don’t even have a shot at masking her vocals. In the original master, the chorus of Vertigo is bass-heavy, but you wouldn’t be able to tell from how the Clip 4 renders it. Even if you’d never heard the song before, you’d likely sense that something was missing from the chorus and that something is the kick drum’s oomph.

This heavily under-emphasized bass response has its perks, though. Vocals come through with a great deal of clarity. As Yorke raises her pitch when singing the word “oh” in each chorus, you can hear a bit of resonance from her voice, which is impressive from a speaker of this stature. As long as you keep realistic expectations for the bass response, you’ll be happy with how the JBL Clip 4 sounds.

JBL Clip 4 vs JBL Clip 3: Is the upgrade worth it?

The JBL Clip 3 from the front.

The JBL Clip 3 is a great speaker for listeners constantly on the go.

While the JBL Clip 4 has a lot going for it, the JBL Clip 3 has a few coveted features like an aux input and more color options—oh, and it’s 20 grams lighter. Otherwise, the Clip 4 comes out on top, as it should: it gets quite a bit louder than the Clip 3, has a sturdier design, and features a greater dust and water resistance rating (IP67 compared to IPX7). Suffice it to say, the Clip 4 is the more appropriate pick for beach-goers and campers.

Aside from headphone jack envy, you won’t miss much when you choose the JBL Clip 4 over the Clip 3.

Should you buy the JBL Clip 4?

Two hands attach the JBL Clip 4 Bluetooth speaker to a red backpack.

The Clip 4 doesn’t include many features but it’s a rugged everyday speaker.

The JBL Clip 4 may be simple, but it’s powerful and portable. It ticks every box for someone who wants a rugged speaker that can keep up with their demanding adventures.

While some may be averse to the Clip 4 and its feature-light package, others will embrace it. This modest, utilitarian speaker isn’t meant to be the center of attention, instead serving as a situation enhancer. Whether you’re on your bike or gathered around the bonfire, the fourth-generation JBL Clip is the perfect partner. If you want something with more modern comforts like a microphone, smart assistant access, and general software support, you’ll need to stretch that budget a bit more.

JBL Clip 4
All prices listed in USD unless otherwise specified. Prices may change over time, and vary by region. Unfortunately, we cannot list Amazon prices on the site, as they vary greatly by currency.

What should you get instead of the Clip 4?

The Bose SoundLink Micro is a great adversary to the Clip 4. Instead of a carabiner, Bose’s speaker relies on a durable, elastic band that wraps around various objects, like a bag strap or bike handlebars. While Bose’s speaker is still portable, it’s a bit larger and heavier than the Clip 4. This isn’t great if every ounce on your bag counts, but it yields a louder output (7.5W). Unlike the Clip 4, the SoundLink Micro has a microphone, so you can field phone calls and have one-sided conversations with your virtual assistant of choice. If you want newer hardware and don’t mind a larger size, the Bose SoundLink Flex is worth adding to your radar.

A JBL Flip 6 Bluetooth speaker sitting on a rocky surface with a sunny city skyline viisble in the distance.

The JBL Flip 6 is loud enough for hikes, parties, and gatherings both indoors and out.

Listeners who want more impressive bass from their speaker should turn their attention to the JBL Flip 6 or JBL Flip 5. Regardless of which Flip speaker you go with, it will feature more premium features like JBL PartyBoost, dual-passive radiators, and longer battery life.

Maybe the Clip 4 is a bit too big for your needs. If that’s the case, go ahead and grab the JBL GO 3. This little Bluetooth speaker shares the same IP67 rating as its big brother, but instead of a carabiner, it has a sturdy cloth loop. Due to the smaller size, the GO 3 doesn’t get nearly as loud as the Clip 4, but if you just want something to underscore a small outdoor gathering, it’s a good choice.

Next: The best cheap Bluetooth speakers under $50

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Best wireless PlayStation 5 gaming headsets Thu, 20 Jan 2022 19:24:56 +0000 The Sony PlayStation 5 is still really hard to find, but you can still do a little prep work before you finally nail down your shiny new console. If your heart is set on a new headset, there’s a decent smattering of wireless PlayStation 5 gaming headsets around to scratch that itch. There are also plenty of perfectly great wireless PlayStation 4 headsets that will all work just fine.

Editor’s note: This article was updated on January 20, 2022, to include the Logitech G Pro X Wireless, Logitech GT435 Lightspeed, Logitech G 733 Lightspeed, and EPOS H3PRO Hybrid to the Notable mentions section, to add a contents menu, and to add information about the Sony PULSE 3D Wireless Headset.

What you should know about Sony PlayStation 5 audio

Sony made a lot of changes to its console audio situation when it released the PlayStation 5. The new console features a dedicated audio processor that delivers 3D audio to any compatible headset. Speaking of compatibility, the PlayStation 5 is a lot like the PlayStation 4, in that it accepts most connection methods without issue. The console still doesn’t support Bluetooth, but USB dongles and 3.5mm wired connections through the controller are totally fine. The console also isn’t restrictive like Xbox consoles, so odds are good that any wireless PlayStation 5 headset you buy will work on other platforms.

The SteelSeries Arctis 7P leans against a Sony PlayStation 5, next to a PlayStation DualSense controller, with the headset's USB-C dongle plugged into the front of the console.

A wide USB-C dongle like the one with the SteelSeries Arctis 7P will make accessing the other USB port on the front of the console impossible (there are more ports on the back).

However, while the full range of the PlayStation 5’s audio features will work on just about any gaming headset, the reverse isn’t necessarily true. If you own a great gaming headset on PC, with all sorts of software bells and whistles, those added features almost certainly won’t carry over. Just like other consoles, the PlayStation 5 doesn’t support headset companion apps like Razer Synapse or Logitech G Hub, so you won’t be able to use them.

The SteelSeries Arctis 7P brings great sound in a tailored package

From a hardware perspective, the SteelSeries Arctis 7P brings everything great about the SteelSeries Arctis 7—a super comfortable build, a good mic, and good wireless audio—and makes its own improvements.

SteelSeries Arctis 7P

Full Review

The Arctis 7P handles pretty much all the fundamentals very well. Its mic sounds good. Its audio is largely accurate. Just like most of the headsets in the Arctis line, it features an elastic, ski-goggle style suspension band that’s super comfortable, and its metal frame feels very sturdy.

This wireless PlayStation 5 gaming headset brings two main improvements over the previous model. First off is battery life, where the Arctis 7P manages over 27 hours—a big improvement over the comparatively measly 16 from its predecessor. The other new feature is the headset’s USB-C dongle, which makes it compatible wirelessly with Nintendo Switch (whether it’s docked or undocked) and smartphones with USB-C ports. It also supports 3.5mm connections to anything with a headphone jack. Basically, it’s a solid gaming headset with a premium build, and it works everywhere.

The Razer Barracuda X brings high performance to a low price

Much like the SteelSeries Arctis 7P, the Razer Barracuda X uses a USB-C dongle to connect to your gaming platform of choice. This wireless PlayStation 5 gaming headset weighs a bit more than 250 grams, which is way lighter than most gaming headsets, and well suited to long gameplay sessions.

Razer Barracuda X

Full Review

The Barracuda X is an example of Razer’s continued efforts to release gaming headsets with a little less flash and a little more substance. It lacks the decorative metal and plastic accents of a headset like the Nari Ultimate, and the colored LEDs of the Kraken Ultimate or any of the other myriad Chroma-supporting devices. Instead, this is a subtler, more anonymous-looking gaming headset—it’s basically a black pair of headphones with a mic sticking out.

However, while the look is fairly anonymous, everything else is pretty great. The Barracuda X offers great audio, a decent microphone, over 25 hours of battery life, and decent isolation. When you add all that up with the connectivity options, $99 USD seems like a steal. You can watch our video review here.

The Corsair Virtuoso Wireless SE has the best microphone on the market

At first glance, you wouldn’t think the Corsair Virtuoso Wireless SE was a gaming headset. Featuring an aluminum body finished in gunmetal gray, this wireless gaming headset looks and feels like a million bucks… or at least $200 USD. Plus, it has RGB lighting embedded in the ear cups, allowing you to add a splash of color without turning the headset into a mini laser light show.

Corsair Virtuoso Wireless SE

Full Review

The headset is crafted for gamers of all platforms. Its primary connection method uses a 2.4GHz wireless USB dongle, but it also comes with a USB-C to USB-A cable and 3.5mm aux cable, both of which are capable of transmitting audio. 23 hours of battery life ensures that the Virtuoso will last multiple gaming sessions, even on a single charge, too.

Related: The best gaming headsets with good microphones

Of course, we can’t talk about the Corsair Virtuoso Wireless SE without mentioning its microphone: one of the best we’ve ever tested in a gaming headset. A neutral frequency response ensures that your voice—high or low pitched—will be reproduced loud and clear. Although higher frequencies lack some detail, the balanced response in the low-to-mid frequencies means that your teammates are sure to hear your communiqués. Don’t just take our word for it. Listen to our microphone demo and hear for yourself.

A newer model of Virtuoso, the Corsair Virtuoso RGB Wireless XT is also available, bringing Bluetooth connectivity into the fold. Right now, we still recommend the SE model as it’s $60 USD cheaper and virtually identical for gaming. Just know that if you’re interested in the Virtuoso line, but you want something with aptX HD support, there’s an option for you.

The Turtle Beach Stealth 700 Gen 2 brings simultaneous wireless connections for a reasonable price

A handful of good wireless gaming headsets support connections over Bluetooth and using a USB wireless dongle, but most of them charge a premium for what amounts to pretty meager options. The Turtle Beach Stealth 700 Gen 2 still offers only basic Bluetooth codec support, but at least it doesn’t gouge for it.

Turtle Beach Stealth 700 Gen 2

Full Review

This wireless PlayStation 5 gaming headset comes with best-in-class, 35-hour battery life, and lightweight plastic chassis that makes long gaming sessions a cinch. The Stealth 700 Gen 2 also sounds quite nice, with amplified bass (maybe verging on over-emphasized), and accurate mids and highs, though its isolation isn’t great and may impact sound quality, depending on your environment.

Learn more: What is isolation?

Like a lot of Turtle Beach gaming headsets, this one also has a very accurate microphone, so you shouldn’t have any issues chatting away with your friends on Discord for hours.

The EPOS GTW 270 Hybrid is your only TWS option on PlayStation 5

The header pretty much says it all, folks. True wireless earbuds like the Apple AirPods are the hottest audio item in the world right now, and if you want something like that for gaming, there’s really only one place to look. The EPOS GTW 270 Hybrid is a pair of true wireless earbuds that also pairs to USB-C dongle for lag-free audio over aptX Low Latency.

EPOS GTW 270 Hybrid

Full Review

These true wireless earbuds are admittedly a bit befuddling. As a regular Bluetooth device, the GTW 270 Hybrid isn’t bad. It sounds pretty nice, it’s IPX5 rated, it supports aptX and Bluetooth multipoint, and it’s comfortable. Its battery life isn’t fantastic, at just shy of 5 hours on a single charge, but pretty normal for true wireless earbuds. The microphone isn’t great, but few embedded microphones are.

However, when you’re gaming the experience shifts pretty dramatically. As a pair of gaming earbuds, the GTW 270 Hybrid works well—it still sounds good, and it maintains a steady, lag-free connection to its dongle. However, as aptX Low Latency doesn’t support microphone audio, the microphone stops working when you pair with the dongle, so voice chat isn’t an option (the multi-function button also stops working, but that’s less of an issue).

Basically, if you don’t mind spending this much money on earbuds without a microphone, you should enjoy this one quite a bit.

The best wireless PlayStation 5 gaming headsets: Notable mentions

The Logitech G435 Lightspeed gaming headset lays on a desk next to a Logitech gaming mouse and a HyperX mechanical gaming keyboard.

This is a nice fit for lengthy gaming sessions.

  • HyperX Cloud II Wireless: If you’re looking for something straightforward, comfortable, and sporting that killer HyperX look, this is a great option. You won’t get access to the PC-based software features this headset offers, but it works well as a plug-and-play option. Plus, it’s got better battery performance than most gaming headsets you can buy.
  • Corsair Virtuoso RGB Wireless XT: If you liked the sound of the SE model, but really need something that also has Bluetooth, this could be the headset for you. It’s around $60 more expensive, and the only difference really is Bluetooth support (though the inclusion of aptX HD is nice), so this isn’t exactly a budget-conscious upgrade, but it’s a great headset nonetheless.
  • Logitech G Pro X Wireless: Based on the wired Logitech G Pro X, this is an updated wireless version that maintains the same great sound and comfort. It’s the most expensive product from Logitech on this list, but it’s hard to go wrong choosing this option.
  • Logitech G435 Lightspeed: If you’re looking for a more inexpensive option, the Logitech G435 Lightspeed is a great choice. It’s one of the lightest gaming headsets on the market whilst still remaining a solid option in regards to sound quality and battery life.
  • Logitech G733 Lightspeed: This is the middle choice between the G435 and the G Pro X Wireless headsets. Like Logitech’s other options it features solid battery life and a sound profile that hits close to our ideal curve. It also has additional features available through software for people that want to use it with their PC instead.
  • EPOS H3PRO Hybrid: With active noise cancelling, solid battery performance, excellent sound, and a detachable microphone, this is one of the best available options, as long as you can handle the price tag.

Should you get the Sony PULSE 3D Wireless Headset for PlayStation 5?

A man sits on a couch playing on a PlayStation 5 while wearing the Sony Pulse 3D Wireless Headset and holding a PlayStation DualSense controller.

This is definitely a headset aimed at couch-bound gamers.

The PULSE 3D Wireless Headset is Sony’s specific headset for the PS5, but it isn’t as great as you may hope. The best thing about the PULSE 3D Wireless Headset relative to its competitors is that it matches the console’s color scheme. Its other redeeming quality is its lightweight build, but it otherwise doesn’t outperform alternative headsets when it comes to sound or mic quality, and certainly not when it comes to cross-platform compatibility.

Why you should trust SoundGuys

Like all of our best lists and reviews, none of our writers benefit from championing one product over another. We adhere to a strict ethics policy. If we award something, it’s because it’s a good product—simple as that. We subject each product that comes our way to a battery of tests that are appropriate for its specific category.

The gaming headset space, much like many other parts of the audio industry, is rife with exaggerated language and gimmicky features that often don’t add much of anything to your experience. It’s easy to get caught up in the flashy lights and promises of immersive audio and bass so intense it’ll rupture your eardrums (in a good way, somehow), but most of that stuff flat out doesn’t matter. That’s why we review headsets, and why we have lists like this.

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Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro vs Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Thu, 20 Jan 2022 14:30:12 +0000 Second only to Apple, Samsung holds much of the audio wearables market, and many Android owners are faced with a choice between the new upstart Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 and the pricier Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro. With an increasingly confusing naming schema, it’s time to parse the difference between these two and figure out which set of true wireless earbuds you’ll want to pick up. Is the Pro better than its sequel?

Editor’s note: This post was updated on January 20, 2022 to mention new features and include buying options.

What’s the difference between the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 and Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro?

Man holding up the open charging case for the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro.

The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro takes the best features from all of the previous Galaxy Buds generations.

You’d be forgiven for getting these earbuds confused; at a glance, they look utterly alike. Suggesting something approaching individuality, you can choose Phantom Violet, Phantom Silver, and Phantom Black with the Galaxy Buds Pro, all with a reflective finish on the earbuds. Meanwhile, the newer, Galaxy Buds 2 comes in graphite, white, olive, and lavender, all with a glossy finish on the earbuds.

Related: Best true wireless earbuds under $200

The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro earbuds have tiny stabilizers to lock into your ears. It ships with three ear tip options and the buds have an IPX7 water-resistance rating. The Galaxy Buds Pro is not meant for swimming but should survive a dip in shallow water for up to 30 minutes. At 6.3g, each earbud is minutely heftier than those of the Galaxy Buds 2, and the shape is a little more bulbous, though it’s by no means large.

A hand reaches to remove one Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 noise cancelling true wireless 2 earbud from the case.

The Galaxy Buds 2 has virtually the same case as the Pro.

Overall, the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 fit smaller, and folks with smaller ears may find it fits better. Shaving off 1.3g, the Buds 2 weighs only 5g each. An IPX2 rating means you can work out with the Galaxy Buds 2, but remember, it is really just splashproof.

These true wireless earbuds share a number of features like auto-pause when you remove an earbud and the nearly identical charging cases. The cases are small and plastic with secure magnets. It’s easy to operate one-handed, but the glossy finish can get slippery. In addition, USB-C and wireless charging are supported. Both earbud sets use the Android-only Samsung Galaxy Wearable app, which is largely similar—though the all important fit test is reserved for the Buds 2.

What Bluetooth codecs do these Samsung Galaxy Buds support?

The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro lay on a wooden table in front of a MacBook Pro by a window.

AAC means the Galaxy Buds Pro plays well with Apple products.

Both the Galaxy Buds 2 and Galaxy Buds Pro support the same codecs: AAC and SBC. For those pairing with a Samsung device, you also have the option of picking the Samsung Scalable Codec. This codec constantly adjusts the transfer rate to ensure connection stability in balance with audio resolution (88-512kbps). So while you don’t get high-resolution audio from any of the codecs—you need a hardwired connection for that—your Samsung device can send consistent, high-quality audio to whichever Galaxy Buds, rivaling LDAC.

iPhone users can still choose the AAC codec for the best quality. Meanwhile, non-Samsung Android users can stick to SBC for the most reliable connection.

Related: Understanding Bluetooth codecs

In addition to the Samsung Scalable Codec, if you own multiple Samsung devices you can take advantage of the Auto Switch feature. It works by allowing you to stay connected to more than one Samsung device at a time. Say you’re watching a show on a Samsung tablet and your Samsung smartphone rings, it’ll automatically switch your earbuds source to your phone.

What apps do you need for the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 and Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro?

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 galaxy wearable app home settings screenshot.

The Galaxy Wearable app includes ANC, EQ presets, and a fit test (Buds 2 only).

With the Samsung Galaxy Wearable app (Android), both sets of earbuds access mostly the same settings. You can toggle ANC and ambient sound mode, and adjust the touch controls (or disable them). While there is no customizable equalizer, you can select from preset EQ settings. You can also specify voice assistant preferences in the app.

You are out of luck if you’re an iPhone owner. In what can only get interpreted as pointed, Samsung has not extended support for Galaxy Buds 2 or Buds Pro on the Samsung Galaxy Buds iOS app. iPhone users are left with default settings, unless a friend configures the earbuds on their Android device.

The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro sit on a shelf next to a Google Pixel 4a with the Samsung Wearables app open on it.

The Galaxy Wearable app is easy to use and makes customizing your experience a breeze.

The Galaxy Buds 2 misses out on the Galaxy Buds Pro’s 360 Audio feature, which uses Dolby Atmos and is further limited to Samsung Galaxy devices. Both earphones have variable ANC settings. The Galaxy Buds Pro has high and low settings. The Galaxy Buds 2 got an update to give it three ambient settings to choose from, which is a bit more flexible.

Does the Galaxy Buds Pro or Galaxy Buds 2 have better battery life?

The Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 noise cancelling true wireless earphones in the open charging case on top of a Samsung Galaxy S10e smartphone in pink.

The Galaxy Buds 2 supports Wireless PowerShare, as does the Galaxy Buds Pro.

The Galaxy Buds 2 has better battery life than the Buds Pro, and offers 5 hours, 9 minutes of playtime with ANC on. Under these same conditions (constant 75db(SPL) output), you’ll get 4 hours, 48 minutes of battery from the Galaxy Buds Pro. The Buds Pro case has enough capacity for a little over two additional charging cycles, while the Buds 2 case provides an extra three battery cycles. You can use either case to fast charge its respective earbuds. The Galaxy Buds Pro case also provides 85 minutes of playback after 10 minutes of charging; meanwhile, a 5-minute charge supplies the Galaxy Buds 2 with 60 minutes of power.

Related: Where do batteries come from? And where do they go?

Both sets of Galaxy earbuds support Wireless Powershare, which can help in a pinch. By enabling Wireless PowerShare on your Samsung device, and sitting the case on top of the device, the buds can steal some battery from the device.

Does the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 have better active noise cancelling than the Galaxy Buds Pro?

A chart depicts the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 isolation and noise cancelling performance, with low-frequency sounds rendered one-quarter as loud with ANC on than without the earbuds in at all. An active noise cancelling chart for the Samsung Galaxy Buds Ori3 true wireless earbuds, which shows a decent degree of passive isolation and good noise cancellation.

At this price range, both Samsung earphones isolate and cancel noise well. With ANC on the highest setting, the Galaxy Buds Pro reduces noise to roughly one-quarter the volume around 100Hz. ANC and isolation work pretty similarly on the Galaxy Buds 2, though it cancels out slightly more low frequencies than the Galaxy Buds Pro. The Buds 2 even affects treble frequency attenuation a bit more than the Buds Pro, but this is reliant on getting an optimal fit with either headset.

Man holding Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro earbud with focus on proximity sensor.

Each Galaxy Buds Pro earbud houses a slew of sensors for 360 audio, automatic ear detection, and more. Ultimately though, a good fit determines ANC performance.

The Samsung Galaxy Wearable app paired with the Galaxy Buds Pro lets you select between two ANC settings: high and low. Meanwhile, the Galaxy Buds 2 provides you with three ambient sound modes: high, medium, and low. Non-repeating noises like speech tend to be a weak spot for ANC, just because of how it works, so you’ll still pick up some chatter on your commute.

See: The best noise cancelling true wireless earbuds

Does the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 or Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro sound better?

Comparison chart of Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 and Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro versus the house curve.

In cyan is the Galaxy Buds 2 frequency response. In yellow is the Galaxy Buds Pro. Pink represents the house curve we measure each headset against.

Both earbuds have consumer-friendly frequency responses and do well against our house curve. The Galaxy Buds Pro has more high-end emphasis, topping out at over 5dB more volume around the 10kHz frequency than the Galaxy Buds 2, which can make some treble notes too loud. Through the mids and bass the Galaxy Buds Pro possesses some emphasis, which can sound good and shouldn’t pose much of an issue when it comes to masking. The default Galaxy Buds Pro sound is pretty good.

The Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 noise cancelling true wireless earbuds next to the extra ear tips.

You get three pairs of silicone ear tips with the Galaxy Buds 2.

In contrast to the Galaxy Buds Pro, the Galaxy Buds 2 has some midrange under-emphasis, with more boosted bass notes—at least, compared to the mids. Highs follow our house curve relatively closely, if anything under-emphasizing sound around 10kHz. Unlike the Galaxy Buds Pro, at 1kHz the Galaxy Buds 2 sees some emphasis, gaining what many refer to as a “punchier” sound. As a result, it you may find it diffiuclt to hear vocal and string detail, but not a lot.

In any case, if you don’t like the default frequency response, you can always go into the Galaxy Wearables app and select an EQ preset.

Is the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro or Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 better for phone calls?

A woman wears the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 noise cancelling true wireless earbuds.

Despite being newer, the Galaxy Buds 2 still has the same hypersensitive touch controls.

One of the points of difference between the two Galaxy earbuds is the microphone. While both do a fine job at rejecting noise, the Galaxy Buds 2 has difficulty with wind. Your voice won’t sound as comparatively natural with the Galaxy Buds 2 either.

In contrast, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro mic reproduces voices faithfully. Additionally, the mic rejects environmental noise well, meaning it works for outside phone calls too.

In December 2021, Samsung added wearing detection during phone calls to both the Buds Pro and Buds 2 in South Korea and more areas of the world are likely scheduled to receive it later. That means voice calls will automatically switch between your phone or the earbuds as required when you take either model out of your ears or put them back in.

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 microphone demo:

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro microphone demo:

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Which is better, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro or the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2?

The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro true Wireless earbuds sit on a white shelf in front of a reflective black surface, with one earbud in the case.

The Galaxy Wearables app is pretty neatly laid out, and it’s responsive.

A key feature is the price of each headset. As the current flagship of the Galaxy Buds line, the Galaxy Buds Pro costs more, anywhere from as little as $20 USD to as much as a $50 difference. Both models have dropped in price while maintaining the approximate difference, too. Across the board, both true wireless earbuds compete toe-to-toe, so it comes down to a couple of things. One is whether you care enough about the extras to pay more, and the other factor is which earbuds fit you best. Fit is hard to determine since you can’t try in-ears on the same way you can with headphones. Generally, smaller ears fit the Galaxy Buds 2 better. Remember, a good fit is just as important as noise cancelling tech when it comes to blocking outside sounds.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro
All prices listed in USD unless otherwise specified. Prices may change over time, and vary by region. Unfortunately, we cannot list Amazon prices on the site, as they vary greatly by currency.

Basically, you buy the Galaxy Buds Pro for the IPX7 rating. This is for the person who goes running in a downpour and expects to drop the buds into a puddle. Additionally, owners of multiple Samsung devices can reap the benefits of 360 Audio for movies. If you want a set of earbuds suited to phone calls, the Galaxy Buds Pro tends to sound best. Finally, if you foresee yourself wanting to adjust between a high or a low ANC setting depending on your surroundings, you grab the Galaxy Buds Pro.

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2
All prices listed in USD unless otherwise specified. Prices may change over time, and vary by region. Unfortunately, we cannot list Amazon prices on the site, as they vary greatly by currency.

Buy the Galaxy Buds 2 if you don’t care about 360 Sound and don’t plan on doing a lot of phone calls. These buds are also a better fit for people who prioritize music listening, rather than movies, due to the lack of Dolby Atmos. For readers with iPhones, it makes more sense to save and get the Galaxy Buds 2, because it sounds good and the ANC works well; plus, you can’t use those extra features anyway.

Finally, it could also come down to whether you want green earphones, because only the Galaxy Buds 2 comes in Olive. If these seem like pretty granular differences, it’s because they are—these earbuds are just that similar.

Read more: Bose QuietComfort 35 II vs Bose QuietComfort 45

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AKG Samsung Galaxy S10 Earbuds review Wed, 19 Jan 2022 22:05:01 +0000 Audio products that are included with phones usually elicit about as much excitement from me as a spontaneous trip to the DMV, but the AKG Samsung Galaxy S10 Earbuds included with the Samsung Galaxy S10 smartphones is a pleasant pair of freebie wired buds. While this lacks glitz and glam, it works reliably. When it comes to free, or less than $10 USD, it’s hard to ask for much more.

Editor’s note: this AKG Samsung Galaxy S10 Earbuds review was updated on January 19, 2022, to include a contents menu and to add an Alternatives section.

Who is the AKG Samsung Galaxy S10 Earbuds for?

The AKG Samsung Galaxy S10e earbuds leaning against the rear of the phone.

The AKG Samsung Galaxy S10 Earbuds are included with Samsung Galaxy S10 smartphones.

What is the AKG Samsung Galaxy S10 Earbuds like?

Although this pair of buds is a complimentary inclusion with Samsung Galaxy S10 phones, the AKG Samsung Galaxy S10 Earbuds build quality is better than expected. The lower half of the cable preceding the Y-splitter is wrapped in cloth to prevent tangling. The cables that diverge from the splitter are coated in a rubberized material with a small but functional cable management zip.

A top-down image of the The AKG Samsung Galaxy S10e earbuds' inline control module.

Although the integrated mic and remote module feels cheap, it gets the job done.

Unlike Google’s included Pixel USB earbuds, the AKG branded housings retain a manageable shape with angled nozzles that prevent irritation. The cable descending from either earbud is ergonomically positioned to minimize friction at the ear, which makes wearing this evermore comfortable.

Interrupting the right cable is three-button mic and remote module. This also happens to feel like the most budget component of the headset as it’s unapologetically creaky when I click it. That said, it works and allows for virtual assistant access. Microphone quality is fine: my voice is clearly relayed, but when in louder environments ambient noise is transferred too.

Related: How to use Google Assistant with your headphones

How do you connect the Samsung AKG Earbuds?

You can connect the earbuds to any phone with a headphone jack. Due to its simple plug-and-play design, this works just as well on gaming consoles like the Nintendo Switch and controllers for the PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X/S.

How does the AKG Samsung Galaxy S10 Earbuds sound?

AKG Samsung Galaxy S10e earbuds frequency response chart. AKG Samsung Galaxy S10e earbuds frequency isolation chart.

This set of buds does a fine job at combating external noise and insulating the listener from the environment, assuming that properly fitted ear tips are used. So long as you’re able to get a good fit, you’ll hear the boosted low-end depicted by the frequency response chart. It’s not so overwhelming as to shake your bones, but it does make it easier to identify the main beat on a noisy bus. Clarity is lacking and masking is a slight issue seeing how the bass notes are twice as loud as mids, but hey, you’re only spending $10 USD at most here.

Lows, mids, and highs

In Avicii’s 2013 radio hit Wake Me Up, you can hear some masking. The song opens with rapid guitar strums before fading into the background as Aloe Blacc’s vocals take the stage. It’s here that the underlying, low-frequency synth noises mask most perceptible detail from Blacc’s voice.

The AKG Samsung Galaxy S10e earbuds spare era tips on a black surface. The AKG Samsung Galaxy S10e earbuds 3.5mm plug in the S10e.

At 0:40, a barrage of claps, drums, guitar, and more synchronize and it’s hard for me to distinguish them from one another. This auditory disorientation is only amplified—quite literally—by the fact that there’s a 2.5-7kHz spike in the AKG Samsung Galaxy S10 Earbuds’ frequency response. This range can amplify naturally occuring unpleasant resonances within the human ear canal that are only made more annoying when a seal from an earbud is formed. Interestingly, Sennheiser does the opposite and tunes a dip at this frequency range.

The AKG Samsung Galaxy S10 Earbuds has its flaws, but it boils down to this: this set of earbuds sounds good enough for a majority of casual listeners. Plus, the fact that it passively isolates as well as it does is a huge benefit that could end up protecting your hearing in the long run.

Should you get the AKG Samsung Galaxy S10 Earbuds?

The AKG Samsung Galaxy S10e earbuds on a lens filter against a black background.

The AKG Samsung Galaxy S10 Earbuds included with Samsung Galaxy S10 phones feature angled nozzles for a comfortable fit.

While audio enthusiasts who purchase the Samsung Galaxy S10 may want a pair of higher quality earbuds or headphones on hand, the AKG Samsung Galaxy S10 Earbuds does a fine job at reproducing a pleasant sound with a bearable bass boost. For a pair of free earbuds, there’s not much to complain about. Worst-case scenario, you can just pass this off to a friend.

AKG Samsung Galaxy S10 Earbuds
All prices listed in USD unless otherwise specified. Prices may change over time, and vary by region. Unfortunately, we cannot list Amazon prices on the site, as they vary greatly by currency.

Read more: The best earbuds you can buy

What should you get instead of the AKG Samsung Galaxy S10 Earbuds?

The JBL Quantum 50 is a stellar set of wired gaming earbuds that costs about $25 USD. This has an inline mic and remote with a mute switch, and boasts very good sound quality for the price. Like the AKG earbuds, the Quantum 50 is very comfortable, though a bit bulkier.

The Beyerdynamic Soul BYRD is an excellent set of wired earbuds if you’re willing to up your budget significantly ($69 USD on January 2022). The Soul BYRD is one of the most comfortable wired in-ears around and it has a very flat profile that doesn’t protrude from the ears at all. Coincidentally, this is a great set of earbuds for listeners who like to listen to music as they fall asleep.

Frequently asked questions about the AKG Samsung Galaxy S10 Earbuds

How do you use the microphone?

The microphone is automatically activated when you take a call or enter a recording app. Some recording applications allow you to toggle which microphone is used (e.g., smartphone mic or headset mic).

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Apple AirPods Pro vs Sony WF-1000XM3 Wed, 19 Jan 2022 21:37:31 +0000 The Apple AirPods Pro is Apple’s response to the rise in noise cancelling true wireless earbuds. The California-based company redesigned its famed earbuds to provide a more stable fit while retaining beloved features like hands-free Siri access and streamlined use among iOS devices. While it’s a great pick for iPhone users, we’re looking at how the AirPods Pro compares to Sony’s best true wireless earphones: the Sony WF-1000XM3 which have top-end noise cancelling, a secure fit, and effective touch controls. Let’s find out which is better: the Apple AirPods Pro or the Sony WF-1000XM3.

Editor’s note: this Apple AirPods Pro vs Sony WF-1000XM3 article was updated on January 19, 2022, to move the FAQ section.

The Sony WF-1000XM3 and Apple AirPods designs differ

A picture of the Apple AirPods Pro in a man's left hand (foreground) with an iPhone and the AirPods Pro wireless charging case in the background.

The redesigned AirPods Pro now have dedicated nozzles that insert into the ear, making for a more stable fit and improved audio quality.

Let’s start by judging each book by its cover; the AirPods Pro sport a signature Apple aesthetic, including clean lines, no buttons, and an all-white paint job. The Sony earbuds, on the other hand, take a more elegant approach with an all-black exterior and copper accents. Each unit is made of plastic from the earbuds to the cases, so material quality is about the same. However, the Apple AirPods Pro has an IPX4 rating and can officially withstand your sweat-filled workouts. Unfortunately, if the Sony WF-1000XM3 experiences water damage, you’re out of luck and unable to file for a replacement under the product warranty.

If you intend to workout with your noise cancelling earbuds, get the AirPods Pro instead of the Sony WF-1000XM3.

Apple’s redesign of the AirPods means they now have dedicated nozzles that actually seal to the ear, the sole reason noise cancelling functionality works with the AirPods Pro. The ear tips aren’t quite as angled as those found on the Sony earbuds, but Apple went above and beyond in engineering the attachment mechanism for its silicone sleeves. Rather than sliding each ear tip on top of a plastic nozzle, as you do with virtually all other earbuds, each AirPods Pro ‘bud has a divot encircling the nozzle. Here, you snap the silicone collar of each ear tip into the divot, which prevents it from accidentally sliding off.

A photo of the Sony WF-1000XM3 extra ear tips on a black table.

Sony provides plenty of ear tips, ensuring you’ll find the proper fit.

While this is a nifty design, we appreciate Sony’s comprehensive array of provided ear tips which vary in size, density, and material. Apple takes a different approach by providing just the standard three ear tip sizes, which is fine for most, but some outliers may have trouble finding a comfortable and proper fit.

Onboard controls

A photo of a woman wearing the Sony WF-1000XM3 earbuds and reaching for the touch panel of the left 'bud.

Touch controls are customizable via Sony’s Headphone Connect app.

Both sets of earbuds support touch-sensitive controls, but operation is markedly different. The Apple AirPods Pro take a unique approach with their force-sensitive stems to register short and long squeezes. These can be remapped by opening your iPhone’s Bluetooth menu, selecting the “i” icon next to the Apple AirPods Pro, and following the subsequent prompts to customize functionality. Sony’s earbuds sport circular, glossy touch panels that require a myriad of tap combinations to control playback or toggle listening modes. These settings can also be remapped via the Sony | Headphones Connect app.

Both noise cancelling units support automatic ear detection, facilitated by proximity sensors. Removing one earbud for either set automatically pauses playback, while reinserting it resumes playback. The key difference is how the AirPods Pro limit this to iOS devices, while the Sony WF-1000XM3 automatic ear detection works across platforms.

The AirPods Pro case supports wireless charging

A photo of the AirPods Pro earbuds in the wireless charging case next to an iPhone and digital camera. - Apple AirPods Pro vs Sony WF-1000XM3

Apple includes wireless charging capabilities by default with its AirPods Pro noise cancelling true wireless earbuds.

If you’re a fan of wireless charging and already own a few Qi wireless charging mats, then you may be enticed by the wireless charging case included with the Apple AirPods Pro. Sony’s true wireless earbuds are constrained to USB-C charging. If you don’t care for wireless charging capabilities, then you’re limited to Lightning cables for the AirPods Pro. While this feature likely isn’t a make-or-break one for most consumers, it is a way for Apple to stand out from the crowd.

Build and fit is arguably the most subjective category, so you’re likely to feel differently than our conclusion today. While the Apple AirPod Pro has an IPX4 rating and includes a wireless charging case, we’re giving this to the Sony earbuds for their triple-contact point design, more natural onboard controls, and greater variety of ear tips.

Which headset is better for phone calls?

The Apple AirPods Pro has great microphone quality and runs circles around most of its competitors, thanks to an array of sensors and accelerometers stuffed within the housings. Voice reproduction follows a slightly more neutral frequency response than Sony’s earbuds, which bodes well for all vocal ranges. Beam-forming microphones work in tandem with a speech-detecting accelerometer works in tandem to filter out ambient noise. This lets the AirPods Pro really hone in on your voice while transmitting it across cell towers.

Listen to our mic demos below and decide for yourself.

Apple AirPods Pro microphone demo:

Sony WF-1000XM3 microphone demo:

Editor’s note: Sony released firmware update 2.1.0 on January 13, 2020, which makes improvements to hands-free call quality. Previous firmware updates included Amazon Alexa support, on-board volume adjustments, connection quality improvements on iOS, and general stability improvements.

Which pair of earbuds has better connection quality?

A picture of the Apple AirPods Pro touch settings on an iPhone.

The AirPods Pro integrate Apple’s H1 chip for immediate pairing and auto-connect functionality, which is limited to iOS devices.

Both the Apple AirPods Pro and Sony WF-1000XM3 earbuds support the AAC Bluetooth codec for high-quality streaming with iOS devices. This is supported by Android, but its performance is unpredictable to no fault of the codec. Rather, Android has yet to develop a universal way to stream over AAC as it’s an incredibly demanding wireless codec. To make up for the lack of aptX support in the Sony WF-1000XM3, Sony included a new QN1e chip and DSEE HX processing which work to facilitate 24-bit audio signal processing.

A Google Pixel 3 on a comforter next to the Sony WF-1000XM3 true wireless earbuds and charging case.

Sony’s totally wireless earbuds feature DSEE HX processing and the Q1ne chip for high-quality audio transmission.

Alright, onto different matters: the Apple AirPods Pro integrates the company’s H1 chip, allowing for hands-free Siri access, snappy auto-connect and usage across iOS devices, and energy efficiency. These benefits aren’t afforded to Android users, however, we still reap the power-efficient perks of Bluetooth 5.0, no matter what device is selected. Also, with the release of iOS 14, the AirPods Pro now features automatic device switching between Apple devices using the same Apple ID.

Since Apple’s ecosystem remains a well guarded one, the company can optimize and streamline how its proprietary devices communicate. This means iPhone users enjoy unparalleled connection stability with the Apple AirPods Pro. To Android users’ dismay, this isn’t the case when using AirPods with Android smartphones.

The AirPods Pro has better battery life

This category is the most straightforward and easiest to measure. As with every product review, we subjected each set of truly wireless earbuds to a constant 75dB(SPL) output and compared the results. A single charge of the Apple AirPods Pro supplies 5.1125 hours of playback with noise cancelling on, while the Sony WF-1000XM3 supplies just 4.76 hours of playback with noise cancelling on. Granted, both durations are impressive given how small the batteries are and how taxing ANC technology is, but the AirPods are the clear winner when it comes to standalone battery life.

A photo of the AirPods Pro Lightning charging cable in front of a plant.

If you don’t have a Qi wireless charging mat, you’ll need to charge the AirPods Pro case via Lightning cable.

Apple’s charging case also provides more on-the-go battery life, totaling 24 hours of combined playback. The Sony WF-1000XM3 charging case provides an additional three charge cycles, totaling approximately 19 hours of listening before needing to top up. Both units support quick charging to varying degrees: the AirPods Pro allots one hour of playtime from five minutes in the case, while the Sony earbuds grant 1.5 hours of listening from 10 minutes in the case. Again, Apple edges Sony out when it comes to fast charging capabilities.

Do the AirPods Pro or Sony WF-1000XM3 have better noise cancelling?

Although Apple made great improvements to the AirPods Pro design to create a cogent seal to the ear canal, they still can’t outperform the Sony WF-1000XM3. This makes sense as Sony’s WH-1000XM4 noise cancelling headphones remain the best all-around pick for consumers.

An active noise cancelling chart for the Apple AirPods Pro true wireless earbuds, which shows a decent degree of passive isolation and minimal noise cancellation. An active noise cancelling chart for the Sony WF-1000XM3 true wireless earbuds, which shows a decent degree of passive isolation and minimal noise cancellation.

In each chart above, the higher up the dotted cyan line, the more attenuated a certain frequency range is: when listening with the AirPods Pro, the noise cancelling technology makes midrange frequencies about half as loud as they would be sans-ANC. High-frequency noises are made to be even quieter, but that’s more a consequence of the earphones’ passive isolation. You can cycle through listening modes (noise cancelling, off, and transparency) by squeezing either earbud stem any number of times. Transparency mode is available on both sets of earbuds and lets you temporarily hear your surroundings. This is convenient when you need to hear your train stop.

The Sony WF-1000XM3 earbuds in the palm of a left hand with a beige book and leather watch on a table in the background.

The earbuds don’t offer any sweat resistance, which may be an issue for anyone living in humid climates.

Neither the AirPods Pro nor the Sony WF-1000XM3 will mute your surroundings, but if you want the best raw ANC performance of the two headsets, grab the AirPods Pro. The Sony WF-1000XM3 does very little to negate midrange frequency sounds, though its passive isolation is quite a bit better than the AirPods Pro.

Related: Apple AirPods Pro vs Sony WF-1000XM4

Regardless of which earbuds you end up going with, noise cancelling technology will protect you from self-inflicted hearing loss. When using non-noise cancelling earbuds, you’re more likely to increase the volume so as to hear your music better to drown out noise around you. They also serve as an effective productivity tool for anyone adjusting to a work-from-home schedule. ANC blocks out the sound of your roommates’ conference calls as well as outside foot traffic.

Sony 360 Reality Audio vs Apple Spatial Audio

Both the AirPods Pro and Sony WF-1000XM3 feature their own take on 3D audio effects, with the goal of creating a more immersive listening experience.

The inner workings of Sony 360 Reality Audio and Apple Spatial Audio are essentially the same. They’re both object-based audio technologies with audio cues programmed in 3D space. This is different from traditional virtual surround sound, which mimics the illusion of 3D space by simply panning sounds between the left and right audio channels.

Sony 360 Reality Audio has been available on the WF-1000XM3 since its introduction and is only compatible with premium music streaming services such as Tidal (HiFi subscription), Deezer, and As of now, there aren’t any video streaming platforms that are compatible with the feature.

On the other hand, the AirPods Pro only received Spatial Audio very recently, with the release of iOS 14. The feature supports videos encoded for 5.1 and 7.1 audio, as well as Dolby Atmos, and works with a handful of apps including Apple TV+, Disney+, and HBO Max. Currently, there aren’t any music streaming services that work with Spatial Audio, though this may change in the near future.

Do the AirPods Pro or Sony WF-1000XM3 sound better?

While all the bells and whistles are valuable and appreciated, at the end of the day these are audio products. Neither option comes cheap, so you should rest assured that what you’re investing in is going to sound good to your ears.

A frequency response chart for the Apple AirPods Pro true wireless earbuds, which shows output that closely follows our house curve. A frequency response chart for the Sony WF-1000XM3 noise cancelling true wireless earbuds, which shows output that deviates from our house curve, particularly with midrange and treble reproduction.

Just like the noise cancelling section, we have charts to break down objective data. The ones above illustrate the frequency responses of sets pairs of earbuds. The closer the cyan line follows the pink line (our house curve), the closer the headset is to what we posit as the platonic ideal.

Let’s look at the Sony WF-1000XM3 first: bass frequencies are amplified most with some emphasis on midrange notes. This low-end boost is what gives your songs that extra oomph. It’s by no means neutral but this response, and the AirPods Pro’s, plays well to popular music genres such as pop, hip-hop, and rap. If you’re into electronic music, you may want even more bass to your sound, in which case, this can be adjusted via the Sony Headphones Connect app.

Relate: Best true wireless earbuds

The Apple AirPods Pro also emphasizes low frequencies, but not to the same degree as Sony’s earbuds. What’s more, upper midrange and treble frequencies receive a generous 10dB emphasis, making them twice as loud as your midrange frequencies (200-1500Hz).

A picture of the Apple AirPods Por in a man's left hand against a green background.

The Apple AirPods Pro has indentations to indicate where the touch controls are located.

All of these numbers are hard to contextualize, so how this plays out in your music is that resonances from string instruments, for example, will sound twice as loud as run-of-the-mill male and female vocals. This can make you notice certain detail in your music that went previously undetected but may be annoying to those looking for a more neutral sound.

On the whole, vocals sound really good with either headset. If you want a bassier sound, get the Sony earbuds and if you want more accurate vocals and to be able to perceive more detail from high notes, get the AirPods Pro.

Apple AirPods vs Sony WF-1000XM3: Which is the best pair of ANC earbuds?

Aerial photo of the Sony WF-1000XM3 earbuds in the case which is open - Apple AirPods Pro vs Sony WF-1000XM3

The Sony WF-1000XM3 features a more elegant design than the AirPods Pro.

Unlike our Apple AirPods Pro vs. AirPods (2019) head-to-head, the winner isn’t mopping the floor with the runner-up. Ultimately, it wholly depends on what you prioritize when picking out true wireless earbuds.

Sony’s earbuds are usually $20 cheaper than the Apple AirPods Pro, and cost just $178 USD as of June 19, 2021, so you could save some serious cash with Sony’s buds. Also, Android users don’t get the same connection strength benefits from the H1 chip as Android users do. If you don’t have an iPhone, the decision to get the Sony WF-1000XM3 is made even easier.

Sony WF-1000XM3
All prices listed in USD unless otherwise specified. Prices may change over time, and vary by region. Unfortunately, we cannot list Amazon prices on the site, as they vary greatly by currency.

In all fairness, if you’re already beholden to all things Apple, then the new AirPods Pro makes the most sense: the H1 chip makes it easy to swap between iOS devices, while AAC codec support allows for high-quality, lag-free audio streaming. No matter which pair you get, you’re bound to be happy as both sets of earbuds are among the best of the competition.

Apple AirPods Pro
All prices listed in USD unless otherwise specified. Prices may change over time, and vary by region. Unfortunately, we cannot list Amazon prices on the site, as they vary greatly by currency.

What should you get instead?

A photo of the Sony WF-1000XM4's case open, revealing the earphones sitting within.

The addition of the copper ANC mic housings make the Sony WF-1000XM4 a bit more glam.

The Sony WF-1000XM4 takes everything about the XM3 and improves upon it. Sony added an IPX4 rating to the new noise cancelling earbuds, much better active noise cancelling, and a sleeker, more compact design. Oh, and you get a host of memory foam ear tips with the Sony WF-1000XM4 and can test the fit in the mobile app.

If you own a Samsung Galaxy device, consider the company’s latest true wireless earbuds: the Galaxy Buds Pro. It sports rubber ear tips for an improved fit over the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live, in addition to improved isolation, better active noise cancellation, and good sound quality that appeals to hip-hop and EDM music.

Should iPhone users save for the Apple AirPods Max?

The Apple AirPods Max in white on a coffee table next to a newspaper.

The headphones are built well and connect nicely to any iOS device.

If you’re in the market for the Apple AirPods Pro, you may have come across the Apple AirPods Max, Apple’s debut over-ear noise cancelling headset. Apple integrates its H1 chip into each ear cup, making it an extremely powerful wireless headset. You can use it to perform a multitude of tasks like active noise cancelling, Transparency Mode, voice-activated Siri access, and more. The H1 chip also enables features like Adaptive EQ and Spatial Audio, the former of which adjusts the frequency response in real-time according to the headset’s fit and your environment.

While most of us will have a hard time budgeting for Apple’s $549 AirPods Max headset, some users may find the cost justifiable for the ultimate convenience factor.

The Sony WF-1000XM3 also has an over-ear counterpart, the Sony WH-1000XM4

If you like the sound of the Sony WF-1000XM3’s features but aren’t sold on the in-ear design, check out the Sony WH-1000XM4. These cans have some of the best noise cancelling and sound quality in the business, and they have some other creature comforts like Bluetooth multipoint an EQ-able sound signature via the Sony Headphones Connect app.

Next: Best AirPods Pro alternatives

Frequently asked questions about the Apple AirPods Pro vs Sony WF-1000XM3

Why is Airpods quality so bad on Windows but fine on Macbooks?

The reason for this is a combination of Windows’ Bluetooth quality and AirPods compatibility with devices other than Apple. The AirPods Pro have Apple’s H1 chip which means the connection between the AirPods and an Apple source device is exceptionally strong. In addition, Windows computers… can have issues with audio. Sometimes they don’t support certain codecs, or they need an external unit to support things like aptX or aptX HD. It’s not always easy to pin why your AirPods sound worse on Windows computers, but there’s a lot working against them. The unfortunate truth is that Apple devices function at their best with other Apple devices.

Are either of these not worth their money in 2020?

Both the Apple AirPods Pro and Sony WF-1000XM3 remain two of the best active noise cancelling true wireless earbuds on the market. Both sets of earbuds have firmware updates released every so often as well, so you don’t need to worry too much about them being outdated. However, keep in mind that if you have an Android device you cannot update the firmware of your AirPods Pro.

How do I use AirPods Pro with an Android phone?

On Android, the AirPods Pro act like any normal pair of true wireless earbuds. To connect to the AirPods Pro, place the earbuds in its charging case. With the lid open, tap the button at the back of the case, which will enter the AirPods Pro into pairing mode. On your Android device, go into your Bluetooth settings and you should see the AirPods Pro in the available devices list. Tap on the AirPods Pro and after a few seconds, you should be connected. For more details on how to use your earbuds with Android devices, check out our ultimate guide to the AirPods and AirPods Pro!

Is there an AirPods Pro app I can download for Android?

No. Firmware updates and other configuration options can only be accessed using a compatible iOS/iPadOS device running version 13.2 or later.

What devices can I use to configure the AirPods Pro?

While the AirPods Pro can connect to most devices via Bluetooth (even Android), you’ll need to use an Apple device running iOS 13.2 or later, or iPadOS 13.2 or later to properly configure these earbuds.

What is Sony's feature called 360 Reality Audio?

Sony 360 Reality Audio is the company’s approach to object-based spatial audio technology. Like what 3D does to movies, 360 Reality Audio is intended to give the listener an immersive audio experience, making it sound like you’re at a live concert. This feature is available on the WF-1000XM3, and is compatible with apps such as Tidal, Deezer, and Nugs.

How do you update the Sony WF-1000XM3 firmware?

You can update your earbud’s firmware using the Sony Headphones Connect app, available for both Android and iOS. With your earbuds connected to your device, a notification should appear within the app, letting you know if and when firmware updates are available. It’s a good idea to check for updates frequently to ensure your earbuds are operating at peak performance.

How do you update the AirPods Pro firmware?

When an update is available, the AirPods Pro and AirPods will automatically install an update. This requires them to be paired with an iOS device; in other words, you can’t update the AirPods Pro firmware with an Android device. To do that, you must connect the AirPods Pro to an iOS device to complete the update. Only then may you use it with the Android device. Apple doesn’t make it obvious that an update is happening, so the only way to know if a firmware update has occurred is by visiting settings > general > about. From there, scroll down until you see AirPods Pro and check the firmware code. As of March 5, 2020, the most recent firmware version is 2C54.

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The best wireless PC gaming headsets Wed, 19 Jan 2022 19:00:06 +0000 Most of the time, the PC is the best place to find a great gaming headset. It’s the platform where you can spend more on nearly infinite incremental improvements to quality, in both visual fidelity and sound. However, if there’s one avenue where the PC falters, it’s that most of the best headsets have cables. There just aren’t as many wireless PC gaming headsets as on other platforms, and for a pretty simple reason: playing games on a desktop PC means that a cable is often the best choice for that environment. Most of the time, it’s no struggle to use a corded headset—you don’t have to be far away from your source, and the audio latency is nonexistent.

However, there are still plenty of wireless options worth getting, and plenty of reasons to get them. Here are some of the best wireless PC gaming headsets available.

Editor’s note: This list of the best Wireless PC Gaming headsets was updated on January 19, 2022, to include the Logitech G435 Lightspeed, Logitech G733 Lightspeed, and EPOS H3PRO Hybrid in the notable mentions section.

The HyperX Cloud II Wireless is the best wireless PC gaming headset

The HyperX Cloud II Wireless brings comfort, performance, and that classic HyperX look for a reasonable price. This wireless PC gaming headset also works with PlayStation 5, and it’s one of the best options on either platform—wireless or otherwise.

HyperX Cloud II Wireless

Full Review

This headset is built on a sturdy metal frame. Its memory foam earpads are covered in soft leatherette that feels great to wear and can accommodate most head shapes pretty easily. In short, it’s super comfortable, and it sounds great.

The HyperX Cloud II Wireless uses a wireless RF connection with a 2.4GHz USB dongle for transmitting audio between it and your platform of choice. This is good because it means audio lag won’t be an issue, and generally, this connection takes less power to maintain. That saved juice doesn’t go to waste here, as the Cloud II can last around 32 hours on a single charge—better than most gaming headsets on the market.

See also: HyperX Cloud II Wireless vs HyperX Cloud Flight S

Additionally, this headset brings virtual surround sound and mic monitoring to PC via NGenuity, the HyperX headset companion app. It doesn’t bring those features to consoles, but the PlayStation 5 sports its own built surround sound anyway, so you won’t miss it. The Cloud II Wireless also works with a docked Nintendo Switch.

What should you look for in a wireless PC gaming headset?

The Sennheiser GSP 670 gaming headset sits on a wooden table next to a MacBook Pro with the headset's USB dongle plugged in.

A 2.4GHz dongle sidesteps the latency issues of Bluetooth.

Normally deciding on your connection method is a key part of picking a PC gaming headset, but if you’re dead set on a wireless option, that decision is basically already made. All wireless PC gaming headsets connect using USB dongles—even if your computer supports aptX Low Latency. Bluetooth is prone to lag no matter what codec you use, so these dongles generally use 2.4GHz radio frequency connections, which are virtually lag-free, and a little less battery intensive.

The other thing to really consider is what platforms you want a headset to support. Thankfully, the PC supports basically everything. If you happen to own a console as well as a PC, the options immediately get more limited. Basically, any wireless headset that works on the PlayStation 4 or PS5 won’t work on the Xbox One, and vice versa. If you’re at all interested in getting a headset you can use on a few different gaming platforms, don’t just get whatever—often there are specific models of gaming headsets for different platforms, and you don’t want to buy a Steelseries headset for Xbox One and PC, when your other platform is a PlayStation 4.

If you’re bouncing between a lot of platforms, consider the Razer Barracuda X

The Razer Barracuda X is one of a growing cohort of wireless gaming headsets that use a USB-C dongle to connect to gaming platforms. The headset also comes with a USB-A adapter, which means it can connect to the Nintendo Switch (docked or undocked), every kind of PlayStation, smartphones with USB-C ports, as well as PC.

Razer Barracuda X

Full Review

Outside of that, the Barracuda X features a super lightweight plastic build and ear pads covered in a soft fabric, which means for an exceedingly comfortable experience. The headset’s audio output is largely very accurate compared to our target curve, though there’s a slight dip in the sub-bass range. The microphone is a little on the quiet side, but it still sounds alright. The Barracuda X can also last over 25 hours on a single charge, which is definitely on the higher end of the gaming headset market.

Basically, this sounds good, feels good, and works on most platforms. You can see the Barracuda X in action in our video review. Oh yeah, it’s also only $99 USD. What more could you want?

The SteelSeries Arctis 7 is a comfortable wireless PC gaming headset

Few gaming headsets, on any platform, are as comfortable as SteelSeries’ Arctis headset line. The SteelSeries Arctis 7 hits that sweet spot of features, compatibility, and price—and it doesn’t get rid of any physical design elements like the Arctis 1 Wireless does.

SteelSeries Arctis 7

Full Review

This wireless PC gaming headset offers surround sound, a Discord-certified microphone, standard wired playback, and a 16-hour battery life. It’s pretty much got everything you could need. On top of all that, the design and comfort of this headset are second to none.

The SteelSeries Arctis 7 features a primarily metal build, with a lightweight aluminum frame and an elastic suspension band modeled after a pair of ski goggles. It doesn’t take any adjustment—just put it on and it’ll stretch to fit comfortably. The headphones sport ear pads covered in a fabric SteelSeries calls AirWeave, which is soft and breezy, but dense enough to not sacrifice too much isolation. If you want something to wear for hours on end, whether you’re an at-home worker or you like marathon gaming sessions, this is definitely worth considering.

The Logitech G Pro X Wireless brings the features

If you want something that’s just spoiled with features, the Logitech G Pro X Wireless might be just the software wonder for you. A wireless re-release of one of the best gaming headsets of 2019, the Logitech G Pro X Wireless brings everything the G Pro X offered and more.

Logitech G Pro X Wireless

Full Review

This headset can last up to 21 hours on a single charge, and its sturdy build and multiple ear pad options mean it’s actually comfortable to wear for that long too. On the hardware side, the G Pro X Wireless offers very good audio for a gaming headset, a reasonably accurate microphone, and lag-free audio with its 2.4gHz USB dongle connection, but all the software options that really tie everything together.

Using Logitech’s G Hub app, the Logitech G Pro X Wireless brings virtual surround sound, customizable headphone EQ profiles, and support for the Blue Vo!ce microphone suite. Blue Vo!ce was first implemented by microphone company Blue (which Logitech owns), and it offers tons of options for customizing and improving microphone audio. There are tons of options for noise reduction and EQ settings, as well as tons of EQ presets based on different uses and recording needs. Basically, it’s as close to a one-stop-shop as you’ll find in a gaming headset.

What’s the most comfortable PC gaming headset for glasses? The Razer BlackShark V2 Pro

The Razer BlackShark V2 Pro has a sleek aesthetic and is very comfortable with its memory foam pads covered with mesh fabric. The clamping force is slightly loose, but if you’re wearing glasses, this may be a blessing in disguise.

Razer BlackShark V2 Pro

Full Review

This wireless PC gaming headset is compatible with the Razer Synapse 3 app, which supports THX virtual surround sound and allows you to EQ the sound signature of the headset. The headset is compatible with PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch, but the app and its accompanying features can only be used on PC. The Razer BlackShark V2 Pro lasts 24 hours on a single charge, but it charges via microUSB.

The best wireless PC gaming headsets: Notable mentions:

A man wears the Logitech G435 gaming headset sitting at a computer.

The G435 Lightspeed may look like a kid’s toy, but it packs a punch and is sustainably produced relative to the competition.

  • Corsair Void RGB Elite Wireless: Another great option for gamers with glasses, this headset is affordable, has a pretty great microphone, and 7.1 surround sound.
  • EPOS GTW 270 Hybrid: You’ll need a separate microphone for chat, but this is the first pair of true wireless gaming earbuds and it actually works. If you want something other than over-ear headphones, this could be just the ticket.
  • EPOS H3PRO Hybrid: One of the best options on the market, the H3PRO Hybrid features active noise cancelling, a detachable microphone, and solid battery life and sound performance. The only caveat here is the price.
  • Logitech G435 Lightspeed: An alternative, more inexpensive option from Logitech. The G435 has the unique distinction of being one of the lightest headsets on the market. Combine that with its solid battery life and reasonably good sound quality and it makes an excellent option for long play sessions. Its inexpensive price tag also makes it an ideal option for kids.
  • Logitech G733 Lightspeed: Interested in the Logitech G Pro X Wireless but don’t want to break the bank? The G733 Lightspeed boasts similar performance and quality at a reduced price. Although not quite as luxurious as its bigger brother, this is an excellent midrange option.
  • SteelSeries Arctis 7P: The lack of SteelSeries Engine support means it’s not as viable as a PC headset, but it’s still a good all-around option, with a USB-C dongle, a comfortable build, and double the battery life of the Arctis 7.

Why you should trust SoundGuys

When it comes down to it, I don’t just review gaming headsets because I’m passionate about good audio. Pretty much everything I do here at SoundGuys focuses on gaming content, and that’s because I’ve been a gamer my whole life. You name it, I’ve probably played it. I know what kind of audio features are important for different kinds of games, and maybe more importantly: which ones aren’t.

Each of us at SoundGuys has accumulated years of experience reporting on the consumer audio market, and our staff adheres to a strict ethics policy. We don’t use ads or sponsored content on the website at a time when doing so is the norm. SoundGuys’ survival depends solely on readers enjoying their purchases. We pride ourselves on transparently outlining objective facts, while accounting for the subjective experience to contextualize an audio product’s performance. When we do misspeak, we correct and own up to it.

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Best alternatives to Beats Wed, 19 Jan 2022 17:00:15 +0000 So you don’t want Beats to pump out your beats, while you may be concerned about what the competition has to offer there are plenty of trendy, bass-heavy headphones that aren’t Beats. Who knows, you may end up preferring them over the Dr.’s auditory prescription. If you’re looking for some of the best alternatives to Beats then you’ve come to the right place.

Editor’s note: this list of the Best Beats alternatives was updated on January 19, 2022, to add the Jaybird Vista 2 and JBL Reflect Flow Pro to the Best list, update charts, add a contents menu, add a section about noise cancelling, and add Anker Soundcore Q35, Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2, Campfire Audio Honeydew, JLab Epic Air Sport ANC, Monoprice BT-600ANC, Sennheiser CX True Wireless, and Under Armour Project Rock Over-Ear Training Headphones by JBL to Notable mentions.

The Sony WH-1000XM4 is the best Beats Studio3 Wireless alternative

The Sony WH-1000XM4 caters to commuters and all-purpose users alike; while it lacks the “Studio” moniker that the Beats competitor has, it boasts many of the same features and outperforms the Studio3 Wireless handily as it applies to noise cancelling capabilities (and equalizing your music).

Sony WH-1000XM4

Full Review

Both models are over-ear headphones that retail for around $300 USD, but Sony’s WH-1000XM4 is the better buy. It has Bluetooth multipoint, and Bluetooth codecs including LDAC, which provides the best streaming quality at 990kbps. It doesn’t have as much of a bass boost as Beats or the previous Sony WH-1000XM3, so if you’re looking for that bass sound, it may be best to go with the WH-1000XM3. However, the newer model’s ANC is better.

By providing effective noise cancelling, your music will sound better and you'll likely avoid hearing damage.

If the main feature drawing you to the Beats Studio3 Wireless is noise cancellation performance, then the Sony cans should be your pick. Deciding what’s physically comfortable is more subjective, but we’re confident you’ll be happier with the Sony WH-1000XM4 than with the Beats headphones.

What should you look for when buying Bluetooth headphones?

Before spending your money on something as expensive as a pair of Bluetooth headphones, let alone Beats headphones, it’s good to know what some alternatives are. After all, that’s why you’re here right? But before you spend money on anything at all, there are some things you should know that could potentially help you with your purchase decision. We’ll keep it simple for the purposes of this article, but there are links to all of the deep dives down below if you feel like becoming an expert on anything.

Start here: Ultimate headphone buying guide

What is a Bluetooth codec?

SBC aptX aptX HD AAC LDAC bluetooth codecs profile audio

Represented is the max transfer rate (kbps) of each respective Bluetooth codec (greater is better). Each waveform depicts a transfer rate of 100 kbps.

If you’re unfamiliar with the technology, a Bluetooth codec determines how data is transmitted from a source (phone) to a receiver (headphones). Ideally, there wouldn’t have to be any sacrifices made in quality for the sake of efficiency. However, we don’t live in a perfect world and different codecs provide different transfer rates and qualities.

Since Beats by Dre is now part of the Apple conglomerate and has been since 2014, the company’s wireless headphones and earbuds integrate the W1 chip or H1 chip and support the AAC Bluetooth codec. iPhone users should get headphones that support AAC, and Android users should look out for aptX or aptX HD support. That said, if you’re looking to get the absolute best audio quality, wired listening is still running laps around wireless.

What is frequency response?

Chart of Beats Powerbeats Pro frequency response compared to our ideal curve.

The Powerbeats Pro (cyan) favors more bass than our house curve (in pink), but reasonably follows it.

Beats headphones are loathed and loved for their bass-heavy frequency responses, but the company doesn’t have a patent on low-end exaggeration. Thus, finding a product that emulates that sought-after sound isn’t an arduous journey. Many of these headphones and earbuds also reproduce emphasized low notes. While this usually means you’re enjoying a more consumer-friendly sound, tinkerers (those who often EQ their music) may want to look into studio headphones. Headsets with neutral frequency responses are easier to EQ because they’re less prone to distortion.

How do noise cancelling headphones work?

How active noise cancelling actually works

Constructive and Destructive Interference Sound waves of equal amplitude, offset at half wavelengths result in compression waves with an amplitude of 0—canceling out the sound.

Active noise cancelling (ANC) headphones use destructive interference to combat external sounds. Any ANC headset has microphones dedicated to recording your surroundings so it can produce anti-noise through phase inversion. To simplify it, the microphones record the sound waves from your environment and then create an identical wave. After the ANC system creates the identical wave, it then delays this twin wave by half a wavelength. When done correctly, this destructive interference significantly quiets background noise. More advanced systems like Sony and Bose’s flagship headsets tend to work much better than sub-$100 USD noise cancelling headsets. That said, there are quite a few diamonds in the rough when it comes to a $100 USD budget.

What are the drawbacks to buying non-Beats headphones?

Sometimes it’s worth it to invest in the real deal. However, just because a product is an off-brand (i.e., not Beats) doesn’t make it inherently poor quality. More often than not, a direct competitor to a Beats model will be cheaper than the household name. The price disparity isn’t indicative of a lack of quality, rather it likely just reflects a smaller profit margin for the company, which means more money for you to put toward streaming.

Related: The best Bose headphones

If you’re interested in the Beats Solo3 Wireless, save money with the Sony WH-XB900N instead

While the Beats Solo3 Wireless is one of the company’s most accessible products, it lacks one major feature touted by the Sony WH-XB900N: active noise cancelling. While the noise cancellation found on these mid-tier Sony cans isn’t going to beat the Sony WH-1000XM4 abilities, it’s better than not having the feature altogether.

Sony WH-XB900N

Full Review

But it’s not just about having a feature to say that the feature is there; no, the Sony WH-XB900N attenuation is effective enough to prevent you from maxing out the volume. Not only does the lessening of outside noise improve audio quality, but it also steers you away from damaging your hearing.

This headset runs as low as $150, quite a bit less than Beats Solo3 Wireless brand new, but even at the same price, it’s the better choice. The fit and finish are very nice, as is easy integration with your device. Battery life in our tests was 37 hours, 22 minutes of constant playback, and if it dies, you can use the 3.5mm jack.

Related: The best headphones for bass

You get a lot of Bluetooth codec support, which is especially helpful if you’re using Android, with aptX, aptX HD, LDAC, and the usual AAC (for Apple users) and SBC. Best of all, if you’re looking for a Beats alternative, the “XB” in any Sony product means eXtra Bass. If you’re not a basshead, pass on this headset, but if you live for the low end, like many Beats fans, the WH-XB900N is a great pick.

The V-MODA Crossfade 2 Wireless Codex Edition is a versatile alternative to the Beats Pro

One glance at the Beats Pro and it’s apparent that it’s the most durable pair of Beats headphones, but the V-MODA Crossfade Wireless Codex Edition is MIL-STD 810G certified, meaning it’s officially tough as nails.

V-MODA Crossfade 2 Wireless Codex Edition

Full Review

The V-MODA Crossfade 2 Wireless Codex Edition isn’t just tough, though; it sounds good too. If you opt to listen sans wires (or maybe your phone manufacturer left you without a choice) then you still benefit from AAC and aptX codec support.

Additionally, when you buy a pair of V-MODA headphones, you’re not just buying a single one-and-done product. No, the company also has an albeit pricey lineup backed by its Immortal Life Program.

Learn more: What does your headphone warranty cover?

The JBL Reflect Flow Pro stays in your ears when you’re on the run

Cut the wires on your workout with the JBL Reflect Flow Pro, which is a good alternative to the Beats Fit Pro. Whereas the Beats Fit Pro has major ANC bugs that (as of December 10, 2021) have not been sorted out for Android, the Reflect Flow Pro ANC is OS agnostic. The ANC performance may not be groundbreaking, but it’s still better than nothing.

JBL Reflect Flow Pro

Full Review

Equipped with an IP68 rating, it’s dustproof and water-resistant. Even if you sweat like a tsunami while jogging through a dust storm, the Reflect Flow Pro won’t let you down. In addition to stabilizing wings to keep the buds in your ear, the companion app has a “Check my best fit” feature keen to optimize your fit.

Related: The best workout headphones

If the default JBL frequency response doesn’t suit your taste, you can play around with the EQ in-app. As is, it’s pretty consumer friendly with a lot of bass on tap already to keep your workouts motivated. Battery life reaches 9 hours, 8 minutes according to our tests with another 20 hours using the case. At $50 USD less than the Fit Pro, it’s an easy choice to make.

The Jaybird Vista is a solid Beats Powerbeats Pro alternative

Though it’s a few years old, the Beats Powerbeats Pro continues to be a popular pair of true wireless earbuds for athletes. Still, if you aren’t interested in the Powerbeats Pro, then the Jaybird Vista 2 is a great option. The earbuds feature an IP68 and MIL-STD-810G ratings, and the case merits its own IP54 rating, which is supremely rare.

Jaybird Vista 2

Full Review

The case supports USB-C quick charging and wireless charging. Just five minutes in the case yields 60 minutes of playback. Standalone battery life clocks in at 5 hours, 20 minutes with ANC on. Oh, yeah, these earbuds have active noise cancelling, which is impressive given its now reduced price point. Keep realistic expectations though, because the ANC can’t quite compete with top contenders like the Sony WF-1000XM4 or Bose QuietComfort Earbuds. You won’t notice a huge difference when you toggle ANC on/off, but you’re likely to find the passive isolation impressive. Jaybird’s proprietary ear and wing tips may be hard to replace, but they do a great job of blocking out unpredictable, incidental sounds.

Read on: How to EQ you Bluetooth headphones from any mobile app

Unfortunately, the Vista 2 only supports AAC and SBC, so Android phone owners don’t have a reliable high-quality option here. Android phones can use Google Fast Pair to quickly connect to the Vista 2 though, which works similar to connecting the AirPods to an iPhone. The sound quality is quite good and will please most listeners, but you can take it a step further and play with the EQ from the free Jaybird app (iOS and Android). You can create and save EQ settings which may also be shared with other Jaybird users. This is a great, more affordable alternative to Beats’ running earbuds.

The best Beats alternatives: Notable mentions

Sennheiser Momentum Wireless 3 headband stitching.

The attention to detail is phenomenal as seen in the fine stitching along the headband of the MOMENTUM 3 Wireless.

  • Anker Soundcore Q35: This pair of headphones costs about $129 USD but it features LDAC, decent ANC, and a bassy sound. It’s a real steal when compared to either the Solo3 or Studio3 Wireless models. It also has a certain resemblance to Beats.
  • Apple AirPods Max: Apple’s first-ever pair of over-ear headphones is designed for people heavily invested in the company’s ecosystem. It features some of the best noise cancellation we’ve tested, in addition to great sound quality, spatial audio, automatic device switching, and a unique yet durable design.
  • Apple AirPods ProThe AirPods Pro is a great alternative to Beats because it has the H1 chip, so you get the same seamless user experience with the AirPods Pro as you would with a modern set of Beats earbuds or headphones. Additionally, the AirPods Pro has ANC, spatial audio with head tracking, battery optimization, and more. If you don’t have an iPhone, there are a ton of great AirPods Pro alternatives to choose from.
  • Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2: This comfortable headset has a staggering 64 hours and 51 minutes of battery life, plus it works wired. The LDAC codec and optional EQ in the companion app mean you can suss out how you want it to sound.
  • Audio-Technica ATH-SR30BT: For around $100 USD, you get a pair of over-ear headphones complete with aptX support, good sound quality, and a 70-hour battery life that will last you several round-trip flights—all without needing to recharge.
  • Bose QuietComfort 35 IIJust because there’s a new Bose product on the block doesn’t make the previous beasts of ANC any less appealing. This is still more comfortable and offers many of the same great features as the newer Bose QuietComfort 45. You can even see how the Bose QC 35 II compares to the QC 45.
  • Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700: The Bose NCH 700 is another great option for anyone looking for a sleek design, great battery life, and solid active noise canceling. If you’re not a fan of the Sony headphones on this list, definitely check this out.
  • Bose Sport Earbuds: This pair of true wireless workout buds is a great option for listeners who like the idea of the Beats Fit Pro but don’t want to deal with finicky ANC or Apple-controlled updates. The default sound is great and the touch controls work perfectly on the Sport Earbuds.
  • Campfire Audio Honeydew: If you are looking for a bass-focused set of wired earbuds, look no further than the Honeydew with it’s comfortable “universal” fit and quality build. It doesn’t have an IP rating so you probably don’t want to go for a run with it.
  • Jabra Elite 45h: These on-ears headphones are a great alternative to the Beats, complete with AAC compatibility, great battery life, portable design, good microphone quality, and support for Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
  • Jabra Elite 85h: This is a great over-ear alternative to the Beats Solo3 Wireless. It features good sound quality and active noise cancelling, all at a lower price point than Beats’ offering.
  • Jabra Elite 85t: These earbuds are the latest Jabra has to offer, featuring surprisingly good active noise cancellation for less than $250 USD. It also offers AAC support, USB-C and wireless charging, and ergonomic ear tip options to ensure a proper fit.
  • JLab Epic Air Sport ANC: Save yourself quite a bit of money and try the JLab Epic Air Sport ANC for about half the price of Powerbeats Pro. You miss out on the H1 chip but retain the ear hook design and in-ear detection. Try the non-ANC version if you’d rather have optimal environmental awareness.
  • Monoprice BT-600ANC: For under three figures you get aptX HD codec and some of the best ANC at any price.
  • Sennheiser CX Plus True Wireless: These buds offer great sound with some oomph, good ANC, and aptX and AAC support—all for less than $150 USD. It’s a solid alternative to the Beats Studio Buds.
  • Sennheiser MOMENTUM 3 Wireless: If you’ve thought about getting the Beats Studio but were turned off by the design, Sennheiser’s stylish pair of ANC headphones may be up your alley. This features premium materials, noise cancelling, and a very comfortable fit with a nice, though bass-heavy, sound.
  • Sennheiser PXC 550-II: These active noise cancelling headphones are extremely high-value for their price. Not only is the ANC great, it also reproduces accurate audio, has Bluetooth multipoint, and boasts a comfortable design.
  • Shure AONIC 50: Listeners who want solid noise cancelling with a premium build and all the connectivity options you could hope for should save up for the AONIC 50. This headset attenuates low-frequency noise rather well and is extremely comfortable to wear with glasses.
  • Sony WH-1000XM3: If you want the bass boost that the Sony WH-1000XM4 can’t offer, go with its predecessor. You can often find this for a great price, making it a steal among ANC headphones. In our Sony WH-1000XM3 vs Sony WH-1000XM4 head-to-head, the older model still holds up.
  • Under Armour Project Rock Over-Ear Training Headphones by JBL: Those looking at Beats are already looking at premium price headphones, so why not grab a workout companion with some flexibility like in-app EQ and premium features like washable ear cushions?

Related: The best Google Assistant headphones

How does SoundGuys choose the best Beats alternatives?

We have our own internal testing methodology, but the long and the short of it is that we run three basic tests: battery life, frequency response, and isolation to get a broad-stroke, objective understanding of how each pair of headphones or earbuds operates. From there, we use the headphones in our daily routine, taking note of a product’s follies and triumphs.

Ultimately, we respect that audio is subjective to a point—and believe it helps us, and you the reader, to know a product’s objective performance as well.

Why you should trust SoundGuys

We’re dedicated to this site and individually have accrued multiples years of experience when it comes to keeping track of the evolving audio industry. In being so involved, we’re able to quickly pick out the good from the to-be-improved products.

A woman playing on a PlayStation 4 with the Audio-Technica ATH-G1 headset plugged directly into the controller.

We make sure to record objective measurements and our subjective experiences with each product.

Our main goal is to ensure that you enjoy your purchase, whether you’re looking for workout earbuds, soundbars, or noise cancelling headphones. We just want you to be happy, and none of our writers may benefit from lauding one product over another. If you so choose, we recommend that you read our full ethics policy.

Frequently asked questions about Best alternatives to Beats

Can I update the firmware of older Bluetooth headphones?

It depends on the make and model of your Bluetooth headphones. For instance, nearly all wireless Jabra products’ firmware can be updated through the mobile Jabra app, the same can be said for the likes of the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus, Jaybird earphones, and more. Most headphone manufacturers make it fairly easy to update Bluetooth headphones’ firmware and software. Sometimes you have to do so via desktop app as seen with the Beyerdynamic Lagoon ANC.

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Anker Soundcore review Wed, 19 Jan 2022 13:00:32 +0000 Editor’s note: This article was updated on January 19, 2022, to move the frequently asked questions into the article.

What’s in the box?

Anker Soundcore review unit package

Anker kept things very simple with the Soundcore. Similar to the design of the speaker (more on that later), the unboxing is straightforward and minimal. In the box you’ll get the speaker, a smaller box with a micro USB charging cable, and the warranty information. There’s even a clever little booklet with instructions on how to go about letting Anker know what you think about the product.

How is the Anker Soundcore built?

The speaker isn’t flashy or over, and has a minimal design that can easily be overlooked in a line-up of other speakers. That said, it isn’t ugly. The Soundcore is a small black rectangle made of soft plastic all the way around, save for the front of the speaker which is covered in a grille. The grille has the Anker name on it in white and is one of two places where you’ll find branding on this speaker, the other on the back. The soft plastic isn’t exactly a fingerprint magnet but you’ll definitely want to wipe it down every once in a while if you want to maintain that “fresh out the box” look. I’m not a big fan of a company sticking their name on every inch of their products but Anker does it in a simple way that doesn’t take away from the overall aesthetic of the speaker. In a way, it’s almost adds to the design of the speaker and helps to differentiate it from the other small rectangles in this category.

AnkerSoundcore front side

The buttons up top blend into the smooth plastic and decent but could use some extra click. The only real issue I had with the design was the small LED light on the front of the speaker. It flashes blue when pairing, remains blue when connected, and changes to red when the battery is low. That said, it is slightly off center because of the driver placement on the inside of the grille and even though that might not be a big deal for most people it irked me every time I looked at it. Still, besides that I enjoy the minimal design overall. It’s clear that Anker wanted to keep a low key design that wouldn’t draw too much attention if you have it on your desk or a table. The speaker feels solid enough, but if you were looking for something durable this probably won’t survive more than a few drops.

Does the Anker Soundcore have good connection strength?

AnkerSoundcore review unit side view

Connectivity was a little above average for speakers in the price. It has Bluetooth 4.0 and a range of about 60 feet which worked fine for the most part. Once you get to the fringes of about 40 feet it does begin to stutter and skip if there are walls, but if there aren’t any then the connection holds strong. The buttons on top also work great. You can pause or play music and control volume right from the device. On the side of the speaker is also an AUX input for anyone who uses a source device that isn’t Bluetooth compatible.

How is the Anker Soundcore’s battery life?


Battery life for the Soundcore is spectacular, and that’s not an exaggeration. Anker claims that it can give you up to 24 hours of constant playback and in all of my testing, which includes bursts of listening for a few hours a day, I haven’t been able to kill it yet. If you don’t want to worry about charging your device at all, this is the one to get.

Does the Anker Soundcore sound good?

Using Spotify with the streaming quality set to ‘extreme’ and a few files from my own computer, we mainly tested the quality wirelessly since that’s how most people will probably use this speaker.



In terms of volume, the lows were pretty much what you would expect from a speaker of this size. That said I was not expecting how clean the low end would be. Normally when a small speaker tries to push bass it ends up sounding fake or muddy, but Anker did a good job at maintaining quality in the low end. The deep bass kicks in ‘Trouble’ by TV on the Radio were displayed nicely and it doesn’t feel like you’re missing out on any of the song.


Mids were nice and smooth and the only time I heard something a little off was in ‘Man in the Night’ by Kid Cudi when some of the heavier guitar didn’t get lost, but definitely lost some of their crunch and detail. Besides that vocals and acoustic guitars were fine.


The high end in the Soundcore definitely had some harshness at max volume but only a little.  The percussion elements in River by Leon Bridges were slightly piercing but, like a lot of speakers, lowering the volume one or to clicks basically solves this issue.

All of the SoundCore controls sit atop the soft-touch speaker. Pictured: The controls of the Anker SoundCore speaker. Out of the box includes the Anker SoundCore Bluetooth speaker, Micro-USB charging cable, welcome guide, and 18-month warranty. Pictured: The SoundCore angled to show the ports (micro-USB, auxilliary, mic, and LED indicator. Dual high-performance drivers and a unique spiral bass port deliver great sound quality with the Anker Soundcore. Pictured: The speaker at an angle, closest on the left side of the screen. For less than $25, the Anker Soundcore provides 24 hours of playback time. Pictured: A straight-on shot of the Anker Soundcore speaker on a white background.

Should you buy the Anker Soundcore?

The Anker Soundcore is without a doubt one of the best speakers you can get if your upper limit is $50. The sound-to-size ratio is great and it has the sound quality of a speaker twice its size. That said it doesn’t get s loud as that hypothetical speaker, but it gets loud enough that if you’re having a dinner party it should be sufficient. If you’re in the market for good quality at a decent price, this is the way to go. 24 hours of constant playback is a bold claim to make and Anker delivers on that promise without sacrificing what makes their products so good: good quality and good prices.

Frequently asked questions about the Anker Soundcore

Why doesn't my Anker Soundcore pair with my Android phone?

Sometimes Bluetooth speakers just need a good reset. In order to perform a factory reset with the Soundcore speaker, hold the power button until the LED indicator changes from white to orange. To do a more basic wipe of Bluetooth device memory, press and hold the BT button for two seconds. This will delete all device pairing history.

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Apple AirPods Pro review Tue, 18 Jan 2022 19:40:21 +0000

The Apple AirPods Pro has a new design, new features, and a new price tag, but it’s still unmistakably AirPods. While the original model caught a lot of (deserved) flak for not sealing the ear canal, these Apple earbuds not only seal the ear, but also provide active noise cancelling (ANC). On paper, the AirPods Pro is light-years ahead of the old ones simply by this fact alone. But is it worth the cash?

Editor’s note: this post was updated on January 18, 2022, to update the microphone samples and to include an FAQ section.

Who should buy the Apple AirPods Pro?

  • Apple iPhone users who want true wireless earbuds will get the most out of the AirPods Pro, and for them: these are the best true wireless earbuds for the latest generation of iPhones.
  • True wireless enthusiasts will like them, mostly because the options for active noise cancelling in this type of gadget is fairly rare unless you pick up Beats, Sony, or Huawei models.
  • Gym rats and cardio monsters will appreciate that actually, you know, stay in your ears. The sweat resistance is a big plus here too.

How do you use the AirPods Pro?

Man holding the AirPods Pro earbuds in hand with plant in background

You can squeeze the AirPods Pro stems for playback controls, and they have a small indent so you can feel where to press.

When you first start using the AirPods Pro, you’ll want to find the right size ear tip to use, because the rest of your experience hinges on it. If the ear tips are too big they’ll be painful, and if they’re too small then they’ll likely fall out.

See: What makes a good set of in-ears?

Once you’ve installed the correct ear tip size, they’ll fit securely in your ear canal. After you pair the AirPods Pro with your phone, you should be able to jump right into music listening without futzing with too many settings. Like any other Apple product, the product’s ethos is to be something that “just works.”

Man holding charging case of the AirPods Pro slightly open exposing the earbuds.

The charging case looks almost identical to the original, except that now it opens on the wide end.

To that end, there are a few features that the AirPods Pro adopted to make them more useful than your garden variety true wireless earbuds. For example, transparency mode allows you to pump in surrounding sounds so you don’t miss your stop, or you can join in a conversation without skipping a beat. You can easily enter transparency mode by long-pressing the stem which is now actually functional instead of unsightly (though still a little ugly, let’s be honest). A single squeeze on the stem will pause or play music, a double squeeze will skip to the next song, and a triple squeeze will skip to the next song.

Screenshot of the Apple AirPods Pro ear tip fit test explaining the process Screenshot of the ear tip fit test showing that the AirPods Pro have a good seal. Screenshot showing active noise cancelling controls for Apple AirPods Pro. Screenshot of the microphone selection section in the Bluetooth settings for the AirPods Pro.

Additionally, there’s even an ear tip fit test that you can do to ensure that they’re in your ear correctly. To do this you have to go into Bluetooth settings, and then tap on the small “i” icon next to the AirPods. From there, you get a few more options if you’re on iOS such as the ability to rename them, control whether you want active noise cancelling on or off, customize the function of tap and hold on each earbud, and do the ear tip fit test. This will test whether you should use a different set of ear tips or whether the active noise cancelling is working properly.


While we’re on the topic of the ear tips, these have been redesigned as well. Unlike basically every other pair of earbuds that pretty much universally use the same ear tips, these are designed specifically for the AirPods Pro. Around the speaker driver of each earbud is a small section where the ear tip clicks into nicely and securely stays put. No more pinching the silicon ear tip in order to squeeze them around the nozzle, though to be fair these don’t have a nozzle.

If you are the kind of earphone owner that’s prone to losing your buds in your couch, no worries: the Apple AirPods Pro support the Find My AirPods feature. Owners of iPhones will be able to use their phones to locate missing earbuds—assuming they have battery left. Given how easy it is to lose a single earbud, this feature is far more important than many would like to admit.

On October 18, 2021, Apple announced the new AirPods (3rd generation) and with that, it quietly updated the charging case for the AirPods Pro. Now, the AirPods Pro case is MagSafe compliant, so you can use it with the same MagSafe wireless charger as your iPhone 12 or later.

How do you connect on iOS?

Pictured is the pop-up card prompt to connect the AirPods Pro on iOS.

Just like the previous AirPods and even the Powerbeats Pro, the H1 chip makes pairing on iOS as easy as just tapping “Connect.”

Connecting to the AirPods Pro is as simple as ever on an iOS device, though you will need to update to iOS 13.2 in order to connect. Thankfully, if you aren’t up-to-date the first thing that pops up on your device will be a prompt telling you to update. Once that’s done, connecting is just like pairing with any other Apple audio product thanks to the H1 chip. A small card pops up from the bottom and then all you have to do is press “Connect.”

Apple iPhone on marble table with battery life of the AirPods Pro and its charging case displayed on the screen.

The card also provides battery life information.

After you do that, they will be paired with every other device on your iCloud account as well. The card that pops up will give you some helpful information like battery life on the charging case and both earbuds. One cool feature is that if you place only one AirPod back in the case, you’ll see a small red “x” where battery life should be. I’m sure if you lost one you’ll know that by the time you try to put them back in the case, but it’s still pretty cool.

How do you connect on Android?

If you’re on Android or using a Windows PC then the process is a little different, though it remains unchanged from the previous AirPods. Just long-press the button on the back of the charging case to enter Bluetooth pairing mode, and then search for it in the Bluetooth settings of your device. Once paired, you should be good to go. It’s worth noting that you won’t get certain features if you’re using them with Android. Specifically, the auto-pause detection when you remove one earbud from your ear won’t work, and saying “Hey Siri” won’t work either. Thankfully, active noise cancelling and transparency mode work just fine as it’s controlled by a hard press of the stem.

NB: A number of AirPods Pro users have noted that they have had connection issues even after updating the firmware of the earbuds. If you’re reading this review looking for a fix: you won’t find one here. You need to contact Apple tech support and potentially arrange for a new pair. True wireless earphones are notorious for skips, stutters, and other connection issues, and it seems that the Apple AirPods Pro is no different. Be sure to update the firmware as soon as it becomes available, and to practice good battery habits for best results. We cannot guarantee that this will help, but it will give you the most ammo when you take your product back to the Genius Bar for replacement.

Apple AirPods Pro vs AirPods (3rd generation): What’s the difference?

The Apple AirPods (3rd generation) open case holds the earbuds and sits on a wood surface.

The new case diverges from previous generations’ cases, more closely mirroring that of the AirPods Pro.

If you’re wondering why Apple fans are clamoring to pick up the AirPods Pro, it’s because they fix the most egregious issue with cheaper model: an unsealed ear canal. That may not seem like a big deal, but it’s an improvement that you’ll notice immediately—something we’ve harped on endlessly at SoundGuys.

Related: Apple AirPods Pro vs Apple AirPods (3rd generation)

So why is getting rid of noise important? The answer is twofold.

The AirPods Pro seals to your ear canal and prevents external noise from drowning out your music. This preserves the sound quality without the interference of auditory masking. Passive isolation in tandem with effective noise cancelling means that you’re less likely to increase the volume to block out those external sounds, which potentially protects your ears from noise-induced hearing loss.

Both the left and the right AirPods Pro pictured in hand with iPhone X on table in the background.

The earbuds themselves are shorter and stumpier-looking than the originals, but the extra features make up for that.

So what do the Apple AirPods (3rd generation) and AirPods Pro have in common? Well, a lot: both headsets include a MagSafe charging case with a Lightning input, share the same IPX4 water-resistant rating, use Apple’s Adaptive EQ, and are spatial audio-compatible.

If you want to remain aware of your surroundings at all times, the AirPods (3rd generation) is a solid pick for iPhone users, but if you plan to take plenty of flights or spend a lot of time on the subway, the AirPods Pro makes more sense for you.

Is the AirPods Pro waterproof?

The AirPods Pro is water-resistant and has an IPX4 rating to show for it. As far as the charging case goes, it’s relatively unchanged. It’s slightly beefier than the previous version, but not by much and if you take the old case and turn it sideways, that should give you a rough idea of how big it is. If you want to go further in-depth, we cover that in a head-to-head with both versions of AirPods.

How does the AirPods Pro sound?

This chart depicts the Apple AirPods Pro frequency response (cyan) relative to the SoundGuys Consumer Curve V2.0 (pink), which the AirPods Pro closely follows.

With a notably more neutral frequency response than the original AirPods (2019), you’ll hear most audio without a lot of masking.

This is always the toughest part to address with any review because everyone’s anatomy is slightly different. However, Apple’s attempts to make the Pro version a little more special led them to add in a feature that attempts to equalize your music based on the shape of your own ear (read more: What is a DSP?). Because of this, all AirPods Pro will sound a lot more similar from person to person than they would with other headphones. Additionally, with actual noise cancellation, they sound much better than their predecessors by virtue of the fact that your music isn’t competing with bus engines, the airplane cabin, or noisy street.

Because of the ear tips and relatively good isolation, these sound obviously better than the previous version. The low end of these still isn’t going to be on par with the PowerBeats Pro by any means, but they’re significantly more powerful than the AirPods 2. The fact that you can actually hear the bass with these highlights that it’s fairly tight and controlled with just a slight bit of emphasis to give the tiny drivers inside a little help. The low end in Callaita by Bad Bunny punched made its presence felt without sounding forced or fake, which is a trap that earbuds tend to fall into to make the low end heard. Don’t get me wrong, you’re still going to be missing out on some of your favorite sub-bass synths, but drum kicks and deep voices come through fine.

The AirPods Pro have a consumer-friendly response and do a good job of maintaining balance across the frequency spectrum.

Speaking of voices, the AirPods Pro do a good job at reproducing vocals as well, with a neutral frequency response all throughout the mids. This means that no one note in the mid-range will be made to sound louder than any other just because of the headphones. That said, you can see that this is exactly the case in the highs where notes around 11kHz and above have some (green) peaks of extra emphasis. This can be a bit of an issue when listening to songs like Songbird by Cory Chisel where I feel the strumming and guitar squeaks approach the point of harshness instead of clarity. Still, it isn’t an issue in most songs and I’ll take this over the previous AirPods frequency response any day of the week.

Should you use Apple Music as your streaming service with AirPods?

Dealer’s choice, because it doesn’t really matter all that much.

On May 17, 2021, Apple announced that its Apple Music service would support hi-res, lossless audio. But does this mean you should use Apple Music with your AirPods? Well, it doesn’t matter, because you’re not going to get any benefit whatsoever if you’re listening with your AirPods Pro. If you used Apple Music before, it won’t be any better or worse after the update.

The main tangible benefits to using Apple Music would be the spatial audio, and app ecosystem—which are not small, but they’re not going to afford you an audio upgrade.

Is the AirPods Pro good for phone calls?

One use case that can’t be ignored when it comes to AirPods is the microphone. I see more people talking on the phone via their AirPods than their phones nowadays. Luckily, the Pro still has a really good microphone for picking up the human voice. Most of the important frequencies in the human voice lie between 100Hz and 3000Hz, and the AirPods Pro does a good job at not over-emphasizing or de-emphasizing any one part of that frequency range. They’re not perfectly neutral though, so you will find some variations here and there but for the most part, you shouldn’t have any issues talking on the phone with these.

AirPods Pro microphone demo (Ideal):

AirPods Pro microphone demo (Office):

AirPods Pro microphone demo (Street):

Please wait.. Loading poll

As of March 23, 2021, 4,060 readers have rated the above mic sample as somewhere between “okay” and “good.” This is a pretty typical result for true wireless earphones, and at the upper end of what you should expect to get out of any products of this type.

How good is the noise cancelling?


The most important feature of the new version is without a doubt the active noise cancelling, and these are some of the best noise cancelling true wireless earbuds on the market. While they’re not going to completely rid you of the low rumble of planes and trains, they render midrange sounds half as loud as they’d sound without any kind of ANC. Are they mind-blowingly amazing? Absolutely not, and something like the Sony WF-1000XM4 still does a better job in this aspect, but the AirPods Pro is fine for most people.

See: How we test: The SoundGuys methodology

The AirPods Pro have two tiny microphones both on the inside and on the outside, and they work in the same way that all active noise cancelling headphones do. Apple claims that the inward-facing microphones are measuring sound 200 times per second in order to ensure that it’s producing the correct sound to counteract it which, is all but impossible to test on our end. Still, the end result isn’t bad.

Can updating the firmware make the ANC weaker?

Pictures are the AirPods Pro with the sensors visible on top of a white iPhone X.

The AirPods Pro has a sensor on the back that can auto-detect when it’s removed from the ear and pauses your music automatically.

A number of users report worse ANC performance after updating to firmware build 2B588. There’s a trend among ANC headsets in that failed Bluetooth updates seem fairly common. If you find that your AirPods Pro have worse ANC than they started with, then you should do the following:

  1. Place your AirPods Pro back in their carrying case
  2. Factory data reset your AirPods Pro by holding the setup button for 15 seconds, or until the light flashes amber three times, then turns white
  3. Re-charge the carrying case, and then re-attempt the firmware update
  4. If the problem persists, contact Apple support

Unfortunately, this is a common problem with Bose, Sony, and other Bluetooth headsets requiring updates over Bluetooth—not just Apple. Hopefully one day these can be applied over a physical wire, because it seems that Bluetooth just isn’t cutting it for some people.

On October 14, 2021, Apple extended its AirPods Pro repair program to three years after purchase, rather than the old two-year warranty. AirPods Pro owners can receive free replacement earbuds, or repairs, if ANC issues arise. If you notice that the noise cancelling doesn’t work anymore or there’s static crackling, you may be eligible for its repair/replacement program.

What is spatial audio and when will I get it?

Screenshot of the Apple livestream showing five sources of sound around a virtual figure

Apple’s spatial audio will simulate surround sound.

During WWDC 2020 Apple announced compatibility for “spatial audio” with the AirPods Pro. Spatial audio is Apple’s version of simulated surround sound; It uses a combination of software algorithms and the accelerometers in your AirPods Pro to place sound cues around you in 3D space. This simulates the immersive experience of sitting in the middle of a full surround sound setup.

Spatial audio is available in iPadOS 14 and iOS 14

One cool thing is that the accelerometers of the AirPods Pro will supposedly sync up with the accelerometer inside the source device that you are watching videos on. That way if you’re in a car or on a plane the audio that you’re listening to will change only when you move your head instead of when the vehicle makes a turn.

Currently, spatial audio only works with a handful of apps including Apple TV+ and Disney, for videos encoded for 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound as well as Dolby Atmos. To get access, you must update to iPadOS 14 or iOS 14 or later—so it won’t work on any non-iOS devices.

The Apple AirPods (3rd generation), AirPods Max, and AirPods Pro all support head-tracking spatial audio with Dolby Atmos through Apple Music or an Apple TV 4K.

How long does the battery last on the AirPods Pro?

In our testing, we managed to get 5 hours, 6 minutes of constant playback with ANC turned on (connected to an iOS device), which is just above average for most true wireless models. It’s worth mentioning that Apple claims you’ll get about 4 hours and 30 minutes of constant playback with active noise cancelling turned on and the volume turned to about 50%. The charging case will give you enough charges to last you 24 hours of total listening time, and what’s better is that the case is fully compatible with any Qi wireless charger or MagSafe charger.

The charging case on top of a bag with the lightning connector port visible.

In a weirdly stupid move, the AirPods Pro still charges via Lightning connector.

One issue that we have is that the charging case still requires a Lightning cable because, well, reasons. The cable that’s included in the box is now USB-C on one side and lightning on the other, which is mind-numbingly annoying as now you’ll need to bring this specific cable with you wherever you go. Of course, it isn’t a big deal if you already own the newer iPhone as it also comes with this same cable, but if you haven’t upgraded yet (or don’t plan to) this is an annoying inconvenience that you’re just going to have to deal with.

Like every other set of true wireless earphones, what’s really going to let you down is battery longevity. Because each earphone uses a tiny battery that requires recharging often, you’re going to rip through its usable capacity in about one-to-two years. That’s not a long time to own an expensive audio product, so someone looking to buy their last audio products for a while should steer clear. Additionally, the AirPods Pro isn’t easy to take apart, so many people might be tempted to just throw them away at the end of their lives. This is really bad for several reasons, and not the least of which is its damage to the environment.

How do you clean the AirPods Pro?

If you use your earbuds every day, chances are they’re going to get dirty pretty quickly. Just as you (hopefully) clean your ears every once in a while, you should also provide the same service to your earbuds. Thankfully, cleaning your AirPods Pro is pretty simple and we have a full article explaining step-by-step how to do it. All you really need are some cotton swabs, drug store rubbing alcohol, a paper towel, a toothbrush, liquid dish soap, and a spirit for adventure! Okay, that last one isn’t actually necessary, but it can’t hurt.

Is the Apple AirPods Pro worth it?

The charging case sticking out from a zippered bag pocket next to sunglasses and a swiss army knife.

The AirPods Pro is still small enough to toss in your pockets along with the rest of the gear you use every day.

If you want AirPods—or have an iPhone—the AirPods Pro are the only AirPods we’d recommend picking up for several reasons. Not only will they sound significantly better than the original ones, but they offer more in the way of features and useful accessories too. Sure, they’re $50 more than the latest AirPods with wireless charging, but you get a lot for that extra cash. If you’re an Android user, you should skip the AirPods Pro. Sure it’s good if someone happens to gift you a pair for some reason, but you’ll miss out on a lot of the features that make the buds worthy of consideration, due to lack of cross-platform support.

Apple AirPods Pro
All prices listed in USD unless otherwise specified. Prices may change over time, and vary by region. Unfortunately, we cannot list Amazon prices on the site, as they vary greatly by currency.

Deciding where to buy your AirPods Pro can be difficult, but there are a few key things to remember before you purchase any electronic device: does the vendor offer a good warranty; how is its customer service; is there a live chat function? We’ve put together a detailed guide on where to buy headphones to ease your concerns, but remember that you’ll pay a premium for better warranty coverage and customer service.

What to consider instead of the AirPods Pro

While these true wireless earbuds mark a serious upgrade over the original AirPods, there are plenty of other models like the Sony WF-1000XM4, Beats Powerbeats Pro, Beats Fit Pro, Bose QuietComfort Earbuds, Jabra Elite 85t, and the Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen) that offer competitive performance for a competitive price. The Amazon Echo Buds support hands-free Alexa and compares favorably to the AirPods Pro.

A photo of the Sony WF-1000XM4's case open, revealing the earphones sitting within.

The Sony WF-1000XM4 compares favorably to the AirPods Pro.

Additionally, they suffer all the drawbacks of true wireless earbuds—like batteries that won’t last beyond a couple of years tops. If you’re looking to make a wise investment in your audio, I’d caution you to look at something like the Bose QuietComfort 45 before picking this up. Not only will the batteries in on or over-ears last much longer than the tiny cells in true wireless earbuds, but they’ll also be much more durable and long-lasting.

If you’re an Android user trying to attain that AirPods aesthetic with Android functionality on a budget, try the TCL MOVEAUDIO S600 or the slightly quirky functionality, HONOR Earbuds 2 Lite. Meanwhile, the affordable Google Pixel Buds A-Series, does not have active noise cancelling, but is a serious contender in the true wireless market for anyone that uses the Google Assistant on a daily basis. If ANC is important, the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 is a great choice, especially for Samsung users, who can take advantage of Samsung Scalable Codec.

What about the Apple AirPods Max?


If you like everything about the AirPods Pro but just can’t see yourself going with a pair of true wireless earbuds, then the new AirPods Max might be for you. After running our objective and subjective tests on them, we can say with confidence that they are a very good pair of active noise cancelling headphones, and they have great sound quality. That being said, they’re still super expensive, and you can find lots of alternatives that perform similarly well for much cheaper.

The AirPods Max seems to share many, if not all of the same features as the AirPods Pro but in an over-ear design. You’ll get active noise cancelling, a transparency mode, spatial audio, ambient EQ, and even the same H1 chip inside for quick pairing. Most iPhone owners will be perfectly happy with the AirPods pro though—hence why the Pro model made it one of our favorite AirPods Max alternatives.

See also:

Frequently asked questions

When using the AirPods Pro, can you be on the phone with just one earbud on?

It sounds like you want to know if you can listen on the AirPods Pro in mono mode. Yes, you can. There are two ways of doing this. The first is to simply leave your second AirPods Pro bud in the case. It ought to work normally with both channels mixed together. The second way to change your AirPods Pro to mono mode, so that you can for instance share your second bud with a friend without missing any audio is to first connect as usual to your iOS device. Go to Settings, select General, and then, Accessibility. Select Hearing and toggle on Mono Audio. This means both buds will play audio in mono mode. Both options work for phone calls, but the first one is likely the one you’ll use.

Does the AirPods connect to multiple devices?

No, no matter how you connect the AirPods, it won’t support Bluetooth multipoint. However, you can take advantage of automatic device switching between Apple hardware under the same iCloud account. This means when you’re listening to music on your iPhone and start playing a video on your MacBook, the AirPods (3rd generation) will stop playing from your phone and immediately switch to the laptop’s audio output.

My AirPods Pro started to crackle when I listen to it, now what?

Contact Apple Support. A number of AirPods Pro models manufactured before October 2020 have a known issue that Apple is investigating. If you send your AirPods in, you should be able to get it examined and replaced, if your AirPods Pro is not out of warranty.

With ANC on, Would the person talking next to me be audible?

That depends on how loud the person speaks, but in general ANC doesn’t do a great job of attenuating voice sounds. This is because ANC works best on droning, constant tones, rather than quick, irregular noise.

I can't get a good fit, are there any other tips?

Getting a good fit is critical to any music listener, so we often recommend people look into after-market memory foam ear tips like the ones from Comply.

One bud fell out of my ears and into water. Is there a way to dry it out?

Unfortunately, the only thing you can really do is to turn everything off, and let it sit in a warm, dry place for a few days before attempting to charge or use it again. DO NOT try to turn it on or use it before doing this. But I should warn you: that earbud might already be cooked. Water is rarely pure, so little imperfections like dissolved minerals can cause shorting in electronics if it gets inside the housing. Hopefully, the water-resistant nozzle membrane prevented any ingress of water, but you never know. Give it time.

Does the AirPods work on Android?

Yes, The AirPods will connect via AAC or SBC codecs. You will likely not notice any drop in performance, but many of the features of the AirPods Pro will not work on an Android phone.

Can you change the volume during a phone call?


Is the AirPods Pro noise cancelling more effective than the Sony WH-1000XM4 for things like studying?

The AirPods Pro noise cancelling can’t compete with the Sony WH-1000XM4, which has some of the best ANC in the business, followed by the competing Bose QC Earbuds.

How many decibels does ANC actually block out?

Good question! But headphones don’t block out every sound at the same level. Typically, you see in-ears like the AirPods Pro block out a lot of high-pitched sound, while letting in low-pitched sounds. If you scroll up, you can see exactly how the AirPods Pro block out noise in the charts. If the chart is a little hard to read, this article should help.

Does the AirPods play Hi-Res audio?

Play? Yes, but Hi-Res audio is a certification, not really a performance benchmark. The AirPods Pro uses AAC as its primary Bluetooth codec, which won’t hit the exact thresholds needed for that certification. However, you’re unlikely to hear any deficiency in sample rate or bit depth—especially if you’re listening on a bus, train, or airplane.

That said, if you’re looking for high-end audio, you’re better off looking for something that’s actually geared toward that task.

Should I buy AirPods (2nd generation) or AirPods Pro?

Complicated question! We have a whole article about this subject, complete with breakdowns of different performance metrics.

What is the difference between AirPods and Airpods pro?

The Apple AirPods Pro is completely redesigned from the original AirPods and AirPods (2nd generation). The Pro earbuds feature defined nozzles that create a solid seal to the ear. This improves passive isolation and facilitates active noise cancelling. What’s more, the AirPods Pro uses a DSP to measure your ear canal and make on-the-fly adjustments to optimize audio quality.

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How to fix problems with AirPods Tue, 18 Jan 2022 19:00:32 +0000 The AirPods was not the first pair of true wireless earbuds to hit the market—but it’s fair to say it made the product category as popular as it is today. It’s not perfect, and like any piece of tech, it has its fair share of problems. If you’re stuck wondering why music only plays through one earbud on your AirPods Pro or if you can’t get your buds to pair with Android then this is for you.

We compiled every problem we could think of or have ourselves experienced with AirPods or AirPods Pro; along with some potential fixes and even some short how-to videos. This is the ultimate guide on how to use your AirPods or AirPods Pro.

Editor’s note: this article was updated on January 18, 2022, to make note of discontinued Apple and Beats audio products, to add information regarding how to connect AirPods, update the format to match the current publication style, and to include an FAQ section.

How to find the model number and serial number of your AirPods Pro

First, let’s start with the basics. You might come across issues and fixes that require you to know general product information about your particular set of AirPods. Let’s start with the model and serial number. Apple prides itself on its minimal design language. The first place to find them is in your iOS settings. While the AirPods are connected follow these steps:

  1. Open the Settings app on your phone.
  2. Click on “General.”
  3. Click on “About.”
  4. Click on “AirPods.”

You’ll be able to see exactly which model you have and the corresponding serial number. This will work whether you have the original AirPods or the AirPods Pro. If you don’t have access to an iOS device, you’ll have to look at the AirPods’ hardware—look on the underside of either of the earbuds. You’ll see a few lines of small text printed on the earbud, the first being the model number. The second line is the serial number of each individual pair of AirPods (only for AirPods 2nd gen and AirPods Pro) but you can also find the serial number under the lid of the charging case.

You can also check the original packaging, receipt, or invoice which will have the serial number printed above the barcode. All of this information can be used to tell you when your particular AirPods were released and which model you have. It’s a little easier to tell just by looking at them if you have the originals or the pros, but it’s a little harder to tell the difference between the 1st and 2nd gen AirPods. To make it a little easier we’ve added a chart below so you can verify which AirPods you have.

EarbudsAirPods (1st gen)AirPods (2nd gen)AirPods Pro
Model NumberA1523, A1722A2032, A2031A2084, A2083
Release year201720192019
Charging casesLightning caseWireless caseAirPods Pro case
Model NumberA1602A1938A2190
Release year201720192019
Earbud compatibilityGen 1 & Gen 2Gen 1 & Gen 2AirPods Pro only
Qi wireless chargingNoYesYes

How to find your software version for your AirPods or AirPods Pro

There’s only one way to check the software version of your AirPods or AirPods Pro and it requires an iOS device. While the AirPods is connected:

  1. Open the Settings app on your phone.
  2. Click on “General.”
  3. Click on “About.”
  4. Click on “AirPods.”

Underneath the model and serial numbers in the settings that we spoke about earlier, you’ll see a small section for the firmware version. The AirPods automatically updates itself when it is charging in the case and nearby a paired iOS device. So unlike the updates on your phone, you won’t have to do anything to install a new version.

Can I update my AirPods manually?

You can’t manually update your AirPods. Part of the “magic” of the AirPods lies in its convenience, which means that Apple made sure you don’t need to do much in order to be on the latest firmware version. However, that does mean that updates are simply unavailable to Android users.

How to set up your AirPods or AirPods Pro

How to pair AirPods with an iPhone

If you have an iPhone, then the process for pairing your AirPods is super easy.

  1. Flip the lid open on the AirPods or AirPods Pro near an iOS device.
  2. A card will pop up on your device that reads “Connect.” Tap it.
  3. The AirPods will immediatley pair to that device, and to other Apple devices affiliated with the same iCloud account, including a Mac computer running macOS Sierra or later.

This is thanks to the W1/H1 chips inside the earbuds that allow Apple devices to quickly identify and connect to the AirPods. Unfortunately, that functionality isn’t universal so if you’re not using an iOS device you’ll have to pair the AirPods like any other pair of Bluetooth products.

Read on: How to connect the AirPods to any device

How to pair with Android devices, Windows, or Macs

To pair with anything other than iOS devices (or if the AirPods still won’t pair to your Mac) follow these steps. With the earbuds still in the case:

  1. Flip open the lid so that the earbuds are exposed.
  2. Without removing the earbuds, turn the case around and locate the small setup button towards the bottom.
  3. Press and hold the button until the small LED light on the case begins blinking.
  4. The AirPods is now in pairing mode. From here, go into the Bluetooth settings on your device and tap on the AirPods.

How to use AirPods with pairing issues

Sometimes the AirPods just won’t show up in the Bluetooth settings list for one reason or another. Whether you can’t connect to the earbuds from a new device or you want to give your AirPods to someone else and need to disconnect it from your iCloud account, you’re going to need to perform a factory reset. Thankfully, it isn’t that difficult to do. To factory reset your AirPods:

  1. With the earbuds still in the case flip open the lid.
  2. Without removing the earbuds go into the Bluetooth settings on your iOS device.
  3. Next to where it reads, “AirPods” click the small “i” icon.
  4. Click on “Forget This Device” and then click confirm when the notification pops up.
  5. With your phone disconnected and unaffiliated with the AirPods, open teh AirPods case again.
  6. Hold down the setup button on the back of the case for 15 seconds (or until you see the LED light flash amber).
  7. The AirPods is now reset, and you can repair to new devices as if it was fresh out of the box.

How to fix auto-pause not working

One of the cooler features of the AirPods and AirPods Pro is that when you remove one of the earbuds whatever you’re listening to automatically pauses. It accomplishes this via small proximity sensors built into the earbuds. Sometimes it doesn’t work perfectly, and it doesn’t work with Android or PC.

If you are using iOS and still can’t get this feature to work, then there are two possible solutions. The first is to make sure that you have the feature enabled in the first place and the second is to clean your AirPods to make sure the proximity sensor isn’t covered in earwax. To make sure that the feature is turned on:

  1. Go to the Settings app on your iOS device and click on “Bluetooth.”
  2. From there, navigate to where it says “AirPods” and click the small blue “i” icon to the right.
  3. Look for where it reads “Automatic Ear Detection,” and turn this on.

If it is turned on and you still can’t get it to work, make sure there is nothing blocking the proximity sensor from getting an accurate reading. We have an entire article detailing how to clean the AirPods or AirPods Pro to get rid of debris and gunk that might be blocking the sensor. We suggest doing so fairly often not only for functionality but also for hygienic purposes.

What if your left AirPod is not working?

If your AirPods appears to be connected but you still can’t get audio to come out of it, then the issue might be with your source device. Regardless of the operating system, disconnect your AirPods and then reconnect it. If that doesn’t work, follow these steps:

  1. Put the earbuds in the case for 15 seconds.
  2. Place the earbuds in the case.
  3. Turn off Bluetooth from your source device.
  4. Turn on Airplane mode from your source device.

If it still isn’t working try restarting your phone (you’d be surprised how often issues can be solved just by performing a simple restart).

If none of this works, then it is possible to force audio to your AirPods if you’re on an iOS device by swiping down to access the Control Center and clicking on the icon of the upper right corner of the audio media box. From here, you should be able to choose your AirPods as the desired output for your audio.

If none of this works then performing a factory reset on the AirPods is the best way forward.

How to wirelessly charge the AirPods

A photo of the AirPods Pro earbuds in the wireless charging case next to an iPhone and digital camera.

Apple includes wireless charging capabilities by default with its AirPods Pro noise cancelling true wireless earbuds.

The AirPods (2nd generation), AirPods (3rd generation) and AirPods Pro charging cases all support wireless charging along with a Lightning charging input. Only the AirPods (3rd generation) and AirPods Pro ship with MagSafe charging cases as of November 2021.

To take advantage of wireless charging, you’ll need a Qi-wireless charging pad. Of course, that pad then needs to be plugged into an outlet but at least you won’t need to constantly plug in your AirPods.

How to check AirPod battery status

Knowing how much battery is left in your AirPods can be super helpful, especially if you know you’re nowhere near an outlet. To determine the charge status of your AirPods and its charging case, open the lid of the charging case without removing the AirPods. If you hold the case next to an iOS device you should get a small card that pops up to tell you the status of each earbud and the charging case.

On iOS, you can also check the battery status widget by swiping right from your home screen. If you don’t see it:

  1. Swipe over the widget screen and click “Edit” on the bottom.
  2. Scroll down until you see the “Batteries” widget.
  3. Click the green “+” icon to add it.
  4. Press “Done” in the upper right-hand corner.

From then on you will be able to check the battery status of your AirPods as well as other Bluetooth-connected devices by swiping over to the widget.

Is something is wrong with my AirPods’ battery life?

As it stands, true wireless earbuds tend to not have amazing battery life in general. Some of the better models we’ve tested (like the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus) last anywhere from 10-12 hours and some of the worst last only a few hours. The AirPods (2nd generation) and the AirPods Pro fall somewhere in the middle of those two extremes, reaching a total of 4 hours, 7 minutes and 5 hours, 6 minutes, respectively. That’s especially impressive with the AirPods Pro considering they use battery-guzzling active noise cancelling.

How long the battery lasts depends on a number of factors including the volume at which you’re listening to music and whether or not you have ANC turned on (with the Pro model). For reference, we keep our products at a constant output of 75dB(SPL) while testing, because that’s the recommended listening level for people who want to avoid noise-induced hearing loss. It’s also loud enough that most people won’t have a problem listening at this level. If you’re playing music at full volume, chances are your buds won’t last that long.

If your AirPods lasts anywhere between three to five hours, then it probably doesn’t have an issue. Any variance is likely due to the output volume of your music or, depending on when you got your buds, the degradation of the battery over time. While the small size of the AirPods is what makes it convenient, it’s also a limiting factor because the small battery doesn’t last that long.

My AirPods stopped charging

Apple new AirPods 2 on an arts magazine with the case above it, shut.

The new AirPods still doesn’t seal to the ear, making it difficult to move around with it in—let alone exercise with it.

If your AirPods doesn’t charge, then there are a few steps you can take to ensure that nothing is broken.

First, try a different charging cable. If you know the issue is not with your cable because it charges other items like iPhones but not your AirPods, then make sure there is no debris stuck in the charging port. This can be done with something small like a safety pin. It might also be a good idea to check the inside of the case for debris. If there’s a piece of debris blocking the magnetic connectors in the case and preventing the AirPods from making contact, the earbuds won’t charge.

If none of this works, then it might be time to admit defeat and schedule an appointment with the Genius bar at an Apple store to see if you can get a replacement.

How to make the AirPods and AirPods Pro stay in your ear

A picture of a man wearing the Apple AirPods Pro against a gray background.

The Apple AirPods Pro addresses listeners’ complaints about a lack of seal from the previous generations.

The original AirPods had a one-size-fits-all design but it didn’t fit all. While plenty of people had no problem wearing it while exercising and going about their day, others (myself included) struggled to get it to stay in the ear at all. The AirPods Pro addresses this problem by including ear tips and a new inside-the-ear-canal design that helped it stay put. If you have the first through third-generation AirPods and can’t figure out how to get it to stay in, check out some third-party accessories like ear tips and wing tips. The only problem is that you’ll have to remove them every time you want to put the earbuds back in the case which can become a bit annoying after a while.

The AirPods Pro has more elegant solutions for users who can’t get a good fit. If none of the included ear tips fit your ears correctly you can also try the Comply Memory Foam tips which are specifically designed for the AirPods Pro. Plus, they also offer some enhanced isolation which will help block even more outside sound.

How to use transparency mode & active noise cancelling on AirPods Pro

One of the big selling points of the newer AirPods Pro when compared to the original AirPods is the addition of transparency mode and active noise cancelling. There are four ways to activate active noise cancelling or transparency mode.

The first three methods can be done from your iOS device. While connected to the AirPods Pro:

  1. Swipe down from the top right of the screen to bring down the Control Center.
  2. Tap and hold the volume slider which should have a small AirPods Pro icon.
  3. That will bring up the volume controls of the AirPods Pro
  4. You can cycle through three options along the bottom: noise cancellation, off, and transparency mode.

The second method is to go into the Bluetooth settings of your iOS device and click on the “i” icon next to your AirPods. That should open a separate settings page that will give you the same three options. If your hands are busy you can ask Siri to turn on or off noise cancellation or transparency mode.

The fourth method can be done on the AirPods Pro without your phone. Just squeeze and hold the stem of either AirPod and you’ll hear a ding sound effect and feel a click that will let you know you’ve cycled between noise cancellation and transparency mode.

How to get noise cancelling with just one AirPod Pro

You don’t need to use both earbuds at all times and people prefer keeping just one AirPod Pro in their ear while they go about their day. To get noise cancellation in one bud all you have to do is:

  1. Make sure your AirPods Pro is out of the case and connected to your iOS device.
  2. Go into Settings and click on “Accessibility.”
  3. Scroll down until you see a section titled “AirPods” and click on it.
  4. Towards the bottom, you’ll see a toggle that will allow noise cancelling while just one AirPod is in your ear.

My active noise cancelling is worse after the last update

Manufacturers rely on computer chips to fix issues with their products over time. Sony, Bose, and Apple all push out software updates to their products and, like all software, some of these updates contain issues and bugs.

If you feel like the active noise cancelling (ANC) has worsened since the last software update, Apple recommends cleaning the mesh area of the earbuds—debris and dirt can sometimes get in the way and weaken the noise cancelling.

Some people noticed the AirPods Pro’s noise cancelling degrade after a software update in 2019. Apple fixed this in 2021, but if you’re experiencing issues with the ANC, make sure your AirPods is updated to the latest software version. To update your AirPods just make sure the buds are charging in the case next to an iOS device and it will update automatically.

How do you set up Spatial Audio with my AirPods Pro?

Apple introduced Spatial Audio, which mimics the effects of surround sound, to the AirPods Pro with iOS14. It is only compatible with the AirPods Pro and the following Apple devices running version 14 or later:

  • iPhone 7 or later
  • iPad Pro 12.9‑inch (3rd generation) and later
  • iPad Pro 11‑inch
  • iPad Air (3rd generation)
  • iPad (6th generation) and later
  • iPad mini (5th generation)

If all your devices are compatible, you can enable spatial audio by following these steps:

  1. Go to Settings, then click the section labeled “Bluetooth.”
  2. Find your AirPods Pro in the connected devices list and tap the “info” button.
  3. Turn on Spatial Audio.

From there, you can demo the feature by tapping “See & Hear How It Works …,” found underneath the toggle switch. As of January 18, 2022, these are some of the most popular apps that support Apple Spatial Audio:

  • Apple TV
  • Netflix
  • Disney+
  • HBO Max
  • Hulu
  • Plex
  • Peacock
  • Discover+
  • Paramount Plus

If you want to try out Spatial Audio without having to pay for an app or service, try watching a movie trailer on the iTunes Store from a compatible iOS device.

To check if Spatial Audio is active, first open the Control Center. Force touch or long-press on the volume slider. Underneath the slider, you will see the “Spatial Audio” icon. If the icon displays a speaker animation, this indicates that the feature is working with the application you’re currently running.

How do you share audio with AirPods or Beats headphones?

If you own the AirPods or AirPods Pro, you can share audio to another pair of AirPods or compatible Beats headphones, so long as you’re connected to an Apple device running the latest version of iOS or iPadOS. Compatible headphones include:

To share audio with another pair of AirPods or Beats headphones, perform the following:

  1. Connect your AirPods or Beats headphones to your iOS device.
  2. Tap the “AirPlay” icon in the control center, lock screen media player, or in your current media app.
  3. Tap “Share Audio.”
  4. If your second device is a pair of AirPods, hold them close to the device with the AirPods inside the case and the lid open.
  5. If the second device is a pair of Beats headphones, put them into pairing mode and hold them close to the device.
  6. When the second device appears on the screen, tap “Share Audio.”

Once connected, you can control the volume of both the primary and secondary headphones through the AirPlay settings.

Does AirPods work with Android?

Pictured are the Airpods on top of an iPad and next to the Google Pixel 3.

The AirPods works on both Android and iOS, but don’t expect it to work perfectly.

If you have an Android phone then you’ll be happy to know that the AirPods and AirPods Pro both work fine with Android, though we don’t recommend the AirPods if you have an Android phone. You’ll miss out on most of the AirPods features because they’re exclusive to Apple devices. Also, since you can’t update the AirPods’ firmware manually, you’ll need to occasionally pair it to an iPhone. Still, you can easily connect to the AirPods, just like any other pair of Bluetooth earbuds.

So what features will you be missing if you pair to AirPods on Android? The most obvious is the seamless pairing process. Due to the lack of a W1/H1 chip in Android devices, you won’t be able to quickly pair to the AirPods or AirPods Pro. Instead: you’ll have to pair manually and look through Bluetooth settings. On top of that, there are a few other features that you won’t have access to.

What features is the AirPods missing on Android?

  1. No Siri. Unfortunately, you won’t have access to Siri when you use the AirPods on Android.
  2. No Spatial Audio. This is exclusive to Apple devices running iOS 14 or later with the AirPods (3rd gen), AirPods Pro, and Beats Fit Pro.
  3. No Audio Sharing. Once again, this feature is only limited to Apple devices running iOS 14 or later.
  4. Auto-pause. On iOS devices taking one earbud out of your ear will auto-pause your music while placing it back in your ear will resume music. This isn’t available on Android.
  5. Using a single AirPod. Unfortunately, if you’re on Android you won’t be able to just use a single earbud.
  6. Seamless switching. To switch output devices with the AirPods on Android/Windows, go into Bluetooth settings and manually connect and disconnect the AirPods accordingly.
  7. Checking battery life. If you’re on an Android device, you can’t check the battery life of your AirPods the same way you can on iOS.
  8. Customizing any feature. In the settings app of iOS, you can customize a number of features ranging from playback controls to a fit-test with the AirPods Pro. None of those features are available on Android.
  9. Firmware updates. Apple doesn’t currently make a device management app for Android, which means that you will need access to an Apple device to install any updates.

How to change the name of your AirPods or AirPods Pro

In order to change the name of your AirPods, you’re going to need access to an iOS or Mac device as it can’t be done on Android or Windows devices. To change the name of your AirPods on iOS just follow these steps:

  1. With the AirPods connected go into the Settings app.
  2. Click on “Bluetooth” and look for your AirPods.
  3. Tap on the small blue “i” icon next to the AirPods.
  4. Click on the “Name” section and input the new name that you want for your AirPods.

If you’re on a Mac then the steps are slightly different but still easy.

  1. Open the System Preferences app on your Mac.
  2. Click into the “Bluetooth” section.
  3. Find your AirPods in the list of paired devices and right-click on it to bring up some more options.
  4. Select “Rename” and type in the new name of the AirPods.
  5. Confirm by clicking the “Rename” button once you’re done.

How to clean AirPods case

If you’re looking to clean your AirPods case then you should follow our step-by-step instructions on how to clean both the earbuds and the case in our full article. If you can’t be bothered with that right now then here’s the short version.

First, you’ll need some rubbing alcohol (70%), q-tips or cotton swabs, a paper towel, and some dish soap and warm water. Then you’ll want to clean the case without getting it soaking wet. Rubbing alcohol tends to be somewhat harsh with some headphone materials, so use it sparingly. For the rest of it, use warm water and soap.

Do these fixes apply to the Apple AirPods (3rd generation)?

The Apple AirPods (3rd generation) open case holds the earbuds and sits on a wood surface.

The earbuds have bass reflex ports on the top edge. If you force the main nozzle output into the ear canal you don’t get the low-end contribution from the rear port.

Yes, you can fix any problems with the Apple AirPods (3rd generation) by following the steps above. There are some differences between the AirPods (3rd generation) and older AirPods models: the third-gen AirPods supports spatial audio with head tracking (like the AirPods Max, AirPods Pro, and Beats Fit Pro). What’s more, the AirPods (3rd generation) includes a MagSafe-compatible charging case, so you can use it with the same Apple MagSafe charger as you use with your iPhone.

While the AirPods (3rd generation) looks a lot like the AirPods Pro, it lacks features like active noise cancelling and Transparency mode. You don’t really need the latter with the AirPods (3rd gen) because its open-type fit lets in virtually all background noise anyway.

How to use AirPods or AirPods Pro

So you have a new pair of AirPods or AirPods Pro; congratulations! While these earbuds models get their fair share of hate, they’re both products that many people enjoy. There are plenty of bells and whistles that come along with owning a pair of AirPods, but Apple prides itself on making its products super easy to use. For the most part, all you need to do is open the case and put the earbuds in your ears to start using them. Of course, there is a little more to it than that so if you want to know everything about how to use AirPods, make sure to check out our full reviews!

AirPods review:

AirPods Pro review:

AirPods Max overview:

Apple AirPods FAQ

Can the AirPods Pro connect to sound systems on planes?

In-flight entertainment systems typically have a 3.5mm port. In order to use a Bluetooth device with this type of system, you’ll need a Bluetooth adapter.

Does the AirPods support spatial audio?

Select AirPods do support spatial audio. You need the AirPods (3rd generation), AirPods Pro, or AirPods Max. Also, the Beats Fit Pro supports spatial audio.

Does Spatial Audio work on macOS or tvOS?

To use spatial audio with a Mac, you need a 2021 MacBook Pro or later. Spatial audio doesn’t work with older MacBook or MacBook Pro models. You can go into the Control Center > Sound > select your compatible AirPods or Beats headset > Spatial Audio while playing Dolby Atmos content. Here, you can switch back to standard stereo playback.

How do you lower the volume of notifications in AirPods?

Go into the Settings menu, and search for “Sounds & Haptics.” You can then adjust a volume slider, and use any of the sample notification sounds below to test the volume and further adjust accordingly. This won’t affect the sound volume when switching to and from transparency mode on the AirPods Pro.

Is it faster to charge my AirPods case using a Lighting cable or through Qi wireless charging?

While wireless charging is certainly convenient, it’s not very efficient. If you need to quickly charge your AirPods or AirPods Pro case, you’re better off using the included Lighting cable.

Is the AirPods Pro really that much better than the AirPods?

In short, yes—though this shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. Apple markets the AirPods Pro as its flagship true wireless earbuds, featuring high-end features like active noise cancelling and an improved fit over the unsealed AirPods. This extra feature set over its non-pro counterparts does come at a price, however. If you’re a fan of Apple’s products and their ecosystem, the AirPods and AirPods Pro are sure to satisfy your music listening needs. If you’re looking for other options, check out our lists for the best AirPods alternatives and AirPods Pro alternatives.

Why doesn’t the find my AirPods feature work?

There are a handful of reasons that your Find My feature isn’t working. We have a full guide here.

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