Apple AirPods Pro 2 Review: WORTH IT in 2024? (USB C)

Odi Productions Jul 20, 2024
3227 People Read
Apple AirPods Pro 2nd generation with USB C charging case on desk

Disclosure: Some of the links in this article may be affiliate links, which can provide compensation to me at no cost to you if you decide to purchase. 

In this article, I'm going to share my HONEST Apple AirPods Pro 2 review for those who are wondering whether they are WORTH IT in 2024. These are the latest version with USB C charging case. I'll also be comparing them vs AirPods 3rd generation and AirPods Max, both of which I have owned.

I'll be sharing my critical opinion as an audiophile and professional music producer.

Let's dive right in!



Apple AirPods Pro 2 review in short

Apple AirPods 2 inside USB C charging case

The AirPods Pro 2 are a revelation in true wireless earbuds, with no real weaknesses. The sound signature is quite well-tuned, with a fairly balanced and natural sound. There is a strong bass response that will please most consumers, and even impress audiophiles. The soundstage is surprisingly wide, but lacks depth. The active noise cancelling is very good, but not quite as powerful as over-ear headphones. They are an excellent value and overall package, especially at half the price of the AirPods Max.


Apple AirPods Pro 2 Price

At the time of this writing, the AirPods Pro 2 are priced at $249 retail, but available on Amazon below for as low as $199.

Want to save an additional $20? Order the Renewed Version below which is currently around $179.

Order the Apple AirPods Pro 2 for the LOWEST PRICE AVAILABLE (Do NOT pay retail): 

Disclosure: These links may provide a discount and in return, give us a commission in order to run the website 🙂


Apple AirPods Pro 2 Pros and Cons

AirPods Pro 2 next to USB C case on desk

Pros

  • Excellent sound quality

  • Strong, visceral bass response

  • Natural sound signature with wide soundstage

  • Effective Noise Cancelling

  • "Forget you're wearing them" comfort

  • Great overall value for the money

Cons

  • Included eartips may not fit perfectly

  • 6 hour battery life could be better


Comfort: 4.5 / 5

AirPods Pro 2 with replacement eartips

I've been a fan of the entire AirPods line of products since the 1st generation, with the main benefit being comfort.

Nothing beats the freedom of Bluetooth wireless, and true wireless earbuds takes that a step further than over-ear headphones.

If there is one lesson I've learned in life, it's that humans end up choosing the path of least resistance over time. Which explains why most of the time, I'll reach for some "cheap" AirPods over $2,000 headphones that are wired and requires a headphone amp.

The only reason the AirPods Pro 2 gets knocked 0.5 points here is because the included eartips may not fit some people, causing them to fall out.

I found the stock eartips to be fine, perhaps a little discomfort after wearing them for extended periods over 2+ hours.

I have since installed replacement eartips from CharJenPro that have memory foam (see picture above), and found these to be a solid improvement.

Lastly, I personally don't like the sensation of putting things inside my ear canal, which is why I think the regular AirPods are a perfect 5/5 rating over the AirPod Pros.

At least with these, you never have to deal with clamping force or top of head pressure versus over-ear headphones.


Features / Battery Life / Noise Cancelling: 3.5 / 5

Bottom of Apple AirPods 2 USB C port charging case

Features

If you're primarily an Apple ecosystem user like me, you may already know that the AirPods lineup just works seamlessly switching between multiple devices.

This means going from iPhone, to MacBook pro, to iPad, and back is near effortless - and sometimes telepathic.

Although I have tested the AirPods Pro 2 when gaming with my Windows PC, and it switches over no problem as well.

The benefit of using Apple devices is you also get to see and control the current mode of noise cancelling, although this can be controlled by pinching one of the stems as well for a few moments.

You just may not know which of the 3 modes you're currently on and have to cycle through them to find out.

This is the latest version with the USB-C charging case as opposed to the older lightning port, and this is a much-welcomed update.

This coincides with Apple's release of the new iPhone 15 which also finally switches over from proprietary lightning to USB-C for the foreseeable future as well.

Finally, one cable for everything!

Yes, they have Spatial Audio like the AirPods Max and recent Beats headphones. Personally, I see it as a bit gimmicky but others seem to rave about this feature. Not a deal-breaker for me.

Also, the built-in microphone for calls is nothing to write home about versus over-ear headphones. I find the normal AirPods mic to be rather terrible, and sadly these are only a small improvement.

Looks

The design of AirPods is already iconic, with those white sticks just casually sticking out of one's ears like a device from the future.

I think the AirPods Pro 2 is even better, with a shorter, stubbier stem contrasted with the black oval for the exterior microphones.

AirPods Pro 2 Battery Life

As one of the AirPods Pro 2's few flaws, I'd say the 6 hour battery life is shorter than its true wireless earbud competitors from Sony and Sennheiser, both boasting over 8+ hours on a single charge.

The battery life is even shorter when comparing to full-sized over-ear headphones like the big brother AirPods Max which is rated up to 20 hours.

The class-leading Sennheiser Momentum 4 has a whopping 60 hours of battery life on a single charge - that's 10x longer than the AirPods Pro 2!

Even without comparison, the 6 hour battery life is short of a full day of working and listening, and I find mine dying on a daily basis.

So the AP2 loses a point here for battery life, when compared to all its competitors.

AirPods Pro 2 Noise Cancelling Performance

One of the pleasant surprises with the AirPods Pro 2 is the improved active noise cancelling.

Apple claims an "up to 2x improvement" in noise cancelling over the AirPods Pro 1st generation, and that difference is certainly significant.

The AirPod Pro 2 has 3 modes:

  • Noise Cancellation

  • Off

  • Transparency

The "Transparency" mode is quite good and even enhances/amplifies the outside noise around you.

Personally, I find the Noise Cancellation to be fairly impressive, just less effective than over-ear headphones like Bose, AirPods Max, and Sennheiser Momentum 4.

If they can improve once more for the AirPods Pro 3, then most over-ear headphones may find themselves obsolete.

But for now, there is still room for improvement so the AP2 loses half a point here as well.


AirPods Pro 2 Sound Quality: 8.1 / 10

How good is the AirPods Pro 2 sound quality, from an audiophile perspective?

I'd say shockingly impressive from such a small (and wireless) form factor.

The sound signature is very well-tuned and balanced, giving vocals a natural sound, while still having a very physical sub-bass response and smoothened treble with zero sibilance to my ear.

So I have owned and worn almost daily the regular AirPods 2nd generation, which are decent for what they're worth, but are not even a conversation when discussing audiophile-level sound.

Unlike the regular AirPods 3rd generation, the AirPods Pro 2 actually enters your ear canal and forms a seal.

This seal is what allows a much fuller and immersive sound compared to regular AirPods, and not to mention more powerful bass response. Physics is in favor of the Pros.

This is also why many audiophiles like IEMs (in ear monitors), which operate the same way as the AirPod Pros, but many require cables to each earbud like full-sized headphones.

Speaking of full-sized headphones, I much prefer over-ear, open-back planar headphones to IEMs myself.

In the featured image for this post, you can see my current favorite pair of headphones, the Hifiman HE1000SE which once retailed at a whopping $3,500 - now available for just under $2,000.

So how do the AirPods Pro 2 compare to a $2,000 wired audiophile headphone?

I'd say they come within ~80% of the sound quality for 10% of the price (on sale for $199).

Like with most hobbies, there is HUGE diminishing returns as we chase that final 10-20% of performance.

You may be wondering, okay, so what is the actual difference that accounts for that last 15%?

Truth be told, it wasn't obvious at first listen. But as time goes on, and especially when flipping back and forth, the differences get exposed quite easily.

Let's start with first immediate difference - the soundstage.

When I listen to the AirPods Pro 2, the width of the soundstage seemingly defies physics, it sounds more spacious than it should.

But switching to the HE1000SE, it gives a new definition to "spaciousness" and has a much more "open" sound immediately.

The biggest difference for me is the DEPTH of the soundstage, everything sounds more 3D and lifelike. There is even more realism to vocals and instrument timbre.

Again, you wouldn't know the AirPods Pro 2 was lacking until you listened to these expensive open-back, over-ear headphones.

Next, I'd say the resolution of the HE1000SE is like 4k video, whereas the AirPods Pro 2 is more like 1440p. The clarity of all the micro detail is just effortless.

I think the soundstage depth and the "3D" effect plays a role here, but also I also think it's just unfair to compare wired headphones to Bluetooth wireless.

From my understanding, the AirPods Pro 2 doesn't have a lossless codec, so the source signal is already degraded versus a wired headphone perhaps?

Either way, switching back and forth reveals that the AirPods Pro 2 have a slightly compressed overall sound.

Also, I want to make a point here that just because you can technically hear all the details, doesn't mean it's in the right amount of volume or has the proper separation / imaging.

The HE1000SE places every instrument, vocal, and delay (echo) right where it needs to be at the proper volume. There is a ton of nuance here, which means keeping quiet details quiet in relation to other sounds.

Consumer headphones can "wow" you at first listen with "all the details", but they do so in a somewhat artificial way that doesn't respect nuance. This only becomes clear after hearing a truly nuanced headphone.

I find it is the same with food. Most people have never had REAL authentic sushi (sadly).

I used to be the same way, getting California Crunch rolls with imitation crab meat, avocado, tempura, and of course, utterly doused in soy sauce.

But after having my first real authentic Nigiri sushi and Omakase, I realized my perception of sushi was an absolute abomination to the culinary arts.

Real sushi is simply just the highest-quality fish and rice, with MAYBE a tasteful dab of soy sauce... maybe.

Okay back to the comparison, the final minor critique I have in the AirPods Pro 2 is the bass.

Let me start by saying the bass response is actually one of the strengths, especially considering these are earbuds and not over-ear headphones.

The sub-bass extension goes all the way down and has a very good physicality and visceral bass impact.

The minor critique here is that the bass is unfocused at times and simply not as tight compared to the HE1000SE. What do you expect comparing tiny earbuds to planars?

Overall, I actually even prefer the AirPods Pro 2 sound signature over the AirPods Max. The bass response is more satisfying and is the biggest factor for me, scratching that itch that the AirPods Max couldn't.


Is the Apple AirPods Pro 2 worth it?

When I first saw the retail price of $249 for the AirPods Pro 2, I said to myself, can they really be worth more than twice the price of regular AirPods 2nd gen at $99?

If I'm going to spend close to $300 on Bluetooth headphones, they better be full-size over-ear headphones that I tend to prefer and thought were unequivocally superior to any lowly earbuds.

But the AirPods Pro 2 certainly has changed my stance on that, completely.

At a current sale price of $199, I can't think of a better overall package, and this includes comparing it to over-ear Bluetooth headphones from the likes of AirPods Max, Sony, Sennheiser, and Bose.

What you get for half the price of the AirPods Max is arguably superior sound quality (at least more preferable sound signature), better comfort, and respectable noise cancelling that is effective enough for every day use.

I'm giving the AirPods Pro 2 a perfect rating for value, something I never thought I'd say, and subsequently dropping the value rating for the other over-ear headphones.

That is how much of a game changer these are.

Value: 5 / 5


Scoring Breakdown

Comfort: 4.5 / 5

Features / Looks / Noise Cancelling: 3.5 / 5

Sound Quality: 8.1 / 10

Value: 5 / 5

Total: 21.1 / 25

Our Rating: 8.4 / 10

AirPods Pro 2nd generation USB C case on desk


At the time of this writing, the AirPods Pro 2 are priced at $249 retail, but available on Amazon below for as low as $199.

Want to save an additional $20? Order the Renewed Version below which is currently around $179.

Order the Apple AirPods Pro 2 for the LOWEST PRICE AVAILABLE (Do NOT pay retail): 

Disclosure: These links may provide a discount and in return, give us a commission in order to run the website 🙂


AirPods Pro 2 Frequently Asked Questions

Are AirPods Pro 2 better than AirPods 3? Why is it more expensive?

Yes, the AirPods Pro 2 are superior to the AirPods 3 in virtually every way including sound quality and noise cancellation. The AirPods 3 are cheaper and more comfortable, since they don't go into the ear canal like the Pro 2.

Are AirPods Pro 2 a good upgrade over Pro 1? What's the difference?

Yes, the AirPods Pro 2 is a worthy upgrade over the Pro 1 due to superior sound quality and up to 2x more effective noise cancelling. Those reasons alone are worth the upgrade, in my honest opinion. Also, the latest version has a USB-C charging case instead of lightning.

How many years will AirPods Pro 2 last?

Similar to the regular AirPods and iPhones with limited charge cycles, I would estimate the AirPods Pro 2 to reasonably last about 2-3 years of daily use before battery life significantly degrades.

Is AirPods Pro 2 waterproof?

The AirPods Pro 2 are dust resistant and water resistant with a rating of IP54 under IEC standard 60529, however they are not completely waterproof and should not be submerged underwater.


How We Tested and Our Methodology

RecordingNOW.com is a 100% independent publisher with over 10 years of experience testing and reviewing consumer electronics and headphones.

We currently purchase the products we test with our own money, and are not paid by any company or manufacturer to influence our opinions or decisions.

After purchasing the product, we conduct up to hundreds of hours of detailed hands-on testing in a controlled, acoustically-treated environment.

ODi Productions is our resident expert and author of this article, with 10 years of experience as a professional music producer, tech journalist, and audiophile.


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Disclosure:  Some of the links in this article may be affiliate links, which can provide compensation to me at no cost to you if you decide to purchase.