Most nights, before I go to bed, I boot up my PlayStation 4 for an hour or two and play some video games before I wind down. For the past several years, I’ve donned these $150 wireless headphones from Plantronics so I can listen to games and music late into the night without disturbing my (usually sleeping) wife.
Those Plantronics headphones have been my go-to headphones for years, and I’ve never had any complaints — until now.
Last week, I picked up the new AirPods Pro, Apple’s new and improved wireless earbuds that can handle noise-canceling and sweat for the first time. And after listening with those for a while, I suddenly feel like my favored PlayStation 4 headphones that I’ve loved for years are missing something. Actually, I feel like they’re missing a few things:
- Sound quality. I was in love with the audio from my Plantronics, until I listened with AirPods Pro. Now I can hear a clear difference. Part of it’s because AirPods Pro support noise-canceling, but in general, audio just sounds louder and clearer.
- Comfort. Over-ear headphones, like the Plantronics headset I own, are my favorite type of headphones. They don’t sit on your ears but wrap around them for maximum comfort. Thing is, though, I think AirPods Pro are actually more comfortable! You can pop them in and out with ease, and with those silicone ear tips, I feel like they disappear. Plus I can wear them for long periods without feeling hot. That’s the only issue with over-ear designs: Sometimes they can make you feel warm. Not so with AirPods Pro.
- Convenience. AirPods Pro instantly connect to my iPhone, and they can connect to any of my other devices — my laptop, desktop, or Apple TV — in moments. They also pause if you remove one or both earbuds, which my Plantronics headphones just can’t do.
For these reasons, AirPods Pro have become the headphones I reach for now. But that’s a problem for me, because suddenly I have all of these other old headphones lying around, and I don’t want to use them!
To be clear, this isn’t my first pair of noise-canceling headphones. I also own Sony’s critically acclaimed 1000MX2 headphones, as well as Beats Studio3 Wireless headphones, which are both excellent. Those headphones have gotten me through many long flights, and I don’t plan on abandoning them anytime soon.
But AirPods Pro are special because they’re the best all-around headphones I’ve tried. They’re more portable than any other headphones you can find. They’re comfortable in any environment (except maybe if it’s freezing outside, then over-ear designs would be the way to go). You can take them to the gym since they can handle sweat (the old AirPods can’t do this, so don’t take those to the gym). And most importantly, they make my music sound good — and I mean really good.
My other headphones don’t play so well with sweat, or let me easily switch between noise-canceling and “transparency” mode — on AirPods Pro, you just need to pinch the bottom stem of an earbud to either shut out the world or be let in to have complete conversations.
And I know it sounds a little gross, but AirPods Pro are also better than my other headphones because I can see if they’re dirty, since their design is completely white. Some people might be disappointed by the lack of available colors for AirPods Pro, but white is beautiful and clean-looking, and it’s easy to see if you leave behind any wax, dirt, or other debris. Hopefully that incentivizes people to keep their headphones clean, but we know not everyone will, as evidenced by the previous-generation AirPods, which were also white.
AirPods Pro are not perfect — customizing the earbud stems to control volume would be a nice touch — but they are in many ways the complete package, and they put my other headphones to shame. I love them for that. I also hate them for that.