Beats Powerbeats Pro review: Bulkier than AirPods, but with better sound

I’ll explain right away: The degree to which you’ll like the Powerbeats Pro, Beats’ first true wireless earbuds, will largely depend on how well they fit in your ears. If you get a snug, comfortable fit with an airtight seal from one of the four different-sized silicone tips included, you’ll likely love these headphones and feel comfortable dropping $ 200 on them. You end up with something less and you may question their value.

I came close to getting a very good fit. I would classify it between a B + and A-. The problem wasn’t security; I never had to worry about them falling out. With a few tweaks to the iconic ear hooks – they’re foldable – the Powerbeats Pro were essentially attached to my ears. I shot a few hoops with them and I suspect they would remain even if I were capable of, say, a 360 degree crash. (Alas, I’m not.)

Read more: The best true wireless headphones you can buy in 2020

Powerbeats Pro in black.

Sarah Tew / CNET

My little problem: Even with the largest earbuds (yes, they’re big but not big enough), my ear canal wasn’t completely sealed, so more ambient noise leaked than I wanted and the sound quality was affected. in noisier environments, such as on the subway or on the streets of New York. However, I was in the minority. I’ve had CNET colleagues who were able to get an airtight seal and not only really liked the fit, but were immediately impressed with the sound.

These fit me better and more comfortably than the previous ones Powerbeats3 Wireless, which – unlike the Pro – have a wire that connects the left and right earbud. And, in fact, the Powerbeats Pro have been designed to be compatible with a higher ear percentage than previous Powerbeats. This is because Beats, which is owned by Apple, has perfected their exterior design. According to Beats, the Powerbeats Pro are 23% smaller than the Powerbeats3 and 17% lighter. They are not classified as completely waterproof, but they are sweat and water resistant. With an IPX4 certification, they can be splashed from any direction but may not work if sprayed with a prolonged stream of water or if they are completely submerged.

The Powerbeats Pro will initially ship in black, with other colors (white, dark blue and moss) available later this summer.

Mark Licea / CNET

One thing that definitely isn’t compact is the charging case. While it’s not heavy, it’s three to four times bigger than AirPods ($ 99 on Amazon) charging case. It will leave a nice bulge in your pocket, so you’ll probably want to leave it in a bag or locker at the gym. Considering they cost $ 200, it would have been nice if Beats had thrown in a protective case to carry them around for those times you want to leave the charging case behind.

Read more: 9 tips for mastering Beats fully wireless earbuds

It’s also worth noting that the case doesn’t offer wireless charging, as does the new AirPods Wireless Charging Case. However, it charges via an included Lightning cable, which is better than Micro-USB. Before Beats BeatsX also uploaded via Lightning.

The Powerbeats Pro case versus the AIrPods case.

Sarah Tew / CNET

Great sound upgrade from AirPods

Beats says these guys are using new updated piston drivers which are supposed to reduce distortion. They sound significantly better than the original AirPods, which isn’t such a high bar to cancel, but the Powerbeats Pro deliver a richer, cleaner sound with bass that’s not only much bigger but tighter. As I said, a full seal is key to maximizing sound quality with these types of noise isolating headphones, so if the tips don’t fit snugly in your ear canals you can lose some bass.

In contrast, the AirPods have an “open” design and sit more loosely in the ears (albeit the newest AirPods Pro have a soundproofing design). As a result, they let in much more ambient noise. Assuming you get that good seal, the Powerbeats Pro would be much better, for example, for listening on an airplane than AirPods, for example.

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