AirPods Pro vs. Bose QC30 quick comparison and others
For the past year my headset rotation has been:
1. AirPods 1 for day to day and calls. Easy to carry, easy to use, good for calls
2. Bose QC30 for air travel and noisy environments when listening to music or video – but never calls. There are terrible for calls
3. Beats X for mowing, etc. Noise isolation and I don’t care if they get sweaty – where with Bose I don’t want them trashed. But they sound poor and slip out of my ears. These are my least favorite pair
4. Plantronics 3200 for amazing noise canceling on my outgoing calls, but horrible noise isolation for me. These are the best for calls but even in my car I have to use a foam earplug in the opposite ear or I can’t hear well.
Now comes along AirPods Pro (APP) and I got them today. My goal is to replace all of these with AirPods Pro. Certainly over the next week or so I will be using them and my opinion may change over time. But lets start with the comparisons:
1. ANC – Active Noise Cancellation. I really like my QC30 headphones. I had the QC20 before them and the ANC is a bit better on the QC30. But I don’t carry them unless traveling and then they take up space in my bag and I have my AirPods with me anyway. So even if the ANC on the APP is not quite as good as the QC30, they should replace them. I don’t use the Bose often enough to warrant keeping them if there is not a huge difference. And after testing for a couple of hours, there is not. Actually, I might like the APP better. I tried both pairs in a crowded mall food court, in the car with windows up and down, and in front of my computer playing the sounds of planes taking off through my speakers with subwoofer turned all the way up. My initial assessment is that the APP beat the QC30 by a bit. Amazingly, the APP’s cut more low and high frequency sounds out than my QC30. I can’t speak for the QC35 or Sony’s or any others. QC35’s are a bit better than QC30’s. But the APP will be plenty good enough for me on future flights. I used this link starting at about 7:35 (and a few others) in the comparison: [https://youtu.be/BjzDJhZDw3M](https://youtu.be/BjzDJhZDw3M) ini iYy M y iny M .
2. Comfort – Here is where my old AirPods excelled. I know they are love or hate for people, but I have been happy with them. I bought and returned a number of in ear wireless headsets that plug the ear canal because I HATE that plugged up feeling walking around or driving, or while speaking. Every step is a thud. I was worried about that with the new APP. I will say there is a little bit of that issue with the APP but nothing like a Jabra Elite 65t or something. The APP’s have been very comfortable so far and I find I do not need to push them way into my ear to get an acceptable seal. The vents on the back make these the first in ear canal earphones that I don’t mind. I do get a bit of closed in feeling but nothing like closed earphones. This is an 8 out of 10 for me. I find the Bose a little more comfortable in ear but I am not fond of the headband. Also the APP do not fall out (but the old AirPods didn’t either). I really don’t like the Beats unless I am mowing. Too much in-ear pressure.
3. Sound quality – Obviously, these are better than the Beats (very muddy) and original AirPods. I want these to break in a bit before I make too much of a determination but I would put sound quality for music at about a 7. Bose is an 8 for me. The Bose are brighter in the mids and highs, and a bit crisper and fuller in the bass. I really like the way the Bose sound. The APP are pretty clear and better than the original APP, and the base is much better than the muddy, boomy Beats. But they need to brighten up to be closed to the Bose which are just clearer and fuller across the spectrum in my opinion. So to critically listen, the Bose are better. Not great but better. Is it enough to keep them and carry them? Uh, not for me it isn’t.
4. Ease of use – Easy to pair and easy to manage on my iPhone XS. I actually like the Bose in this regard as it can pair to both my iPhone and iPad at the same time and play media out of either without switching connections. I wish AirPods did this. But it is fairly easy to switch from the control center so no big deal.
5. Phone calls – Too early to tell but so far on calls in the car and in my office, no complaints. The old AirPods were pretty good, the Bose and Beats were horrible, and the Plantronics is the best I have ever tried. But APP seems good enough for most situations and I don’t need to shove a foam earplug in my opposite ear 🙂 Time will tell.
So, my determination as of now is that I can sell my old AirPods, my Bose QC30’s and the Beats X and hopefully recover much or all of the $249 price for the APP. There are a few compromises, but the best earphones you have are the ones you have with you 🙂 And no other option is perfect. The APP is closest yet IMHO. Lets see how the next week goes with some travel.