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SeanZy

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Dec 29, 2008
856
102
First off, let me start by saying yes, I know that comparing earbuds to over the ear noise cancelling headphones seems a little ridiculous. But many people have asked about this comparison and I was incredibly interested in this question too. Also remember, this is all my opinion only!

If you want the short version: I am damn impressed by the sound the Airpod Pros are pumping out.
To test the two side by side, I used songs from various genres to try and get a feel for how they each sounded. On the Sony headphones I played them without any preset equalizer setting that would change values drastically to achieve a certain sound (Extra Bass, Extra Treble, etc). I am streaming off of my iPhone connected to Wifi using high quality streaming on Spotify. I also used the same volume level for both headphones.

First song(s) I tested were from Tame Impala. Borderline, and The Less I Know the Better. The bass drum in Borderline and bass line in The Less I Know The Better were definitely more punchy and pronounced on the Sonys. You definitely get a more full bass feel in your ear. One thing that really really surprised me was the vocal quality on the Airpods. Honestly, it is incredibly surprising to me to say this, but the vocals on the Airpods sound up there with the Sonys, if not slightly better. Seems crazy, but I think the in ear nature of the airpods help create this sense that the vocals are coming almost from the middle of your brain. It sounds really nice, and Kevin Parker's voice just sounds so good on the Airpods. Incredibly impressive.

Next song I tested was a song called On Your Mind off of Kaskade's latest Redux 003 album. This is EDM, so there are a lot more bass effects coming from the song. They are not as strong as a real bass line might be, but they are there. This is obviously a song where the Sonys do hold an advantage. There is just a wider sound stage for the bass to open up and with the over the ear design, the headphones really help bring out various effects in the song. But i would be lying if I said the Airpods did not impress. Again, the vocal quality of the singer kind of shocked me. And let me say this: the bass on the airpods in this song did not sound bad at all. Honestly, its very clear and pronounced and seriously very impressive, but the songs various effects dont fill my head like the Sonys seem to do.

Last song I wanted to test was a song called OSOM by Jay Rock, featuring J. Cole. Being a hip hop song, there is a lot of low end bass in this one. If I am being honest, because of this , the Sonys begin to muddy out and kind of sound bad on the low end. The bass on the Airpods seems almost non existent on this song. Its really kind of weird, theres no punch to the bass on this song like some of the others, although its obviously still there to some extent. The vocals, however, hands down sound better to me than the Sony. It is more crisp and clear, without question to me.

I did not have time to do more comparisons on other genres, but damn I have to say that I am absolutely so impressed with the quality of the Airpods. A certain and marked improvement over the regular airpods, and seriously in some situations pulling its weight right up against my Sonys. There is no question that the bass can be lacking in certain genres. But in my opinion, that is to be expected. And no one should expect the same bass response from in ears versus over the ear headphones. Vocal quality though is superb. Clear, crisp, and a pleasure to listen to. I think the Airpods will lend incredibly well to genres outside of hip hop and bass heavy edm.

One final thought on the noise cancellation: Definitely impressive. I see a lot of posts saying they dont feel the cancellation works very well, and I have to strongly disagree. In my opinion, the cancellation is at least 90 percent as good as the Sony headphones. When I put them on, I was actually shocked at how well it blocked out noise. Obviously the next time I get on a plane that will be a real test, but for now there is no way I could have any complaints.

Do I think that the Airpoids could completely replace my Sonys? Absolutely not. But I dont feel that is the correct way to look at what this product does. Considering the size and the portability, these do a damn good job and are a great compliment to any over the ear headphones for when you simply dont want something so big on your head. And yes, if you are only getting Airpods, then these are absolutely worth the premium over the regular ones.
 
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sam2428

macrumors 6502
Mar 8, 2011
401
141
Houston, TX
In my opinion, the cancellation is at least 90 percent as good as the Sony headphones. When I put them on, I was actually shocked at how well it blocked out noise. Obviously the next time I get on a plane that will be a real test, but for now there is no way I could have any complaints.

This is exactly what I came here for. Thank you!

I have been thinking about picking up a pair of the sony 1000xm3s....but held off when they announced the in ear versions. I was almost sold, but them not being sweat resistant and the rumors of the new AirPods release kept me waiting a few more months. Pretty glad I did.

I travel a lot and currently carry both my AirPods and my Bose QC30s as I am not a huge fan of over ear headphones. The AirPod Pros should combine the best of both worlds for me.
 

Closingracer

macrumors 601
Jul 13, 2010
4,237
1,792
This is exactly what I came here for. Thank you!

I have been thinking about picking up a pair of the sony 1000xm3s....but held off when they announced the in ear versions. I was almost sold, but them not being sweat resistant and the rumors of the new AirPods release kept me waiting a few more months. Pretty glad I did.

I travel a lot and currently carry both my AirPods and my Bose QC30s as I am not a huge fan of over ear headphones. The AirPod Pros should combine the best of both worlds for me.

Eh I have the WF-1000XM3 and they are pretty sweat resistant. Never had issues with it
 

TorontoSS

macrumors 6502a
Nov 9, 2009
846
267
Thanks for your review, it's super informative. I also have the XM3's. I deliberately left them at home this morning to see how the airpods pro do on the train. I used the overground train in London, not the underground so it isn't as noisy. Whilst I found the noise cancelling to be effective, I wouldn't say it's 90% of the Sony's. I find the Sony's drown out everything around you. I miss announcements at times as a result (bad thing) but don't have to listen to people around me (great thing). Airpods Pro didn't drown out the people as much. It did take out the train noise though. The underground is much louder, would be interesting to see how it matches to that!

The airpods still amazing for everyday life. they are definitely a keeper. For calls, walking around, workouts, they are amazing. They're not bad for commuting but not amazing. I still think the Sony's are better for that.

As you said above, are they a replacement? No, but an excellent excellent addition!
 

Donnation

Suspended
Nov 2, 2014
1,686
2,081
Spot on review. I too love my Sony 1000XM3's as they replaced the Bose QC35II's for me. Great stuff.
 

SeanZy

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Dec 29, 2008
856
102
Thanks for your review, it's super informative. I also have the XM3's. I deliberately left them at home this morning to see how the airpods pro do on the train. I used the overground train in London, not the underground so it isn't as noisy. Whilst I found the noise cancelling to be effective, I wouldn't say it's 90% of the Sony's. I find the Sony's drown out everything around you. I miss announcements at times as a result (bad thing) but don't have to listen to people around me (great thing). Airpods Pro didn't drown out the people as much. It did take out the train noise though. The underground is much louder, would be interesting to see how it matches to that!

The airpods still amazing for everyday life. they are definitely a keeper. For calls, walking around, workouts, they are amazing. They're not bad for commuting but not amazing. I still think the Sony's are better for that.

As you said above, are they a replacement? No, but an excellent excellent addition!
Yeah I definitely want to be able to test some more on a train and / or a plane. When I flew home from Iceland last month I realized how difficult it is to fall asleep with the Sony headphones on just because they are so obtrusive lol situations like that are what excite me the most about the AirPods (not that I am flying 11 hours refularly, but still I do fly often)
 

kofman13

macrumors 6502
May 6, 2009
405
107
impressive! anyone here compare the ANC with airpods pro to Beats studio 3 wireless?
 

TorontoSS

macrumors 6502a
Nov 9, 2009
846
267
Yeah I definitely want to be able to test some more on a train and / or a plane. When I flew home from Iceland last month I realized how difficult it is to fall asleep with the Sony headphones on just because they are so obtrusive lol situations like that are what excite me the most about the AirPods (not that I am flying 11 hours refularly, but still I do fly often)

Ah I see! For general plane flying the XM3's are amazing IF it's a flight during the day. Movie watching on them are great! But for flying when trying to sleep it is different. The size of the XM3s as you say, is clearly an issue. That is the same for me when going to work on the train/tube. Sometimes you just can't carry such bulky headphones. particularly if you're going straight to a meeting. The AirPods become great for that. It's a nice alternative. But not a replacement!
 

sam2428

macrumors 6502
Mar 8, 2011
401
141
Houston, TX
Ah I see! For general plane flying the XM3's are amazing IF it's a flight during the day. Movie watching on them are great! But for flying when trying to sleep it is different. The size of the XM3s as you say, is clearly an issue. That is the same for me when going to work on the train/tube. Sometimes you just can't carry such bulky headphones. particularly if you're going straight to a meeting. The AirPods become great for that. It's a nice alternative. But not a replacement!

Agreed. Half the reason I have not bought the Sony / Bose over ear headphones for travel is because I use slim profile backpack and like to travel light. The over ear headphones are just added bulk and create an bulge in my bag.

There are definitely trade offs for the smaller form factor, but if the noise cancelling is still 80-90% of the Bose/Sony’s then I think its still worth it (for me at least).
 

rdavis41

macrumors 6502
Jul 10, 2009
256
208
I'd also add the weight of the Airpods Pro is much less than the Sony's. Huge difference for me as when I'd workout the Sony's would fall out. Thus far with 2 workouts the Airpod Pros have not fallen out. And the controls on the headphone of the Airpod Pros I prefer over the Sony's.
 

sam2428

macrumors 6502
Mar 8, 2011
401
141
Houston, TX
Eh I have the WF-1000XM3 and they are pretty sweat resistant. Never had issues with it

That good to know...but i still prefer not to get sweat on / get my $250 dollar headphones wet when they aren’t rated for it.

I am sure they will be fine, but I’d rather not risk the water damage personally :)
 

poorcody

Contributor
Jul 23, 2013
1,076
944
I have both the WF-1000XM3 and the AirPods Pro. Tested out both yesterday for about an hour.

Overall, I would say the Sony has slightly better sound quality and ANC. The Sony produces wider range and deeper bass to my amatuer ear, but it is pretty close. I would say they are 90% "as close".

Advantages with the AirPods:
  • Much smaller case. Not just about half the height/width, but half the thickness as well. Very nice for throwing in your pocket.
  • Better overall integration with phone. Instant pairing, integration with iOS, etc.
  • They stick out less from the ear. I can't lie on my pillow with the Sony's, but I can with the pods. Also means they stay seated in the ear better.
  • I find the controls with the pods a little better -- with the Sony, it's hard to hit the button properly, I sort of have to grab it with two fingers and use the third finger to hit it. The pods have a nice "click" feedback and are easier to squeeze.
  • Wireless charging. Love that I can just store them on the charging pad. Means I never really have to think about charging.
  • Quicker to change between ANC/transparency.
Advantages of Sony:
  • Slightly better sound quality, ANC, as I said
  • Sony's iOS app allows for global EQ control, best I can tell I can only set that in Apple Music on the pods (e.g. I can't control the pod's EQ in Amazon Music)
  • Oddly, Sony shows the battery level right in the status bar next to the headphone icon, pods don't! Both show battery in the battery widget though.
Bottom line, I will probably be using the AirPods Pro primarily.
 
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turbineseaplane

macrumors G3
Mar 19, 2008
9,082
15,495
Better overall integration with phone. Instant pairing, integration with iOS, etc.

With one device at a time though, yeah?

Don't the Sony's (and Bose models) allow multiple devices to be paired at once?
(very nice quality of life thing)
 

Closingracer

macrumors 601
Jul 13, 2010
4,237
1,792
That good to know...but i still prefer not to get sweat on / get my $250 dollar headphones wet when they aren’t rated for it.

I am sure they will be fine, but I’d rather not risk the water damage personally :)

I mean the same could be said for the OG AirPods. I believe they have to pay for. iP rating like a license fee but I could be wrong.
 

poorcody

Contributor
Jul 23, 2013
1,076
944
With one device at a time though, yeah?

Don't the Sony's (and Bose models) allow multiple devices to be paired at once?
(very nice quality of life thing)
I might be wrong, but I don't think so. With the Sony's, when I switch between my iPhone and iPad, I always have to manually select it in Settings -> Bluetooth. With the pods, they seem to auto-pair with whatever device I have on at the moment. Maybe there is a way to do it that I'm not aware of though... ?
 

Closingracer

macrumors 601
Jul 13, 2010
4,237
1,792
I have both the WF-1000XM3 and the AirPods Pro. Tested out both yesterday for about an hour.

Overall, I would say the Sony has slightly better sound quality and ANC. The Sony produces wider range and deeper bass to my amatuer ear, but it is pretty close. I would say they are 90% "as close".

Advantages with the AirPods:
  • Much smaller case. Not just about half the height/width, but half the thickness as well. Very nice for throwing in your pocket.
  • Better overall integration with phone. Instant pairing, integration with iOS, etc.
  • They stick out less from the ear. I can't lie on my pillow with the Sony's, but I can with the pods. Also means they stay seated in the ear better.
  • I find the controls with the pods a little better -- with the Sony, it's hard to hit the button properly, I sort of have to grab it with two fingers and use the third finger to hit it. The pods have a nice "click" feedback and are easier to squeeze.
  • Wireless charging. Love that I can just store them on the charging pad. Means I never really have to think about charging.
  • Quicker to change between ANC/transparency.
Advantages of Sony:
  • Slightly better sound quality, ANC, as I said
  • Sony's iOS app allows for global EQ control, best I can tell I can only set that in Apple Music on the pods (e.g. I can't control the pod's EQ in Amazon Music)
  • Oddly, Sony shows the battery level right in the status bar next to the headphone icon, pods don't! Both show battery in the battery widget though.
Bottom line, I will probably be using the AirPods Pro primarily.

I would say I would agree BUT SQ is better on the Sony’s by a bit more then slightly


Sony’s has more detail with more bass. The only thing I would say the Apple has an edge on is sound stage which I would say is borderline impressive for in ears.

As far as size goes for the case a non issue since I can pocket the Powerbeats case lol.


I honestly don’t know if I like the buttons on the pro but that’s my first impression
 

dazz87

macrumors 68000
Sep 24, 2007
1,577
1,622
Waiting for someone to compare it to Sony WF-1000XM3.
 
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mcaswell

macrumors 6502
Dec 22, 2013
390
217

Dammit Cubs

macrumors 68020
Jul 31, 2007
2,028
624
I have both, I don't see much a of a difference. Maybe it's the way I set up my EQ, but i wasn't blown away by either sound which is probably a good thing. before the Airpods pro came out, i really did like the sound signature of the Sony WF-1000MX3.

But I just sold the Sony WF-1000MX3 to my friend.

Thanks,
Tom
 

farfromovin

macrumors member
Jun 5, 2015
85
36
Waiting for someone to compare it to Sony WF-1000XM3.

I have both as well, spent a bit of time today doing back to back testing on ANC in different types of noisy environments, songs, and TV Shows. My initial assessment is these each have their pros and cons, at the end of the day they’re both phenomenal ear buds.
Sound Quality- Sony has more bottom end, no doubt. However, there are some sections in songs as well as TV shows I’ve tested where the mid range on the APP had a bit more presence. I prefer the mid range of the APP. Overall I’d give a slight edge to Sony for my preferences.
ANC- I used them both in a semi-industrial environment today with different noise sources. Low hum from large electric motors, low resonance from large HVAC, high freq amplified PA systems, and voices. On the super loud stuff, ear buds just don’t compare with an over the ear model (like WH-1000mx3), but for most stuff they’re pretty good. I first tried the APP and was disappointed I could still hear some low freq humming background noise. That was until I popped the Sony’s in and noticed they’re the exact same. With louder up front sounds, like loudspeakers or people talking loudly, the edge goes to the Sony’s but APP matches Sony’s low freq background hum noise cancelling abilities. Overall, win goes handily to Sony.
Comfort- Both of these are pretty comfy. I’ve used the Sony’s extensively and a couple times have had slight ear pain after a couple hours, have not used the APP that long to see so far if they’ll cause any long term discomfort. I will say though, that the APP disappears in my ears more so than the Sony. Also, if laying down sideways on a pillow the Sony sticks out further, you’re more likely to find a comfy position with the APP. Overall comfort goes to APP.
Convenience- I haven’t even ran down my APP battery yet so can’t confirm the run times or charge times. I think they’re both in the same ballpark with 5hrs and 4.5 hrs for Sony and APP respectively and 24hrs with the charge cases. I mich prefer USB C that Sony uses, but the wireless case of APP outweighs its lack of USB C for me personally. This is an unfair comparison if you’re using either of these with Apple devices as the APP just plays nicer. It’s quicker to connect, controls are baked into iOS. I did have some bt disconnects a few weeks ago with the Sony but believe that was an iOS bug issue. As mentioned everywhere, the APP case is just tiny compared to Sony’s. As an Apple ecosystem owner, this is overall a huge win for APP and the deciding blow in my eyes.
It’s important to note with the sound quality and ANC tests, a good seal is critical for all earbuds. Don’t rely on the test built into settings, listen to your ears and select appropriate size tips, rotate buds, get correct insertion depth as necessary.

So, I’ll be selling my Sony’s to an Android sporting co-worker They’re both great headphones, truly great. For me the APP are the one headphone to rule them all. No more dragging over the ear ANC cans along flights or having a workout pair and a relaxation pair of earbuds, the APP is it.
 
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sparksd

macrumors 603
Jun 7, 2015
5,734
4,745
Seattle WA
I might be wrong, but I don't think so. With the Sony's, when I switch between my iPhone and iPad, I always have to manually select it in Settings -> Bluetooth. With the pods, they seem to auto-pair with whatever device I have on at the moment. Maybe there is a way to do it that I'm not aware of though... ?

My Bose QC35II's will pair with two devices and readily switch but my Sony WF-1000MX3's do not.
 

sam2428

macrumors 6502
Mar 8, 2011
401
141
Houston, TX
With one device at a time though, yeah?

Don't the Sony's (and Bose models) allow multiple devices to be paired at once?
(very nice quality of life thing)
I couldn’t agree more. This is the one thing that I had wished Apple brought to the airpods line in general. Once you get used to seamlessly using the headphones connected to 2 devices. It’s hard to have to swap manually. I know it may seem like a very minor thing to some, but it’s a convenience that I live about my Bose QC30s
[automerge]1572585900[/automerge]
For me the APP are the one headphone to rule them all. No more dragging over the ear ANC cans along flights or having a workout pair and a relaxation pair of earbuds, the APP is it.

This.

I travel a decent amount and typically have 3-4 pairs of headphones with me (my wife thinks I’m crazy btw lol). But it’s different tools for different uses. Airpods for general/all purpose use, keep them in my pocket. I use them at work and at the airport as they allow me to hear announcements, etc. My Bose QC30 for during flights with ANC. I don’t love the neck band but really only use them in flight. Jabra elite 65t for workouts for their ipx rating and because they sit snug in my ear. My airpods fit really well but i always feel like they are going to fall out of my ears when running or weight lifting. My 4th pair is a wired set of sennhsers that are for emergencies when I forget to charge and for my Nintendo switch / in flight entertainment systems.

With the APP I should be able to eliminate the need for the qc30 and jabras and just have a backup wired pair in my backpack.
 
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