AirPods Pro Offer 'Close to Seamless' Audio Experience Thanks to Improved Bluetooth Latency

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Software developer and composer Stephen Coyle published a new article on his blog recently, intent on measuring the Bluetooth latency of Apple's new AirPods Pro and comparing their performance to previous-generation AirPods. As Coyle pointed out, Bluetooth audio latency in wireless earphones can cheapen the user experience of these devices, and can particularly cause major issues for certain accessibility features reliant upon audio accuracy.


Coyle measured latency by testing how much time passes between a user triggering a sound and when they hear it in the earphones. The developer pointed out that these user-initiated sounds "are the most commonly encountered example" of Bluetooth audio latency, because they are unpredictable and therefore difficult for most platforms to respond to with finesse. These include keyboard clicks, accessibility features like VoiceOver, and sound effects in games.

Image via Stephen Coyle


Using the default iOS keyboard and his own game Tapt as means of measuring this latency, Coyle discovered that the AirPods Pro have the lowest average audio latency (measured in milliseconds) among the entire AirPods line. AirPods 1 measured in at 274ms between the time the sound was triggered and the time the sound was heard, then AirPods 2 was at 178ms, and AirPods Pro clocked in at 144ms. Coyle called this "tantalizingly close to seamless."
If it's possible for the trend line to continue in the same direction, the next generation or two of AirPods will be very exciting. Not being a VoiceOver user, I'm unsure how much AirPods Pro improve its user experience in real terms, but I think this general trend can only be for the good. Similarly, for mobile gaming and general user experience, this trend means that what is, in my opinion, the primary downside of Bluetooth earphones may be gradually disappearing.
Coyle's test also included the Beats Studio3 Wireless Headphones and Sony WH-CH700N, which measured in around 250ms and 225ms, respectively. The developer included these two devices for context and explained that they represent the general state of Bluetooth headphones as it stands right now, with devices like the third-generation Amazon Echo and a JBL Bluetooth speaker also measuring in at about the same level as the Beats and Sony devices.

Check out Coyle's full article on the AirPods Pro Bluetooth audio latency right here.

Article Link: AirPods Pro Offer 'Close to Seamless' Audio Experience Thanks to Improved Bluetooth Latency
 

jacjustjac

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Feb 12, 2008
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I’d really like to use my AirPods while I’m editing casual video in Final Cut Pro, but I find the latency causes some issues with playback. I wonder if the AirPods Pro offers an improvement to that aspect as well.
 
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travelsheep

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May 30, 2013
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I would buy a pair (or two) if it had a great microphone, and not a bean-can low-bandwidth like excuse for a mic. But I understand that it is one of the best in class, since really no manufacturer seems to care about the mic on bluetooth earbuds.
 
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djcerla

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Apr 23, 2015
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The range is insane on them as well.. I can walk almost 200’ away from my phone at work and they still work...
Definitely.

At my gym, I leave the iPhone at the central desk. When going to the dressing rooms, PowerBeats used to completely cut off signal. AirPods 2 were so-so, music kept playing but strong hiccups. AirPods Pro, completely seamless. There are at least 2 walls between source and receiver.
 

ersan191

macrumors 65816
Oct 26, 2013
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It's still significantly worse than aptX LL... Don't know what the big deal is.

144ms vs. 178ms vs. 274ms makes zero difference for music or videos on iOS (since I'm sure they are delaying video to compensate like they do with AirPlay) and it is still pretty poor for gaming.
 
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ipponrg

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Oct 15, 2008
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I would buy a pair (or two) if it had a great microphone, and not a bean-can low-bandwidth like excuse for a mic. But I understand that it is one of the best in class, since really no manufacturer seems to care about the mic on bluetooth earbuds.
It's not so much the microphone but the bluetooth spec. You basically can't transmit and receive high bitrate audio. This is one of the reasons some bluetooth headsets provide their own dongles. When people say "airpod mics sound great", they don't really have a reference for comparison.
 
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7thson

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May 13, 2012
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This shouldn’t surprise anyone. The AirPods line will continue to get better and better with each generation. While they don’t conform to “one size fits all”, they do a good job of hitting the middle ground for fit and their performance and reliability are phenomenal. The execution of this tech is very impressive.
 

Charles50

macrumors member
Feb 2, 2013
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I still need to know if the Airpods Pro have a low enough latency that I can use them while playing guitar through my Mac or iPad. Latency there would be really weird if there was an audible delay between when I pluck the strings and when the sound comes out.
 

bb9

macrumors member
Apr 1, 2017
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AirPods Pro are cheaper and better than pretty much all serious competitors.
Real question***
Really. I have no idea who those competitors are - i mean at similar category, not just bluetooth headphones .
 

farewelwilliams

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Jun 18, 2014
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It's still significantly worse than aptX LL... Don't know what the big deal is.

144ms vs. 178ms vs. 274ms makes zero difference for music or videos on iOS (since I'm sure they are delaying video to compensate like they do with AirPlay) and it is still pretty poor for gaming.
274ms vs 144ms is noticeably better when gaming.

Also the testing methodology may be flawed. It's detecting a tap from an Apple Pencil. What if the pencil adds extra latency? Sure it can record 120hz of info, but that data may be delayed as it goes through interpolation algorithms.

Comparing the ~75ms latency from wired speakers and the 144ms latency from AirPods Pro, you're looking at 69ms of additional latency, assuming the pencil is just as quick as capacitive touch (which I don't know if it's true), which is more than fine.
 
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tgwaste

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Sep 18, 2013
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The latency has to be ~20ms or better to be able to compose with them. Heres hoping for the day but I dont believe bluetooth is able to achieve that. He should know better.

Having said that: The headphones themselves are great (if not over priced, $300 with taxes and AC+).
 
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Relentless Power

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Jul 12, 2016
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This shouldn’t surprise anyone. The AirPods line will continue to get better and better with each generation. While they don’t conform to “one size fits all”, they do a good job of hitting the middle ground for fit and their performance and reliability are phenomenal. The execution of this tech is very impressive.
That’s because there is no such thing as a ‘one size fits all’ with Bluetooth earbud devices. But the fact that Apple actually is including the gel tips for different sizes/comfort levels, is what makes the AirPod Pros even more attractive aside from the new features. Yes, the tech is impressive (As it should be with a Pro moniker), but the comfort/fit is crucial, I suspect that’s probably one of the main selling points with the fitting customization.
 

Wide opeN

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Aug 27, 2010
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Wait.... they look dorky, but the originals do not???
Lol- you genuinely lost me.
We must be talking about completely different products.
The oblong case, the overly top heavy design, along with the rubber tips and shorter stalks all = no Bueno

There will be future designs and I'll happily wait patiently. ☺
 
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