Monday, November 4, 2019

Apple's Beats Powerbeats Pro

I reviewed the Apple AirPods 2. I love it. The fact that it fits my ears well is a very big bonus. Actually, if they didn’t fit my ears, then, really, there is no reason for me to get one. But, since the EarPods fit my ears well, then that was a good indicator that the AirPods will fit my ears too!

And I love them. I love the sound, I love the fit and I love the comfort of wearing them for extended periods. The link to my review can be found here.

However, not everyone is lucky enough to have the AirPods fit their ears properly. For some, even if they only move slightly, the AirPods drop every time.

For those people, Apple has a solution: The Powerbeats Pro.

The Powerbeats Pro is the natural evolution of the Powerbeats 3. For those who are not familiar, Powerbeats has hooks that go around your ear so that they don’t fall off when you do athletic activities. The two ear pieces are connected by a cord that can go behind the back of your neck. I love the Powerbeats 3. It has been my constant companion whenever I do long runs. The battery lasts for 12 hours so I only had to recharge the device once a week. I love its sound, though, as Beats go, it can get a bit bass-heavy.

The Powerbeats Pro is essentially the Powerbeats 3 without the cord. Each earpiece has a hook that can go around the ear so they won’t fall off. Each earpiece has a battery which lasts for 9 hours. This is significantly shorter than the Powerbeats 3. However, the charging case can give the unit 15 hours more for a total of 24 hours. (For perspective, the fastest Iron Man done in Kona, Hawaii is less than eight hours.) Also, if the battery of each piece runs out, you can quick-charge them and get one hour and a half of use for 5 minutes of charging!

The Powerbeats Pro is comfortable to wear for extended period. I just needed to adjust the ear hooks a little and it was good to go. The unit feels well-made as all beats go and it is rated to be sweat and splash resistant. This means the earphones will keep on going even if you get caught in the rain. Or if simply you sweat a lot. Just don’t swim with it… The case also is well made but it is not water resistant. So, if you think that there is a big chance that you will get wet, then make sure you leave the case/charger in the water resistant part of your bag or in a zip lock container.

Yes, I said “bag” because the case is big and there is no way you can put it inside your jeans pocket. It “can” fit in the pocket of your running shorts or running jacket but the case is heavy enough to not feel comfortable when you go on a run. Yeah, I personally will not go on a run with the case on my person…

Now, I am not an audiophile so I really cannot tell you if you would like the sound of these pair of Beats or not. Quality of sound is, in my opinion, highly subjective anyway. What I can say is that I love the sound of the Powerbeats Pro. And, surprisingly, this pair is not bass-heavy the way Beats usually sound. Bass is still there but it is not as heavy as the Powerbeats 3 that I still use. The lows and mids are also clear and I appreciate the sound it produces whether it be Hip Hop, Rock or Classical music. And the sound is very good even for watching movies and videos. The sound is well-balanced whether you are listening to dialogues or to the soundtrack of whatever you are watching.

The Powerbeats Pro has a bit of passive noise cancellation, which means it does mute the sound of your environment via the seal of the earpieces. However, it is not sealed enough to completely block out the outside world, which is the way I like it - I still wish to be able to hear my environment especially when I am walking or running outdoors.

To illustrate this passive noise cancellation, you will be able to hear that people are talking on the table next to yours but you won’t be able to tell what they are saying nor what language they are speaking in...

So, all-in-all, using the Powerbeats Pro is a really positive experience.

However, one negative thing about the Powerbeats Pro is the price. It is really expensive and a lot of people will balk at the idea of spending $250 pre-tax for this headset (about 13,000 pesos in Philippine money - not including the extra amount that importing this may incur). The AirPods with wireless charging case is actually $50 less expensive than the Powerbeats Pro. And, there are a lot of other brands that are cheaper but sounds as good, or some may even say better, than the Powerbeats Pro!

So, why would you spend more money for the Powerbeats Pro than a different brand?

For me, it is the H1 chip that Apple has developed in-house. With this chip, pairing the device for the first time seems like magic. When you open up the lid, the Powerbeats Pro will appear on any device you have with you that has an active screen (either an iOS, iPadOS or MacOS device). The chip also makes it much quicker to re-pair the Powerbeats Pro to whatever bluetooth device it is registered to. Also, the H1 chip makes the connection between the earpiece and, say an iPhone, much more stable: music does not easily cut off over an extended distance, call quality sounds better for both parties, though i noticed that I need to pump the volume up for voice calls, and there is no lag between the left and the right units. Trust me, if there is a lag between the left and the right earpiece, it can get really, really disconcerting… (Have you ever watched something where the movement of the mouth of the actors is not in sync to the sound you are hearing? It “is” that annoying!)

So, if you have ears that seem to hate AirPods, if you have the extra cash, and if you don’t mind carrying a huge charging case, then the Powerbeats Pro might be for you!

The Powerbeats Pro is Highly Recommended!

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