Technology

The quietest headphones ever?

THE sound of silence is uncommon at 37,000 feet — but not with the right headphones.

I’ve tested Apple’s AirPods Pro and AirPods Max while flying across the Atlantic (and back) and I’ve rarely felt so comfortable.

The AirPods Pro and AirPods Max are Apple's top-end headphones

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The AirPods Pro and AirPods Max are Apple’s top-end headphonesCredit: apple
The AirPods Pro delivered silence at 37,000 feet

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The AirPods Pro delivered silence at 37,000 feetPhoto credit: The Sun / Sean Keach

Both models come with active noise cancellation (unlike the regular $179/£169 AirPods).

The whole point of noise cancellation is to cut out ambient noise.

And there’s plenty of that on an airplane…

Noise cancellation uses microphones to detect background noise.

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For example, the AirPods Pro ($219/£189) come with dual microphones.

One of these is used to then create an equivalent anti-noise that cancels out the background sound before it reaches your ear.

A second microphone listens towards the ear and cancels out any remaining noise.

According to Apple, this noise-canceling system continuously adjusts the sound signal 200 times per second.

The AirPods Pro were very impressive due to their small size onboard my Virgin Atlantic return flight from NYC.

You get different silicone tips for maximum fit (which allow for passive noise cancellation), and the active noise cancellation really helps.

It’s very easy to tune out the murmur of conversations and muffle the endless hum of the plane and its various systems.

There’s also a transparency mode that’s activated quickly with a long press, so you can hear important announcements or questions from the flight attendants.

The AirPods Max were even better – and so they should be priced at $499/£549.

I already wrote about their impressive sound in my AirPods Max review.

But the noise-cancellation was absolutely brilliant during flight.

Importantly, the fit was very comfortable over long periods of time. I occasionally struggle with over-ear headphones, especially since they can press into my glasses – but the Max fit perfectly.

This secure fit meant that I could barely hear any sounds around me.

And when you’re being whirled away at 900 km/h in an Airbus A350-1000, it’s nice to feel relaxed.

It certainly helped that I (very fortunately) flew in the upper class thanks to some spare seats in the posh cabin.

Beach chairs, blankets, and Apple’s wonderful noise-cancelling technology transported me to the serenity of podcasts about murder and heavy metal music. Well, still serenity for me.

There’s even an odd pleasure in wearing the AirPods and not hearing anything at all.

It made it very easy to get some work done just by turning off noise and enjoying the sound of silence.

None of the AirPods come cheap, but good noise-cancelling headphones never are.

The AirPods Max are still really only for music enthusiasts, frequent long-distance fliers or real gadget freaks.

But the AirPods Pro are much more accessible in price – and they work great in the air, on the ground, or on the London or NYC subway.

So with a trip ahead, consider upgrading your headphone game. It’s worth it just for the peace and quiet.

The AirPods Pro have the advantage of being small and easy to carry

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The AirPods Pro have the advantage of being small and easy to carryPhoto credit: The Sun / Sean Keach
The AirPods Max are much larger and offer far better sound and noise cancellation

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The AirPods Max are much larger and offer far better sound and noise cancellationPhoto credit: The Sun / Sean Keach
A handy AirPods Max carrying case is also available

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A handy AirPods Max carrying case is also availablePhoto credit: The Sun / Sean Keach
A surprise upgrade at the gate meant I could try the AirPods to the best of my ability

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A surprise upgrade at the gate meant I could try the AirPods to the best of my abilityCredit: The Sun / Sean Keach
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https://www.the-sun.com/tech/4984569/apple-airpods-noise-cancelling-cancellation-pro-max-airplane-flight/ The quietest headphones ever?

PaulLeBlanc

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