Wireless latency is always a concern with any headphones or earbuds that use Bluetooth, but a new report points out that AirPods Pro 2 are way better than the generation they replace. But they still aren’t quite good enough.
Musician and developer Stephen Coyle has tested the latency of the first-gen AirPods, AirPods 2, AirPods Pro, and AirPods Pro 2 to see how well all of them handle latency. It turns out Apple’s latest earbuds are pretty great, but they’re still some way off being usable by people who need an instant response to things happening on-screen.
Sounds good, but not good enough
Coyle ran some tests by tapping the iPad Pro’s screen with an Apple Pencil and measuring the time it took for earbuds to play a sound. The results showed that the iPad Pro’s onboard speaker took 83ms to play the sound, giving us a baseline from which to work.
From there, the AirPods 1 took 296ms, and the AirPods Pro 167ms. The AirPods 2 were quicker at 153ms, with AirPods Pro winning the day with 126ms. That’s a notable improvement over the original AirPods Pro but a little off the baseline. “Perhaps a more interesting point to note is that the second-generation AirPods Pro perform only 43ms worse than the built-in speakers,” Coyle says.
However, as impressive as that might be, it isn’t good enough. Coyle says that “there’s still too much latency for audio feedback to feel snappy and responsive,” meaning some use cases still need wired headphones. Those are likely to be professional audio mixers and podcasters, but for everyone else, there’s a good chance that AirPods Pro 2 will be good enough for most things, if not all.