We’re going to compare the two hottest wireless earbuds for 2019: the Apple AirPods Pro and the Echo Buds from Amazon.
Both of these earbuds are amazing Bluetooth 5 wireless earbuds.
But they pack a lot of cool new features that make them stand out from the crowd.
Let’s see how these two products compare.
This is Apple AirPods versus Echo Buds – round 1.
First, let’s take a close look at our two contestants.
We’ll look at the Echo Buds first, because they are cheaper.
- Immersive sound – Premium speaker drivers deliver crisp, dynamic audio. Bose Active Noise Reduction Technology and sealed in-ear design limits background noise.
- Hands-free with Alexa – Echo Buds work with the Alexa app to stream music, play Audible audiobooks, make calls, or get directions—just ask.
- Access other assistants – Supports access to Siri or Google Assistant from a supported device—just press and hold your earbud.
- Long-lasting battery – Get up to 5 hrs music playback per charge, up to 2 hrs with a 15-min quick charge, and up to 20 hrs with the charging case.
- Customizable fit for better sound – 3 sizes of ear tips help form a comfortable in-ear seal for immersive listening.
Amazon took careful note of the runaway success of the original Apple AirPods, and came up with their own competitor.
These are a great little set of wireless earbuds.
They are Bluetooth 5 compatible and will work well with both Android devices and Apple iOS.
Perhaps best of all – they are aggressively priced.
But Amazon didn’t cheap out on the spec sheet – these neat little earbuds will give the AirPods Pro a run for their money.
Apple AirPods Pro
The Apple AirPods started the wireless earbud revolution.
Apple didn’t invent the wireless earbud – but they shook up the market place with what was , at the time, and unrivaled ease of use.
They combined this with a convenient charging case that doubled as a protective carry case, and really hit the mark.
- Active noise cancellation for immersive sound
- Transparency mode for hearing and connecting with the world around you
- Three sizes of soft, tapered silicone tips for a customizable fit
- Sweat and water resistant
- Adaptive EQ automatically tunes music to the shape of your ear
What’s new with the AirPods Pro?
If you used the original Apple AirPods, you’ll know they didn’t really have any sort of noise cancellation – active or passive.
That’s all changed with the AirPods Pro.
These use a silicone tip to provide a tight seal in your ear canal (with a choice of three different ear tip sizes.)
But, then they add Active Noise Cancellation.
This uses the microphones of the earbud to block out unwanted sounds – by broadcasting a sound that can “cancel out” the unwanted noise!
(If this all sounds magical – it really is – just wait until you try a pair.
Let the fight begin!
Both devices use a typical earbud design.
The Apple AirPods Pro continue to use the longer “stem” design.
At first, this looked a bit odd. But now, everyone is used to it.
I do feel like it helps to ensure the earbuds stay in place – and it gives you more surface area to put the buds in place.
You’ll notice as well that Apple now relies on ear tips to provide a tight seal in your ear canal. This is very different from the original AirPods.
(We’ll explain more on that shortly.)
The Echo Buds, on the other hand, use a more traditional “bud” design.
Perhaps as a side effect, the Echo Buds use both ear tips and wing tips to keep the bud in place.
It’s also amazing that they seem to have equaled the Apple’s battery capacity in what looks to be as slightly smaller physical package.
Both devices play an important role – they’ve got to be able to work with music, movies, videos, and more.
But, they also need to work well for conference calls and phone calls.
To do this, they are using premium “drivers” (aka speakers) in the earbuds.
This is combined with the passive noise cancellation of those tight fitting ear tips to provide good sound.
These probably won’t sound as good as an “over the ear” headphone – because that can accommodate a much, much bigger driver.
But, earbuds are a lot more convenient to use.
Let’s talk about those little tiny speakers – oops, I mean “drivers”.
The Echo Buds use “Knowles dual balanced armature drivers.”
The AirPods Pro uses “custom-built high-excursion, low-distortion drivers.”
The AirPods Pro also claim to use an adaptive EQ (equalizer) system to ensure the best sound at all times – and under all conditions.
We can’t say for sure how these two stack up – until we have our hands on the review models – which we will shortly.
The other challenge of an earbud – it’s got to work for phone calls and conference calls.
And the sound quality is one aspect of that, but the other is the microphone.
Both devices use “beamforming” microphones to reduce unwanted noise.
The AirPods Pro use dual beamforming microphones.
The Echo Buds use 3 per earbud: 2 external beamforming microphones and 1 internal microphone.
Why are so many microphones needed?
A beamforming microphone setup must have multiple mics.Combined with computer processing, it can then be more sensitive to sound coming from a certain direction (your mouth) as opposed to sound coming from elsewhere – like your noisy office mates.
That’s why so many mics are needed.
These many microphones provide another important function too, and we’ll talk about that next.
Active Noise Cancellation
The best speaker in the world is no good if you can’t hear it.
And unwanted background noise has always been a challenge with earbuds.
Unlike an “over the ear” headphone – you can’t have a pristine environment thanks to lots of noise blocking foam.
But, as we discussed earlier, these earbuds use tight fitting silicone ear tips to seal your ear canal shut – so you are only (or mostly) are hearing the sound from the tiny driver.
But that seal isn’t perfect – some unwanted noise is going to get through.
That’s where Active Noise Cancellation (or Active Noise Reduction) comes into play.
Those super-fast chips in these earbuds use the outward facing microphones to pick up unwanted sound from the background.
The chip can then play a sound wave that in effect will “cancel out” the unwanted noise.
When done right, it’s quite magical – as anyone who has taken a long distance flight with noise canceling headphones will tell you.
How well will this work in this new earbud form factor?
We don’t know just yet – but we will soon – and we’ll provide the results here.
The Echo Buds are using Active Noise Reduction technology from Bose – so we’re expecting good things.
But, with Apple’s H1 chip in the AirPods Pro – we’re sure they’ve done their homework as well.
A wireless earbud with no battery life is no fun.
Both these earbuds have really good battery life.
And both have a charging case too – you use that to protect the earbuds when not in use, but also to charge them.
Here’s one big difference between the two – the charging case for the Echo Buds is HUGE compared to the AirPods Pro.
It’s really too big for pocket carry – in my opinion.
The AirPods Pro have a charging case that is just slightly larger than that of the original AirPods.
The AirPods Pro will work seamlessly with the Apple ecosystem – your watch, iPhone, iPad, and Mac.
The Echo Buds will probably work with a wider range of devices – but won’t be as tightly integrated.
Apple AirPods Pro will work with the Siri digital assistant, while Echo Buds will utilize Amazon’s Alexa service.
We’ll have hands on testing results soon to let you know who the champ is.
Both are IPX4 rated.
IPX4 is the Ingress Protecting Rating.
The “4” means these are resistant to liquid (water) that is splashed on the ear bud from any angle.
This means these are sweat resistant, and probably light rain resistant too.
Please note this applies to the EARBUDS only – not the charging case.
Do not get the charging case wet in any way.
Secondly, if you drop these in the water, they aren’t going to survive that. That requires a much higher IP rating.
AirPods Pro vs Echo Buds – In Summary
Given their high quality and seamless integration with all things Mac and Apple – the AirPods Pro are probably a no-brainer for those in the Apple ecosystem.
Apple has given us a major boost in the features of the AirPod line.
The only real question – can you handle the price tag?
As a less expensive option, the Echo Buds are a great choice for Apple users, but won’t have quite the level of integration.
The Echo Buds are a very solid choice for Android users.
Last update on 2020-01-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API