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AirPods Pro merit the extra C-note

Apple’s new AirPods Pro are almost as good as they are expensive.

The $250 earbuds so thoroughly embarrass their predecessors that after just over 24 hours with them, this reporter can’t imagine ever going back — if it weren’t for that pesky price tag.

The AirPods Pro, which now feature noise-canceling and a compact, silicone earbud design, pit delight for your ears against despair for your wallet. The decision to purchase them will come down to your audio needs — and your budget.

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If you are just looking for a convenient pair of buds to pop in your ears on a commute to work and don’t care too much about anti-noise and audio specs, you might want to save $100 by perusing wireless headphone options like Samsung’s Galaxy Buds or Amazon’s Echo Buds.

Or, if you’re a big spender, for just a little more money, you could buy high-quality, noise-canceling over-ear headphones, such as the recently released Beats Solo Pros from Apple, which cost $299.

But over-the-ear headphones are clunky. So if you’re highly conscious of the quality of sound you pipe into your ears but want the convenience of ear buds — and have $250 burning a hole in your pocket — the AirPods Pro might be for you.

Because boy, are these good.

I was skeptical of how good the noise-canceling function could be, but was impressed from the moment I turned them on. They reduced the din of the busy Union Square N/Q/R/W platform to a mere whisper, and eliminated everything but my music and podcasts once I was in the train car.

The headphones also feature a “transparency” mode, which utilizes their microphone to allow in ambient sound, which helps when you need to be aware of your surroundings.

I tested the feature out by toggling it to listen to announcements on the subway, and found that they let in a natural-sounding amount of sound compared to other headphones with similar features that amplify it too much.

The AirPods Pro come with three different sizes of silicone tips, and the software conducts a fit test to tell you which size is best. My AirPods, however, told me that the small, medium and large sizes tips were a good fit, so the jury is still out on how accurate this feature is.

Gone is the ridiculously long stem that the original AirPods were first mocked and later recognized for. In its place is a still slightly ridiculous but much more subtle stem that houses the physical controls for the headphones.

The stem is so short, in fact, that I found myself opting to control my playback with my phone for fear that I would accidentally pull the earbuds from my ear.

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But beyond that risk, the AirPods Pro sit snugly in my ears. I took them for a sweat-soaked run to test the fit and didn’t have to adjust them once.

The main issue with the design is that the AirPods are tricky to take out of their carrying case — which, by the way, now features wireless charging. I found it annoyingly difficult to get a good grip on the buds in their case, and would hesitate to whip them out anywhere near a subway platform or somewhere they could fall out of my reach.

As for the sound, the AirPods Pro pack a punch. Apple says that each earbud adjusts the sound 200 times a second to optimize playback, and the results are noticeable. These headphones have a punchy bass for their size, and highs and mids come through much better than their cheaper siblings.

If you don’t mind shelling out for your earbuds, you can’t go wrong with these.

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