The third generation of wireless headphones from Apple brings a renewed design and support for surround sound.
Apple AirPods 3rd generation are excellent headphones and the best AirPods that Apple has ever made ( AirPody Pro are a separate category ). This is not surprising, as each new generation should bring some improvements. In the case of the 3rd generation, these improvements are a total of three – redesigned design, improved sound reproduction and surround sound support.
The redesigned design of the 3rd generation AirPods is heavily inspired by the AirPods Pro headphones. Personally, I like and appreciate the more compact processing of the headphones themselves and also the new possibilities in terms of their control . The 3rd generation AirPods measure 30.79 × 18.26 × 19.21 mm and weigh 4.28 grams. For comparison, the previous generation had dimensions of 40.5 × 16.5 × 18 mm and a weight of 4 grams. You probably won’t realize the difference in weight, but the 1 cm lower height of the new headphones is visible at first glance.
Item Weight: 0.141 ounces
Connectivity Technology: Wireless, Apple H1 Chip
Battery life (listening time on one charge): Up to 6 hours of listening time
Weight: AirPods (each): 0.15 ounce (4.28 g), Magsafe Charging Case: 1.34 ounces (37.91 g)
Product Dimensions: 0.76 x 0.72 x 1.21 inches; 0.14 Ounces
Battery life (listening time with charging case): More than 30-hours
Sensors (each): Dual beamforming Inward-facing microphones, Skin-detect sensor
Batteries: 1 Lithium ion batteries
They are operated as AirPods Pro
The charging case has practically identical dimensions – it has a smaller height ( 46.4 vs. 53.5 mm ), but it is wider ( 54.4 vs. 44.3 mm ). Regardless, the case is compact enough and carries well in a small trouser pocket next to the right main pocket. By the way, did you know that this pocket was originally designed to carry a watch? The fact is that 3rd generation AirPods have one of the best cases when it comes to optimizing its size for this pocket.
The new headphone control options are identical to the AirPod Pro controls and are based on a very similar design. This means that one press starts / pauses playback, resp. you answer the call. Press the headphones twice to skip to the next song, press three times to return to the previous song. Unfortunately, the volume of the headphones cannot be changed directly through the headphones . In combination with Apple products, it is possible to activate Siri and change the volume in this way, but it is not very convenient. One more important note in this regard – you can use AirPods with any device with Bluetooth connectivity, but you will only use their full potential in combination with Apple products . So if you’re just looking for Android and / or Windows headphones, don’t buy an AirPods. A specific case is the use of Apple Music on an Android phone.
With support for Dolby Atmos
The key improvement of AirPodov is to support Dolby Atmos surround sound . You can use this function when you pair the headphones with iPhone, iPad, Mac and other Apple products. Dolby Atmos also works in Netflix and also in the Apple Music service (the combination of AirPods + Apple Music + Dolby Atmos can also be used in the case of the Android version of this service ). Dolby Atmos also supports Tidal and Deezer, but I didn’t use them while testing the headphones.
Dolby Atmos does not need to be introduced. It is a surround sound technology that enhances the audio experience of watching movies, series and other videos that support this audio format. However, what is key to mention, Dolby Atmos is also available for music – songs and entire albums. And I have to admit that the result exceeded my expectations.
I’ve experimented with surround sound and music in the past, but I’ve always turned this feature off. The reason was the generic use of surround sound , which was not optimized for specific songs and could have had a rather negative impact on the overall experience.
However, Dolby Atmos works differently in music. Each song that is optimized for Dolby Atmos is specially adapted and uses up to 128 available channels available to music creators. By comparison, in the case of the stereo format, which is now considered the standard, only two channels are available. In practice, this means that if the song is well optimized for Dolby Atmos, the listening experience can be significantly better compared to stereo reproduction . However, you need to have optimal conditions for listening to music, which in the case of 3rd Generation AirPods means that you are in an environment with minimal ambient noise.
Still without active soundproofing
Even the new AirPods do not offer an active soundproofing function , which is rare in the case of headphone headphones. However, Huawei FreeBuds 4 offers it and in some cases it is useful. Of course, in terms of soundproofing ( whether passive or active ), the headphone ( AirPods 3 ) and the headphone ( AirPods Pro ) headphones cannot be compared. Each of these designs has its advantages and disadvantages .
If you use the 3rd generation AirPods in an environment with minimal ambient noise, the headphone experience is virtually identical to the AirPods Pro and, in a word, excellent. You will fully enjoy the excellent sound reproduction, which is better and richer in detail compared to the 2nd generation . 3rd generation AirPods have good bass and treble delivery, and you can use their full potential when listening to Dolby Atmos music. Yes, I know, I repeat. However, Dolby Atmos is a technology that can finally take listening to music to a new level after many years . Stereo reproduction has been with us for several decades and we are still waiting for its successor. And I believe that Dolby Atmos will represent the new generation. We’ll see in a few years.
Dolby Atmos is the future of listening to music
The main advantage of listening to Dolby Atmos music (of course in combination with compatible headphones such as AirPods 3 ) lies in its more detailed presentation . Individual tracks, such as vocals and various musical instruments, are distributed in separate channels.
In practice, this means that the performance of songs is more detailed, and if you listen to music really carefully, you can more easily listen to specific musical instruments and at the same time perceive their placement in space . It’s a great experience, but it’s important to say that listening like this is more challenging compared to just doing something like a smudge.
The 3rd generation AirPody, in combination with another Apple device, supports stereo / surround sound / head-tracking surround sound modes . When Dolby Atmos content is available, surround sound is optimized. Otherwise, it is artificially created from a stereo track – but it does not offer optimization of individual tracks for surround sound, which in some cases can negatively affect the listening experience.
Personally, I used surround sound when listening to music only in combination with Dolby Atmos content. It’s easy to find in Apple Music – just type Dolby Atmos into the search box, and the Surround Music section will appear in the results, with albums, playlists, and other content that is optimized for surround sound. So if you buy an AirPody 3 or other Dolby Atmos-enabled headphones in the Apple world, I recommend that you subscribe to Apple Music or activate a trial membership . It’s really worth a try.
IPX4 resistance and endurance up to 6, resp. 30 hours
I would add that the surround and head-tracking modes differ in such a way that, in the latter case, the surround performance of the songs adapts to how you move your head . So you can turn it towards or away from the singer.
You can also use the 3rd generation AirPods in combination with other devices and services . I also used the headphones with a Garmin Venu 2 watch, in which case stereo music reproduction is available without the option of activating virtual surround sound. The same is true for Windows computers.
And although you can also use AirPods for phone and video conferencing purposes, I don’t recommend them for voice and video calls in combination with a Windows computer . However, in the world of the Apple ecosystem, call quality is excellent.
The headphones have water resistance at the level of IPX4 , which means resistance to sweat. I trained and ran with the headphones during testing, they held my ears well and stably. At the same time, they provided excellent comfort, even during longer wear. Battery life reaches up to 6 hours on a single charge, respectively. 30 hours in combination with charging case. It can be charged wirelessly ( MagSafe compatibility is available ) or via the Lightning port. It’s a pity that a version without wireless charging support is not available at a lower price. 3rd generation AirPods sell for 199 euros.
3rd generation AirPods are excellent headphones . Compared to their predecessors, they bring a renewed design, better sound reproduction and, above all, support for the Dolby Atmos surround format . It brings a surprisingly great music listening experience – but you’ll need an Apple Music subscription.
It’s hard to complain about the new AirPod. Maybe it’s just that you can’t control the volume directly through the headphones . As for other possible shortcomings, they are debatable. It is assumed that you will buy them for the iPhone, so charging via the Lightning port will not be a limitation for you. And the absence of active soundproofing is also debatable – although competition offers this feature , I don’t see it as a necessity with this headphone design. Objectively, it can sometimes be useful, even though it is far from soundproofing. But this is due to the design of the headphones themselves.
We like it
✓ Redesigned design
✓ Excellent reproduction quality
✓ Support for Dolby Atmos
✓Dol Listening to Dolby Atmos music is a great experience
✓ Comfortable to wear even for a long time
✓ Good battery life
✓ Reliable switching between multiple devices
✓ Resistance to sweat, so they are also suitable for exercise
We don’t like it
✕ Inability to adjust the volume directly through the headphones
✕ I do not recommend them for audio and video calls via a Windows computer
✕ They do not have active soundproofing ✕ Limited offer and support for Dolby Atmos music