The Powerbeats Pro could well be the best wireless headphones for running and the gym you can buy right now. They stick to your ears like limpets and are positively indefatigable – but while they’re great for pumping iron, can they handle heavy metal?
Intended for sports use rather than general commuting, noise cancelling is noticeable by its absence, so these true wireless in-ear headphones compensate with a comfortable, resilient fit that’ll keep them in place while you pound the pavement, or sweat buckets at your local gym (it’s OK, they’re IPX4 splash proof rated).
Beats Powerbeats Pro: Features
Overall usability is great. Both buds offer identical playback control. The Beats logo doubles as a button and there’s a rocker for volume adjustment. A sensor detects when they’re being worn. Take one out and your tunes pause automatically; return it and playback resumes. Siri users can also take voice control.
Battery life is excellent. You can expect upwards of eight hours playback, and the charging case they come in offers two additional recharges. That’s a generous amount of juice.
Set up is straight forward, and Bluetooth stability is excellent. There’s an almost invisible pairing button in the case itself. Just leave the buds in place while you connect.
The buds use Bluetooth 5, the most energy efficient, stable version of Bluetooth yet. During our audition, we experienced zero dropouts.
Beats Powerbeats Pro: Performance
Off to a good start then, but sonically these wireless buds are something of a mixed bag.
There’s appreciable detail in the highs, plus a serviceable mid-range that doesn’t kneecap overall performance. But we can’t help feeling the Powerbeats Pro should have a bit more oomph about them; they have a tendency to sound lacklustre at higher volumes.
They’re at their best with clean production. The pop punk of Some Kind of Disaster, by All Time Low (played via Spotify), gets a clean bill of health. The buds uncork all the high energy you’ll need on that exercise bike.
The Struts’ anthemic Could Have Been Me (from Everybody Wants), is equally intoxicating. Luke Spiller’s rolled R’s wrap like a velvet ribbon, while the clappy happy chorus lifts and cheers. This upper mid-range clarity also makes the Powerbeats Pro a solid choice for podcast listening.
Extreme metal is less well served, revealing obvious limitations. Counterintuitively, bass isn’t that pronounced, and the louder you listen, the more the soundstage seems to flatten.
Cattle Decapitation’s The Geocide (Death Atlas, Spotify) doesn’t erupt with the ferocity we know is in the groove. Travis Ryan’s squeaky goblin vocals survive, but his guttural chants sound thin, emaciated even. Forshame!
Still, To Hell and Back, Sabaton’s jolly jig, rocks like a good ‘un, and Angels Calling (with Apocalyptica), from Attero Dominatus, does an admirable job of bringing back the thunder.
Beats Powerbeats Pro: Comfort and accessories
This is undoubtedly where the Powerbeat Pros come into their own. Bendy ear hooks hold the headphones firmly in place.
These hooks mean the Powerbeat Pro’s have an uncanny ability to stay put, even when you’re pounding the pavement. Having confidence in your wireless sports headphones counts for a lot.
If you wear spectacles, you’ll be aware of some double parking around the earhole though.
Design wise, they look the part, coming in a choice of Black, Moss, Navy and Ivory – our sample was the latter, and very nice they looked too. Supplied with a trio of alternate silicon tips, the buds ship in a clam-shaped charging case, USB Lightning cable included.
This case is rather too big to casually pop in a pocket, which means it’ll probably end up in a bag or jacket. The headphones snap into place, thanks to the magic of magnetism.
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