Apple says old and new AirPods Pro tips are incompatible due to mesh density

A close-up image comparing the ear tips of Apple's original AirPods Pro and the second-generation model released in 2022.
The original AirPods Pro tips (left) have a denser mesh than the new second-generation tips (right). | Photo by Chris Welch/MovieBeat

In my review of the new 2nd generation AirPods Pro, I pointed out that the inner mesh/filter of the ear tips are slightly different from those belonging to the original headphones. Ultimately, that’s part of why Apple advises against using first-gen tips on the new model and vice versa. As MacRumors noticed, the company has updated its AirPods Pro ear tips support page with a new section stating that “the ear tips have been designed specifically for their AirPods Pro generation, to provide the highest audio experience loyalty”.

“Therefore, use the ear tips that come with your AirPods Pro. The AirPods Pro (1st Generation) Ear Tips have a noticeably denser mesh than the AirPods Pro (2nd Generation) Ear Tips,” Apple’s support site says.

Could a looser mesh pattern really make a difference in sound quality? If it is there, it is extremely subtle. Swapping between first- and second-gen tips on the latest AirPods Pro, I didn’t notice any immediate or obvious sound changes. Noise cancellation also remained equally effective with both pairs. Maybe lab test equipment can reveal differences between eartips, but your ears will probably have a harder time doing so.

When I used an old eartip in one ear and a new one in the other – a situation where acoustic differences should be most obvious – the music sounded normal and balanced again.

Apple’s decision to redesign the mesh of the ear tips may have benefited Adaptive EQ, the always-on feature that continuously analyzes the fit, seal, and sound performance of AirPods Pro using the built-in mics. . The adaptive equalizer optimizes audio output and noise cancellation in real time. It is possible that for each AirPods Pro model, Adaptive EQ is set to expect the factory default mesh density.

Apple needs to think Something is different enough to warrant selling the old and new tips separately instead of completely upgrading to the new version for all replacements. The company isn’t making more money from the new ones: the price remains $7.99 for two sets of replacement ear tips for either generation.

Either way, despite Apple’s encouragement to keep the correct ear tips for the new AirPods Pro, you won’t notice any major issues if you need to upgrade to a backup set of your old pair. They fit perfectly; the same goes for the aftermarket foam tips that some people might have purchased for the original AirPods Pro. The ear tip connector on the headphones is the same, although much of what’s inside the latest AirPods has been upgraded and improved.

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