Are the PowerBeats Pro noise cancelation headphones?
Best answer: The Powerbeats Pro don't feature active noise cancellation, but because they are earbuds that sit in your ear canal, they do feature noise isolation and thus will keep out some degree of external sound.Isolate the noise: Powerbeats Pro ($250 at Apple) Active noise cancelation: Sony WF-SP700N ($178 at Amazon)
Not noise cancelling, but they keep a good deal out
The Powerbeats Pro don't feature active noise cancelation, or ANC. ANC actively filters out external noise at certain frequencies and requires power to do so. On small wireless headphones and earbuds, which are already under power constraint, battery life is at a premium, so finding models with ANC is rare.
But that doesn't mean that environmental sound is going to overpower the audio coming out of your Powerbeats. Because of their nature as in-ear headphones, these earbuds provide a measure of noise isolation. They sit in the ear canal, so they provide a good deal of physical blockage for environmental noise trying to enter the ear canal. This type of noise isolation is common in earbuds like this.
Noise canceling wireless earbuds are rare, but available
As previously noted, ANC can be troublesome to fit into truly wireless earbuds due to size and power constraints, but that doesn't mean that nobody's done it. For instance, Sony's WF-SP700N (catchy name, I know) earbuds offer full active noise cancellation, are truly wireless, and are a similar size to the Powerbeats Pro. They're also cheaper, coming in at around $70 cheaper than the Powerbeats Pro's $250 price tag.
But these earbuds have their trade-offs. Despite their fairly large size, the WF-SP700N only gets around three hours per charge. The included charging case has enough power for two additional charges, letting you get up to nine hours before the case itself has to be charged. Compare that to the Powerbeats Pro buds; they get up to nine hours per charge, with a total of 24 hours with the included charging case before it needs to power-up, too.
Do you even need active noise cancelation on earbuds?
Whether you even need ANC on earbuds is a question to consider, and the answer is almost always "it depends on the earbud." While a lot of modern earbuds, including truly wireless ones, probably don't need active cancelation, some buds let in more sound than others. A lot of it depends on the seal that the eartips create when inserted into the ear. The better the seal, the better the noise isolation, the less ANC is probably needed.
As to what kind of seal the Powerbeats Pro have, we'll just have to wait until we can actually get our hands on them to find out. The earbuds will come with four tips when they launch in May 2019.
Noise isolation, but no active canceling.
The Powerbeats Pro don't feature active noise canceling, but because they are earbuds, they will isolate noise fairly well at no hit to the battery life. The buds come with four eartips so you can get a fit and seal that's right for you.
Noise cancelation, but mediocre battery life.
Sony's WF-SP700N truly wireless earbuds feature active noise cancelation, helping you enjoy your music in peace, though at the cost of battery life, which comes in at around three hours per charge.
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Joseph Keller is the former Editor in Chief of iMore. An Apple user for almost 20 years, he spends his time learning the ins and outs of iOS and macOS, always finding ways of getting the most out of his iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Mac.