AirPods Pro 2 contain a number of improvements over their predecessors, many of which are made possible by the new H2 chip inside. New testing by Steven Coyle, musician and software engineer, has revealed another hidden benefit of the new AirPods Pro 2 and the H2 chip: a significant reduction in latency.
One of the disadvantages of Bluetooth (and wireless technology in general) has always been latency. This is the time between the appearance of a sound on your device and the playback of that sound through your AirPods. This isn't an issue for things like video playback where the video can be delayed a bit to ensure the audio lines up properly.
However, latency becomes a problem due to what Coyle previously called “unpredictable” sounds like notifications, sound effects, keyboard clicks, sound editing and more.
The original AirPods Pro offered a significant improvement in latency over the original AirPods. The latest generation AirPods Pro 2 go even further. The testing methodology that Coyle uses consists of the following:
I basically follow the same testing methodology as before; I connect my AirPods to my iPad Pro and touch the Apple Pencil screen. I use an audio recorder to record the sound of physical tapping and the resulting sound, and then measure the time between these sounds. One difference from the previous tests is that I chose to measure only key press delay.
In the chart above, you can track the progress Apple has made in reducing AirPods latency over the past few years. According to Coyle, the AirPods Pro 2 are “about 40ms better than their predecessors, with an average latency of 126ms versus the original's 167ms.”
Perhaps more interesting to note is that the second generation AirPods Pro are only 43ms slower. than the built-in speakers (at 83 ms). This suggests that up to two-thirds of the time between touching the screen and listening to noise occurs before the Bluetooth data leaves the device.
Ultimately, Coyle concludes that he still believes there is “too much latency for audio feedback to feel fast and responsive.” with the AirPods Pro 2. But with that said, perhaps there are further improvements that can be made on the side of the device rather than the AirPods themselves.
You can see Coyle's full testing details on his website.