I tried the new AirPods Pro 2 feature on a plane – it saved my hearing and sanity

Flying with the Apple AirPods Pro 2 made me realise how powerful the new Adaptive Audio feature is

Apple AirPods Pro 2 on an airplane
(Image credit: Matt Kollat/T3)

I have a love-hate relationship with flying. On the one hand, I look forward to travelling by plane because they often take me to places I wouldn't be able to get to anytime soon by any other means of transportation. On the other hand, planes are noisy, crowded people carriers, and the sooner I get off them, the better.

At least, that's how I felt until my most recent trip to the beautiful Dolomites in Italy, which provided an excellent opportunity to put the latest Apple AirPods Pro feature to the test: Adaptive Audio.

I tried many of the best noise-cancelling earbuds and headphones, but nothing ever came close to the ANC prowess of the Apple AirPods Pro 2. Those puppies can make the world around you go deadly silent instantly. Better still, you can reintroduce environmental sounds (a.k.a. Transparency mode) with an easy tap on the buds – simple!

But what if you didn't have to interact with your headphones for it to switch between different sound modes? That's exactly what Adaptive Audio is. The new feature dynamically blends the Active Noise Cancellation and Transparency modes to tailor the level of noise control for you based on the conditions in your environment.

Apple AirPods Pro 2 on an airplane

(Image credit: Matt Kollat/T3)

Nowhere was this more apparent than on the flight to Munich, with air gushing around the plane and babies screaming at the back. Even though I was watching The Sandman series on Netflix and one of my all-time fave movies on Disney+ (White Man Can't Jump) at a normal volume, I didn't hear a thing.

What you have to understand is that it wasn't just good for my hearing (see image above) but also for my mental health. Being in a loud, busy environment that you cannot leave can be an anxiety-inducing experience. Switching off from it by wearing headphones is much cheaper and more convenient than paying for a therapist.

[I appreciate anxiety is a serious condition, and I didn't mean to downplay its effects. All I'm saying is that it helps me greatly when I can get away from it all by reducing sound levels around me.]

Apple AirPods Pro 2 review

(Image credit: Matt Kollat/T3)

Anyhow, the AirPods Pro 2s have another trick up their sleeve to help you hear people around you without taking the buds out and letting in all the bad sounds. You can simply start speaking, and Conversation Awareness will lower your media volume and enhance the voices of the people in front of you, all while reducing background noise.

This nifty feature allowed me to interact with the cabin crew when I ordered my sandwiches and coffee without removing my buds. I can't stress how convenient this was for me. I'm usually a bit rattled when I get off the plane, but on this occasion, I was fine. Better than fine, actually – I was ready to take on the world! I was certainly less stressed, thanks to my AirPod Pro 2.

Matt Kollat
Section Editor | Active

Matt Kollat is a journalist and content creator who works for T3.com and its magazine counterpart as an Active Editor. His areas of expertise include wearables, drones, fitness equipment, nutrition and outdoor gear. He joined T3 in 2019. His byline appears in several publications, including Techradar and Fit&Well, and more. Matt also collaborated with other content creators (e.g. Garage Gym Reviews) and judged many awards, such as the European Specialist Sports Nutrition Alliance's ESSNawards. When he isn't working out, running or cycling, you'll find him roaming the countryside and trying out new podcasting and content creation equipment.