Old & New AirPods Pro Ear Tips: Incompatible due to mesh density

The company has updated its support page on AirPods Pro ear tips with a new section that says, “ear tips have been designed specifically for their AirPods Pro generation, to deliver the highest-fidelity audio experience.”

The inner mesh/filter of the ear tips is slightly different than those belonging to the original earbuds. As it turns out, that’s part of why Apple advises against using first-gen tips on the new model and vice versa.

“As a result, use the ear tips with your AirPods Pro. AirPods Pro (1st generation) ear tips have noticeably denser mesh than AirPods Pro (2nd generation) ear tips,” Apple’s support site reads.

Could a looser mesh pattern make any difference to sound quality? If it’s there, it’s incredibly subtle. Swapping back and forth between the first- and second-gen tips on the latest AirPods Pro, I didn’t notice any immediate or obvious sound changes. Noise cancellation also remained just as effective with both pairs. Maybe lab testing equipment can reveal some differences between the tips, but your ears will probably have a more challenging time.

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

Apple’s decision to redesign the ear tip mesh might have been for the benefit of Adaptive EQ. This always-on feature constantly analyzes the fit, seal, and sound performance of the AirPods Pro by using the built-in mics. Adaptive EQ optimizes audio output and noise cancellation in real-time. It’s possible that for each model of AirPods Pro, Adaptive EQ is tuned to expect the default factory mesh density.

Apple must think something is different enough to warrant selling the old and new tips separately instead of entirely switching to the latest version for all replacements. But, unfortunately, the company isn’t making more money from the new ones: the price remains $7.99 for two sets of replacement tips for either generation.

Whatever the case, despite Apple’s encouragement to stick with the right ear tips for the new AirPods Pro, you won’t notice any significant issues should you need to switch to a backup set from your old pair. They fit perfectly; the same goes for aftermarket foam tips that some people might’ve purchased for the original AirPods Pro. The ear tip connector on the earbuds is the same. If much of what’s inside the latest AirPods has been upgraded and improved.

Except for the AirPods Max, all of the AirPods in Apple’s current lineup are in-ear, true wireless earbuds. Compared to the second-gen AirPods, the third-gen model and both generations of the AirPods Pro deliver shorter stems that are a little heavier and broader if comfortable fit concerns a lot, glance to the first and second-gen AirPods Pro. The latter also features replaceable silicone ear tips in various sizes, though only the second-gen AirPods Pro sport the extra-small sizing.

Apple markets two cases with its earbuds. It has a wired charging case that charges thru a standard Lightning cable and a MagSafe-compatible model that can also assess via Lightning. The MagSafe charging cases are consistent with Apple’s MagSafe technology and additional Qi-compatible wireless chargers.

However, Apple only vends the second-gen AirPods with the Lightning Charging Case, which only offers your AirPods up to 24 hours of the listening period instead of the 30 hours the other cases deliver. In addition, unlike the other charging cases in the AirPods lineup, Apple’s Lighting Charging Case isn’t sweated- or water-resistant.