AirPods Pro users complain that an update has ruined the best feature on the device

AirPods Pro users complain that an update has ruined the best feature on the device
The latest firmware update sent to the AirPods Pro wireless Bluetooth earbuds might have done more harm than good. Some owners of the device have complained on Reddit (via The Verge) that the Active Noise Cancellation feature on the accessory is no longer working as well as it did before the update, known as 2C54, was disseminated. The Active Noise Cancellation is designed to remove unwanted sounds by adding a second sound that cancels out the first one.

The AirPods Pro launched in October and right away users were impressed by how well the Active Noise Cancellation worked. One post from a Reddit user said, "I'm in a plane now and put them in. The very first time I wore them I was in a plane and thought "crap. Plane died. Not going anywhere", forgetting about the ANC feature. This time, I can still hear the airflow/humming. Hope they fix it as it was spooky and great how well it killed (continuous) background noise."

AirPods Pro users could tell the difference once ANC stopped working as well as it once did


Apple did pull the 2C54 firmware update for unknown reasons, although some AirPods Pro users claim that their problem with the feature started with the 2B588 firmware update that was disseminated in November. These updates are pushed out to AirPods Pro users without any notifications and are done in the background; the AirPods owner has no way to initiate or reject the updating process. Plugging the charging cable into the AirPods carrying case near an iPhone will initiate an update. Once the new firmware is installed, the latest version number will appear in the settings menu.


The interesting thing is how AirPods Pro users quickly discovered that something was not right with the ANC. Check out these posts from Reddit subscribers Wavelen and danemacmillan respectively: "Good to know that I did not just imagine that the NC worsened. I hope that they release a fix soon," and "Yeah, I was thinking the same. I’m on the metro every day, and the ambient noise was much more noticeable recently." We should point out that not all users have noticed a change to the Active Noise Cancellation feature recently.

It appears that customers of other manufacturers' headphones have also complained about a software update negatively impacting noise cancellation. So many Bose QuietComfort 35 II users have complained about an update that has lessened the effectiveness of noise cancellation on the accessory. As a result, Bose is reportedly making house calls to visit some of the people who purchased the product in an effort to find out what happened. Some owners of the Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones took to Reddit to complain that a firmware update has reduced the effectiveness of Active Noise Cancellation by up to 40% on the model.

The ANC on the AirPods Pro has two settings, on and off. Other manufacturers allow the user to change the strength of the noise cancellation but Apple does not do this to the chagrin of several users. Some wonder whether the reduction in the effectiveness of the feature might have been done on purpose by Apple since there are no controls that take ANC down a notch. That seems to be unlikely. Those who need to hear something from the outside world while wearing the device can press the force sensor to switch between Active Noise Cancellation and Transparency mode. The latter will allow outside sounds in so that the user will be able to hear what is going on around him. For example, imagine someone wearing the AirPods Pro at the airport sitting by the gate; with Transparency mode enabled, he or she won't miss the boarding announcement for the plane.

Apple's fastest-growing unit happens to be the Wearables, Home and Accessories division that includes two of the company's red hot selling products. That would be the Apple Watch and the AirPods. For the fiscal fourth quarter covering July through September, that group took in $6.52 billion up 54% year-over-year.

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13 Comments

8. cmdacos

Posts: 4411; Member since: Nov 01, 2016

Get Jabras. Best all around buds for the price.

7. darkkjedii

Posts: 31796; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

In the gym Friday, mine kept disconnecting when the timer on my watch reached zero, and started vibrating. I wonder if that due to the latest update. The first pair I had didn’t do that.

2. Derekjeter

Posts: 1580; Member since: Oct 27, 2011

These things still fall of my ear and the sound is not really there. I returned them and just kept my Sony’s. Those are the best ear buds ever. Better sound, better ANC and they stay in my ear. Not to mention the app.

3. Mreveryphone

Posts: 1882; Member since: Apr 22, 2014

But how is taking phone calls on the Sony's? When I have my pro's in people can't tell that I'm on a Bluetooth and that's important to me as I use them mainly for calls. Are the Sony's that good on calls?

4. midan

Posts: 3261; Member since: Oct 09, 2017

"Are the Sony's that good on calls?" They aren't

5. midan

Posts: 3261; Member since: Oct 09, 2017

https://www.tomsguide.com/face-off/apple-airpods-pro-vs-sony-wf-1000xm3https://www.tomsguide.com/face-off/apple-airpods-pro-vs-sony-wf-1000xm3 "Call quality and digital assistant Great call quality has remained a hallmark for the AirPods, and it’s even better on the third-gen version. Apple’s noise-cancelling mics allow you to hear calls loud and clear by minimizing background fracas. The tight seal created by the tips improves clarity, preventing outside noises from seeping into your ears during wireless chats. Wind resistance is where the AirPods Pro really shine; I screened calls in drafty conditions without any interference. With such great noise cancellation technology, one would figure the WF-1000xM3 to be a great calling headset. Lower your expectations, drastically. The several callers I spoke with complained about my voice dropping every few seconds, along with some muffling on my end when chatting in high-volume areas. Something else you might encounter is the mic randomly muting when picking up calls, though the latest firmware update seemed to fix that problem."

9. wickedwilly

Posts: 785; Member since: Sep 19, 2018

I find it ironic that Apple fans such as yourself tried so hard to defend the lack of seal, features and poor fit as well as dire sound quality on the previous Airpods, yet now are touting the benefits of these, as Apple yet again follows others way late. Call quality is good on the Airpods, but that is not the primary use for the majority of people. You are just trying to divert away from this major problem and excuse Apple for an update that has yet again seriously reduced the user experience.

12. mackan84

Posts: 708; Member since: Feb 13, 2014

“ Call quality is good on the Airpods, but that is not the primary use for the majority of people.” I don’t think sound quality is why most people buy AirPods either. It’s the simplicity and brand, majority of people isn’t audiophiles. Then I think memes and s****y knock offs from China gave them a push to where people saw that they needed to pay for quality. I listen to maybe 20 hours of podcasts before I’ve gone through an 1 hour of music. Never any tests on which buds play speech the best :)

13. wickedwilly

Posts: 785; Member since: Sep 19, 2018

I agree most people that buy wireless in-ears are not looking for audiophile levels of sound, but they do buy them to listen to music and as you say podcasts, much more than for making and receiving calls. My point to Midan was that he and many others were playing down the importance of noise reduction and fit (and even the need for these) both by a good seal and noise-cancelling, when Airpods did not have these features. Now they are saying how great they as Apple has followed the trend set by others. There is not so much need for testing sound on podcasts, consistency of connection and noise isolation qualities are important here. Most headphones are perfectly good for this purpose. Music is a different matter, where tone, dynamic range, distortion and many other factors come into play.

14. mackan84

Posts: 708; Member since: Feb 13, 2014

Still when you have these nice new wireless in-ears there is nothing more annoying then receiving a call and the other end keeps asking you to repeat yourself. I know that from experience. But that’s not gonna keep anyone from seeing that as a key feature when buying these. Noise reduction and fit is important.

15. midan

Posts: 3261; Member since: Oct 09, 2017

"My point to Midan was that he and many others were playing down the importance of noise reduction and fit (and even the need for these) both by a good seal and noise-cancelling, when Airpods did not have these features" No i have never said these things. So stop putting words to my mouth. I don't even own AirPods and don't expect owning in near future either. Almost only thing i've said about AirPods are the fact that the sound is good enough for most. If people already use wired EarPods which well most do, they are happy to know their AirPods sounds as good as their old one and now the Pro version sounds even better.

16. wickedwilly

Posts: 785; Member since: Sep 19, 2018

You and many others did so, I had many debates on this issue and remember them well. This is the problem many Apple apologists have, they conveniently forget that they vehemently argued that features not on iPhones were gimmicks or not required, then like magic change their minds when Apple adds these. If you have not owned Airpods or the Sony's, how can you say you so emphatically the features are so good on one and terrible on the other. I have not heard calls on the Sony so cannot comment, music and noise-cancelling are better though. What I can say the music quality and fit on all the older Airpods was poor from experience, while I was using headphones that cost less, fitted just as well as the new Airpods do and sounded way better and calls were perfectly adequate. Comparing old Airpods to new and coming to the conclusion they sound great when the older ones had such a poor level does not mean anything.

11. Alcyone

Posts: 642; Member since: May 10, 2018

Its a new feature, and others have started to copy.

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