Wednesday, May 6, 2020

AirPods Pro Firmware Problems

Joseph Curran (via Adam Engst):

Those first two weeks with AirPods Pro were like heaven on earth. Then came the sting in the tale and the start of this ongoing saga: a firmware update.

AirPods firmware updates happen automatically. And unlike with iOS and macOS updates, they can’t be stopped. You’re getting the update whether you like it or not.


2B588 weakened the noise cancellation, and this was quickly picked up on by many users. On Apple’s support forums, a thread was created on November 24th entitled AirPods Pro firmware 2B588 reduce the noise cancelling capability. As of today, it has an astronomical 39,000 views and runs to 37 pages.


To make matters even worse, this month (April 2020) it emerged users were being shipped replacement AirPods running an unreleased firmware version, 2D3, which rendered their product unusable due to a mismatch between the left and right pods.

Juli Clover:

Apple today released a new firmware update for the AirPods Pro, upgrading the previous firmware, version 2C54 or 2B588, to the new firmware, 2D15.


AirPods Pro firmware updates often include performance improvements, bug fixes, and feature tweaks, but we may not find out what’s new as Apple does not provide any kind of release notes for AirPods updates.

Damien Petrilli:

Latest AirPods Pro firmware doesn t fix noise cancelling. It might even be worst esp with high-pitched noises.

At this point we should be able to ask for a refund. This is not the product I purchased and updates are forces upon the user by Apple without choice.

I’m still happy with the noise cancellation on mine, though I don’t think I ever got to experience the “good” firmware.

See also: Pixel Buds versus AirPods and AirPods Pro.


5 Comments RSS · Twitter

I only got Airpods in Feb 2020, and I immediately thought that the NC is not great as it does hardly suppress voices. Even my rather cheap wireless Sony NC headphones do better, as do the wired Bose ones. It seems that Apple wants to allow voices thru on purpose, which is sensible in some cases, but in my case, I want the NC to cancel everything because I use them in trains and public places where people are always talking around me, and I want piece and quiet - and the Airpods Pro are quite disappointing for me in this regard.

How is this for others? Do you also think that you hear voices even with the Pro's NC active?

@Thomas Yes, I hear voices, but AirPods Pro seems to do better than the (cheap) wired NC ones I had before.

I'm skeptical of this noise cancellation issue simply because audiophiles have a very long track record when it comes to imagining all kinds of wild things with sound quality. I don't put much stock on someone comparing their current experience to their memory of a first impression of noise cancellation.

Of course, it's basically impossible to do a side by side comparison of Airpods running these different firmware versions. It may be true, who knows.

My own experience has been good. When I got my Pros, they had the original firmware. As the firmware has been updated, I have noticed that the occasional software glitches I first experience have been mostly fixed. I haven't noticed a change in noise cancellation. Which, again, doesn't mean it hasn't changed. But it hasn't been noticeable to me.

I find they do an excellent job of cutting out background noise at home/the gym (ha!) /planes (ha ha!) while dampening (not canceling out) voices. It means I can hear audio much more fully, and at lower volume levels, than headphones without noise cancellation, where the low end gets drowned out and I have to turn the volume up much higher.

Transparency Mode seems more natural to me now, less artificial. NC does not cut out high frequencies (as much) like birds but is good with droning traffic. It appears to be on purpose.

To add to my previous comment – I like birds and find it not to distracting while listening to podcasts walking the dog in the woods BUT I can also clearly hear said dog’s nails clicking on the laminate floor or a wood saw outside my window.

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