AirPods Pro firmware update improved performance but reduced noise isolation

Apple rolls out updates to its truly wireless earbuds such as AirPods and AirPods Pro from background apps. These updates usually focus on minor bug fixes, but a recent update to AirPods Pro firmware appears to have made some notable changes to sound clarity and noise cancellation.

Regarding user reports on Reddit and other media sources, after updating to firmware 2C54, RTINGS decided to retest AirPods Pro. The test discovered some important changes, both for better and for worse.

According to RTINGS research, one of the biggest improvements came in the frequency response accuracy. It explains the “variations in the frequency response of a headphone due to its fit on your ear.” Due to firmware 2C54, RTINGS described AirPods Pro’s frequency response reliability as “just good.” However, the upgrade made things “slightly better.”

Bass’s accuracy came in for another significant improvement. While AirPods Pro bass accuracy had already been described by RTINGS as “excellent,” the 2C54 update makes another “fairly significant improvement.” RTINGS says the update included a “very slight reduction in mid-accuracy” as well as a slight reduction in treble accuracy.

The most noticeable shift affects noise isolation, at least according to users. RTINGS says the upgrade to 2C54 has bought a “fairly significant drop in isolation efficiency,” affecting the bass-range.

“After updating to Firmware 2C54, we retested the headphones and our results showed a significant drop in isolation performance, primarily in the bass-range. This means that with ANC turned on, these headphones won’t do nearly as good a job blocking out the low engine rumbles of planes or buses as they did before this update. This review reflects these changes.”

While Apple has not officially addressed these user complaints, it has removed the 2C54 for AirPods Pro. This protects existing users from installing the update, but for those users that have already installed it, it doesn’t do much. The update was launched initially on December 16 and was pulled shortly after that.

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Firmware Updates are often released very quietly for AirPods and AirPods Pro and activated in the background— so most users may not even know when their AirPods are modified. By going to Settings > General > About on your iPhone, and looking for the “AirPods Pro” tab when your AirPods Pro is paired, you can check the details about your AirPods Pro firmware.

Read the full RTINGS review here.

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