It seems that a recent firmware update has had an unintended effect on the Apple AirPods Pro’s active noise cancellation feature. Instead of improving their ANC performance, some observers and customers are saying that it made it worse. While the same update appears to have improved overall sound quality, Apple has nonetheless reportedly pulled the update.
This leaves AirPod Pro owners who got the update — firmware version 2C54, should you wish to check — with a problem. Despite having pulled the update from its servers, Apple does not offer a way to revert AirPods back to a previous firmware state. Worse still, these firmware updates happen automatically, in the background whenever a new update is sent out.
Any AirPods that are nestled in their charging case and within range of an internet-connected iOS device that has been used with the buds will automatically receive new updates.
How bad is the problem? It may depend on where you go. There has been “a fairly significant drop in isolation performance, primarily in the bass range,” notes review site Rtings.com, which ran tests on the AirPods Pro both before and after the firmware update.
The bass range cancels out low-end noises like the sound of an aircraft’s jet engine. Air travelers may be most affected by this drop in performance. Those who work in open-concept offices, however, may be less susceptible to the changes.
The silver lining, if you can call it that, is that despite the drop in low-end noise cancellation, actual audio performance has been improved. Ironically, that same low-end frequency which has proven so meddlesome for ANC, is considerably better when it’s part of your music. “After updating to Firmware 2C54,” reports Rtings.com, “we retested the headphones and our results showed a fairly significant improvement to bass accuracy.”
If you’re bummed out by your AirPod Pros’ ANC woes, you probably don’t have to live it for much longer. You can bet Apple’s engineers are working feverishly to correct the problem with firmware 2C54, and will issue another update as soon as they can.
In the meantime, put on your favorite bass-forward tracks and enjoy the extra oomph. If you play it loud enough, you might not even notice the ANC isn’t up to its usual standards.
Having other problems with your AirPods or AirPods Pro? Try our handy guide, which can help you fix the most common AirPods issues.