Apple patent application details self-adjusting, noise-canceling earbuds

“An Apple patent application discovered on Thursday describes a set of earbud type headphones that automatically adjust audio output based on seal quality, with necessary impedance data gathered by built-in microphones or electrical current measurements,” Mikey Campbell reports for AppleInsider.

“As published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday, Apple’s ‘Electronic device and headset with speaker seal evaluation capabilities’ details a new type of self-calibrating earbud that can deliver enhanced audio reproduction over a wide variety of ear shapes and sizes,” Campbell reports. “Also alluded to in the patent are noise canceling headphones which rely heavily on good earbud-to-ear seals to operate. ”

Campbell reports, “Apple’s invention is primarily aimed at earbud headphones, which are designed to create a seal in a user’s ear that helps reduce ambient noise while retaining a compact form factor.”

Read more in the full article here.


    1. Well, that really is a concern with good, sealing earbuds or noise canceling head phones. People just to need to be self-aware and keep their head on a swivel.

      1. I’m not so sure about that. Good noise canceling isn’t the same as noise blocking. Canceling means inverting the phase of a particular frequency and adding it back in. With my noise canceling headphones on an airplane I can hear the flight attendant speaking to me better than if I’m not wearing them. It’s then amusing when the flight attendant speaks louder because I have headphones on!

  1. Can they be anti-tangle too? THAT is the biggest problem by far. Anyone else have the problem where the button on the wire launches music, while in your pocket, etc, and runs the battery out? any way to turn that feature off vs always disconnecting the headset?

    1. I’m not sure how does that button get accidentally pressed when wearing the headset.

      My headset is connected to the phone only when I’m using it (listening / talking). If the earbuds aren’t in my ears (or temporarily around my neck), the headset is in my pocket, disconnected from the phone (otherwise, I can’t hear it ring).

  2. Finally, some hope that Apple will make earbuds that actually block (or significantly reduce) the outside noise!

    With existing earbuds, when I walk outside, I have to crank the volume up in order to hear music properly over the street noise. This is extremely dangerous and will definitively damage my hearing if I were to continue doing it. Cheap SONY earbuds with silicone earpads that provide seal work much better at reducing outside noise.

    A car can only hit you if you don’t look before you cross. Car engines are getting quieter and quieter (not to mention the electric ones, which are quieter still), so relying on hearing an approaching car is NOT the the best way to avoid accidents. And in a big city, window airconditioners create so much noise that you may not even hear that car anyway.

    I’d like to see these new earbuds bundled with the iPhone (rather than sold at some inflated $180 price)

    1. Unless you are an audiophile or want to total exclude you surroundings, putting something over or in your ears so that it completely blocks external sound seems ludicrous.

      I can understand an audio or sound engineer needing to do so, but for the general public, it is as logical as the boom boxes that were played so loudly that is drowned out everything else.

      Virtually, every pair of head or ear phones that I have ever purchased, come with declarations NOT to wear them driving because of potential hazards and/or legality of doing so. They caution wearing them while walking, jogging, cycling, etc. And overall, sealing and funnelling sound into your ears isn’t a good practice as prolonged high sound pressure may impair hearing.

      Having said that, I have set aside my ‘collection’ of a dozen high end head or ear phones for Apple’s new EarPods. The primary reason I dropped all the others in the first place, was that they were EXTREMELY comfortable. They sounded great, they haven’t fallen out even while jogging, and surprising, simply pressing the Pods forward, significantly upped the base when I wanted to.

      I must admit, I use them while driving, and equally important, even in the presence of my wife. Simply because it doesn’t block out external sounds or in the case of the latter, noise. But then, when I seriously want to, I just enter my studio and crank up the volume, without downing any head gear.

      PS. Shortly after the new EarPods came out, I showed them to the manager of a very famous heavy metal band. He upgraded his recently purchased 4S the next day.

      NOTE: As any otolaryngologist will tell you, no two ears are the same; even the two on your head. Therefore, what works for me, may not for you. And if it doesn’t, there are other choices.

      1. Your arguments are all valid.

        Let me clarify what I was trying to say. When I am wearing Apple’s EarPods (the new earbuds that come with iPhone 5), they are comfortable, the sound is exceptional and they fit well. The only problem I have with them is when I walk around the city listening to music. Because they are so open (allowing outside sound to enter), in order to hear the music (especially the quiet parts), I have to turn up the volume to the level I am not really comfortable with. While it causes no discomfort, I know (as a professional musician) that such high volume will damage my hearing. When I wear SONY earbuds, they isolate a lot of outside noise. They don’t completely suppress it (there are no such headphones), as they shouldn’t anyway; they just make it quiet enough that I can listen to my music and not have to turn it up in order to hear the quiet passages. I can still hear the cars honking, the trucks beeping when backing up, the fire engine or ambulance sirens wailing, but at much more comfortable level, which doesn’t damage my hearing.

        Streets on NYC can get really noisy; reducing the level of that noise by 15-20dB makes a lot of difference for my ears.

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