Apple’s latest AirPods Pro update reduces noise cancellation quality

AirPods Pro bring Active Noise Cancellation with superior sound to the AirPods family.
AirPods Pro bring Active Noise Cancellation with superior sound to the AirPods family.

“A recent firmware update to AirPods Pro was was meant to improve the audio quality overall, but seems to have reduced the ability to block some ambient noise at lower frequencies,” Wesley Hilliard writes for AppleInsider:

Apple released the affected firmware update on December 16, 2019, which may have reduced audio isolation performance. Audio review site Rtings performed a new round of tests to evaluate the AirPods Pro ANC while running the 2C54 update, and found that user complaints were accurate.

“After updating to Firmware [2C54], we retested the headphones and our results showed a fairly significant drop in isolation performance, primarily in the bass-range,” discovered Rtings.

The reduction in isolation has been directly attributed in Apple’s attempt to increase audio quality, and more specifically bass accuracy. Rtings also reflected this change saying that the result “showed a fairly significant improvement to bass accuracy.”

MacDailyNews Take: Apple has pulled this firmware update (2C54) and we expect the company will release an improved firmware update in fairly short order to restore AirPods Pro ANC to previous capabilities for those who’ve applied the 2C54 firmware.


  1. Well the good news is that now audio isolation will be a part of the firmware team’s automated regression test plan. This QA failure won’t happen again.

    (kidding, obviously)

  2. hmmmm I wonder if the team under Jobs might have tested it before releasing it? What you do you think, Timmy?

    Just ANOTHER example of poor follow through, but at least we didn’t need to wait 6 years for an update to AirPods

  3. While it’s tempting to blame Cook for all of this I don’t think anyone would be capable of running the behemoth Apple has become well, not even Jobs. Demanding excellence is definitely missing from the leadership mentality at Apple though. As they wade ever deeper into content creation and services I suspect these types of miscues will only continue as they take their eyes off the ball of solid, functional hardware and software.

  4. Sadly the firmware folks never came to my shop and met me, and thus were never put under my spell, which worked so well on Steve. You see, I make it possible for people to reach for their highest selves, and it is why I am so loved. Even by my kids, who went to many little league matches because I had the iron will to take them there – and – rather importantly – because I had a car. Or have, rather. Of course I’ve had many – I am a man of means. I am not a mean man though. I also had the means to buy my kids baseball bags, baseball bats, baseball hats and, funnily enough, baseball cats. These are cats whose fur patterns have either the shape of a baseball bat, ball, or both. Or a diamond pattern. Or some combo thereof. Quite remarkable, really.

    Part of the problem for the current firmware team is that they simply weren’t alive when I was but a humble famous-person-meting retail manager, with, of course, proof on YouTube.

    I’m also the reason behind the removal of the headphone jack, as I was lack of it, and as regular readers only know too well, my humility knows no bounds – Donald was praising me about this just the other day, and he thanked me for my astute observations about the best way to deal with Iran.

    Ah, life. It’s easy when you are one of the best, smartest, fittest, nicest and humblest people on planet Earth. Harry and Megsie were just complimenting me about this the other day. I’m the reason they use Macs and iPhones. It really is a true pleasure to be such a nice MDN reader, and sincere thanks not only to MDN for such excellent aggregation and MDN Take-ing, and to you, each and every one of you, yes, you, you, you and you, and you too, and all of you, for reading.

    Wishing you all the very best,


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