AirPods Pro 2C54 Firmware: Worse Noise Canceling, Improved Frequency Response and Bass Accuracy

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On December 16th, Apple released a new firmware update for the AirPods Pro bumping the firmware from 2B588 to 2C54. After the updates, there were several anecdotal reports that the AirPods Pro noise cancelation may have been affected adversely by the update. Adding to the confusion is that Apple has since pulled the 2C54 update, so not everyone with AirPods Pro may have the latest update.

Users asked tech review site RTINGS.com to reevaluate their previous testing of the AirPods Pro with the new firmware to confirm any changes in the new firmware.


RTINGS published its findings today and does confirm that the 2C54 firmware objectively worsens the AirPods Pro active noise canceling feature:
Update 01/10/2020: After updating to Firmware 2C45, we retested the headphones and our results showed a fairly 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.
The news is not all bad, however. In other areas of testing, the 2C54 Firmware appears to improve performance in frequency response and bass accuracy. Note: RTINGS incorrectly refers to the firmware as version 2C45, not 2C54.

Apple pulled the 2C54 firmware only days after its release, so it is presumably working on the issues described. You can tell what firmware version you have by going to Settings -> General -> About -> AirPods Pro.

Article Link: AirPods Pro 2C54 Firmware: Worse Noise Canceling, Improved Frequency Response and Bass Accuracy
 
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JGIGS

macrumors 65816
Jan 1, 2008
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CANADA!
I don't own a pair yet, but I'd still take better sound quality vs better noise cancelling. In most situations I need to hear some background noise anyway plus they are earbuds and probably already seel off a decent amount of noise. But hopefully the next firmware gives us the best of both worlds. :)
 

AustinIllini

macrumors demi-goddess
Oct 20, 2011
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I don't own a pair yet, but I'd still take better sound quality vs better noise cancelling. In most situations I need to hear some background noise anyway plus they are earbuds and probably already seel off a decent amount of noise. But hopefully the next firmware gives us the best of both worlds. :)
Yeah, I'm not worrying about it. They'll fix both in the end.
 
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theshade247

macrumors newbie
Feb 26, 2018
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Where the hell is their quality control? Seriously this is ticking me off now. So my Airpods took the December 16th update without my knowledge and ever since I started experiencing Popping/crackling sound from the right airpod, took it to Apple store and their “Genius” started blaming me that this could be a water damage, but luckily their manager was nice and replaced that Airpod under warranty. Now again today AirPods took this update without my approval and off course we are back to step 1 again.
 
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scott_donald

macrumors regular
Nov 2, 2016
130
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hopefully we can get the original October/November ANC back! it was soooooo good and if you got them after that you don't know what is missing now - I flew transatlantic with the original firmware and then back with the second one and wow what a difference.

I am still loving the APP in Transparency mode for golf; music and still good feel!
 

ikaka

macrumors regular
Mar 5, 2009
132
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That update did the same to my left one, thank god for AppleCare. Replaced the left one and so far so good.
 
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TabsAZ

macrumors newbie
Nov 20, 2019
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9
I don't own a pair yet, but I'd still take better sound quality vs better noise cancelling. In most situations I need to hear some background noise anyway plus they are earbuds and probably already seel off a decent amount of noise. But hopefully the next firmware gives us the best of both worlds. :)
At this price we deserve to be able to choose what to prioritize rather than having Apple stealth-decide for us. I need the better noise cancelation for traveling, studying in environments with excessive noise/din, etc. The settings applications for both Bose and Sony ANC products allow you to select the ANC level precisely - they need to give us a similar choice here.

I was blown away with the initial level of the AirPod Pro ANC on release day, it was exactly what I hoped for and compared favorably to the much larger over-the-ear Bose and Sony units. I knew immediately after the firmware update that it had gotten drastically worse. I have to turn music up much louder now to drown out the background noise, which goes against everything Apple’s done for hearing health recently with showing you your average dB exposure in iOS 13. I really liked not having to turn up so loud because the initial ANC was so good.
 

Senfinger

macrumors regular
Sep 24, 2017
121
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Unfortunately, all new ones have 2B588 pre-installed just got a pair from backorder, as we were tying to determine Hardware vs. Firmware they will have the same crappy ANC as 2C54 as everything changed for the worse with that last two- while it fixed many issues it was at the expense of ANC.

No where near the original 2B584... That’s how all this started.
- - Post merged: - -

Unfortunately your exchange won’t likely help. The poor ANC started with the mid November firmware update and the inventory is now on that update. We need to wait for a software fix.
This is 100% correct- we have two new pairs out of box from backorder received Saturday with the middle November Update 2B588 and horrible. So not hardware and definitely firmware. This makes 4 pairs we have tested.
 
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Senfinger

macrumors regular
Sep 24, 2017
121
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Apple isn’t really saying anything at this point. One person on Apple Discussion stated they asked them to please wait for the next update- but you know how that is... a lot of them are uninformed, or search a database or may be unable to share information as of yet on what’s going on.
 

AustinIllini

macrumors demi-goddess
Oct 20, 2011
11,465
8,172
Austin, TX
hopefully we can get the original October/November ANC back! it was soooooo good and if you got them after that you don't know what is missing now - I flew transatlantic with the original firmware and then back with the second one and wow what a difference.

I am still loving the APP in Transparency mode for golf; music and still good feel!
How did you deal with the short battery life?
 

techfreak23

macrumors regular
Sep 8, 2013
196
235
Glad I’m not the only that noticed. I ride the bus every day to and from work (about an hour each way) and I noticed it immediately with the bus engine. When I first got them back on November 11th, I was actually impressed with the ANC. I could avoid the noise of the engine sitting in the back next to it with ANC on and about 40-50% volume. Ever since I got back from vacation on the 6th, I’ve been having to turn the volume up to about 75-80% to drown out the noise, but I can still hear it. Also notice a hissing sound in both Transparency mode and ANC when it’s completely quiet, but also sometimes when listening to something.

On a side note, it’s also interesting how the Transparency reacts to the sound of the brakes squeaking when waiting at the bus stop. Once it gets to a high enough frequency, the AirPods Transparency will cut out. I assume that is to protect my hearing lol