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

Digital Dude

macrumors 6502a
I purchased a second set as a gift for my GF for Christmas. I wasn't aware of the firmware update, so I thought they were somehow defective. It wasn't until later I discovered the NC degradation, and I was disappointed. As others have reported, I have noticed they last longer between charges.

Sidebar: As for the forum complaints about Apple not testing products like they used to, I couldn't agree more. Newer folks joining the Apple community are more excepting of crappy quality because they have no frame of reference of the company under Steve Jobs. Sure, there were blunders under SJ, but not near as often.
 

cmatuk

macrumors member
Jul 10, 2013
86
32
I updated mine when the update went live (well they updated themselves) and I did notice a change on the ANC quality but It was fine. Then I started noticing a crackling sound on my right AirPod with ANC/Transparency on. Took them to my local Apple Store today and they are having it replaced. They don’t have any in stock so I have to wait. Kind of a bummer since they were fine just a week ago. We’ll see.
 
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shiksa

macrumors regular
Sep 27, 2014
162
56
West Coast
I updated mine when the update went live (well they updated themselves) and I did notice a change on the ANC quality but It was fine. Then I started noticing a crackling sound on my right AirPod with AND/Transparency on. Took them to my local Apple Store today and they are having it replaced. They don’t have any in stock so to have to wait. Kind of a bummer since they were fine just a week ago. We’ll see.
Thanks for the update. Exactly what’s happened to mine. Guess I’ll be going down as well.
 
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holyslayerpt

macrumors newbie
Nov 6, 2018
12
0
Interesting. I received my APP last week and the only time they make crackling noises is during calls and its rarely. When i am listening to music or watching videos i have no issues what so ever. My firmware version is 2B588.
 

Phuz01

macrumors member
Oct 25, 2006
82
45
New York, NY
So glad to read this, because I thought my AirPods were already dying. In recent weeks, I noticed that the subway rumble that was so effectively canceled with the previous firmware was causing crackling in the lower frequencies of my music, and that overall the isolation was less than what it had been. I tried swapping out the eartips to see if it was a fit issue, and when that didn't help, I was going to make a support appointment. Here's hoping they roll out a fix soon; the noise cancellation was the most impressive aspect of these cans, and it's unfortunate to have it so diminished.
 
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shiksa

macrumors regular
Sep 27, 2014
162
56
West Coast
I’ve been watching this thread for a few days. Pardon if I’ve missed this. But. Has anyone been told by Apple that 2C54 has anything to do with the public beta profile?
I just got back from Apple where I returned my AirPods purchased in December, and got some new ones. My iPad is on the public beta 13.1.1 not my phone. They told me it’s not the first time that “in general betas may interfere with Bluetooth connectivity”.

Anyone have any opinions??

Before I remove my beta profile on my iPad? I haven’t connected iPhone yet to see what version these new AirPods are.

edit- have right pod crackle and very much noticeable difference in ANC and a hit or miss bluetooth connection on Apple TV and other bluetooth devices.
 

Phuz01

macrumors member
Oct 25, 2006
82
45
New York, NY
I’ve been watching this thread for a few days. Pardon if I’ve missed this. But. Has anyone been told by Apple that 2C54 has anything to do with the public beta profile?
I'm not running a beta on my devices, still got the "update," and experience these issues.
 
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Rodan52

macrumors regular
I recently bought a pair of Pioneer Rayz in-ear speakers. They are wired rather than Bluetooth with Lightening bolt plug so no adaptors required and the pro version has a port to allow you to charge the iPhone while using the speakers. The sound is fantastic and the noise cancelling works pretty well with a "hear through" option at the touch of a button. There is an app on the App Store which adds functionality and considering they are cheaper than Apple's Airpods and in my mind sound better I can't see any reason why I would want to switch.
 
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HeadphoneAddict

macrumors 6502a
Sep 16, 2007
966
801
I recently bought a pair of Pioneer Rayz in-ear speakers. They are wired rather than Bluetooth with Lightening bolt plug so no adaptors required and the pro version has a port to allow you to charge the iPhone while using the speakers. The sound is fantastic and the noise cancelling works pretty well with a "hear through" option at the touch of a button. There is an app on the App Store which adds functionality and considering they are cheaper than Apple's Airpods and in my mind sound better I can't see any reason why I would want to switch.
On the topic of competing products, here is a related mini-review of my Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless that I picked up last September at Rocky Mountain Audio Fest (MSRP $299). They have great physical noise blocking, so ANC is not quite as important, while also having a decent transparency mode and they fit my ears better than AirPods Pro.

The AirPods Pro are harder for me to get a good fit, because the APP don't have long enough stems to put the tip deep enough into my ear canals. This is regardless of using medium tips or large tips, while I usually work with medium tips on other in-ear monitors. The Sennheiser with medium tips always seal deeply in my ear canals and stay put 99% of the time, but with my APP I might need large tips in the left ear and medium tips in the right. If I'm not too active the APP can stay in as long as the Sennheiser, but the Sennheiser are more secure with activity.

The Sennheiser transparency mode is a little more quiet than the AirPods Pro, and when you remove them from your ears the ambient sounds are louder than what you were hearing while they were in. That is something I wish we could adjust, because with AirPods Pro the ambient noise level with them in the ears is very similar to what you hear without them.

But the Sennheiser application has an EQ adjuster slider for manipulating the overall sound signature to suit the music that I am listening to. 95% of the time I don't ever need to use the EQ because they sound really awesome. The Sennheiser Momentum TW are one of the best sounding BT earphones I have tried, certainly my best True Wireless with no cables, strong bass, rich midrange, crisp detailed treble, and fairly open and transparent sound. My Westone W80 with BT V2 cable are better, but at a 4-figures cost - although they have the advantage of using them wired with an upgraded DAC/amp to get world class sound.

The main thing that I really wish that the Sennheiser had is the Apple W1 or H1 chip. Sure, ANC would be nice, but the passive noise isolation is good enough for flying (my custom molded Westone in-ear monitors do block more sound, enough to use as shooting protection). Basically, the Sennheiser sound better than my AirPods 2, AirPods Pro, and Powerbeats Pro. When I want the best sound from a true wireless BT ear bud, the Sennheiser is the one that I would grab.

I still use the Powerbeats Pro because with the ear hooks they won't fall off my ears when biking and hiking, so I don't have to worry about losing them. And they sound pretty good without an ear canal seal, letting me hear what's going on around me when I wear them (better than AirPods 2). I just hate the size of the charging case and how it's lacking Qi charging (how could they not include that in such a large case?).

I really wanted the AirPods Pro to be able to replace all the others, because they have the H1 chip, a small Qi case, passive isolation, ANC, and transparency mode - the best features of them all. I just hope they get the firmware fixed and that I can find the best fit (and Apple needs to fix the seal test). With a little fiddling I can get them to seal, but I have to adjust them in my ears fairly often to keep it.

I pretty much don't use my AirPods 2 much, once I got my Powerbeats Pro which serve the same purpose of being able to use them and hear things around me. There was a lot to like the AP2, but for the life of me I cannot get them to stay in my ears. They just weren't designed to fit on someone like me, and they fall out at the drop of a hat.

I have not tried any other in-ear monitors with active noise canceling, but I would like to. I'm always open to trying new headphones and earbuds, and have dozens of them here around the house that I have reviewed on other forums, hence my user name. That's why with everything I already had, I still made the AirPods Pro my most recent purchase. I just hope I don't regret it because Apple crushed them with a firmware update.
 
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Phuz01

macrumors member
Oct 25, 2006
82
45
New York, NY
I really wanted the AirPods Pro to be able to replace all the others, because they have the H1 chip, a small Qi case, passive isolation, ANC, and transparency mode - the best features of them all. I just hope they get the firmware fixed and that I can find the best fit (and Apple needs to fix the seal test). With a little fiddling I can get them to seal, but I have to adjust them in my ears fairly often to keep it.

...

I have not tried any other in-ear monitors with active noise canceling, but I would like to. I'm always open to trying new headphones and earbuds, and have dozens of them here around the house that I have reviewed on other forums, hence my user name. That's why with everything I already had, I still made the AirPods Pro my most recent purchase. I just hope I don't regret it because Apple crushed them with a firmware update.
I'm with you, HA... I have used headphones and in-ear monitors from Shure, Sennheiser, Grado, Beats by Dre, Apple, Etymotic Research, and a host of other companies over the years, just because I'm always looking for that sweet spot of noise cancellation/isolation, sound quality (at all bands of the audible spectrum), battery life, and comfort. If the PowerBeats Pros had any isolation/cancellation, they'd be the runaway winner, but I've ended up using the AirPods Pros for my daily use. Prior to this firmware issue, the worst problem I had was battery life; it's impossible to get through a workday on a single charge. While the AirPods Pros are certainly still usable, it's a huge self-inflicted wound for Apple to have such a startling drop in quality that could have been so easily avoided with just a bit more testing. I'm marking the days until the fix.
 
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Varking

macrumors member
Jan 12, 2010
83
41
As somebody who is really interested in AirPods Pros this gives me a little pause. I will still buy them at some point because I trust Apple to find that happy balance with noise cancellation but these are no longer a must have upgrade over the first gen for me until its fixed.
 
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cmatuk

macrumors member
Jul 10, 2013
86
32
Just got my replacement AirPod. I guess since the left one was on the new firmware they both ended up with the new one. So far so good though.
 
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shiksa

macrumors regular
Sep 27, 2014
162
56
West Coast
Just got my replacement AirPod. I guess since the left one was on the new firmware they both ended up with the new one. So far so good though.
I had to return my AirPods after they were updated to 2C54. I got my new ones about a week ago. Came with installed with 2B588, working perfectly.
 

cmatuk

macrumors member
Jul 10, 2013
86
32
I had to return my AirPods after they were updated to 2C54. I got my new ones about a week ago. Came with installed with 2B588, working perfectly.
That’s awesome. I guess it’s because I only got one of them replaced (the right one started making popping sounds when ANC was on)
 
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shiksa

macrumors regular
Sep 27, 2014
162
56
West Coast
That’s awesome. I guess it’s because I only got one of them replaced (the right one started making popping sounds when ANC was on)
It was just so frustrating. They are working fine the next day, intermittency, drops, crackle, (right side for me too!). I thought I did something to them.
 

cmatuk

macrumors member
Jul 10, 2013
86
32
I think it might have been one of the mics. It must have been faulty. I started noticing more “bone sound” after the upgrade and the crackling sound was really overnight. One morning it just started happening. With this new one I don’t hear that much bone sound anymore. This stuff it’s so subjective it’s so hard to explain it!! The connection issues still happens. One of them gets a random red warning sign and I have to put them back on the case and get them out again. I guess a Pro product includes Pro frustrations cos my regular AirPods were really magic
 

brucewayne

macrumors regular
Nov 8, 2005
134
151
The update have been pulled from the server. so atm you will not get it.
The big question is how to avoid the next update until we know if there are any problems

Some people have said that 2B588 isn't as god as the original firmware, but I have no grounds for comparison
I would be one of those people. Original firmware had a balanced sound, ANC was pretty amazing for an in-ear, transparency mode sounded natural.

2B588 ANC no where near as good, started getting a crackle in left airpod, sound quality seemed about the same, transparency didn't seem as natural

2C54 ANC still bad, crackle went away, sound quality no longer balanced, there is more bass but I don't think it is any 'cleaner', transparency mode over amplifies the surroundings, as in I can hear a ticking clock from across the room that I can't hear without the APPs in.

I've been stuck on 2C54 for over a month now and they are collecting dust because I get a headache after wearing them for about 20 minutes. I picked up a pair of airpods 2 to tide me over (as my original launch airpods are down to a 5 minute battery life on phone calls now)

btw, I'm using WM-1000XM3s as a reference point for the above. When I received the APPs I had a pair of WF-1000XM3s to compare to as well. And although I thought the WFs sounded slightly better, I kept the APPs because they were slightly more comfortable and for the ease of pairing across multiple Apple devices. Now I wish I had returned the APPs instead.
 
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Phuz01

macrumors member
Oct 25, 2006
82
45
New York, NY
After I tweeted about 2C54 yesterday, Apple Support reached out, and I scheduled a call with a specialist. Turns out Apple's devs have no idea when a firmware fix is going to drop, so the specialist set up an in-store appointment for tonight. I'll either get a replacement pair with an earlier firmware (if in stock), or they'll send my AirPods Pro in to Apple, flash them with an earlier firmware, and send them back to me. Not keen on being without these for a week or more so Apple can correct an error of its own making, so I may just continue using them without active noise cancellation if that's the option presented in-store.
 
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