AirPods Pro owners are reporting noise cancellation has worsened

The culprit might be two recent software updates.

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AirPods Pro owners are complaining that noise cancellation has become progressively less effective following two recent software updates. Adding support to these complaints, the website Rtings retested the AirPods Pro on January 10 and reported a “fairly significant drop in isolation performance” following firmware update 2C54.

The problem is notable because noise cancellation is a marquee feature of the AirPods Pro, which cost $100 more than the standard version. Apple sends software updates to the AirPods automatically, meaning users can’t prevent them from being delivered, or downgrade to earlier versions.

“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,” added Rtings. Apple hasn’t commented on the situation, but The Verge says that the company pulled firmware version 2C54 at some point for unexplained reasons.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ — One theory is that Apple made a conscious decision to adjust the level of noise cancellation delivered by the AirPods Pro — right now you cannot adjust the level of isolation, it’s either on or off, and adjusts automatically. Some people report that noise cancellation makes them feel dizzy. In that case, it might make sense for Apple to offer multiple levels of cancellation. Rtings says the drop in performance is most noticeable at high-bass levels, suggesting perhaps Apple wanted to adjust the headphone’s sound profile. But nobody seems to really know for sure what’s going on here (or whether anything is going on at all).

Bose has faced similar complaints over its QuietComfort 35 II headphones, which some owners say have experienced decreased noise cancellation following recent updates. Bose has yet to resolve those complaints.