Tuesday, 29 October 2019 09:29

Apple adds active noise cancellation to AirPods Pro

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Apple adds active noise cancellation to AirPods Pro Apple

AirPods Pro, Apple's latest headphones, feature active noise cancellation and a new design.

It's not hard to believe Apple senior vice president of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller's claim that "AirPods are the best-selling headphones in the world," as the distinctive design has become an everyday sight in cities around the world.

The new AirPods Pro features dual microphones as part of the noise cancellation system. One detects environmental noise, which is cancelled in the conventional way. The other picks up sound within the ear so AirPods Pro can cancel any remaining noise.

But there are times when it is important to be able to hear what's going on around you, so AirPods Pro includes Transparency mode which "leaves just the right amount of noise cancellation active" and also "ensures that a user's own voice sounds natural".

Transparency mode can be controlled via the force sensor on the stem (also used for other controls including play/pause and answer phone calls) or from an iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch.

Active noise cancellation does come at a cost to battery life. Apple claims "the same great battery life as AirPods with up to five hours of listening time", but using active noise cancellation reduces this to up to four and a half hours of listening time and up to three and a half hours of talk time.

Up to 24 hours of listening time and over 18 hours of talk time are available by using the Qi-compatible wireless charging case.

Apple's new headphones also feature adaptive EQ, which adjusts the low and mid frequencies to the shape of the user's ear.

Talking of ear shape, there's also the ear tip fit test, which uses the microphones to help users choose which of the three sizes of ear tip provides the optimal seal.

Not surprisingly, AirPods Pro provide hands-free support for Siri.

These capabilities are powered by an Apple-designed 10-core H1 chip.

AirPods Pro - ghosted view

"The new in-ear AirPods Pro sound amazing with adaptive EQ, fit comfortably with flexible ear tips and have innovative active noise cancellation and Transparency mode. We think customers are going to love this new addition to the AirPods family," said Schiller.

Apple made no mention of having improved the serviceability of AirPods Pro compared with regular AirPods (which remain available), so it seems a reasonable assumption that they remain unserviceable and will require replacement once the battery fails.

AirPods Pro can be ordered immediately via the online Apple Store and the Apple Store app, and should be in stores by the end of this week.

AirPods Pro cost $399 and require iOS 13.2 or later, iPadOS 13.2 or later, watchOS 6.1 or later, tvOS 13.2 or later, or macOS Catalina 10.15.1 or later. Some features are not supported on older hardware even if it is running the required OS.

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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