Apple is once again tricking with its headphones. After the 1st generation AirPods Pro were already made worse by a software update for the release of the new edition, the manufacturer also significantly weakens the active noise cancellation of the over-ear model AirPods Max via a firmware update – much to the annoyance of customers.
AirPods Max: Apple significantly weakens noise cancellation
The over-ear headphones AirPods Max from Apple are not only considered one of the most expensive models on the market, but also one of the best. Especially the active noise cancellation (ANC) has been at an excellent level since its release.
However, that is now changing, because what users have suspected for months has now been confirmed: Apple has weakened the ANC via firmware update, and even significantly.
Thanks to a test by Rtings, we now have certainty: Firmware update with version 4E71 noticeably weakens the ANC. Especially low frequencies are suppressed 4.4 dB less effectively than it was the case with the old software.
At the release of the headphones, the noise suppression here was still up to 19.92 dB – with the new firmware, it is only 15.53 dB.
ANC worsened across all frequencies
But it’s not just the effectiveness of active noise cancellation at low frequencies that Apple has weakened in the AirPods Max. The ANC also works less effectively at mid and high tones, although not quite as strongly as at the lows.
Around 1 dB in the mids (26.31 dB versus 27.41 dB) and 0.45 dB in high tones, the over-ear headphones suppress less with the latest firmware than before.
Why Apple has toned down the ANC of its premium headphones is completely unclear. Because a confirmation or statement of the manufacturer is not available. Already last year, users of the AirPods Pro (our review) reported very similar problems.
Here, too, the ANC was weakened after a firmware update and a customizable ANC level was requested. However, this is still conspicuous by its absence, just like in the AirPods Pro.
Fortunately, there are several alternatives to the expensive over-ear model. Among them are the excellent Sennheiser Momentum Wireless 4 (our review) or the 1MORE SonoFlow (our review), which are convincing in terms of price-performance ratio.