Apple may (or may not) have fixed AirPods Max noise cancellation


Apples AirPods Max are excellent over-ear headphones with active noise cancellation, but they do come with a big problem: over-the-air firmware updates can affect the quality of the active noise cancellation modes. Users first reported in October 2022 that a firmware update, listed as “4E71”, made the effectiveness of their AirPods Max noise cancellation and transparency modes are worse. While there’s no perfect way to test these claims, evidence has apparently concluded that the quality of noise cancellation on the AirPods Max was worse after the firmware update.


Although the loss of noise cancellation quality could be attributed to a bug or error, AirPods Max users suspect otherwise. This is due to the timing of the update’s release and Apple’s tainted history with planned obsolescence. Firmware update 4E71 was released around the same time as the second generation AirPods Pro were unveiled, bringing new and improved noise canceling features. Some users believed the deterioration in quality of their AirPods Max was intentional, drawing comparisons to Apple’s earlier admission to slow down iPhones produced between 2014 and 2016. With little information revealed about the purpose of AirPods software updates, users were left with questions.

Related: AirPods Max – 3 things Apple needs to change for the next model

Now there’s a new firmware update that could affect active noise cancellation. Apple has sent the latest AirPods Max firmware version, numbered 5B58, and the update release notes quote only “bug fixes and other improvementslike the included changes. While this could certainly include a fix for the noise cancellation issues that plagued Build 4E71, that’s not certain. In the week since the release of Update 5B58 of the AirPods Max firmware, user experiences were mixed.While some users on a MacRumors forum reported that their noise canceling quality had improved, others disagreed, saying the AirPods Max sound improvements were probably due to external factors.

Why AirPods Firmware Updates Are Crucial For Users

AirPods Pro and AirPods Max side by side

There may be no way to prove whether firmware update 4E71 caused noise cancellation quality to deteriorate on the AirPods Max, or whether firmware update 5B58 fixed these issues. . However, users can check the current firmware update of their AirPods Max if they are curious about how the updates affect their headphones.

To check the current AirPods firmware version, first make sure a paired iPhone or iPad is updated to the latest version of iOS or iPadOS. Then navigate to ‘Settings‘ > ‘Bluetooth‘ and tap the information button next to the AirPods name. Finally, scroll down to the ‘About‘ to display firmware updates. The intended or unintended effects of Apple’s firmware updates on AirPods are extremely important to all AirPods users, not just those wearing the on-ear AirPods Max. These firmware updates are sent over the air and installed automatically, users therefore have no control over updates to their headphones.

Firmware updates are delivered periodically,” Apple saidwhile your AirPods are charging and within Bluetooth range of your iPhone, iPad or Mac.“Essentially, this means that the quality and effectiveness of AirPods Max noise canceling modes can change at any time after purchase, without any user intervention. AirPods Max firmware updates highlight the lack of user control over some devices, and those updates may have worsened and then fixed the active noise canceling modes on the headphones.

After: AirPods Max – Apple’s over-ear headphones feature ANC, but cost $549Source: Apple Support, MacRumors


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