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New AirPods Max firmware update throttles ANC levels

The firmware update behind the issues was released in May of this year.

Woman wearing airpods max headphones

Rtings has retested Apple’s AirPods Max and found that the Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) has been reduced after May’s firmware update.

The update brought the AirPods Pro (1st gen), AirPods (2nd and 3rd gen), and the AirPods Max to version 4E71. The patch notes only mention “Bug fixes and other improvements.”

Since then, users of AirPods Max have been reporting issues with the ANC feature. The most common? That the ANC feature “doesn’t seem to be working as well as it once did.”

That’s a problem for Apple’s flagship headphones. It was enough of a problem for Rtings to re-test the ANC performance on their testing rig.

ANC on AirPods Max isn’t working as well after update

Airpods max headphones on table
Image: Matthew Hughes / KnowTechie

They found that the ANC was less performant, saying, “system blocks out a bit less noise between the mid-bass to high-bass range than the previous firmware.”

As Rtings notes, this is the frequency range of everyday noises you’d want ANC to block out, like bus or plane engines.

They also found that the firmware “slightly changed the level of isolation” in the mid and treble ranges. That’s where AC units or background conversations sit.

AirPods Max isn’t the only ANC-equipped pair of AirPods, nor are they the only pair affected.

Users have been mentioning ANC issues on the AirPods Pro, with some suggesting that the ANC performance was “reduced… …to make Gen 2 ANC seem better!”

Now, we’re not going to get into conspiracy theories. The 2nd generation AirPods Pro use a new firmware branch, which is currently on version 5A377.

What is clear is that Apple broke something in the latest firmware for 1st generation AirPods Pro and AirPods Max units.

Now that media attention is on the issue, Apple will likely fix the ANC with new firmware. The only question is how long it will take.

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Maker, meme-r, and unabashed geek with nearly half a decade of blogging experience. If it runs on electricity (or even if it doesn't), Joe probably has one around his office somewhere. His hobbies include photography, animation, and hoarding Reddit gold.

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