Apple Just Released New AirPods Pro Firmware to (Hopefully) Improve Noise Cancellation

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Apple has just quietly released another new firmware update for its AirPods Pro, bringing them to version 2D15, as a direct upgrade from the earlier 2B588 or 2C54 versions.

When released last October, the AirPods Pro shipped with firmware 2B584 installed, however Apple pushed out an update to 2B588 only two weeks later in mid-November, making this the minimum version that almost all current AirPods Pro should have been running up until now. Although Apple pushed out a 2C54 update in December, this update was pulled before it had a chance to make it onto everyone’s AirPods.

In fact, the 2C54 update was intended to unify the firmware between Apple’s second-generation AirPods, which hadn’t otherwise been updated since receiving 2A364 in September, and the AirPods Pro, which shipped with a newer firmware revision right out of the box. Apple never explained why it stopped rolling out the 2C54 update, but it also didn’t do anything to address those AirPods that had already received the update, suggesting that it didn’t break anything critical, but for whatever reason Apple decided it wasn’t ready. This led to expectations that another update would be right around the corner, but until now, there’s been nothing but a mishmash of AirPods running different firmware versions.

What’s Changed?

Unfortunately, Apple doesn’t offer any kind of release notes for its AirPods firmware updates. In fact, it doesn’t really announce them in any way at all — they’re quietly installed in the background by iOS, and the only way to know that you’ve received an update is to go into your Settings app and check the version that’s currently installed on your AirPods. Here’s how to do that.

  1. Connect your AirPods or AirPods Pro to your iPhone or iPad (If they’re in the case, open the lid to wake them up).
  2. Open theSettings app on your iPhone or iPad.
  3. Tap General
  4. Tap About
  5. Scroll down to find your AirPods or AirPods Pro; you should be able to see them listed at the bottom of the cellular, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth section as long as they’re connected to your device.
  6. Tap on the name of your AIrPods or AirPods Pro.
  7. Look under Firmware Version to see what version of firmware is installed.

Note that all this allows you to do is to check your AirPods firmware; there’s nothing you can do to force an install, and also nothing you can do to prevent your AirPods from being upgraded to the latest version, or downgrade to an older one. Everything is managed rather opaquely by Apple in the background.

In fact, Apple’s approach to AirPods Pro firmware updates has actually caused some annoyances among users, since most have resolutely agreed that post-release AirPods Pro updates made the originally great Active Noise Cancellation noticeably worse — a belief that was eventually borne out by in-depth analyses. On the upside, however, the update did improve the bass frequency response.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t much those who were disappointed with the results of the 2B588/2C54 update could actually do about it, since Apple would continually insist on installing the updates automatically as long as their iPhone was connected to the internet, and most people understandably weren’t willing to leave their iPhone permanently in Airplane Mode just to avoid having their AirPods updated. Even those who were able to reset their AirPods Pro back to the original 2B584 firmware, either through a factory reset or exchanging them for another pair at an Apple Store would inevitably still get the ANC-crippling update pushed out within a day or two.

At this point it’s too early to tell if Apple has taken these concerns to heart and adjusted the ANC in the latest 2D15 update, but regardless of what changes have been made, you’re not going to have much choice but to accept them for what they are. In the very least, this update should address whatever concerns originally caused Apple to cancel the 2C54 rollout in the first place, and hopefully it will also help out users who had been recently been receiving replacement AirPods with newer firmware versions, rendering them unusable due to the mismatch.

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