New AirPods Sound Quality Debated as Orders Begin to Arrive Around the World

Apple's new second-generation AirPods are beginning to arrive to customers around the world, and some early adopters have turned to the MacRumors forums and social media to share their first impressions of the earphones.

2019 airpods unboxed

The new AirPods unboxed via Reddit user Lachlanhunt

The new AirPods have the same outward design as the original and remain available in white only. Apple continues to include a one-meter Lightning to USB-A cable in the box with all second-generation AirPods.

Hey Siri

Powered by a new H1 chip, the new AirPods support hands-free Siri, enabling users to change songs, make phone calls, adjust the volume, get directions, and more by saying "Hey Siri." Siri can still be activated by doubling tapping one of the AirPods if enabled in Settings > Bluetooth on an iOS device.

First impressions about the new Hey Siri functionality are mostly positive so far. MacRumors forum member Moxxham from Australia wrote that "Hey Siri seems to work really well," even with loud music playing in the background, while Reddit user Lachlanhunt found the feature "works reasonably well."

Sound Quality

First impressions about overall audio quality are both subjective and anecdotal, with conflicting opinions as to whether the new AirPods sound better than the original. Reports range from users not noticing any difference all the way to feeling like the new AirPods are a huge improvement for sound.


MacRumors forum member Kiky disagrees with the above tweet:

When listening to music, I could not make out any discernible difference between my AirPods 2 and my wife’s original AirPods. I bought the AirPods 2 mainly for the gym and casual wireless listening. They will replace my Jabra’s which have lousy latency issues and fatigue my ears after 30 mins or so.

At the very least, MacRumors reader Vladislav Kuznetsov and many others agree that features like Siri and FaceTime calls sound clearer:


On a related note, Apple recently seeded a 6.3.2 firmware update for the first-generation AirPods, and some users on MacRumors and Reddit are speculating that the update has led to improved audio quality and faster connection speeds on the first-generation AirPods. Evidence is anecdotal at this point.

Early adopters are also noticing that the new AirPods switch more quickly between devices like the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Mac they are connected. Apple says the H1 chip makes switching between sources up to two times faster.

As far as battery life is concerned, more time will be needed for a proper comparison between the new AirPods and the original pair.

Apple says the new AirPods get up to three hours of talk time per charge, compared to up to two hours with the previous generation. Other battery life stats remain the same, with up to five hours of listening time per charge and more than 24 hours of total battery life from extra charges stored in the case.

airpods options 2019
The new AirPods are available to order on Apple.com and in the Apple Store app with a wired charging case for $159, the same price as the original AirPods, and with a wireless charging case for $199. Apple says both options will be available at Apple Stores and select resellers starting this week.

MacRumors will be sharing our own second-generation AirPods hands-on video and impressions soon. Let us know your own first impressions in the comments section or by tweeting at us with a @MacRumors mention!

Related Roundup: AirPods
Buyer's Guide: AirPods (Don't Buy)
Related Forum: AirPods

Top Rated Comments

mgollaher92 Avatar
31 months ago
While I haven’t tried the new AirPods yet, I’m willing to bet all these people saying the sound is better just haven’t cleaned their gen 1s properly lol.
Score: 48 Votes (Like | Disagree)
donster28 Avatar
31 months ago
The "placebo" train has arrived...get on board! ;)

Seriously...your ears can hear differently sometimes. I've experienced this with all earphones, headphones and the Airpods. Sometimes you can improve the sound by blowing your nose.

It also depends on how much earwax is in there so yeah...it's subjective unless we see an actual scientific sound comparison.
Score: 26 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Packers1958 Avatar
31 months ago
People want to believe when they buy the new model it's better than the old model so they convince themselves it's actually better, when in fact it's likely just the same.
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)
oneMadRssn Avatar
31 months ago
Confirmation Bias.
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
pmore Avatar
31 months ago
Why do people keep obsessing over "audio quality" in a bluetooth earphone? It sounds alright for out and about like every other earphone.
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
PastaPrimav Avatar
31 months ago
I'll take the word of the people who hear the difference over the people who don't any day. There are people that think a 64 kbps mp3 sounds fine too.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

REC ASA CODE2016 20160601 205816 2745

Elon Musk Reportedly Demanded to Become Apple CEO as Part of Potential Tesla Acquisition [Update: Musk Denies]

Friday July 30, 2021 9:04 am PDT by
Tesla CEO Elon Musk reportedly once demanded that he be made Apple CEO in a brief discussion of a potential acquisition with Apple's current CEO, Tim Cook. The claim comes in a new book titled "Power Play: Tesla, Elon Musk and the Bet of the Century," as reviewed by The Los Angeles Times. According to the book, during a 2016 phone call between Musk and Cook that touched on the possibility of ...
General Apps Messages

Android iMessage Competitor Puts Pressure on Apple

Friday July 30, 2021 3:15 am PDT by
Google and the three major U.S. carriers, including Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile, will all support a new communications protocol on Android smartphones starting in 2022, a move that puts pressure on Apple to adopt a new cross-platform messaging standard and may present a challenge to iMessage. Verizon recently announced that it is planning to adopt Messages by Google as its default messaging...
iPhone 13 Always On Feature

iPhone 13 to Bring Over a Major Feature From the Apple Watch

Wednesday July 28, 2021 2:21 am PDT by
Apple's upcoming iPhone 13 lineup will feature an always-on display akin to the Apple Watch Series 5 and Series 6, according to recent reports. In his weekly Power On newsletter, Bloomberg journalist Mark Gurman, who often reveals accurate insights into Apple's plans, said that the iPhone 13 may feature an Apple Watch-inspired always-on mode. The Apple Watch Series 5 and Apple Watch...
duracell battery bitter coating

Apple Says Don't Buy AirTag Replacement Batteries With Bitter Coating

Wednesday July 28, 2021 11:08 am PDT by
Since AirTags were just released earlier this year and are expected to have a year-long battery life, it may be some time yet before AirTag users need a replacement battery, but when the time comes for a refresh, Apple is warning customers not to buy batteries with a bitter coating. AirTags use coin-shaped CR2032 batteries, which happen to be a size that's easy to swallow. Some battery...
a15 chip

iPhone 13 and Redesigned MacBook Pro Chip Production Hit With Gas Contamination

Friday July 30, 2021 5:44 am PDT by
The most important TSMC factory that manufactures Apple's chips destined for next-generation iPhone and Mac models has been hit by a gas contamination, according to Nikkei Asia. The factory, known as "Fab 18," is TSMC's most advanced chipmaking facility. TSMC is Apple's sole chip supplier, making all of the processors used in every Apple device with a custom silicon chip. Industry...
apple rtp land

Apple Preparing to Occupy 200,000 Square Feet of Temporary Space Ahead of New $1 Billion North Carolina Campus

Thursday July 29, 2021 9:14 am PDT by
Back in April, Apple announced a $430 billion investment over the next five years to create more than 20,000 new jobs as the company continues to expand. One significant piece of that plan is a new engineering and research center in North Carolina where Apple will be investing over $1 billion and hiring at least 3,000 employees. Assemblage of seven properties in Research Triangle Park owned by ...
Apple Leak Feature

Apple Demands Leaker Reveals Sources Under Threat of Being Reported to Police

Wednesday July 28, 2021 6:53 am PDT by
Apple has sent a cease and desist letter to a leaker based in China as part of its continuing attempts to curtail leaks of unreleased products, according to Vice. A Chinese citizen who shared images of stolen Apple prototypes on social media was sent a warning letter from Fangda Partners, Apple's law firm in China, on June 18, 2021. An extract from the letter read:You have disclosed without ...
macos monterey tidbits feature copy

Apple Releases New macOS 12 Monterey Public Beta

Wednesday July 28, 2021 10:19 am PDT by
Apple today seeded the third public beta of the macOS 12 Monterey beta to public beta testers, allowing non-developers to test the new macOS Monterey software ahead of its public release. The third beta comes two weeks after Apple released the second macOS Monterey public beta. Public beta testers can download the macOS 12 Monterey update from the Software Update section of the System...
iOS 15 General Feature Purple

Apple Releases New Public Betas of iOS 15, iPadOS 15, watchOS 8, and tvOS 15

Wednesday July 28, 2021 10:16 am PDT by
Apple today seeded the third betas of iOS and iPadOS 15 to public beta testers, allowing non-developers to download and test the new updates ahead of their fall release. The third public betas come two weeks after Apple released the second public betas. Public beta testers who have signed up for Apple's beta testing program can download the iOS and iPadOS 15 updates over the air after...
nothing ear 1 buds 1

Nothing 'Ear (1)' True Wireless Earbuds Launch to Take on AirPods Pro With ANC and Unusual Design for $99

Tuesday July 27, 2021 7:57 am PDT by
Nothing, a new brand from OnePlus founder Carl Pei, has today officially launched the "Ear (1)" true wireless earbuds after months of anticipation around the company's AirPods Pro rival. The Ear (1) features an in-ear design, Active Noise Cancelation, Bluetooth 5.2, IPX4 water resistance, and a charging case with Qi-compatible wireless charging and a USB-C port. Fast pairing is supported on...