AirPods Max Active Noise Cancelation Confirmed to Be Less Effective After Latest Firmware Update

Apple's $550 over-ear AirPods Max headphones are less effective at blocking out outside noise when using Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) following their latest firmware update, according to results from a detailed audio test.

airpods max lifestyle
A recent update to testing by RTings.com reveals that the ‌AirPods Max‌ ANC "blocks out a bit less noise between the mid-bass to high-bass range" after the 4E71 firmware update, which was released in May. "When it comes to the mid and treble ranges, this firmware update has slightly changed the level of isolation, but it's a relatively minor difference," RTings.com said following its test.

The decrease in ANC effectiveness was highlighted in an article by The Verge last month following months of discussion and complaints from ‌AirPods Max‌ users on Reddit and other discussion forums.

It's unclear why Apple adjusted the ANC performance in the latest update or if it plans to restore ANC effectiveness in a future update. Apple occasionally updates the firmware on ‌AirPods Max‌ and other AirPods models to deploy new features, fix bugs, and tweak performance.

Apple has been providing developers with beta versions of AirPods firmware since WWDC earlier this year, with the most recent beta version having been released earlier this month, but there's no word on whether there are any changes to ANC performance in the update.

Related Roundup: AirPods Max
Buyer's Guide: AirPods Max (Caution)
Related Forum: AirPods

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Top Rated Comments

Paddle1 Avatar
21 months ago
Haven't they done something like this before?
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)
iPhoneFan5349 Avatar
21 months ago

I wouldn't be surprised that there will be an updated firmware that restores the original ANC.
On the contrary. Apple did the same with the first AirPods Pro. The noise cancelation was great but then they pushed an update like this one and now it’s subpar and they never fixed it.
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Veinticinco Avatar
21 months ago
Firmware "update" renders significant feature of a product less effective?

I'd laugh if it wasn't so incompetent.

Illustrates one of an increasingly long list of things rotting at the core of Apple these days.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Spaceboi Scaphandre Avatar
21 months ago
Hey Apple here's an idea: How about no more automatic hidden firmware updates? How about Airpods firmware updates be treated through an App or in Settings just like the Apple Watch is?
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Unami Avatar
21 months ago
well, here‘s another way to make the next generation look better in comparison…
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
mgz Avatar
21 months ago

I've never tried Active Noise Cancellation. What's so great about it? As I understand it, it can only cancel out continuous background noises like air conditioners and the drone of airplane engines and such. Do those sounds really bother people that much?

I'm bothered by people talking, honking horns, things like that. And as I understand it, ANC will help me hear those things *better* because they're removing other noise that might serve to drown those other sounds out.
Nope that’s not how it works. It lessens all external noise, not just continuous noises.

I think you’re thinking of the brand new AirPods Pro 2 feature of Adaptive Transparency. https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT210643
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)