Apple's High-End Over-Ear Headphones
Apple is rumored to be working on high-end over-ear headphones that could be called the "AirPods Studio," and which could be priced starting at $349.
We've been hearing rumors about these new headphones, which will be the first Apple-branded over-ear headphones Apple has released, since 2018, but rumors are picking up and it looks like we're going to see a launch this fall, perhaps when Apple introduces new iPhones.
AirPods Studio will join the AirPods lineup with the AirPods 2 and the AirPods Pro, and the new headphones will be distinct from Apple's existing Beats lineup, which features several over-ear headphones options.
Current rumors indicate the AirPods Studio will feature Active Noise Cancelling, equalizer settings controlled through an iOS or Mac device, and head and neck detection, similar to the ear detection in the AirPods.
Apple could be working on two designs, one that's a higher-end premium version and one that's fitness-focused and made from lighter weight materials. Both versions may feature magnetic ear cups and headband padding that's able to be swapped out for a customizable look, similar to Apple Watch bands.
We don't yet know an exact date when the AirPods Studio will be released, but in late August, Bloomberg confirmed that the over-ear headphones will be released in the fall of 2020. Apple is holding an event on September 15, which could see the unveiling of the AirPods Studio.
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The AirPods Studio will feature an all-new design, and while we don't know a lot about it, we do know some details shared by Bloomberg.
Apple is said to be working on two versions of the high-end over-ear headphones, including a premium version with leather-like fabrics and a fitness-focused model that uses lighter, breathable materials with small perforations for better airflow.
Prototypes of the headphones have been described as having a retro-like look with over-ear cups that swivel along with a headband connected with thin metal arms.
Apple is planning to attach the ear pads and the head padding to the headphone's frame magnetically, allowing users to swap different colors and variants in and out for customization purposes.
An icon representing the AirPods Studio was found in the code in a leaked version of iOS 14, but little detail can be gleaned from the imagery.
Alleged Leaked Images
Photos and a video clip said to depict the AirPods Studio surfaced in September, featuring headphones with large oblong ear cups and gray fabric padding at the top of the headband. The fabric of the ear cups and the headband appears to be similar to the mesh used for the HomePod.
The design matches up with rumors indicating the AirPods Studio will have a retro-style look with ear cups that swivel along with a headband connected to thin metal arms.
Watermark-less white.— Fudge (@choco_bit) September 16, 2020
I did say they looked a bit worse IMO pic.twitter.com/AiYNMyfktR
Active Noise Cancellation
According to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple's over-ear headphones will feature Active Noise Cancellation, a high-end feature baked into the Beats Studio 3 headphones, Solo Pro headphones, and the AirPods Pro.
Active Noise Cancellation is designed to cut down on ambient noise so you can focus on what you're listening to. If it mimics ANC on the AirPods Pro, there will be a transparency mode that will enable noise cancelling features, but with an option to continue to hear what's going on around you.
Transparency Mode will also be available to allow users to hear what's going on around them.
Sound quality is expected to be better than the sound quality of the AirPods and AirPods Pro, but no specifics about sound have been rumored so far.
Head and Neck Detection
The AirPods and the AirPods Pro have an ear detection feature that stops the music when an AirPod is removed. AirPods Studio are said to have similar features that detect whether the headphones are on the head or the neck, playing content when the headphones are worn on the head.
When the headphones are moved down to the neck, the sensor will presumably pause the music that's playing.
AirPods Studio will have a sensor that's able to detect left and right ears for routing audio channels, which means there will be no right or wrong side for wearing the headphones.
Apple hasn't introduced equalizer controls for the AirPods or AirPods Pro, but equalizer options may be available for the AirPods Studio. Pairing the AirPods Studio with a Mac or iOS device will unlock custom equalizer settings with low, medium, and high frequency adjustments available.
Apple's AirPods Studio will feature a U1 Ultra Wideband chip according to rumors. The U1 chip would perhaps be used in the AirPods Studio for tracking them via the Find My app to make sure they don't become lost.
The chip could also play a part in the feature that's rumored to automatically recognize the orientation of the AirPods Studio, allowing them to be worn in any direction with no specific left and right ear cups.
Apple previously put a U1 chip in the iPhone 11 lineup and in the Apple Watch Series 6. Apple hasn't had a lot to say about the U1 chip, but described the chip in the Apple Watch as being able to "enable short-range wireless location to support new experiences, such as next-generation digital car keys."
Apple is said to be planning to sell the AirPods Studio for $349, which is the same pricing as the current Beats Studio in the Beats lineup.
Apple is holding an event on September 15, which could see the debut of the AirPods Studio. There may also be a second event in October, so it's not clear exactly when the new headphones will debut.