Apple has greatly improved the sound quality AirPods Pro 2 without having to support lossless audio — and in a new interview, Apple engineer Esge Andersen reveals some secrets on how to do it.
In short, Andersen said, it’s all about airflow What is Hi-Fi? (Opens in a new tab) in a wide discussion. Andersen works with Apple’s audio team, and describes how the company wanted to give everyone “an AirPods Max in their pocket.”
While the overall design of AirPods Pro 2 is almost identical to that of the original AirPods ProThey redesigned the air vents to improve airflow for the audio drivers, and that was apparently key to improving the sound.
How do we move air?
“When we talk about good sound, it’s all about how you move the air in the product—which is kind of weird because it’s not about the case or how it sounds—but it’s about ensuring we’re also designing for airflow,” he says. Andersen says (Opens in a new tab).
There seemed to be a special focus on improving high-frequency response, but the AirPods Pro 2 deliver cleaner highs and deeper, more refined bass. There is also fine tuning for each volume.
Andersen also revealed how the earbuds are designed to perform a little differently depending on the device they’re connected to — and that there’s a panel of “expert listeners” who help make sure the sound is as impressive as possible.
Analysis: AirPods benchmark
Apple has been developing its own wireless AirPods since 2016, and the introduction of the first pair sparked a new wave of technology: every manufacturer now has a pair of wireless earbuds on sale.
While there’s a lot of competition now in the space, the AirPods remain the technology to beat here, not least because of the higher resolution and superior responsiveness offered by the AirPods Pro 2 (which we gave four and a half stars out of five as well).
Add more affordable AirPods 3 and more expensive AirPods Max, and consumers are well covered in terms of what they can get — although Andersen admits in this latest interview that it’s impossible to make the audio output perfect for every listener.
The next step would be lossless audio support (available in Apple Music, don’t forget). Apple previously said that it may have to develop its own replacement for the Bluetooth codec to get its headphones and headphones ready to go without losing data.