AirPods Max buyers accuse Apple of sabotaging performance

According to the experiences of AirPods Max users, the latest firmware update has reduced the effectiveness of Active Noise Canceling.

Launched almost two years ago, the AirPods Max earphones will be replaced in the near future by a new Apple product. According to users who are already very familiar with their favorite headphones, Apple has decided to give the next generation of AirPods Max headphones a “boost” to make them more attractive by distributing a firmware update that tweaks a key aspect of the current model’s performance.

Labeled 4E71, the firmware update distributed back in May for the AirPods Max headphones has stirred up rumors among users, with more and more now convinced that the firmware has left the Active Noise Canceling feature less effective than before. Apparently, the remarks started appearing on Reddit in the early days after the release of that firmware, but the “phenomenon” only received attention a few months later as the number of posts on the topic increased.

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According to some of the testimonials provided:

  • I can hear myself typing, plus other outside noises not previously heard by the update. I wonder if anyone else has this problem.
  • Firmware 4E71 is garbage. Or maybe it was updating before 4E71. I can hear myself typing. I hear birds. I can hear a lot more now. The noise cancellation is gone. I went to Apple, got a replacement product, but this one is the same. Sometime in the last month or two, the noise cancellation went away. I used to use them without listening to music, just for ambient noise blocking.
  • I can hear myself typing, cars passing on the street, weights clanging at the gym. I noticed almost immediately. Anc worked so much better before and I hate that there’s no way back.
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Thus, it would appear that the loss of Noise Canceling effectiveness occurred not just immediately after the firmware update was applied, but progressively over time becoming noticeable to more users.

The bad news is that Apple’s strategy on applying firmware updates makes it impossible to revert to previous firmware revisions, thus forcing users to accept any changes made by the company. However, it seems that the media coverage of this issue is motivating Apple to develop a new firmware that should address the performance drop reported by users, with the update expected to be available shortly.

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