A new interview with Esge Andersen, an engineer on the acoustics team at Apple, just appeared on What Hi-Fi? has appeared in Hi-Fi and Audio Editor Kashfia Kabir talks to the engineer, who has been with Apple for more than a decade, at The Official Audio Publication.
Here we find out.
It’s all about airflow
Anderson says air movement is key to good sound. He added: “When we talk about good sound it’s about how we put the air into the product – which is kind of weird because it’s not about the case or the way it looks – but it’s about making sure that we design for airflow as well.”
The most recent AirPods Pro look almost identical to the first generation, but the vents have been replaced with one on the back instead of two on the previous model. It may not sound like much, but Anderson claims it’s key to the new earbuds’ audio improvements, particularly the improved high-frequency responses.
This aligns with what Apple told me earlier, that the new vent means less pressure is felt in the ears when noise canceling is on, and that’s noticeably absent from the latest headphones.
Pocket-sized build, big sound
“We wanted to put AirPods Max in everyone’s pocket,” Anderson says. That is quite an ambition given the difference in size. The result, says Kabir, and I agree, the bass is much better in the second-generation AirPods Pro. The new earbuds also sound better no matter what volume you’re listening at, which isn’t always the case. Anderson suggests they can “deliver the same sound signature at lower levels as they do at higher levels.”
Anderson also says the earbuds adjust the tuning to what you’re listening to. “When you’re on your big screen Apple TV, our tuning is different than the iPhone’s tuning.” Anderson also talks about how Apple is open to constantly and continually improving the sound for any Apple source. “Ultimately there is a certain amount of compromise because you just can’t make it right for everyone. That ability to give you the best experience has been our goal… no matter what you have Yes, we want to give you the best experience.
What about lossless?
Several reviewers lamented the absence of lossless audio on the AirPods Pro 2nd Gen earbuds. In what hi-fi form? Turns out the millions of lossless hi-res songs in Apple Music can’t be played lossless on any of the AirPods.
Andersen says codecs aren’t the whole story: “We can still make big strides without changing codecs. And the codec choices we have today are more about reliability. So it is about building something robust in all environments.” We want to improve the sound quality, and we can do that with many other elements. We don’t think the codec is currently limiting audio quality on Bluetooth products.”
Finally, without giving anything away – I mean, this is Apple after all – Anderson hints that more changes are on the way. Who knows, maybe these include Lossless? This is how he comments on what is to come: “I don’t know 100% yet what it will be. We always think of the following. It’s in our DNA.
The full interview is worth reading at whathifi.com.