AirPods: Apple over-ear headphones: what we would like to ascertain from the rumored StudioPods

Apple's first over-ear headphones could launch in March

A mockup of Apple's over-ear headphones

We've been anticipating a pair of Apple over-ear headphones for a short time now, with numerous outlets reporting that the San Cupertino company is getting to release a pair of studio-quality cans this year.

According to a report by respected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who correctly predicted the discharge of the upgraded Apple AirPods and therefore the AirPods Pro in 2019, the wireless headphones will launch alongside a variety of latest products within the half of 2020.

That means we could see the Apple over-ear headphones at WWDC in June. Saying that, Apple has been known to carry launches far earlier within the year, revealing Apple Arcade and Apple TV Plus in March 2019, also because of the upgraded AirPods.

A March release date would add up, considering that a recent Target product listing has gone live, possibly accidentally leaking the rumored Apple headphones, and revealing a $399 (about £300 / AU$699) tag.

What we’ve heard thus far 

Rumors surrounding a pair of Apple over-ear headphones are just that – rumors. There’s been no confirmation from Apple that it’s getting to release cans to compete with the likes of Bose, Sennheiser, and Sony headphones.

Most recently, a listing from US store Target may have revealed the worth of the hotly-anticipated cans.

YouTuber Jon Prosser posted a picture to Twitter, purporting to point out the upcoming over-ear headphones in Target's system, mysteriously listed as "Apple AirPods (X Generation)".

The product within the image appears to cost $399, which works out at around £300 / AU$600 – if these are the rumored Apple StudioPods, then the brand is aiming for the upper end of the worth scale, surpassing the value of competitors just like the Sony WH-1000XM3 and therefore the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700.

Prosser also speculates that the Apple over-ear headphones could are available a variety of colors, citing the existence of three different product codes, all priced at $399. So far, Apple's existing headphones, the EarPods, AirPods, and AirPods Pro, have only ever been available in white, though Apple-owned Beats headphones often are available a variety of bright colors.

The earliest reports of Apple over-ear headphones came in February 2018 from KGI financial analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who claimed that Apple was performing on updated AirPods and “own-brand, high-end over-ear headphones with an all-new design”.

Since then, Kuo has elaborated on his initial claims. His latest report says that the subsequent few months will see within the anticipated iPhone SE 2, a replacement iPad Pro and MacBooks with scissor keys, also as a "smaller wireless charging mat, UWB tag, and a high-end Bluetooth headphone" from Apple.

As we now know, Kuo’s prediction about the updated AirPods clothed to be right, because of the release of AirPods (2019) earlier this year, and therefore the subsequent release of the AirPods Pro demonstrated.

He was also right about the type of upgrades Apple’s truly wireless earbuds would receive, predicting that they wouldn’t look very different from the first AirPods, but would have an upgraded chip and a wireless charging case.

With Kuo’s predictions being correct thus far, we wouldn’t be surprised if he was right about the over-ear model being released within the half of 2020 too.

The Beats Studio 3 Wireless headphones (Image credit: Apple)The Beats Studio 3 Wireless headphones (Image credit: Apple)

In June 2018, Bloomberg reported that Apple was planning “studio-quality over-ears headphones” which will “use Apple branding and be a better end alternative to the company’s Beats line”.

Apple acquired Beats in 2014 for $3 billion and already sells Beats-branded over-ear headphones on its website.

Speaking to people on the brink of the matter, Bloomberg reported that Apple originally intended to “introduce the headphones by the top of 2018, but has faced development challenges”, and was instead targeting a 2019 launch. Of course, they never materialized, lending even more credence to Kuo's prediction.

Despite no official confirmation from Apple that the headphones exist, some outlets have already started calling the rumored headphones the Apple StudioPods. As MacWorld says, the corporate is probably going to hunt consistency by “re-using the Pod suffix that unites numerous of its music products: the EarPods, AirPods, HomePod, and iPod”.

Apple HomePod 2: rumors, news, release date and more
What we would like to ascertain from Apple's over-ear headphones

The best over-ear headphones combine slick design, comfort, and portability – ideally without breaking the bank. But lately, headphones are often incredibly tech-heavy also, which is what we might expect from a pioneering company like Apple.

That’s why we’d wish to see modern conveniences like wireless connectivity, built-in voice assistants, and active noise-canceling within the rumored Apple over-ear headphones – and in particular else, fantastic sound quality.

Better sound quality than the AirPods

They may be popular, but Apple's AirPods haven't been known for his or her audio quality. While they need an active presentation, they will sound a touch harsh when it involves higher frequency seems like snares, violins, and trumpets.

The Apple AirPods also isn’t the easiest earbuds on the market (although the newer AirPods Pro do a far better job of this) – but more powerful bass could absolutely be achieved by a higher-spec pair of over-ear headphones.

Ketan Bharadia, International Technical Editor of What Hi-Fi? agrees: “I've never rated the sound of the company's in-ears but, considering [Apple’s] engineering might and therefore the sonic qualities of their iPhones and the HomePod, there are many potentials for over-ears to stir things up.”

Over-ears tend to supply higher sound quality than in-ear models anyway, partly because they need bigger drivers than in-ear models. These larger drivers are ready to displace larger volumes of air than their smaller counterparts, which successively creates a more powerful audio performance.

According to Audio Advice, these larger drivers tend to breed the “widest range of frequencies, from silky smooth highs to tight, deep bass,” providing a richer, more colorful soundstage than in-ear headphones.

This mockup from Curved shows the so-called StudioPods charging wirelessly This mockup from Curved shows the so-called StudioPods charging wirelessly (Image credit: Curved)

Classic Apple design

Take away the technical aspects of a pair of headphones, and you’ve essentially got a (potentially very expensive) piece of headgear – and intrinsically, it’s important that they appear good.

We know that Apple features a strong design aesthetic; despite initial ridicule, the Apple AirPods became iconic for his or her unique design, with many true wireless earbud manufacturers since taking inspiration from their long, protruding stems and all-white color scheme.

We'd wish to see an evolution of Apple's classic design with their rumored over-ear headphones, with smooth, clean lines, premium materials, and a minimalist look without any bulky hardware ruining the effect.

Although Apple hasn’t even confirmed the existence of the StudioPods, that hasn’t stopped German tech publication Curved from mocking up its own concept illustrations of what the headphones might appear as if.

The illustrations from Curved have supported the design of Apple’s HomePod, framed by “the same textile mix as Apple’s smart speaker”.

They also take inspiration from Beats headphones in terms of their shape and build, but swaps the Beats logo for Apple’s own hallmark, although we're unsure such abundant use of color is probably going from the brand that has only ever made white audio accessories thus far.

Saying that a recent product listing at Target has led to speculation that the Apple over-ear headphones could are available a variety of colors after three different product codes were discovered.

Curved also predicted that the headphones would charge wirelessly, showing the mocked-up headphones resting on an Apple-branded charging platform, which the housings would feature touch controls, a touch just like the Microsoft Surface headphones.

The Microsoft Surface HeadphonesThe Microsoft Surface Headphones

Decent sound isolation

The way Apple’s over-ear headphones sound will have an enormous impact on the various situations they will be utilized in, as Senior Supervising Engineer at the National Film & Television School Jeremy Rodeschini explains:

“My role is to try to to with sound engineering covering a good range of applications from theatrical sound to VR also as live sound – and every application has very different requirements.”

While Rodeschini looks for “excellent isolation from ambient noise, reliability, and robustness” from the headphones he uses for mixing live sound, comfort and “a slightly flattering response” is preferable when he’s recording actors delivering their lines within the studio.

Of course, noise isolation isn’t just useful for working with live sound; for anyone who wants to concentrate to music in loud environments, like on their daily conveyance commute, for instance, good noise isolation makes a world of difference.

How well a pair of headphones can isolate ambient noise depends on how well they seal around your ears, creating a physical barrier that forestalls environmental sound from going to your ears; this will be challenging for over-ear styles, as they don’t offer as tight a seal as in-ear models.

Still, an honest pair of over-ear headphones should be ready to physically block an honest amount of ambient noise, and this is often something we might expect from a pair of high-end headphones from Apple.

Fantastic noise cancellation

If Apple wants its StudioPods to compete with the simplest over-ear headphones on the market, it should take a leaf out of Sony’s book, and offer an equivalent high-standard of noise cancellation provided by the Sony WH-1000XM3s, also as noise isolation.

The best noise-canceling headphones make commuting a breeze, eliminating the noise of crying babies, honky traffic, and therefore the loud conversations of your neighbors by digitally tuning out the unwanted environmental sound.

With Apple’s technological might, we’d be surprised if a pair of over-ear headphones from the San Cupertino company didn’t include noise-canceling technology – in any case, it’s an increasingly common feature of premium headphones.

Both the Beats PowerBeats Pro and therefore the Apple AirPods (2019) contain Apple's H1 chip Both the Beats PowerBeats Pro and the Apple AirPods (2019) contain

Apple's H1 headphone chip

If Apple goes to release a pair of over-ear headphones, we’d expect them to possess an equivalent H1 headphone chip that’s built-in to the AirPods (2019) and therefore the PowerBeats Pro.

Apple’s new H1 chip is meant to enhance connectivity and battery life and allows for a replacement ‘Hey Siri’ voice activation feature within the upgraded AirPods – all of which we might wish to see in any future Apple over-ear headphones.

Wireless isn’t everything though – if Apple markets these headphones as studio-quality cans, the choice to use a wired connection to your device is going to be crucial.

This is because wired headphones tend to supply higher quality audio than their wireless counterparts, as Joe Cox, Global Editor-in-Chief of What Hi-Fi? explains:

“Bluetooth would traditionally compress your music files to transmit them wirelessly, reducing audio quality before it’s even reached your headphones”.

While advances in Bluetooth like aptX HD means audio quality is way better than it once was, you won’t find this technology in Apple’s AirPods (2019) – and if the corporate doesn’t include support aptX HD within the StudioPods, the choice for a wired connection is going to be important to urge that studio-quality sound.

For truly modern connectivity, Apple will be got to include support for the newest Bluetooth 5.0, while ensuring that gamers don't experience annoying lag by adding support for aptX Low Latency.

Apple AirPods (2019) vs Beats PowerBeats Pro

It might be that the new Apple StudioPods take inspiration from the over-ear headphones already offered by Beats just like the Beats Studio 3 wireless noise-canceling headphones – but these models aren’t exactly known for his or her audio quality either, with some criticizing their bass-heavy presentation.

If Apple frames these new headphones as studio-quality, true audiophiles like Rodeschini are going to be trying to find perfect audio accuracy:

“Personally I prefer a cushty pair of headphones that delivers a sound that's as on the brink of the first as possible so I buy to understand all the expertise of the mixer and obtain as close as possible to the artist's intention.”

He continues: “If a headphone is adding any color to the soundtrack, it might be like adding an equivalent blend of spices to each dish you eat without the chef's knowledge – not desirable in my opinion.”


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