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AirPods Pro 2 update has finally resolved the ‘audio drift’ issue

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Last week, Apple began rolling out a firmware update for the AirPods Pro, bringing the current AirPods Pro to version 5.1.58 with build number 5B58 (up from 5A377), which fixes the one flaw I had with the AirPods Pro 2.

The timely upgrade comes after some users (including myself) reported audio drift issues with the company’s latest AirPods Pro 2 version, which was released in September. Apple has never officially addressed the audio difficulties I and other users had with its flagship ANC earphones, and a recent firmware update support article (opens in new tab) just states that the latest version addresses “bug fixes and other improvements.”

The AirPods Pro 2 are the pinnacle of Apple’s earbud technology, taking everything I liked about the original generation noise-cancelling earphones to the next level. So far, I’ve tried two of the most recent flagship models, and both had the same issue with audio drift, where the sound appears to shift from one earpiece to the other for no apparent reason. Nonetheless, an automatic software upgrade to one of my pairs of AirPods Pro 2 earphones over the weekend appears to have resolved the ‘audio drift’ issue I reported on last month.

Firmware comparisons

So far, I’ve been able to keep the original firmware on the first pair of AirPods Pro 2 earbuds I used, which allows me to compare any sonic discrepancies between the original and updated versions. Although I haven’t noticed any additional background hiss as some people have claimed after updating the firmware to the current version, the audio drift issues I was experiencing have fully eliminated.

Testing the updated Pro 2 earbuds under identical conditions as before resulted in a focused and stable presentation with no indication of some audio frequencies randomly shifting from ear to ear.

Another significant change with the firmware update is an unexpected increase in sound quality. The overall sound is louder at a given volume level, and the sound balance is improved (to the point where I had to double-check that I hadn’t accidentally activated an EQ setting). The sound was more dynamic, with better bass and a greater sense of openness around vocals and percussive instruments. So far, the update feels a lot better than what I was used to, but I’ll be doing a full sound quality analysis over the next few days, so keep checking back.

How to check the firmware version on AirPods

Apple AirPods firmware updates are not available. When the earbuds are in their charging case, linked to a power source, and connected to your iPhone through Bluetooth, updates are instantly deployed.

According to Apple, “Firmware updates are delivered on a regular basis while your AirPods are charging and within Bluetooth range of your iPhone, iPad, or Mac.” You do not need to upgrade your AirPods because firmware updates are supplied automatically.”

When the AirPods Pro debuted in September, the firmware build version was 5A377, and the most recent update, which began rolling out last week, was 5B58.

Go to Settings on your iPhone to see what version you’re running. Navigate to the AirPods Pro 2 in the list of connected devices by selecting Bluetooth. Tap the I at the end of the linked AirPods Pro 2’s name, then scroll down to About and search for the (firmware) Version number indicated. The most recent version is 5B58.

Apple is also releasing fresh software versions for the rest of the AirPods series, which includes the original AirPods Pro, AirPods 2, AirPods 3, and AirPods Max headphones. Firmware upgrades for the Beats Fit Pro, Powerbeats Pro, and Beats Studio Buds are also on the way. As with the AirPods Pro 2, these upgrades are installed automatically and cannot be uninstalled.

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