Apple Engineer Explains Why the AirPods Pro 2 Lack Lossless Audio Support
After the first gen AirPods Pro’s insane success, the company followed up with the AirPods Pro 2 earlier this year. While the overall design was largely similar, Apple had made a lot of changes under the hood which enabled better performance and even new features. And better yet, the pricing remained unchanged from the original AirPods Pro at $249. Consequently, the earbuds received extremely favorable reviews on launch, with The Guardian even calling the second-generation AirPods Pro as “Apple’s best earbuds yet.”
In a very interesting event, Esge Andersen, an engineer from Apple’s acoustics team, was recently interviewed by What Hi-Fi, where they talk about some of the interesting design choices and even some omissions undertaken by the team.
Starting with the design philosophy, according to Andersen, Apple aimed to give everyone a AirPods Max in their pockets. And that wouldn’t be far off given how well the AirPods 2 Pro sound, also arriving with one of the best ANC implementations. One of the ways the engineering team was able to get cleaner and richer highs, and even deeper bass, was by optimizing the airflow for the drivers with redesigned vents.
And they do sound really, really good. Apple has always impressed us with the clarity and tonal neutrality of its products’ audio quality, coupled with a wonderful way with voices. There’s all of that in the AirPods Pro 2, but now with added weight, greater detail and even greater dynamic subtlety.
– What Hi-Fi AirPods Pro 2 Review
Anderson also dropped another interesting tidbit, related to the earbuds’ tuning. Apparently, there is no one expert who is in charge on tuning, rather Apple depends on a panel of “expert listeners” for the optimum sound signature. And that makes perfect sense, given this is the best way to eliminate personal bias and deliver a sound signature that is more palatable to the wider consumer market.
But What About Hi-Res Audio?
There were many rumors before the AirPods Pro 2 launch, about the earbuds finally bringing support for lossless audio. Unfortunately, that didn’t pan out and Andersen even goes on to explain Apple’s reasoning behind it.
According to them, codec still isn’t a major limitation in terms of sound quality, and the more important aspect here would be reliability.
It is important to understand that we can still make big strides without changing the codec. And the codec choice we have there today, it’s more about reliability. So it’s about making something robust in all environments.”
We want to push the sound quality forward, and we can do that with a lot of other elements.We don’t think that the codec currently is the limitation of audio quality on Bluetooth products.
While lossless audio support would still be a great option to have, Apple’s reasoning here is hard to argue with. While theoretically with lossless audio, tracks play at a higher bitrate, users would be hard-pressed to find any noticeable changes in audio quality, especially after the 320-kbps mark.