Adaptive Audio is coming to AirPods Pro 2 — but $550 AirPods Max will miss out

AirPods Max worn on head
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

WWDC 2023 was filled to the brim with updates for Apple products, and audio was no exception. In fact, Adaptive Audio is coming to AirPods Pro 2, alongside a bunch of other useful features. Unfortunately, it’s been confirmed this update won’t be coming to the most expensive devices in the AirPods line-up — the $549 AirPods Max.

Adaptive Audio is designed to combine the AirPods Pro 2’s active noise canceling with Transparency Mode to adapt to the local environment — which makes sense given the name. That update will also come with personalized volume and conversation awareness, which should automatically fine-tune and improve your AirPods experience. 

There’s also Automatic Switching, which makes switching AirPods between Apple devices faster and simpler. Sadly, these features are all exclusive to AirPods Pro 2.

We can’t expect Apple to launch the latest and best new AirPods features on older earbuds, no matter how much we’d like to use them. But considering the price tag of the AirPods Max, which is more than the price of a PS5, it’s a shame that they won’t be receiving such a useful update.

Despite that high price tag, we can’t ignore the fact the AirPods Max are now almost 3 years old — with appropriately aged hardware. The headphones only have a single level of transparency, and are powered by Apple’s H1 chip. 

Meanwhile, AirPods Pro 2 launched in September 2022, powered by the H2 chip and pack in more advanced ANC and transparency options. That’s especially apparent given the fact other AirPods aren’t receiving this update either. 

So if you want Apple’s Adaptive Audio features on a pair of over-ear headphones, you’ll probably have to wait for either the AirPods Max 2 or hope Apple adds it to a future pair of the best Beats headphones. Considering AirPods Max 2 isn’t expected to arrive until 2024 or 2025, the latter might be your best hope. 

Assuming you want to bother with Apple-made headphones at all. The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2 have a similar feature already, and it’s likely companies behind the best headphones will be working on something similar. So we just have to play the waiting game, and see how this all plays out.

In the meantime, be sure to check out our WWDC recap to learn more about what Apple has in store for us over the coming months. Likewise, you can keep on top of the latest news and rumors for Apple’s next set of headphones in our AirPods Max 2 hub.

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Tom Pritchard
UK Phones Editor

Tom is the Tom's Guide's UK Phones Editor, tackling the latest smartphone news and vocally expressing his opinions about upcoming features or changes. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining about how terrible his Smart TV is.