AirPods Pro 2 owners are experiencing audio drift issues — and I have too

Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation) in case
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Apple launched its AirPods Pro 2 last month, but some users (myself included) have been experiencing firmware issues affecting the audio performance. According to a recent post spotted by 9to5Mac (opens in new tab), this doesn't actually appear to be a widespread issue, but I have had a similar experience with my own AirPods Pro 2 and support the claims.

On the audio front, Apple’s AirPods Pro 2 employ sophisticated processing to achieve an audio experience that's been acclaimed by many. The next-gen model includes a new custom amp and driver, personalized spatial audio sound, and dynamic head tracking. Interestingly, the audio bugs identified seem to happen even when these modes are disabled.

One user commenting on Reddit (opens in new tab) said: “This is my second pair of AirPods Pro 2 and the audio still seems to shift/drift all over the place sometimes it can compress the volume of a song and than randomly raise the volume. No, it’s not head tracking or spatial audio I have turned those off.”

While another said: “I’ve been experiencing this recently as well. I kept thinking it had to do with how sometimes one of my pods keeps getting more loose than the other. I’d constantly adjust it and this audio drifting would continue to happen. I’m hoping it’s a software issue.”

Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation) sizing attachments

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

AirPods Pro 2 audio problems: My firsthand experience

At first, I thought my own "audio drift" (as it's been referred to by forum users on Reddit) experience was a result of using the AirPods Pro 2 for my workouts. I figured it was a rogue factor of the usually strong eartip seal being affected by moisture from my activities reaching the ear canal and loosening the fit. On subsequent testing, however, I've found that this has also occurred during more regular use where moisture wasn't a factor.

Like many of the comments I've read, the unusual audio effect appears to shift the sound from one earpiece to the other, with a rapid fluttering effect that makes the sound of voices and vocals appear to bounce back and forth from one side to the other. Interestingly, this occurs when spatial audio and dynamic head tracking are disabled. 

Some users have also mentioned lip sync issues where the lip movements of a person singing or speaking in video content gets out of sync with what's arriving in your ears, although I've not personally encountered this problem on the AirPods Pro 2.

AirPods Pro 2

(Image credit: Future)

Although frustrating, it’s actually pretty normal for software-driven products, such as the best noise canceling earbuds, to encounter some kind of bug(s) during their initial roll out. And Apple is not alone in having software problems with a newly launched model. After all, there’s always room for improvement, and software updates are regularly used to evolve a product and enhance its features, as well as rectify any bugs that arise throughout its lifespan.

So far Apple hasn't acknowledged the audio issues reported by some AirPods Pro 2 users. From what I've experienced, it does seem like this could be a software issue, and one that could easily be rectified with an update. 

Check back for Apple's comments to my questions, and to find out whether AirPods Pro 2 users can expect a software update soon.

Lee Dunkley
Audio Editor

As a former editor of the U.K.'s Hi-Fi Choice magazine, Lee is passionate about all kinds of audio tech and has been providing sound advice to enable consumers to make informed buying decisions since he joined Which? magazine as a product tester in the 1990s. Lee covers all things audio for Tom's Guide, including headphones, wireless speakers and soundbars and loves to connect and share the mindfulness benefits that listening to music in the very best quality can bring.