Apple Set to Step Up Its Audio Hardware Game

Posted on June 25, 2018 by Mehedi Hassan in Apple, Hardware with 14 Comments

Apple is pushing forward with its audio-device strategy. After the major, partly cultural, success of AirPods, Apple is set to introduce new audio hardware in 2019, reports Bloomberg.

While the company is already expected to launch a refreshed AirPods later this year with a new chip and support for hands-free Siri activation, the company is slated to launch next-gen AirPods in 2019. The new AirPods will reportedly feature noise-cancellation, water resistance to protect against rain, and increased range support for iPhones and iPads. The new product could also expand Apple’s health-related hardware with new biometric sensors like a heart-rate monitor integrated into the future AirPods, but that still remains uncertain. Either way, the new AirPods are going to cost more than the current $159 AirPods, but that’s not a surprise.

Apple is also reportedly working on new, studio-quality over-the-ear headphones. The company’s upcoming over-the-ear headphones, slated for a 2019 release, will directly compete with its own Beats line. The device was originally planned for a late 2018 release, but later got delayed because of development challenges. Cupertino is also working on a new version of its HomePod for early next year, which may come as a surprise to some because of the disappointing sales numbers, but Apple’s commitment towards the development of a new range of products (e.g. Apple Watch) continues to be consistent.

Apple’s audio-device push is certainly interesting, mainly because of the branding. Apple’s Beats brand is already very popular in the audio industry, but it seems like Apple is more interested in pushing its own brand forward. With the upcoming over-the-ear headphones competing directly with Beats’ own products, the future of Beats’ Studio line of products is uncertain.

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Comments (14)

14 responses to “Apple Set to Step Up Its Audio Hardware Game”

  1. SvenJ

    Now, if only they could crack that elusive wireless charger technology.

  2. Skolvikings

    The Bloomberg source article indicates the new over-the-ear headphones will compete against "pricey" high-end models from Bose Corp. and Sennheiser. It said the new Apple headphones "will be a higher-end alternative to the company’s Beats line."


    It certainly will be interesting to see how Apple moves forward with the Beats brand, but this rumored headset may not indicate anything definitive. Perhaps they simply want an Apple logo on anything premium, and will continue to sell Beats to high schoolers as more of a consumer line.

  3. Lauren Glenn

    I'd be really impressed if they did for hi-res music what they did for regular music w/ iTunes Match. Upgrade all our music to hi-res 24 bit/96kHz audio (or 192kHz) and make new phones and iPod Touches play this hi-res format in lossless and lossy formats. Please? Someone needs to do it and Apple is the one who can streamline it to make it easy enough to manage and use. We have hi-res audio stores now but it's so disconnected and those players are annoying to maintain and manage vs. an iPod and iTunes.


    16-bit/44.1kHz audio was introduced to the public in the very early 80s. It has almost been 40 years and mainstream audio still uses this format by default. So much so that people are going back to records and cassettes.....

  4. bluvg

    "Apple’s Beats brand is already very popular in the audio industry"


    Define "audio industry" :)

  5. MikeGalos

    If the new over the ear headphones are really "studio-quality" they won't be competing with Beats.


    Studio quality gear is, by definition, very flat in audio response so an engineer knows that what they're hearing is what they're adjusting and recording and not an artifact of the equipment.


    Beats, on the other hand, are wildly bass biased by design.


    Totally different market. Totally different audience.


    An analogy is the difference in designs between a high color accuracy monitor designed for photo editing and a high speed, high resolution monitor designed for gaming. Different design goals, different result, totally unacceptable in each other's market.



    • Hifihedgehog2

      In reply to MikeGalos:

      The state of headphone neutrality is frankly a mess. Even with Beats out of the equation, out of the running and out of the conversation, studio quality can be taken to mean so many things depending on the person you speak to. For many, a utilitarian Audio Technica ATH-M40X is studio quality. Whereas for others, some fall for the marketing bull and believe a Bose QuietComfort 35 is studio quality. And then, there are even others who settle for nothing but the best and only consider top-of-the-line kilobuck headphones like the Sennheiser HD 800S truly studio quality! A major problem about headphones is there is no one industry accepted frequency curve, that is, one definition of flat. Even in the German school of thought for audio, Beyerdynamic’s , AKG’s, and Sennheiser’s definition of flat differs greatly from one another. Beyerdynamic’s generally has a greater deep bass and high treble emphasis. AKG’s accentuates upper midrange and lower treble. Sennheiser’s (excluding the HD 800 which is closer to Beyerdynamic in many ways) rolls off treble and has a warm midrange and an upper bass boost. Of course, these headphone manufacturers’ are all more closer to neutral than the wild greater +10 dB swings in frequency that Beats has, but even the experts have not come to a mutually accepted definition of neutral. Much of it has to do with the enthusiast $1000+ market relying on subjectivism where audiophile voodooism believes in such things as tube distortion being something beneficial. This has lead to treble happy Grado PS 1000s and muffled Audeze LCD-3s with trigger happy buyers automatically thinking price correlates to quality and accuracy—wrong. As a result, there is little trickle down currently since the top tier headphones are more flavor of the month than actual advances towards a neutral sound that more closely models reality.

      • MikeGalos

        In reply to Hifihedgehog2:

        Nice summary. Thanks.


        Personally, I expect the Apple "studio-quality" headphones to compete with Bose rather than AT or Sennheiser or Beyer. Bose has similar marketing and distribution models as Apple and has their stores near Apple's in higher-end shopping malls. I suspect passing Bose retail stores and seeing Bose QuietComfort headphones on airplane flights has had much more influence on Apple executives than the actual professional audio market.

  6. red.radar

    Phones are commodity items now. This is part of keeping people locked in and pushing new highly profitable gadgets. I'll pass. I don't want white earings hanging from my ears.



  7. jchampeau

    I've no interest in HomePod, but I'm glad to hear the next-gen AirPods will have noise canceling built in. I've been an iPhone user since the 3GS came out and as much as I despise Apple sometimes, their stuff generally performs reasonably well, sounds good, and does what it's supposed to.

  8. warren

    Another Apple product delayed by development issues? Noooo waaaayyyy, didn't see that one coming.

  9. rameshthanikodi

    this might be a stupid question to ask, but should Apple really be in the premium audio space?

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