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AirPods Studio − What to expect from the Apple over-ears

All eyes are on when Apple will announce its AirPods Studio over-ears. We believe the timeline for the launch is this year, but who knows where Apple is concerned.

The rumour mill had gone a bit quiet after WWDC 2020 failed a peak at the over-ear headphones. But it’s stirred back into action with news of a new patent that focuses on gesture controls. What else do we know? Well, they’re rumoured to cost around $349, which would guarantee their status in the premium range of the market. We know they’re not the AirPods X, which are thought to be a pair of sports headphones. They’ll have active noise cancellation and word on the grapevine is that they’re come in to different flavours?

Intrigued? Read on for more about what’s expected from Apple’s first ever pair of over-ear headphones.

Related: AirPods 3 – What we know about Apple’s next true wireless earbuds

When will AirPods Studio be released?

We first reported on these headphones all the way back in 2018, with the implication they could be available before the year was out. This has been a while coming.

Despite the headphones encountering a number of delays, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo had pointed to a 2020 release and that still seems to be the case. Apple shifted the production of headphones to Vietnam from China earlier this year, so it would seem that Apple is ramping up production for a release in the second-half of 2020.

YouTube channel EverythingApplePro reported the headphones were finalised in late May. This ‘exclusive’ update came from XDA Developer’s Max Weinbach, who reportedly said that the firmware is “ready to be flashed onto the production units, so that launch is happening imminently”.

Well he was wrong about that. We’re more inclined to believe that the AirPods Studio are coming autumn 2020. The next opportunity for an announcement is probably the iPhone event in September/October.

How much will AirPods Studio cost?

In June 2018, Bloomberg reported the Apple over-ears would be priced similarly to efforts from Bose and Sennheiser. That implies a price of £350/$399.

Jon Prosser has waded into the debate, with his sources indicating that the Studio – codenamed B515 – will cost $349.

What will the AirPods Studio look like?

Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said Apple was thinking about releasing “its own-brand, high-end over-ear headphones with all-new design; to be as convenient as AirPods with better sound quality”. Reports about this “all-new design” have emphasised the ‘all-new’ aspect of it.

Pixelated icons from iOS 14 code indicated they’ll be white and black versions, and Bloomberg say the headphones will boast some unique features. Two version are thought to be in development – one with leather-like fabrics and the other targeted at fitness wearers which uses lighter, breathable materials. Some believe this to be the AirPods X, but the suggestion is that the X are in fact true wireless earbuds.

Aesthetically the models are thought to have a retro look, with ear cups attached to the headband by magnets on thin, metal arms. Having magnets also allows the headbands to be switched in and out; so they can used for fitness purposes or for more conventional use.

The jury is out on whether they’ll be particularly durable. We imagine they’ll also be able to folded in or swivelled flat. We’ll have to wait and see.

Related: AirPods Pro 2 – What we know about Apple’s next ANC wireless earbuds

What features will the AirPod over-ears have?

Unless Apple has a faster chip in production, our guess is these headphones will have the H1 chip. The H1 has proven its worth so far, offering quick connection to devices and facilitating Siri voice operation.

Macworld claimed the headphones will have active noise-cancellation and wireless charging. The former seems likely, but the latter we’re less sure about. We’ve not seen a full-sized headphone support wireless charging, so file that under ‘maybe’. We expect battery life to be somewhere between 20 to 30 hours.

Touch controls are a certainty if the latest news is any case. Patently Apple has uncovered a patent revolving around gesture control, specifically the way in which a gesture can be made in the headphone’s upward orientation as well as down. It does look a bit weird, but implies that the headband can also act as a neckband. You can see how it looks via Patently Apple.

9to5mac reported the proximity sensors will work in a slightly differently manner. The sensors can detect whether they’re on your head or neck, but they’re also rumoured to be able to figure out your left ear from your right. That means there’s no wrong way to wear the headphones.

Bet on it having a Lightning connection, perhaps even a USB-C connection, with the EU parliament calling for standardised charging across all devices.

Apple announced Spatial Audio and Auto-switching at WWDC for its range of of AirPod wireless earbuds and some select Beats headphones. Spatial Audio will bring in support for soundtracks in 5.1, 7.1 and object-based audio in Dolby Atmos. Auto-Switching means the headphones will automatically switch when the user moves from one iOS device to another. Expect both of these to be supported by AirPods Studio when it finally arrives.

9to5mac has also said the Studio version will be geared at musicians. Pairing the AirPods Studio to an iOS or Mac unlocks custom equaliser settings, “with low, medium, and high frequency adjustments available”.

Related: Best wireless headphones

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