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

2020 looks to be the year of Apple headphones, with tech giant looking to introduce the AirPods Studio, a high-end pair of over-ears.

Surprisingly, the amount of leaks about the headphones makes them sound like some sort audiophile sieve. So far details have emerged about the rumoured release date, the price and look of what are shaping up to be a potentially innovative pair of headphones.

We had thought they’d be called AirPods X, but that is model name is more likely to be reference to a pair of sports headphones due either later this year or in 2021. And we may be able to catch a glimpse of them soon, with Apple shifting its production of the over-ears from China to Vietnam to ensure they launch in time for the WWDC event in June.

Excited by the prospect of the AirPods Studio? Read on for more details.

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

When will AirPods Studio be released?

In a note to investors, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo mooted a 2020 release date. Although the headphones have reportedly encountered numerous delays, including the Covid-19 pandemic, they are on track to launch this year.

The covid-19 pandemic caused more delays in terms of testing units, but with Apple deciding to use Vietnam instead of China for the production of the Studios, they’re expected to be revealed at WWDC 2020 conference on June 22nd.

In fact, it’s looking certain they’ll make their appearance at the event. YouTube channel EverythingApplePro reported that firmware for the headphones had been finalised.

This ‘exclusive’ update from EverythingApplePro was sourced 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”.

How much will AirPods Studio cost?

Bloomberg reported all the way back in June 2018 that the Apple over-ears would be in competition with Bose and Sennheiser. That implies a price tag of £350/$399, the same as the Bose NC 700 Headphones, Sennheiser Momentum Wireless 3 and Bowers & Wilkins PX7.

Jon Prosser has also commented on the price saying that the Studio – codenamed B515 – will sell for $349. That likely indicates a £349 price tag doe UK folks, confirming Bloomberg’s initial report.

What will the AirPods Studio look like?

Back in 2018, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo stated 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”.

As we’ve learnt with the AirPods wireless earbuds, Apple does to go off on a whim with its designs. We first caught a glimpse of pixelated icons apparently from iOS 14 code of white and black colourways. We wager they’d be the same size as the Beats Solo Pro.

Bloomberg reported the headphones will have some unique features. Two variations are in development – one is a premium version with leather-like fabrics, and the other has been targeted for fitness wearers and uses lighter, more breathable materials.

Aesthetically they’re said to have a retro design, with oval-shaped ear cups attached to the headband by thin, metal arms with magnets. The arms connect to the headband from the top of the ear cups, instead of at the side. Having magnets also allows the headbands to be switched in and out; so they can used for fitness purposes or for more conventional use. Quite how durable they are remains to be seen, but we’ll be sure to put them through their paces once we get our mitts on them.

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

What features will the AirPod over-ears have?

Little has been mentioned about the tech powering the headphones, so we’ll have to make assumptions of our own in the meantime. Unless Apple has a faster version coming to the market, we’d say they’d have the H1 chip. The H1 allows quick connection to devices, Siri voice operation and Bluetooth 5.0, although like with other Apple products, Bluetooth 5 is used to set-up/connect to other Apple devices.

Tech site Macworld claimed the headphones will have active noise-cancellation and wireless charging. The former seems more than likely, considering it’d be strange if Apple released a premium-priced headphone without it. Off the top of our heads, we haven’t seen a full-sized headphone support wireless charging, so file this under ‘maybe’.

Apple’s AirPods have decent battery life at 24 hours, though they’re being left behind with each new wireless earbud that hits the market. Over-ear headphones with noise cancelling tend to have 20 to 30 hours battery, and unless the Studio is a massive battery drain, expect the same.

Siri voice assistance is, of course, expected. Touch controls would make sense, but let’s not rule out physical controls either. It’ll carry a Lightning connection, despite the EU parliament calling for standardised charging across all devices. It’s unlikely this will happen before 2021.

Wear functionality is thought to be on the menu, with 9to5mac reporting that it’ll work slightly differently. The headphones will have sensors that detect whether they’re on your head or neck, but more interesting is that they can also detect your left ear from your right, which means there’s no wrong way to wear the headphones. Clever.

9to5mac also said the headphones will be geared towards professional users too. Pairing the AirPods Studio to an iOS or Mac unlocks custom equaliser settings “with low, medium, and high frequency adjustments available”.

In terms of audio performance we’re expecting the best of any AirPods. An over-ear style better isolates audio, it’ll have bigger drivers and a closed-backed design will stop sound from leaking.

Related: Best wireless headphones

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