Trying (again) to experience that Adaptive Audio magic

Posted by Matt Birchler
β€” 1 min read

A few days ago, I wrote about how Adaptive Audio, a new feature for AirPods in iOS 17 simply hasn't clicked for me. In response, I got almost equal numbers of people agreeing with me and people who had different experiences.

Today I had a near perfect set of situations hit all at once that gave me a great chance to validate my experience wasn't just a fluke last time.

  1. I got a new iPhone and am not running beta software on it (yet)
  2. I double-checked that my AirPods Pro were on the latest firmware version
  3. I mowed the lawn
  4. My neighbor was getting a new chimney put in, so there were buzzsaws and hammers going all day

When I mowed the lawn, I cycled through all 3 modes (transparency, adaptive, & noise cancelling) and tried to figure out the differences. Noise cancelling did exactly what it always does and turned the mower into an innocuous hum. Transparency mode made it sound almost like I wasn't wearing headphones at all (although I don't recommend this while mowing). And finally, adaptive audio...well, it was still indistinguishable from transparency mode to me. The mower was still super loud, and I had to increase the volume of my podcast to hear it over the noise.

And then put shortly, the exact same thing happened when I used all 3 modes with the buzzsaws, hammers, and chatter from the people working across the street: Adaptive Audio made sure I heard everything just as if I wasn't wearing headphones and did equally little to subdue the annoying sounds around me.

At this point I'm just going to let Adaptive Audio bake for a while before I try to use it again. As my mentions from last time indicate, I'm definitely not the only one who has experienced the vast nothingness of Adaptive Audio, so if it's a bug, I hope Apple can address it in a future update.