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Apple acoustics VP talks AirPods and the limitations of Bluetooth in new interview

Apple acoustics VP talks AirPods and the limitations of Bluetooth in new interview thumbnail

Apple’s AirPods have been a runway success over the last several years, and the lineup now includes multiple different variations from which to choose.

In a new interview with What HiFi, Gary Geaves, Apple’s VP of Acoustics, and Eric Treski from the Product Marketing Team went in-depth on the technology behind AirPods, with an interesting focus on how Bluetooth can be a major bottleneck.

One of the most notable comments in the interview came from Geaves when asked whether Bluetooth could be “holding back” the AirPods hardware and “stifling sound quality. In his response, Geaves danced around criticizing Bluetooth directly, but acknowledged that Apple would really like a wireless standard that allows for more bandwidth.

“Obviously the wireless technology is critical for the content delivery that you talk about”, he says, “but also things like the amount of latency you get when you move your head, and if that’s too long, between you moving your head and the sound changing or remaining static, it will make you feel quite ill, so we have to concentrate very hard on squeezing the most that we can out of the Bluetooth technology, and there’s a number of tricks we can play to maximise or get around some of the limits of Bluetooth. But it’s fair to say that we would like more bandwidth and… I’ll stop right there. We would like more bandwidth”, he smiles.

Later in the interview, Geaves explained that AirPods 3 have essentially been built from the ground up, using only custom-made components — “nothing’s off the shelf,” he explained.

“We started with looking very closely at the strengths of the original AirPods”, Geaves explains, “and we know many people really like the effortless open fit that doesn’t stick into your ear canal and rests comfortably on your ear. That doesn’t create a seal, which is what people like, but it creates challenges for the audio team”.

The full interview is incredibly interesting and offers a deeper look at Apple’s Acoustics team working on AirPods and technologies like Spatial Audio. You can find it on the What HiFi website right here.

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