Apple launches third generation AirPods with spatial audio

ApplePods 3 get more immersive, for longer

by Andy Bassett
Hi-Fi News

1

Apple launches third generation AirPods with spatial audio

Apple has finally launched its third generation of AirPods along with some colourful new HomePod mini options and an affordable voice only plan for Apple Music. 

Emphasising the company’s music credentials, the Apple Unleashed event finally took the wraps off the long anticipated AirPods 3, dubbed AirPods third generation by the Cupertino tech giant. 

AirPods 3rd generation

As the successor to 2019’s AirPods 2, the new earbuds have undergone something of a redesign with a look not unlike that of the higher level AirPods Pro with the shorter stems, and indeed the latest iteration now adds the Pro’s spatial audio, head tracking and Adaptive EQ to its feature locker, along with a longer battery life. 

Apple launches third generation AirPods with spatial audio
Apple AirPods 3rd generation

The introduction of spatial audio featuring Dolby Atmos support across Apple Music, movies, and TV shows means more immersion as sounds can be heard anywhere within a 360° soundscape. Moreover, dynamic head tracking ensures sound always appears to come from a direction relative to the source, so if you are watching a movie and turn away from the screen, the audio will sound like it is coming from behind you, or instruments mixed to a specific side of the stereo image will always remain on that side no matter which way your head turns.

There’s a new low distortion driver and acoustic system to keep audio quality high and the AirPods 3 also employ Adaptive EQ which uses the H1 chip and computational audio to adjust the sound in real time according to the fit of the buds in the ear.

There’s an improvement on the AirPods 2 battery life with the AirPods 3rd generation adding an extra hour to its predecessor’s five hours of charge, while the case can recharge the new AirPods another four times to give a total of 30 hours of playback. And if you need just a quick top up, a 5 minute boost will deliver an hour’s worth of music.

Apple launches third generation AirPods with spatial audio
Apple AirPods 3rd generation specs

Durability has been given a bump with IPX4 water and sweat resistance for both the earbuds and the case and a new skin-detect sensor accurately discerns if AirPods are in the ear and pauses playback when they are removed.

The AirPods (3rd generation) are priced at £169 / $179 and are available to order now with availability from Oct 26th, while the AirPods 2 now drop to £119  / $129. Availability is across 26 countries.

HomePod mini

Meanwhile, Apple has spruced up its range of HomePod mini speakers which now come in three new colours with yellow, orange and blue joining white and space gray. The new hues can brighten up your home and are an affordable foundation for multi room audio.  

As well as requesting music, checking information and setting reminders, the intercom function can let your instructions reach all corners of the home when corralling members of the household for meals times or getting everyone ready at the start of the day - no more shouting from the bottom of the stairs, unless you want to of course!

Apple launches third generation AirPods with spatial audio
Apple HomePod mini new colours

The HomePod mini remains at $99/£99 and the new shades will be available in Australia, Austria, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain, Taiwan, the UK, and the US and will be available for purchase in November. 

Apple Music Voice Plan

Like the rest of the range of Apple’s hardware products, HomePod mini is designed to work with Apple Music, allowing access to its 90 million song library, tens of thousands of playlists, personalised mixes and genre stations. Now, to help you get started, Apple is introducing Apple Music Voice Plan. This is a new, affordable subscription tier that lets you command Apple Music with your voice by using Siri as your personal DJ for $4.99 a month. 

Apple launches third generation AirPods with spatial audio
Siri, play something good!

Moreover, Apple Music is also adding hundreds of new mood and activity playlists that are fully optimised just for voice interaction, so it’s just a case of saying “Siri, play the dinner party playlist,” “Play something chill,” or even “Play more like this”.

Apple Music Voice Plan costs $4.99 per month and will be available later in the autumn across the same 17 territories as for the HomePod mini, where presumably the $4.99 will translate to £4.99 per month in the UK.

Source: Apple Unleashed Event
Image Source: Apple  / Google

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