By Chand Bellur
February 23, 2020 at 6:10 p.m. PDT
- Target’s inventory control database shows hints of upcoming Apple products.
- Apple analyst Jon Prosser believes, based on this information, Apple will launch over-ear studio-quality wireless headphones.
- Apple is expected to launch new products in March, including a new low cost iPhone.
Apple Defines Contemporary Pro Audio
Apple products have long been used by creators. Bands such as Yes started recording on the Macintosh as early as 1993. The rest of the industry gradually followed suit, replacing rigid, proprietary digital recording systems with the Macintosh.
Through the years, music production has become more accessible. We’ve gone from low fidelity cassette-based four track recorders to studio quality 24-bit/96KHz recording on an inexpensive notebook computer. Even GarageBand on an iPad can produce impressive results, with a host of built-in virtual instruments.
Simultaneously, the bar for music creation is at an all time low. Dye your hair and snap your fingers, and you could win a few Grammies. The days of Steely Dan torturing studio musicians are long gone. People with no music training can create chart-topping pop music, with a lot of help from technology. Canned beats, loops and automated virtual instruments can be arranged into crowd-pleasing music.
Apple may see this as an opportunity. As content creation becomes a viable profession, companies like Apple can sell even more high end audio products to millions of customers.
Apple to Launch Studio Quality Wireless Headphones?
Rumors abound that Apple will soon launch high end, studio-quality wireless headphones. Apple analyst Jon Prosser believes the new “cans” will be called “StudioPods”.
Existing Apple earphones simply don’t work for studio environments. The frequency response is light on bass, with too much mid range bias for studio applications. Although AirPods Pro sound better than first or second generation wireless earphones, they’re still not suitable for studio applications.
Target’s inventory control system recently revealed a new product — “AirPods Gen X”. The database record appears to be a reference to new wireless headphones. Priced at $399, they’re more expensive than AirPods Pro, which may indicate that they’re not part of that product family.
The 16” MacBook Pro gives us another clue. Apple equipped their newest and best MacBook Pro lineup with studio quality microphones. If Apple is catering even more to professional and semi-pro audio producers, studio quality headphones are likely.
Headphones, however, are not the preferred way to consume audio in studio environments. Most audio engineers use reference monitors. These speakers are specially designed to provide a flat frequency response, whereas consumer speakers have a warmer and richer sound.
Studio reference monitors aren’t portable. Unlike headphones, you can’t bring studio monitors on a plane or train and expect to get work done. Touring musicians are always on the road, and may wish to create new material when inspiration strikes.
Semi-professional audio creators might not have the funds for reference monitors. Even high-end studios require quality headphones, as musicians need to hear backing tracks without bleeding into the microphones. Apple’s innovative wireless technology mates perfectly with the Mac, which has become a de facto standard in recording studios.
Studio quality headphones will likely debut at Apple’s March event. If the hints in Target’s inventory database prove correct, Apple’s new wireless headphones will cost $399 and should be available soon after unveiling.