A KGI note over the weekend suggested that Apple is planning to release new ‘high-end over-ear headphones‘ – though not until late fall at the earliest.

Without my experience of the HomePod, I’d have merely shrugged at the report. Apple hasn’t exactly made a name for itself for headphone quality, either through its own-brand EarPods and AirPods, or through the Beats-branded products it has promoted since buying the company …

There would have seemed to be no likelihood whatsoever of any headphones bearing an Apple or Beats logo offering the kind of audio that could be reasonably described as ‘high end.’

But my experience of HomePod gives me a very different perspective on this. Sure, I’m still not expecting the audio quality of any Apple headphones to rival that of my favorite B&W P5 Wireless, but the company has demonstrated itself capable of dramatically stepping up its audio game.

There’s also the fact that KGI expects this to be Apple branded, not released under the Beats name. This again suggests that Apple wants to offer something quite different to the bass monsters offered by a company which takes a ‘never mind the quality, feel the beat’ approach to sound.

My expectation would now be that Apple’s headphones will be very much in line with the HomePod offering:

  • Audio quality in the ‘very good’ range
  • A focus on delivering a wide soundstage
  • W1 chip (of course) for super-easy pairing with Apple devices
  • Great noise-cancelling tech
  • Great ‘Hey Siri’ performance for music-related stuff
  • Probably white, in line with AirPods styling

I doubt that it will make much of a dent in B&W or B&O sales, but agree with Seth that Bose ought to be sweating heavily.

Like HomePod, my take on today’s Bose headphones is that they fall into the ‘very good but not great’ range. Where Bose really scores is in its noise-cancelling tech, which beats just about everything out there. If Apple can match or beat the performance of this, and offer something around the same $350 price-point, then Bose is going to lose a lot of QuietComfort 35 sales.

What are your expectations? Let us know in the comments.

Photo: Fiil Canviis headphones

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About the Author

Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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