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Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you

Huawei tries another stab at noise cancelling earphones

Building a great pair of noise cancelling earphones is where most of the premium portable audio world is going, and Huawei is hoping its next pair has what it takes.

There’s no shortage of earphone options out in the world, but some are clearly better than others.

Apple’s AirPods Pro and Sony’s WF-1000XM3 rank above others from recent tests, even doing well going head-to-head, and while there are others coming out from other brands, much of the focus in the high-end wireless earphone world doesn’t just come from sound, but also ability. Specifically, the ability to cancel out noise.

More are on the way, thanks in part to chip developments from companies such as Qualcomm, but some have been dabbling in it for a while, and have new gear ready to go.

One of these is Huawei, which has seen its phones take a bit of a backseat in the past year, thanks in part to issues with the US government. Huawei’s laptops and earphones are still going ahead, however, and there are a few new models of the latter on the way.

New for Huawei in October are the FreeBuds Pro, a newer and shorter take on its noise cancelling earphones, which earlier in the year didn’t exactly knock our socks off, thanks in part to some of the weakest noise cancelling we’d heard, which actually let more noise in rather than the opposite.

Its latest pair aims to fix that, using in-earphone tips and algorithmic “intelligent dynamic noise cancellation” to deal with the outside world, quelling sounds by automatically switching between one of three noise cancelling modes: ultra, cozy, and general.

Huawei hasn’t quite said what each does, but the idea appears to be based on the type of sound, with cozy for at home or a library, general for out and about, and ultra for in transportation, likely differing based on the volume and frequency of the sound that needs to be cancelled out.

When noise cancellation is switched on, Huawei’s FreeBuds Pro are built to offer up to 4.5 hours of wireless sound, while no cancellation brings it to up to 7 hours, with the earphone design built to stabilise the driver inside the earphone to provide fewer vibrations and a more crisp sound, the company says.

“From smarter features such as Awareness Mode to keep use safe when crossing the street to intelligently sensing the surrounding environment to improve the noise cancelling experience, they demonstrate Huawei’s commitment to deliver the very best in next-generation technologies that can enrich and enhance our everyday lives,” said Larking Huang, Managing Director of Huawei’s Consumer Business in Australia.

The FreeBuds Pro aren’t Huawei’s only new pair for Australia, with both a corded pair of noise cancelling earphones in the FreeLace Pro, while a new take on the FreeBuds 3 is also being released in the FreeBuds 3i, though there’s no word on quite what has changed between the old version and the new one.

Like other earphones, these all should be compatible across Android and iOS, though Huawei phones may get a little more functionality baked into the phone’s operating system for the earphones.

As for release, Australians can expect to find the 2020 Huawei FreeBuds options in stores now, with the FreeLace Pro from $199, the FreeBuds 3i from $229, and the FreeBuds Pro from $329 across the country.

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