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Apple Patents Earbuds That Auto Adjust Based on Seal Quality

While Apple’s seemingly-ubiquitous white earbuds have never been known for their sound quality, that may be about to change.new_iphone_nano

According to a new patent, Apple wants to create earbuds that detect when there’s a bad seal between the earbud and the wearer’s ear, and compensate for the difference in sound quality.

Why is having a good seal so important? Here’s what Apple had to say in the filing:

When properly positioned in the user’s ear, the earbud forms a seal with the user’s ear. The seal blocks ambient noise. The seal also forms an enclosed cavity adjacent to the

A poor seal generally results in poor earbud performance. For example, a poor seal may change the acoustic properties of the enclosed cavity in a way that disrupts the normal operation of the earbud speaker. Bass response may be significantly reduced. Noise cancellation performance may also suffer. A poorly sealed earbud may also sound much quieter to the user than a well sealed earbud, so a poor seal may adversely affect the balance between right and left channels during stereo playback.

If you’ve ever tried in-ear earbuds, you probably know exactly the sensation of having a seal come ever-so-slightly loose, just enough for one ear to be 130705094628877louder than the other. What Apple wants to do, according to this new patent, is use detection of a seal loss to automatically adjust volume, equalizer and noise cancellation settings. That way, even if an earbud is loose, you shouldn’t lose too much sound quality.

Ultimately, the tech won’t solve any underlying fit issues, which is why Apple’s patent also discusses a system for notifying the user that there’s a poor seal between the earbud and his or her ear.

What do you think: is this the future of earbuds?

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About Adam Bernstein

Adam Bernstein is the owner of The Hearing Professionals, Milwaukee's premier hearing healthcare facility. As the owner of The Hearing Professionals, Mr. Bernstein has over 20 years of experience in the hearing healthcare industry. He began his career in 1995 at GN Danavox, one of the largest hearing aid manufacturers in the world. After leaving Danavox, Mr. Bernstein opened two hearing healthcare offices in Chicago, IL. In 2001 he moved to Milwaukee, WI and opened The Hearing Professionals. In 2008 he added a second Wisconsin office in the town of Brookfield. Today The Hearing Professionals is the largest private audiology practice in SE Wisconsin. Mr. Bernstein has written numerous articles on hearing healthcare which has appeared in newspapers throughout the country and has been interviewed by news programs regarding advances in the hearing industry. Mr. Bernstein a member of Unitron’s Customer Advisory Board and a graduate of The University of Minnesota. You can email him at and you can visit The Hearing Professionals at

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