The world of audio is such a vast place that finding a handful of things to look forward to this year was a strenuous task. Not so much finding the products to feature in today’s blog but rather cutting our list down to four picks considering there was so much we’re anticipating this year. Of course, audio is a broad category, so we’ve made sure to include a mix of wireless earphones, over-ear headphones and speakers, so you’ve got a sense of what’s to come across the whole board – let’s dive in.
Nothing Ear 2
OnePlus founder, Carl Pei, founded Nothing back in 2021 and announced his new start-up alongside the launch of his debut product – the Nothing Ear 1. The Nothing Ear 1’s were a breath of fresh air in the audio tech scene, showcasing a unique transparent design that accentuates the underlying basis of their whole brand, minimalism that amounts to Nothing. Nothing since followed up the Nothing Ear 1’s with a handset, Nothing Phone 1, and their second pair of earbuds, which were a budget alternative to their original Ear 1’s, so it’s about time Nothing pulled a sequel to their debut Ear 1’s out of the bag. In terms of the design and specs of the Nothing Ear 2, we’re anticipating a familiar design that retains the same DNA as the Nothing Ear 1’s with some quality-of-life upgrades. These may consist of shorter stems and a slight change to the tips, but besides this, they’re likely to share a near-identical look. The main differences will lie in the internals, and while the Nothing Ear 1’s came with 11.6mm drivers, Active Noise Cancellation and wireless charging – the second generation is likely to upgrade to larger 12.6mm drivers for bigger, deeper audio alongside some software updates for the Nothing app to offer more customisability to edit your listening experience as you see fit.
JBL Flip 7
If you want a rugged and robust speaker which is easily portable and features smartphone charging, then there’s really no need to look any further than the JBL Flip 6… well in 2022, there wasn’t, but we’re in 2023 now – onto bigger and better things! The JBL Flip 6 was a superb speaker, and whilst it didn’t leave much room for upgrade, there were key features on the Flip 6 that some felt were missing, and this year, the JBL Flip 7 is set to build on this to bring us the portable speaker we’re all waiting for. Key features we can expect to see on the JBL Flip 7 include slightly larger drivers for improved sound quality both in tone, clarity and bass. In tandem with this, we can also anticipate the integration of the latest iteration of Bluetooth 5.2 (for a more stable connection) and faster smartphone charging than its predecessor. Physical aspects of the JBL Flip 6 will remain the same, although there may be the addition of some fun new colours, so that’ll certainly spice up the JBL range in 2023 alongside other speaker releases.
AirPods Max 2
The Apple AirPods Max are among the best-sounding headphones money can buy; however, their high price, limitations for Android users, and lack of a 3.5mm audio port means they can only really be recommended to iOS users with a lot of money to spare—and no interest in Hi-Res Audio. Now while the absence of Hi-Res audio is by far not a deal breaker on this impressive headset, the prior caveats are, which is what we anticipate the AirPods Max 2 to fulfil – for the most part. We’re aware that asking Apple for a 3.5mm headphone jack may be as ambiguous as a 10-year-old child asking for an iPhone 14 Pro Max at Christmas – but miracles do happen, and if Apple is to take on board the consumer feedback off their first pair, then we may be in with a treat on the second generation. In tandem with wire support, a feature that we feel may be brought to the second-generation AirPods Max is Android support. Now those of you who remember the first AirPods know that this used to be a limiting condition on those as well; however this was since removed on the 2nd Gen AirPods as Apple realised the true potential of their earphones if they decided to make it more widely supported. If they follow in their own steps- we should see Android support on the AirPods Max 2 this year. In terms of design changes on the second-generation AirPods Max, there’s a possibility Hi-res audio could be integrated alongside a quicker charge-up time and longer-lasting battery to allow people to get the most out of their listening experience. This will certainly be made possible if Apple decides to opt for a USB-C port on the AirPods Max 2. It’s been a whole two years since the first generation AirPods Max was released, and our inclination is for Apple to reveal this slightly later than their iPhone release this year with a November 2023 unveil alongside their new Mac range.
AirPods Pro 3
The AirPods Pro 2 were released alongside the iPhone 14 range last year and brought forward some rather welcomed upgrades to the range, which were all powered by their new H2 chip. This year we’re expecting Apple to up-the-anti with the AirPods Pro 3 with the right feature upgrades -we’re here for it! The first upgrade we’re expecting from the AirPods Pro 3 is the introduction of an Apple H3 chip supporting Bluetooth 5.2. This, as a whole, will be able to power larger drivers, accommodate more AI features and provide more power efficiency, thus allowing longer Spotify binge sessions on that one playlist you play when you’re in your feelings – we’ve all been there. In terms of what exactly we can expect – the AirPods Pro 2 boast a moderate 6 hours of listening time on a single charge with noise cancelling enabled. It’d be brilliant to see this boosted to last a full day at 9 hours, as this will certainly set Apple ahead of the curve - depending on what Nothing decides to equip their Ear 2’s with. Design-wise we can’t expect too much change from the Apple AirPods 2; if anything, we’re anticipating an identical design with the quality-of-life upgrades detailed above. As the AirPods Pro 2’s was released alongside the iPhone 14 range last year, it only makes sense for the third generation to be brought out alongside the iPhone 15 range, which we’ve estimated to be in and around late September or October.
We’re excited to see what the world of audio will bring us in 2023, and quite frankly, I’ve mentally pre-ordered two things out of this list for when they arrive, so writing this was a blast. Let us know what other audio tech you’re looking forward to seeing this year in the discussion box below.