Shure may not have changed much of the design of its Aonic 50 headphones for the second-generation version, but it did a lot of work on the inside to massively upgrade all-around performance. The company announced the new model today, a set of $349 premium noise-canceling wireless headphones that now offer spatial audio, improved active noise cancellation (ANC) and twice the battery life of the previous version.
In terms of sound quality, Shure says the new Aonic 50 has its spatial audio tech onboard that leverages an "acoustical modeling and critical listening" algorithm to offer immersion without compromising the original audio. There are three modes here — Music, Cinema and Podcast — which the company explains are tailored to each use case. Music mode offers the experience of listening with "high-end speakers" while Cinema mode adds more low-end tone to give the effect of being in a theater, maintains clarity and offers "natural sounding" dialog. Podcast mode positions the host's voice closer to the user's ears. This is all powered by 50mm dynamic drivers and Snapdragon Sound with aptX Adaptive, allowing you to stream music in AAC, SBC and LDAC codecs.
Rather than keep the ANC setup from the previous version, tech simply described as "adjustable," Shure opted for a new hybrid active noise cancellation system. Like hybrid ANC on other headphones, the company uses microphones on the inside and the outside of the ear cup to monitor environmental clamor. Shure also allows you to control the amount of noise blocking and ambient sound with four modes: Light, Moderate, Max and MaxAware. The last of which is a new option the company describes as "perfect balance between blocking unwanted noise and maintaining awareness of your surroundings." There's also an Enhanced Environment mode that allows you to adjust those levels with a slider rather than relying on presets.
Shure has more than doubled the battery life for the second-gen Aonic 50. It now offers up to 45 hours of listening time on a charge, up from the 20 hours on the previous version. There's also a quick-charge feature on the new model that gives you five hours of use in 15 minutes. The company is also touting "superior" call quality thanks to beamforming mics with automatic gain control. Shure says the six built-in microphones adjust automatically to combat ambient noise, which it claims provides "unmatched" clarity. Companies make lofty promises about voice performance all the time, and since mileage varies greatly on those, we'll have to reserve judgement here until we can complete our own testing.
The Aonic 50 (2nd gen) will be available in September.