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This is will be an interesting audio product to review. Who would’ve thought a tablet would end up on a site about sound quality? Well, to answer that question, it must be one with impressive sound. That is the word that I can use to describe the speaker setup on the 2021 iPad Pro.
A Little Background:
To start off, let’s get an understanding of the design. You have a tablet, a rather large one (especially if it is the 12.9-inch like my iPad Pro). While most will think only the display will benefit from this, let’s dive into something else that will benefit just as much, if not, better. This is sound quality.
The Design Of The iPad Pro 2021 Speaker Setup Is Smart.
Many years back, I was wondering when Apple was going to do something innovative with the speakers on their iPads. I was always blown away by the display upgrades over the years. But, the speakers never got the same attention. This always disappointed me. I always thought about a set of stereo speakers. One in each corner to give the ability to listen to stereo sound in any orientation.
2015 hits with me with a surprise. As, Apple had actually introduced a new line of iPads under the iPad Pro name. While, the 12.9-inch screen size of the larger one was a nice upgrade from the iPad Air line, I saw something else during the keynote that blew me away.
Enter: The 4 Speaker Array
The original iPad Pro brought an entirely innovative speaker design. This is known as the 4 speaker array. While left and right speakers were a VERY long, much-needed improvement, this is a step up even with that.
To start off, there is a full range speaker in every corner of the tablet. This allows stereo playback no matter what orientation you hold the iPad at. This isn’t all, as not only does the left and right channels change, Apple also did something unique.
Depending on orientation, the top two speakers are fed a full range signal. But, while the other two are full range drivers, they only get fed a lower mid range-low end signal. What this does, is give the array a very accurate soundstage and warm sound. It’s like having a set of two-way speakers in a tablet.
My Specific iPad
Due to not being in the budget, I put off buying the iPad Pro for a while. 2021 rolls around and with the 2021 12.9-inch comes some major upgrades. This includes the Liquid Retina XDR display and M1 SoC, I was ready for it. The 2021 iPad Pro is a beast of a tablet.
Back to the speaker array. This was the major selling point. As, I can utilize these speakers to edit the videos you see here. The display also ensures that everything I edit looks great. Not only this, the two combine to make this tablet the ultimate content playback machine. Everything, literally everything looks and sounds amazing. I’ve owned this tablet for almost a year and it continues to impress me.
Critical Listening On A Tablet?
As crazy as it sounds, yes I actually am critically listening to built in speakers on a tablet. But, this is in fact something I’ve been waiting to hear for years.
To start off, my first impressions: Of course the very first app I downloaded was Tidal. As an audiophile, all I could think about was “how does this thing sound?”. Well, upon first playback in landscape, I was taken back. It was immediately clear that the imaging was amazing. The Best way that I could describe it is like this: Think of a set of tower speakers and spread them far apart and sit far from them. This is literally what the iPad Pro’s speaker system sounds like.
My second thought was the mid bass production. I thought for sure it’d roll off a lot sooner than it does. But nope, there’s a noticeable depth to the mid bass. I also found it a bit punchy which is unusual for speakers on a mobile device. It is far from muddy.
Getting into the mid range: Depending on where the iPad is and it’s surroundings, there can be a peak around 300Hz. It is very slight however, and is only noticeable when the iPad is leaning against something such as laying flat. Keeping the back of the tablet away from anything solves this immediately leaving you with a relatively balanced lower mid range.
Now, let’s get into the upper mid range and top end as this is where the 2021 iPad Pro really shines at. It is really hard to believe that Apple managed to get a set of full range speakers to act as tweeters facing towards you (remember, the speakers fire sideways). As the reproduction up top is not only very transparent, it doesn’t roll off like one would expect from speakers on a tablet.
This brings us to soundstage. Yes, we have a very well-balanced full range sound, but how does this fair with side firing speakers? Well, I can say this. It’s very hard to believe that the speakers are even there. You don’t hear them. You hear their soundstage. This is one of the biggest advantages to the 4 speaker array. Honestly, it sounds like someone shrunk a set of tower speakers down and mounted them to the sides of the iPad itself. As long as you’re sitting about 9 inches from the display, you will be immersed in a rather wide soundstage. It really is amazing.
The Wrap Up
To end it off, the 2021 iPad Pro is an amazing device. But, one of the most underrated features of it is the 4 speaker array. It really is innovation at it’s finest. That’s the only way you’d find a tablet being reviewed by an audiophile. Combine the speaker setup with the Liquid Retina XDR display, I’ve had an amazing experience watching full length movies on this thing in pure enjoyment. The sound quality blows away most built in TV speakers and the mini LED display is very good.
Anyways, hope you enjoyed reading! Please don’t be afraid to offer your experience or ask questions below!
6 thoughts on “iPad Pro 2021 Speakers – Why They’re Great”
Has anyone done or read comparisons on the IPad Pro 2020 vs the 2021 speakers? Am planning to buy Open Box or Refurbished.
As far as I know, they very slightly with their tone. Some prefer the 2020 while others prefer the 2021.They’re both very good however.
I would go with the 2021 anyways as the M1 is a far better power house of a processor. You also get a much better display.
I am also stunned by the sound quality of my 12.9” iPad Pro (4th Gen). I always take my iPad Pro as the audio source, then stream music via Airplay to my dac and active speakers. One day I played my favourite music for causal listening. After a while I suddenly realized that I forgot to turn on my dac! The music was indeed coming straight out of the four internal speakers of my iPad Pro. I was amazed!
I sometimes forget to connect mine to my DAC via USB and start playing music. Sometimes it makes me just want to listen on the iPad.
Hopefully one day, we get an iPhone with a similar design.
I’ve been away from audio gear for quite a while now (buying a house tends to do that sadly!), but it was only when I started playing music based games on my 2021 iPad Pro recently that it suddenly struck me just how *great* the sound from this thing really is. I had to search as I was thinking, “It can’t just be my imagination, or have I missed some quantum leap in speaker technology?!” but nope I knew I wasn’t imagining it! I’ve been getting the idea of sorting out the terrible sound quality I’ve gotten so used to when watching movies on a bedroom TV recently and the whole idea of Atmos and millions of speakers just seems a waste of time after going beyond 6.1 had seemed silly enough even when I had the space for it. I just want a stereo soundstage that is like this! Time to get the sound pressure meter out and get my beloved matched Kefs back up and running properly to see if they’re as good as I remember, I suspect a sound bar just isn’t gonna be able to compare at all to them as it would be nice to save space but the iPad Pro has reminded me just how huge the difference between “it works” and “this sounds ” can really be!
From my experience, nothing beats a classic two channel system. A good overall two channel system will roast a surround sound system when it comes to music. They can be good with movies too.
The right set of speakers can image so well that you’ll feel like they’re hugging you. A good amplifier or receiver can breathe in a wide soundstage as well.
I’m glad you’re enjoying the sound on your iPad Pro. Mine has served me so much content. It really is an amazing design for a set of speakers in a tablet.