If you own a pair of AirPods, you know how helpful they’re when you need to listen to something with full clarity.
AirPods help filter out conversations against noisy backgrounds, and they can create a more immersive experience when listening to music. This magic is called noise cancellation and it’s one of the reasons why the AirPods are many people’s favorites.
AirPods Pro have active noise cancellation, which helps block out outside noise. Normal AirPods don’t have active noise cancellation but include other noise-control features. AirPods Pro let you choose from three types of noise control: active noise cancellation, transparency mode, and off.
In this article, I’ll explain how noise cancellation works and how you can use it. Each of the AirPods Pro noise control features has its own use, and I’ll walk you through how to use them.
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Since the first generation, the AirPods haven’t stopped evolving. In 2019, Apple introduced noise cancellation technology on the AirPods Pro. Although it wasn’t a new technology, it was a nice feature to have in a pair of premium true-wireless earbuds.
Here’s how the technology works: when your AirPods Pro are in active noise cancellation mode, their external microphones will pick up noise vibrations. Then the AirPods will produce soundwaves that counter the noise, filtering it out before it reaches your ear.
Meanwhile, the inward-facing microphones in your AirPods filter out noise coming from inside your ear. This doesn’t just make communication clearer for you, but also for the person on the other end of the conversation.
When you switch to transparency mode on your AirPods, they will allow you to hear outside noise more clearly. This mode helps you hear what is happening around you without straining your ears.
Active noise cancellation and transparency modes will give you a better performance when your AirPods are well fitted in your ear. After all, AirPods also rely on passive noise insulation to do the trick.
AirPods Max and AirPods Pro allow you to switch between noise control modes whenever you like.
You can also switch the modes on your iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, or Mac. You’ll hear a chime in your AirPods every time you make a switch. This careful integration between devices is one of Apple’s strengths, and one of the reasons why AirPods are the first earbud choice for Apple users.
Just keep in mind that if you switch between modes from iOS, iPadOS, watchOS, or macOS, Active Noise Cancellation will appear as Noise Cancellation.
If you’re wearing AirPods Max, you only need to long-press on the noise control button. This will allow you to switch between the Active Noise Cancellation and Transparency modes. If you’d like to change what modes you switch between when you press the button, you can customize that by going to the Bluetooth settings of your iPad, iPhone or Mac.
You can just as easily switch between the three noise control modes while using your AirPods Pro. Simply place your finger on the sensor until you hear a chime. The sensor is located on the stem of your AirPods Pro.
You only need to press one of the sensors to switch between Active Noise Cancellation and Transparency modes. No need to press both at the same time. Go to the Bluetooth settings of your iPhone, iPad, or Mac to change which mode has priority over the others.
If you want to use the noise cancellation controls on only one of your AirPods, follow these steps:
- Go to the Settings feature on your iPhone or iPad.
- Click on the Accessibility option.
- Touch on the AirPods option.
- Turn on the option labeled “Noise Cancellation with One Airpod.”
- Press and hold the force sensor on your AirPod to switch between Active Noise Cancellation, Transparency, and Off modes.
To switch between noise control options on your iPhone or iPad, there are two methods you can go about: using Bluetooth settings and using the control center on iOS or iPadOS.
Follow the steps below to use your iPhone or iPad to switch between noise control options on your AirPods.
- Go to the Settings option on your iPhone or iPad.
- Select the Bluetooth option.
- Tap on the More Info option when wearing your AirPods Max or AirPods. You can find the button in the list of devices, near the AirPods.
- Press on either the Active Noise Cancellation, Transparency, or Off options.
- If you prefer to change between modes directly from your AirPods Pro or AirPods Max, go to the Button Cycles Between option and select two or three options.
- Open the Control Center of your iOS or iPadOS.
- With your AirPods Max or both AirPods on, touch and hold the volume slider. After a moment, the additional controls should appear.
- Tap on the Noise Cancellation button. It’s located on the low left corner.
- Select between Noise Control, Transparency, or Off.
- Tap the Airplay icon when you’re listening to any audio on your watch.
- Tap on either the Noise Cancellation, Transparency, or Off options.
- Connect your AirPods Pro or AirPods Maxto your Mac.
- Click on the volume bar on the menu bar of your Mac.
- Select your AirPods Pro or AirPods Max.
- Select either Noise Cancellation, Transparency, or Off options.
You also have the option to use the Noise Control option on your AirPods Max or the force sensor on your AirPods Pro. Here’s how to do it:
- Connect your AirPods Pro or AirPods Max to your Mac.
- Tap on the Apple Menu.
- Click on the System Preferences option.
- Find and click on the Bluetooth option.
- Select your AirPods Max or AirPods Pro.
- Click on Options.
- Locate the Noise Control Toggles.
- Choose two or three options that will make up your cycle.
AirPods, from the first to the third generation, block out background noises to some extent. However, the AirPods Pro and the AirPods Max have active noise cancellation, which lets them block background noises more effectively.
The first generation of AirPods was released in 2016. Although they didn’t have noise cancellation capabilities, they worked well in blocking background noises. Later, the 2019 AirPods Pro included a noise cancellation feature, and they have impressed Apple consumers ever since.
The 1st, 2nd, and 3rd generations of AirPods use an accelerometer to draw the microphone to your voice and block other noises. This helps keep your voice clear during calls.
The third-generation AirPods have an extra feature to make your voice clearer: an acoustic mesh over each earbud. The mesh helps filter out wind coming into your AirPods. This improves sound quality when you’re outside.
AirPods Pro and AirPods Max pack active noise cancellation capabilities that help block outside noises.
The technology uses two microphones, one facing inwards and the other outwards. The external microphones detect noise outside your ear and use an algorithm to create soundwaves that negate the noise before you get to hear it.
The inward microphone works the same way, but it deals with noise coming from inside your ear—mostly unwanted resonance. The two microphones make adjustments to noise cancellation 200 times per second.
If you activate Transparency Mode on your AirPods, the external microphone will turn off. You will be able to clearly listen to your surroundings without the noise coming from inside your ear. The only way to shut down the inwards microphone is by switching off your AirPods.
To listen to outside noise with your AirPods, you’ll need to activate the Live Listen option. Your iPhone, iPad, or Mac will become your external microphone. The microphone will then send the sound to your AirPods.
To do this, you’ll need to connect your AirPods to your iPhone, iPad, or Mac. You also need to add Live Listen to the control center of your device. Here’s how to do it:
- Go to the Settings option.
- Select the Control Center option.
- Scroll down and click on the Add button next to the Hearing option.
- Tap on settings to save the changes.
- Open the control center on your device.
- Click on the Hearing button.
- Choose the Live Listen option.
- Place your device in front of the person you want to listen to.
- Adjust the volume if you can’t hear them clearly.
AirPods don’t block all noise. Unlike AirPods Pro, AirPods don’t have active noise cancellation, but they have other less effective noise-control features.
Although the Noise Cancellation technology on AirPods works to make your hearing clearer every second, it doesn’t block all the noise around you. If you’re doing a voice call, it won’t cancel out noises from the other person’s end.
There you have it: a fully detailed guide on the noise-cancellation features of AirPods. If you own an Apple product, AirPods are the best pick for getting clear, noise-free conversations. You’ll also get a more immersive experience when listening to music, even if you’re commuting through noisy streets.
- Apple Support: AirPods Pro and AirPods Max Active Noise Cancellation and Transparency mode
- Apple: For voice calls, will the microphones filter out background noise?
- Apple Support: Use Live Listen with AirPods or Beats
- The Verge: Apple announces AirPods Pro with noise cancellation, coming October 30th