AirPods are Apple’s most popular accessory to date. They’re a convenient way to listen to music and make calls on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac. But what if your AirPods aren’t playing at their average volume? We are here to answer one of the most common technical questions about these headphones – why are AirPods so quiet?
The first thing to check is the volume level. It could just be that your headphones are on low volume and need to be turned up louder. Note that, AirPods, like others, have to comply with headphone safety. This means that there is a volume limit. That said, the AirPods are very loud at full volume and it’s advised that you don’t play music on maximum volume for long periods of time.
Your AirPods might be quiet due to any of the following:
- The battery is dying
- There’s debris in them
- Your phone isn’t paired correctly with the AirPods
- They are on low power mode
- The connected device has software issues
Below, we cover each of these problems in more detail.
1. Your AirPods Battery is Dying
The first thing to check when your AirPods are quiet is whether they need to be recharged. Look at the battery indicator on your iPhone or ask Siri, “Hey Siri, what’s the battery on my AirPods?”
The batteries in your AirPods will eventually run down and need to be recharged. It applies to your charging case and earbuds too. This is usually the main cause of AirPods being quiet. The status light on the front of the case can tell you how much charge is left in it, as highlighted in the table below:
|Status Light Color||Meaning|
|Green||Your AirPods are fully charged|
|Amber||Your AirPods have less than 50% battery|
|No light||It’s time to recharge your AirPods and case|
How to Charge Your AirPods
You can recharge your AirPods in two simple steps:
- Place them inside their charging case.
- Place the case on a wireless charging mat or plug it into a lightning cable connected to a wall outlet or computer. After about 15 minutes, you should have about three hours of listening time.
Expert tip: You get two full charges from the case if you listen at 50% volume and keep noise cancellation turned off.
2. There’s Lint or Debris in Your AirPods
If you have an older pair of AirPods or have never cleaned them before, some dirt may be trapped inside, preventing the speaker from functioning correctly and making them quiet. The earpiece area of the AirPods is the most likely place to get dirty.
Sources of Dirt in Your AirPods
Here are the four primary sources of dirt in AirPods:
- Ear wax from the wearer’s ear gets in the AirPods and dries out, leaving a stain on the surface.
- The matte finish on the AirPods can also catch skin flakes, makeup, and other things that can accumulate in the pores on your skin (these are called sebum).
- The charging case is always open and may accumulate dust that can fall into the charging connector when you put your AirPods away.
- Dust and debris inside your pocket or purse can also get into your AirPods if they aren’t in a protective case or it’s missing a lid.
Note: You may hear crackling or distortion from one or both earbuds due to the dirt trapped inside. This problem can occur even if you don’t listen to music at high volumes.
How to Clean Your AirPods
It’s easy to clean your AirPods, but the process differs depending on the model. If you have AirPods Pro, ensure that the ear tips are completely dry before putting them back in your ears. For regular AirPods, you don’t need to worry about drying them off.
Here are the four simple steps to cleaning your AirPods:
- Ensure your AirPods aren’t connected to anything.
- Remove them from the case and clean the earbuds.
- Use a soft, dry toothbrush to brush the speakers and microphones gently. You can also use a Q tip.
- Use a small amount of compressed air to blow away any remaining dust and debris that may be stuck inside the device.
- Your headphones need to be cleaned regularly
- Don’t use materials like leather or denim
- Don’t use soap or other household cleaning products like shampoos and conditioners.
- Don’t get moisture in the openings.
- Don’t expose your headphones to high heat or leave them in direct sunlight for extended periods.
3. Your Phone Isn’t Paired Correctly With Your AirPods
If your AirPods are paired with your phone, but you can’t hear any sound out of them, your phone isn’t paired correctly. If you haven’t used them with your iPhone for a long time, you may need to reconnect your AirPods.
Follow these steps to check if your phone is correctly paired with your AirPods:
- Ensure the device you want to use is on the same iCloud account as your AirPods.
- Open the AirPods’ case next to the device you want to pair them with. Wait for a popup to appear on the screen showing the status of your AirPods.
- If a “Not Your AirPods” message appears, tap Connect and wait for them to finish pairing before using them again.
How to Fix Incorrectly Paired AirPods
Here are a few troubleshooting tips that’ll help you fix the issue:
- Go to the Bluetooth settings (Settings > Bluetooth) and ensure that Bluetooth is on. Your AirPods should appear in the list of devices with a “Connected” label under it. If they don’t, tap on them and choose “Forget This Device.”
- Go to Settings > General > Reset > Reset Network Settings: Now, put your AirPods back in their case and close the lid. Keep it closed for five seconds or so before opening it again. Press the setup button on the back until the status light flashes white. Wait for your iPhone to display a popup asking if you want to connect to “AirPods.” Tap on “Connect.”
The video below further explains how to fix AirPods that won’t connect.
4. Your AirPods Are on Low Power Mode
Low Power Mode reduces your iPhone’s power consumption, extending its battery life. When enabled, it reduces or disables certain features such as:
- Automatic downloads
- Email fetching
- Background app refresh
- Some visual effects.
While this mode doesn’t affect your AirPods’ battery life, it affects their functionality. Low Power Mode turns off Bluetooth when your device isn’t connected to another Bluetooth device. Once you’ve enabled Low Power Mode, you’ll need to manually turn Bluetooth back on for your AirPods to work as usual.
To see if the low power setting is on, go to Settings -> Battery and look at the top of the screen. You’ll see a toggle switch next to “Low Power Mode” if it’s turned on. Tap the toggle switch to turn it off, and then try using your AirPods again.
5. The Connected Device Has Software Issues
The software on the device you’ve connected to your AirPods is responsible for connecting and communicating with the accessory. The software needs to be up-to-date for them to function correctly.
In some cases, though, the software can malfunction due to bugs or other issues. This might cause the AirPods to fail to connect to a device, or they might play audio out of one earphone only.
If you suspect that the software on your iPhone is causing issues with your AirPods, follow these steps to fix it:
- Under Settings > General, click Software Update.
- If an update is available, select Download and Install.
- Don’t worry if your AirPods aren’t charging, as they will charge when you connect them back to their case while updating your device’s software.
You can also leave them in their case while they charge or change the battery status icon in the Control Center from green to white by opening the charging case’s lid.
Are Your AirPods Still Quiet?
If you have followed all of the instructions in this guide and your AirPods still aren’t playing at normal volume, they could be damaged or faulty. You will need to reach out to Apple Support to investigate further.
Can you turn off noise canceling on AirPods Pro?
Yes. You can turn off this feature by pressing and holding on the stem of your AirPods Pro or by going into Settings > Bluetooth and tapping on your AirPods Pro.
What is the difference between Transparency Mode and Active Noise Cancellation?
When the transparency mode is on, you can hear outside noise. It’s great for listening to a song while also hearing what’s going on around you.
Active Noise Cancellation uses dual beamforming microphones to continuously adapt to each ear and headphone fit, controlling what you hear—so you only listen to what you want to hear. This setting means you can reduce loud sounds around you while playing music without having to increase the volume to the maximum. It also results in better sound quality.