Are you an avid user of Apple’s iconic AirPods but have noticed a frustrating problem lately – muffled sound? We feel your pain and are here to help you troubleshoot and find the best solutions. In the following sections, we’ll explore common culprits behind the muffled sound and equip you with practical tips to restore the audio brilliance you expect.
AirPods can sound muffled due to accumulated dirt, earwax, or debris in the speaker grille. Over time, these particles can clog the AirPods, leading to a reduction in sound clarity. Properly cleaning the AirPods and their case can often resolve the muffled sound issue.
While AirPods are generally reliable, issues like this can arise, especially in older or extensively used earbuds. However, before assuming a serious problem that requires repair or replacement, there are simple and quick fixes you can try to resolve the muffled sound problem and restore your AirPods’ audio quality.
For users with first-gen AirPods Pro manufactured before October 2020, sound issues like cracking or static-like sounds may not result in muffled audio but can still cause audio problems. In these cases, Apple offers a replacement program and affected users can have their earbuds checked and replaced at an Apple Authorized Service Provider.
How Can I Fix Muffled Sound on My AirPods?
To fix the muffled sound on your AirPods, clean the speaker grilles and case using rubbing alcohol. If the issue persists, reset the AirPods by holding the setup button for 15 seconds. Check your Bluetooth connection and update iOS to resolve any connection-related problems.
AirPods are renowned for their clear and balanced sound right out of the box. However, there are instances where they suddenly sound muffled, as if you’re listening from another room. This issue is likely caused by a buildup of dirt or earwax in the speakers or could be due to a software glitch.
The good news is that there are several easy and proven solutions to fix this problem. In this section, we’ll walk you through the top ten troubleshooting tips that can help you get your AirPods back to their optimal sound quality.
1. Update the AirPods and Device Firmware
Regularly updating your AirPods’ firmware can improve performance and fix common bugs. Outdated firmware can cause sound issues, so ensure your AirPods’ firmware is current. Additionally, updating your iOS device’s operating system and drivers can help resolve sound-related problems.
2. Sufficiently Charge Your Devices
Low battery life in any device (phone, laptop, tablet, or AirPods themselves) can cause audio quality to deteriorate. Ensuring that all devices have a fully charged battery can improve sound quality and performance.
3. Disable Spatial Sound
If you experience muffled sound issues while listening to Apple Music with Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos enabled, it could be due to the feature not being well-mixed in some songs. Temporarily disabling Spatial Audio can help troubleshoot this problem. To do this, open Control Center on your iOS device, touch and hold the volume control, select Spatial Audio, and tap Off.
4. Try the Ear Tip Fit Test [AirPods Pro]
This fix is specific to AirPods Pro and only applies if your device runs iOS 13.2 or later. AirPods Pro come with silicone tips that fit snugly into the ears, creating an air pocket for better sound quality. If the tips are not the right size or worn correctly, the sound may not be as intended and could sound muffled.
5. Adjust the Stereo Balance
If only one AirPod sounds muffled, you can adjust the Stereo Balance to make one AirPod louder than the other. This can help resolve the problem and enhance sound quality. To adjust the Stereo Balance, go to Settings, select Accessibility, tap on Audio/Visual, and then drag the slider to the side of the quieter AirPod.
6. Clean Your AirPods
Debris and earwax accumulation on the speaker meshes of AirPods can obstruct sound and cause a decrease in audio quality. Use a soft, lint-free cloth or a small brush designed for electronic devices to clean the speaker on both AirPods gently.
7. Tweak the Headphone Accommodations Settings
The Headphone Accommodations feature lets Your iOS device customize sound levels and audio quality. This can be particularly helpful for AirPods Pro users as enabling this feature may fix muffled sounds. To access Headphone Accommodations, go to Settings, select Accessibility, tap on Audio/Visual, and then select Headphone Accommodations. Turn the toggle on, and you can customize your audio settings to your preferences.
8. Check the Bluetooth Connection
Bluetooth interference can also cause muffled sound issues. It might be due to poor Bluetooth connectivity if you experience dropped connections, static sound, or audio delays. To minimize interference, keep your AirPods close to the audio source, avoid solid obstructions between your AirPods and the device, and turn off other wireless devices that could cause interference.
9. Reset the AirPods
A software glitch might be to blame if the other solutions didn’t resolve the issue. You can reset your AirPods to factory settings to resolve connection or software-related problems. To do this, access the Settings on your iOS device, go to Bluetooth, find your AirPods on the list, tap the “i” icon, and select “Forget This Device.” Place your AirPods in the charging case, close the lid for 30 seconds, then open it again. Long-press the setup button until the status light flashes amber, then white. Finally, re-pair your AirPods with your iOS device.
10. Consult Apple Support
You can contact Apple Support for assistance if all else fails. They can guide you through further troubleshooting steps or offer solutions based on your specific issue. If your AirPods are still under warranty, Apple may even provide a replacement if necessary.
Why Is One of My AirPods Muffled?
One common cause of this imbalance is the accumulation of dirt, wax, or debris inside the affected earpiece. Cleaning your AirPods with a soft, dry cloth and using a gentle brush or cotton swab with isopropyl alcohol can effectively remove these obstructions and restore sound quality.
Another factor that can lead to muffled sound is poor Bluetooth connectivity. Sometimes, one of the earbuds may not receive a strong enough Bluetooth signal, causing audio distortion or dropouts. To fix this, try resetting your AirPods and reconnecting them to your device.
Suppose these troubleshooting steps don’t resolve the issue. In that case, there might be a fault with one of the AirPods, and you should contact Apple Support for further assistance in handling defective AirPods.
Why Is My AirPods’ Mic Muffled?
One common cause is debris or lint obstructing the microphone opening on your AirPods. To resolve this, gently clean the microphone opening using a soft-bristled brush, ensuring no particles are blocking it. You can also use a dry, soft cloth to wipe the AirPods’ surface and remove any dirt or buildup.
Another possible reason for the muffled mic could be related to your device’s settings or software. Ensure that the microphone is allowed to access your device’s microphone permissions. If using a computer, check the audio settings, and ensure the correct microphone and volume levels are adequate.
If the issue persists despite these solutions, it’s worth checking for available software updates for your AirPods or device, as updates can often address compatibility or performance issues. In some cases, the problem may lie within the AirPods.
Suppose you’ve tried all the troubleshooting steps, and the microphone still sounds muffled. In that case, you may need to contact Apple Support for further assistance or consider getting your AirPods checked for possible hardware problems.
Why Are My AirPods Muffled on Mac?
One of the primary reasons for the muffled sound is related to the codec used by your AirPods on the Mac. Changing the codec settings often rectifies the issue and restores clear sound quality. Here’s how to fix AirPods’ muffled sound on Mac using the codec method:
- Step 1: Tap the Apple icon in the top-left corner, then go to System Preferences.
- Step 2: Select “Sound” and navigate to the “Input” tab.
- Step 3: Choose the appropriate audio devices based on your Mac model.
- Step 4: Switch the input to “Internal Microphone” by selecting it from the sound devices list.
- Step 5: Verify that the “Internal Microphone” is set as “Display Audio.”
By making these adjustments, the codec should switch, and the muffled sound should disappear. If the codec fix doesn’t resolve the issue, don’t worry; there are other effective solutions to explore:
- Cleaning your AirPods: Sometimes, the problem may be as simple as dirt or earwax buildup. Gently clean the exterior and speaker part of the AirPods using a microfiber cloth and a cotton bud dipped in 90% alcohol, respectively. Be cautious not to damage the delicate components.
- Fixing the Bluetooth connectivity: Changing the Bluetooth settings from AirPods to Mac in the menu bar can help improve the sound quality, especially during Facetime or other communication apps.
- Getting your Mac an OS update: Ensure your Mac’s operating system is current, as outdated software can cause connectivity and sound issues.
- Getting your iOS device up to date: If your AirPods are primarily linked to your iPhone, updating the iOS might fix the sound problems.
- Repairing your AirPods with the Sound Quality Fixer: Utilize the built-in Sound Quality Fixer app on your Mac to improve audio issues on your AirPods.
- Resetting your AirPods: If none of the previous steps work, consider resetting your AirPods by holding the button on the back of the case for over 15 seconds.
- Going to a repair shop: If all else fails and your AirPods are still muffled, visit an Apple retailer or repair shop for further assistance or possible replacements.
For more advanced guide on this topic, check this article.
Why Are My AirPods Muffled on Windows PC?
If this is your first time using AirPods with your PC, ensure you have the latest drivers installed. Outdated drivers can lead to Bluetooth connectivity and sound quality problems. To look for driver updates, open the Device Manager on your PC and look for any flagged items related to the Bluetooth driver.
If you find any, follow the instructions to update them. One potential solution is to use a dual-band adapter. Many PCs come with single-band adapters that may offer a different frequency range for optimal AirPod performance.
Switching to a dual-band adapter can boost connection speed and enhance sound quality when using AirPods on a PC. Lastly, when connecting your AirPods to your computer, ensure they are in “earphone mode” rather than “headphone mode.”
Earphone mode can significantly improve audio quality and reduce muffled sounds caused by interference from other nearby electronic devices. If none of these solutions work for you, consider purchasing new AirPods or upgrading your computer’s hardware.
Why Are My AirPods Muffled on Android?
One possible reason for muffled sound on AirPods connected to Android is the audio codec used for Bluetooth transmission. In the “Developer Menu,” which can be accessed by following specific steps, you can choose the audio codec for Bluetooth transmission.
Selecting the appropriate codec, such as AAC, which is the native codec for AirPods, may result in a significant improvement in sound quality and volume. Another solution is adjusting the absolute volume level in the “Developer Menu.”
By turning on or off the “Disable absolute volume level” option, you can potentially enhance the volume output of your AirPods when connected to your Android device. Sometimes, a simple reconnection can do wonders.
To do this, forget your AirPods from your Android device, restart the smartphone, and then reconnect the AirPods. This process may help resolve any connection-related issues causing the muffled sound.
Moreover, checking the individual volume levels on your Android device is essential. Android smartphones let you adjust the volume for different devices separately, including your AirPods. Ensure that the volume is appropriately set for optimal sound output.
Why Do My AirPods Sound Muffled in Transparency Mode?
One of the common culprits of muffled sound in Transparency Mode is debris interfering with the microphones on your AirPods Pro. Dust, lint, earwax, or other particles can block the microphones, impacting Transparency Mode and the active noise cancellation feature.
Cleaning your AirPods Pro could be the simple solution you need. You can use rubbing alcohol, a cotton swab, or a toothpick to gently remove any visible debris and then let the AirPods dry before using them again.
If your Transparency Mode has always sounded muffled, the default settings might not suit you. You can customize Transparency Mode in the “Developer Menu.” Enabling the Headphone Accommodations slider and enabling Custom Transparency Mode allows you to adjust the Transparency balance and tone according to your preferences.
Adjusting the Ambient Noise Reduction setting can also make a difference. If you’ve already customized Transparency Mode and are still experiencing issues, try moving the Ambient Noise Reduction slider to the left. An over-adjustment of this setting might be muting sounds you want to hear, contributing to the muffled sound.
Another helpful feature is the Conversation Boost, which focuses the AirPods’ Transparency Mode on the frequencies that carry human speech. Enabling this option can improve the clarity of conversations when you have your AirPods Pro in Transparency Mode.
If the muffled sound is only present in one AirPod, and cleaning doesn’t help, there might be an issue with that specific AirPod. In such cases, you may need to replace the offending AirPod. If you have an AppleCare+ warranty, the replacement cost is covered.
Will the Sound Quality of My AirPods Deteriorate With Time?
The answer to this query is more complex than a simple yes or no. Several factors can contribute to a decline in sound quality. Firstly, as with any electronic device, the batteries inside your AirPods will age over time, and this deterioration can impact the overall sound performance.
Secondly, earwax or debris accumulation inside the earbuds can lead to a muffled or distorted audio experience. Finally, software updates or occasional glitches can also affect sound quality, although this is relatively rare.
You can take some steps to retain your AirPods’ sound quality and mitigate the effects of these factors. Firstly, ensure you regularly clean your AirPods. Another key aspect is to prevent your AirPods from completely discharging.
If you plan to store them unused for an extended period, keeping them in their charging case is best to minimize battery degradation.
Why Is the Sound on My AirPods Distorted?
Check for any physical damage to your AirPods, such as scratches or dents, as these can affect the internal components. Moreover, contact Apple support for further assistance if you find any visible damage. Another common reason is debris or earwax buildup in the speaker mesh or ear tips.
Over time, these tiny particles can accumulate and interfere with the audio output, resulting in a muffled or distorted sound. Additionally, ensure that your AirPods are running the latest firmware and that your connected device has up-to-date software.
Outdated firmware or software can sometimes cause compatibility issues and impact the sound quality. Lastly, check if the distortion occurs only when connected to a specific device. If so, the problem may lie with that device’s audio settings or software rather than the AirPods themselves.
Adjusting the audio settings or performing a software update on the connected device might help resolve the issue.
Why Is My AirPods Sound Low After I Cleaned Them?
One possibility is that the ear tips or speaker mesh were not reassembled correctly after cleaning. If they are not securely in place, they can affect the audio output and lead to lower sound volume. Double-check that all components are correctly aligned and firmly attached.
Another reason could be that the ear tips have worn out or damaged. Worn-out ear tips can no longer create a proper seal in your ears, resulting in sound leakage and diminished volume. In this case, consider replacing the ear tips with new ones to restore the sound quality.
Additionally, it’s crucial to ensure that the volume settings on both your AirPods and connected device are appropriately adjusted. If the volume is set too low on either end, it can make the sound seem quieter than usual.
Moreover, if you use your AirPods with multiple devices, check if the volume issue persists across all devices or only on a specific one. If it’s specific to one device, inspect its audio settings and perform any necessary updates.
Lastly, make sure that your AirPods’ firmware is up-to-date. Apple occasionally releases firmware updates that can improve performance and address sound-related issues.
Can Cleaning My AirPods Improve Their Sound Quality?
Cleaning your AirPods can improve their sound quality, especially if they have accumulated debris, earwax, or dirt over time. As you use your AirPods regularly, particles from your ears, pockets, or surroundings can find their way into the earbuds, leading to sound issues.
When your AirPods’ speaker mesh or ear tips get clogged with debris or earwax, it can create a barrier that affects the sound output. This often results in muffled or distorted sound quality. You can significantly enhance the audio performance by gently cleaning your AirPods with a dry, soft cloth and ensuring the speaker mesh and ear tips aren’t obstructed.
Moreover, cleaning your AirPods can also prevent any potential damage caused by dirt and moisture buildup. If left unaddressed, debris accumulation can harm the internal components, leading to more severe audio problems or permanent damage.
Regular cleaning not only improves sound quality but also prolongs the lifespan of your AirPods. It’s essential to avoid using water or cleaning solutions, as moisture can harm the sensitive electronics inside the earbuds. Stick to dry cleaning methods, and if necessary, use a cotton swab to remove stubborn debris gently.
Accumulated debris or earwax in the earbuds can hinder sound quality, so regular cleaning is crucial. Additionally, outdated firmware or physical damage may affect their performance.
Consider adjusting audio settings, ensuring a proper fit, and updating your AirPods’ firmware to improve sound quality. If you’ve tried these solutions and the issue persists, contacting Apple support or visiting an authorized repair center is recommended.
I quit my full-time job and started my journey as a freelance copywriter and content writer, and I believe it was one of the best decisions I’ve made so far because I absolutely love it. I’ve been writing tech-related guides, how-to’s, articles, and informational pieces for a long time, and I especially love testing and reporting on various types of headphones.