AirPods have become synonymous with convenience and portability, revolutionizing how we experience music, podcasts, and calls on the go. Designed by Apple, these wireless wonders boast cutting-edge technology that delivers impressive sound in a small package.
However, as with any electronic device, it’s natural to ponder whether extended use might affect their audio prowess. As an avid user of these sleek wireless earbuds, you might wonder if their audio performance remains as exceptional as the day you unboxed them.
Well, fear not! We’ll closely examine the factors that could impact AirPods’ sound quality over prolonged use. In this article, we will delve into the nitty-gritty of these factors, addressing common concerns and providing tips to maintain your AirPods’ audio brilliance.
Does AirPods Sound Quality Degrade Over Time?
Under normal conditions, a pair of well-maintained AirPods should last several years without a noticeable dip in sound quality. However, there are some cases where the sound might degrade. Apple’s Adaptive EQ feature could affect the sound quality by adjusting frequencies to make the audio sound worse.
Additionally, worn-out ear tips can cause the earbuds to lose their seal, leading to a perceived decrease in sound quality. Users have reported instances where one or both AirPods experience a noticeable decline in volume over weeks or even suddenly over a couple of days.
This phenomenon is not limited to specific models and has been observed in the 1st Generation and AirPods Pro. It is crucial to clarify that while Apple has designed AirPods with exceptional craftsmanship, this volume issue is not isolated and has affected multiple users.
The problem usually manifests in one of the AirPods, either left or right, and might occur multiple times with different units. Some users have had to replace their AirPods multiple times due to the severity of the volume loss.
This volume decline does not result from earwax buildup, as regular cleaning doesn’t alleviate the problem. Interestingly, some users have noted that rotating the AirPods by 90 degrees or switching them to the opposite ear might temporarily resolve the volume drop, indicating that the problem could be mechanical or technical.
The sudden and significant volume loss has been primarily observed in the 1st Generation AirPods. On the other hand, AirPods Pro may experience a gradual loss of volume over time due to regular use, even with proper cleaning.
Apple might have addressed the sudden volume decline issue in the Pro version, but users are advised to replace their AirPods if gradual volume loss becomes a concern. While it’s clear that AirPods do not inherently lose sound quality over time, this volume issue remains a real challenge for some users.
Apple’s customer protection laws have relieved affected users, ensuring that faulty units can be replaced within the warranty period.
Why Is My AirPods’ Sound Quality Worsening With Time?
There are a few potential reasons for the audio quality dip. Firstly, ensure your Apple devices have the latest updates, as outdated software can cause audio glitches. Additionally, check for any obstructions that might interfere with the signal between the AirPods and your device.
If the problem persists on one device but not another, the issue may be with your device’s settings rather than the AirPods themselves.
How Can I Fix My AirPods’ Sound Quality?
To fix your AirPods’ sound quality, try the Fit Test for the right ear tip size, customize the name, use stem controls for music, adjust noise control and Siri settings, and utilize the headphone accommodation feature in iOS 14. These tips will enhance your listening experience.
You can try the following solutions to enhance the audio experience and get the most out of your AirPods:
- AirPods Fit Test: Make sure your AirPods fit comfortably in your ears using the ear tip fit test. This will help you find the best ear tip size that provides a secure seal for optimal sound quality.
- Customize the Name: Give your AirPods a personalized name to make them easier to identify and refer to in your devices’ settings. This simple tweak can enhance the overall experience.
- Control Music with a Press: Take advantage of AirPods Pro’s stem controls to pause/play, skip tracks, and more with a press. It’s a convenient way to manage your music on the go.
- Customize the Presses: You can customize the stem press actions to activate noise control or Siri according to your preferences. This allows you to access the features you use most quickly.
- Noise Cancellation and Transparency: Understand the two modes of AirPods Pro – Noise Cancellation and Transparency. Noise Cancellation blocks background noise, while Transparency mode reduces background sounds to let ambient sounds in.
- Improve Sound Quality: Utilize the headphone accommodation feature introduced in iOS 14 to enhance the audio of your AirPods Pro. Adjust the settings to get a balanced sound for different frequencies.
Is AirPods Pro Sound Quality Better Than Other Models?
Yes, AirPods Pro’s sound quality is better than other models. With its active noise cancellation, custom-fit ear tips, and powerful audio technology, AirPods Pro delivers an immersive and detailed experience. The in-ear design and spatial audio feature further enhance the overall audio performance.
AirPods Pro stands out as Apple’s premium offering in the wireless earbuds category. With the introduction of AirPods Pro, Apple took significant strides to enhance the sound experience compared to its earlier models.
AirPods Pro utilizes cutting-edge active noise cancellation technology, which sets it apart from the standard AirPods. This feature reduces external noises, immersing yourself in your favorite tunes without distractions.
The noise cancellation is adaptive, adjusting itself according to the shape of your ears, making it even more effective. Another key factor contributing to AirPods Pro’s superior sound quality is its in-ear design.
Unlike the original AirPods, which had a one-size-fits-all approach, AirPods Pro comes with interchangeable ear tips in three sizes – large, medium, and small. This customized fit provides a better seal, improving bass response and sound clarity.
Furthermore, AirPods Pro utilizes a high-excursion woofer and a powerful amplifier, delivering deep, rich bass and crisp audio across the frequency range. Combining dynamic drivers and finely-tuned sound processing algorithms ensures a well-balanced and detailed sound output.
The spatial audio feature in AirPods Pro adds another dimension to the listening experience. This immersive audio technology creates a virtual surround sound experience, making it feel like the sound is coming from all around you.
It’s a game-changer for watching movies and TV shows, and playing games, providing a more captivating experience. While the standard AirPods are certainly no slouch in sound quality, AirPods Pro takes it up several notches with its noise cancellation, customized fit, and advanced audio technology.
If sound quality is your top priority, AirPods Pro outperforms its predecessors and most other wireless earbuds.
Can I Make My AirPods Louder?
Yes, you can try several methods to make your AirPods louder. Firstly, resetting your AirPods to their factory settings might help improve their volume. Additionally, check if your iPhone’s Low Power Mode affects the maximum volume output. Turning off Low Power Mode can drastically improve sound quality.
Adjusting the Sound Balance in your iPhone’s accessibility settings can also ensure both AirPods have balanced volume levels. Finally, consider cleaning your AirPods regularly and updating their firmware to resolve volume issues.
1. Disable Apple Music Audio Settings
If you use Apple Music, certain settings, such as Sound Check and equalizer adjustments, may impact the perceived loudness of your AirPods.
To turn off these settings in Apple Music:
- Open the Settings app on your device.
- Tap on “Music.”
- Toggle off “Sound Check” and adjust the EQ settings as needed.
2. Disable iPhone Volume Limits
Apple has implemented iPhone volume limits to protect users from potential hearing damage. Turning off these limits can increase the maximum volume output of your AirPods.
To turn off iPhone volume limits:
- Launch “Settings” and navigate to “Sounds & Haptics.”
- Tap “Headphone Safety” and toggle off “Reduce Loud Sounds.”
- Adjust the slider to your preferred maximum volume level.
3. Update Your Firmware
Ensuring that your AirPods and iOS devices use the latest firmware can help resolve performance issues, including volume problems.
To check for firmware updates on an iOS device:
- Open the Settings app.
- Go to “General” and tap on “Software Update.”
To update your AirPods’ firmware:
- Place them in their charging case.
- Connect the case to a power source (lightning or wireless charger).
- Place a paired iOS device next to the AirPods and ensure an active internet connection.
4. Clean Your AirPods
Over time, dirt, grime, and earwax can accumulate on your AirPods, affecting their sound quality and volume. Regularly cleaning them can help maintain optimal performance.
To clean your AirPods effectively:
- Use a drop of isopropyl alcohol to lightly spray the speaker mesh.
- Use a toothpick to pick out dirt and debris around the speaker mesh.
- Gently brush the speaker mesh area with an old toothbrush to clean the mesh holes.
- Repeat the process until all dirt and grime are removed.
5. Try the Ear Tip Fit Test for AirPods Pro
Finding the best ear tip fit for AirPods Pro users can enhance sound isolation, making the audio seem louder. Improved sound isolation means less sound leakage and reduced external noise interference.
To perform the Ear Tip Fit Test on AirPods Pro:
- Wear your AirPods Pro.
- Open Settings app on an iOS device.
- Choose “Bluetooth” & locate your AirPods Pro in the list.
- Tap the small “i” icon.
- Select “Ear Tip Fit Test.”
- Follow the on-screen instructions and tap “Continue” to play the audio sample.
6. Check Sound Balance
The Sound Balance setting in your iPhone’s accessibility options allows you to control the individual volume levels of each AirPod. If one AirPod sounds louder than the other, it may be due to an imbalanced sound setting.
To adjust the Sound Balance on your AirPods:
- Go to “Settings” on your iPhone or iPad.
- Tap on “Accessibility.”
- Under the “Audio/Visual” section, adjust the slider for “Balance” to your liking.
7. Disable Low Power Mode
The Low Power Mode on your iPhone is designed to conserve battery life by limiting certain features. However, it might also affect the maximum volume output of your AirPods. To check if this is the issue and potentially increase the sound level:
- Open the Settings app on your iPhone.
- Go to the “Battery” options.
- Turn off “Low Power Mode” if it’s enabled.
Remember that Apple’s official site doesn’t explicitly state whether Low Power Mode affects AirPods’ volume, but it’s worth a try.
8. Reset Your AirPods
A simple reset can often resolve the issue if your AirPods aren’t as loud as they used to be. Disconnection from all devices and subsequent reconnection might improve their volume.
To reset your AirPods or AirPods Pro:
- Open Settings on your iOS device.
- Locate “Bluetooth”
- Find your AirPods in the list of connected devices.
- Tap the small “i” icon.
- Select “Forget This Device” and confirm your choice.
- Place your AirPods in their case and keep the lid open.
- Press the setup button until the case light flashes amber, then white.
- Close the lid, and this will complete the reset process.
9. Check for Hearing Problems
If none of the above solutions work, it’s essential to consider whether hearing issues affect your perception of volume. If you suspect a hearing problem, seek professional help from an ENT specialist.
Apple’s Headphones Accommodations feature, introduced in iOS 14, allows users to customize audio settings to suit their hearing needs.
10. Seek Apple’s Online Support
You can contact Apple’s online support for troubleshooting assistance as a last resort. Visit their website, select “AirPods” from the list, and choose “Audio & Sound” if the issue isn’t listed. Submit your inquiry and explore other solutions while waiting for a response.
Why Do My AirPods Sound Weird on Calls?
The reason lies in the use of different codecs. SCO is used during calls despite its lower audio quality because it allows for multiple channels, enabling AirPods to function simultaneously as headphones and microphones. When you’re using your AirPods as microphones, it also degrades the audio quality.
Simply put, a codec is a method for compressing data to enable efficient transmission over Bluetooth. AirPods use two main types of codecs: AAC and SCO. AAC is used when you listen to music or other audio, offering high-quality sound with a higher bandwidth of around 320kb/s or 256 kb/s.
On the other hand, SCO (Synchronous Connection-Oriented) operates at a lower bandwidth of only 64kb/s, which means it can transfer about 4-5 times less data per second than AAC.
In essence, the AirPods switch to SCO mode to facilitate communication between the microphone and the device during calls, sacrificing audio quality. However, there’s a silver lining to using SCO. It offers lower latency, meaning minimal delays in audio transmission.
This lower latency is advantageous for phone calls because it allows for near-real-time communication with minimal delays. So, while the sound quality may suffer during calls, you and your colleagues can still converse with a more seamless flow.
Why Do My AirPods Sound Weird on Mac?
The reason behind this problem lies in the AirPods’ active 8-16kHz (SCO) codec, which is used to transmit audio via the AirPods’ microphone. While necessary for certain functions, this codec can lead to poor audio quality when connected to a Mac due to Bluetooth’s bandwidth limitations.
The good news is that there’s an easy fix for this annoying issue. Instead of using the AirPods’ microphone as the default input, you need to switch the input to your Mac’s built-in microphone. This simple adjustment can significantly improve the sound quality and get your AirPods back to producing pristine audio.
To make this switch, follow these steps:
- Open System Preferences on your Mac (you can do this via Spotlight Search by pressing ⌘+Space and typing “Sound” or by opening the System Preferences app and clicking on “Sound“).
- click on the “Input” tab at the top in the Sound settings.
- Select your Mac’s built-in microphone as the input source.
- Wait for a few seconds (around 7 seconds) for the switch to take effect, and you should notice a considerable improvement in the sound quality of your AirPods.
Why Do My AirPods Sound Weird on PC?
This happens due to Bluetooth technology limitations. The connection may only allow access to a single audio band, leading to lower sound quality. Additionally, computer settings affect the sound, and updating Bluetooth drivers or using a dual-band adapter helps improve the connection and sound quality.
To fix low-quality sound on AirPods connected to a computer, you can try updating Bluetooth drivers, using a dual-band adapter, or setting the AirPods to “headphones mode” only to turn off the microphone and potentially improve sound quality.
How Can I Fix Muffled Sound on My AirPods?
First, clean the earbuds to remove dust, dirt, or fluids that might obstruct the sound. Second, reset the Bluetooth connection by forgetting the AirPods in your device’s settings and repairing them. Lastly, try gently sucking air outward near the speaker to reset the balance and restore audio quality.
If the muffled sound persists after cleaning and checking the Bluetooth connection, consider resetting your AirPods. Resetting them can address connection errors and fix the sound issue. Follow the simple steps to reset and reconnect your AirPods to your device.
Checking for updates on your iOS device is also a good idea. Updating your iOS device can often resolve connectivity and compatibility issues. If none of these troubleshooting methods work, visit an Apple Store or contact Apple Support for expert assistance, especially if your AirPods are still under warranty.
Can My AirPods Speakers Break?
While the speakers are built to last relatively longer, components can fail over time or if subjected to significant damage. Generally, the speakers should remain in good shape if your AirPods are well-maintained and used within the recommended settings.
However, they are sensitive to excess moisture, so it’s essential to be cautious when using them near water sources.
How Long Will My AirPods Last?
Your AirPods should last for about 2-3 years. The lifespan of the AirPods is largely determined by the lithium-ion battery inside, which tends to degrade over time with each charge cycle. Avoiding deep discharges and regularly fully recharging them is essential to maximize their longevity.
While you can’t completely prevent battery degradation, adopting good charging habits and proper care can help extend their lifespan to the maximum. While you might not be able to significantly extend the overall lifespan of your AirPods beyond two to three years, there are ways to get more juice out of each charge and slow down the batteries’ decline.
To maximize each charge, consider the following tips:
- Reduce the volume to preserve battery life and protect your ears
- Turn off features like ANC (active noise canceling) when unnecessary
- Turn off unnecessary smart features such as automatic ear detection and Spatial Audio
When you’re not using your AirPods, power them off to conserve battery. Additionally, store them outside the charging case when more than 40% of battery life is left to avoid a premature charge cycle.
AirPods Battery Life
The battery life of AirPods varies between models and depends on various factors, such as volume levels, usage of features, and more. For instance, a new pair of AirPods (3rd generation) can provide up to 6 hours of listening time with Spatial Audio turned off, about 5 hours with Spatial Audio enabled, and approximately 4 hours of talk time.
A five-minute charge can add 60 minutes of listening or talk time when the battery is low. The MagSafe charging case with the 3rd generation AirPods can extend the battery life, offering approximately up to 20 hours of talk time and 30 hours of listening time.
Your AirPods are designed to last for about two to three years. However, the lithium-ion battery inside them is the first component that tends to degrade over time. With every charge cycle, the battery loses a small amount of capacity, and this decline is irreversible.
Apple recommends replacing batteries when their capacity drops below 80%. Typically, the lithium-ion battery can retain over 80% of its initial capacity after 500+ charge cycles.
After this thorough examination, we can confidently conclude that AirPods maintain their sound quality remarkably over time. Thanks to Apple’s dedication to engineering excellence, these wireless earbuds are built to deliver a consistent and enjoyable audio experience throughout their lifespan.
While AirPods themselves don’t inherently degrade in sound quality, it’s essential to consider external factors that could affect their performance. Dust, debris, and earwax accumulation within the earbuds can impact audio clarity.
Therefore, regular cleaning and maintenance are crucial to preserving their sonic brilliance. So, whether you’re a casual listener or an audiophile, your AirPods will remain a trusty companion in your daily endeavors, delivering impressive sound quality that lives up to Apple’s reputation for excellence.
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.