Can You Use Noise Cancelling AirPods Without Music?

The only thing better than earbuds is wireless earbuds with quality sound! Apple AirPods is one of the latest and greatest innovations, and they have completely taken the world by storm with their quality noise-cancellation features. As Apple users purchase the new product, they wonder if noise-cancellation only works while music is playing.

Can You Use Noise Cancelling AirPods Without Music?

Since you’re already exploring the tech world, why not dive into “Can You Use Airpods With An Apple Watch Without An iPhone?” and “Do AirPods Need the Case to Work?” They’re sure to give you some valuable insights into your Apple devices.

AirPods can be used as noise-cancelers without needing any music in the background. The AirPods Pros have an active noise-cancellation feature that can be turned on by pushing the buttons/pads on the AirPod’s stem. If needed, this can also be activated on the iPhone under AirPods settings.

This is probably great news for anybody who wants to use their AirPods for more than just music! If you’d like to learn more about using this feature, you have come to the right place. Read on to learn more about AirPods and their noise-canceling features. 

AirPods: Specs, Perks, and More

Apple currently sells four Airpod models. These models include the second and third generation, the AirPods Pro, and the AirPods Max. Each of these has different charging times, varying battery capacities, and unique features. Here are a few things you should know about the AirPods.

The first AirPods model–ironically called the second generation–though less advanced than the newer models, are still remarkably reliable devices. With a full charge (which usually takes no longer than an hour), you can have up to five whole hours of consecutive listening. 

The other three AirPod models all come with sweat and water-resistant qualities, which is especially useful for those who enjoy exercising and running while using their pods. The AirPods Pro is currently the most popular AirPods family since it has an active noise-cancellation feature. This feature works with or without music.

The only thing about using noise-cancellation without music or other audio is that it might not work as well. The noise-cancellation feature is intended to block out background noise while you’re listening to, well, the noise of your choice. Music and phone calls will become much clearer when you use noise cancellation. 

When you use the noise-canceling feature without audio, the AirPods will still block out some background noise. Unfortunately, it might not work as perfectly as some might expect. Some sounds might be muffled a bit rather than blocked out all the way. However, there is still much to be appreciated from these AirPods, so give them a fair try before dismissing them completely! 

How to Activate Noise-Cancellation

Since the noise-cancellation feature is new to the AirPods Pro, few users are familiar with how to activate the setting. When using your AirPods Pro, there are three noise-canceling settings. The first setting, active noise cancellation, blocks out all background noise.

This setting works with or without music. The second setting, transparency mode, uses partial noise cancellation. This setting is best for situations where it would be unsafe to not hear the noise going on around you. The third setting, off, allows the AirPods to operate like normal earbuds. 

These noise-canceling settings can be activated from the AirPods, your iPhone, or an Apple Watch. 

How to Control Noise Cancellation from your AirPods Pro

Hold the force sensor located on the AirPods Pro’s stems. After a few seconds, you will hear a chime. Click the force sensor again to switch from transparency to noise-canceling mode.

If you want to have the choice to deactivate all noise cancellation, enter your iPhone’s BlueTooth settings. Under the AirPods Pro page, select your noise cancelation settings.

How to Control Noise Cancellation from your iPhone

With both AirPods Pros in your ears, open the iPhone Control Center. This will require swiping from either the top-left of the screen, for iPhone Xs and newer, or the bottom of the screen for iPhone 8s and older.

Press on the volume slider until the noise cancellation settings appear and select the desired setting.

How to Control Noise Cancellation from your Apple Watch

Altering noise cancellation settings while listening to music is easiest from an Apple Watch

You can find the toggle button on the bottom left corner of the music selection screen. Click the airplay icon and select the desired setting.

Controlling the noise cancellation settings for your AirPods Pro is a simple task. With these simple settings, you can enjoy your music (or no music) without any distractions from the outside world.

Pros and Cons of Noise Cancellation

While noise cancellation technology might sound like it only has benefits, there are some downsides to using this feature. Here are a few that everybody should know!


It’s nice to have noise-cancellation when you’re trying to find some peace quiet for studying or even just relaxing. You can slip your AirPods Pro in your ears and block out annoying background sounds you don’t want to hear.

This feature could come in handy when you’re trying to sleep, while studying for a test, or at any other time where noise cancellation is a necessity.

Noise-cancelling is also nice for those who travel often. Plane rides can get pretty loud and old after a while. If you feel the need to disconnect from everything around you (including the noise) then bring some AirPods along. Avoid small chit-chat with other passengers by activating the noise cancellation feature on your AirPods.


Noise-cancellation also brings a few risks with it. You should always do so with great discretion and caution when using it. No noise-cancellation feature is perfect, but some headphones and earbuds work pretty darn well.

That said, if you were to wear noise-canceling earbuds or headphones in a public place with a lot of people and moving vehicles, you could miss the sound of an oncoming car and get yourself seriously hurt. Be extra careful when wearing AirPods Pro

Some drivers use their AirPods to talk on the phone while driving. You should never activate noise cancellation or transparency mode while driving. Being alert and aware of your surroundings while in a moving vehicle is very important.

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