Do AirPods Block Out Background Noise?

Noise-cancelling technology has come a long way over the years as tech companies have worked endlessly to perfect it. 

Apple has done its fair share of harnessing noise cancellation in attempts to create the best user experience for its customers. But do all AirPods block out background noise?

Do AirPods Block Out Background Noise?

All versions of Apple AirPods reduce background noise to some degree. However, the AirPods Pro and AirPods Max have much more advanced noise-canceling capabilities than the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Generation AirPods. 

In 2016, Apple released the 1st Generation AirPods. This version of AirPods didn’t necessarily have noise cancellation capabilities, but they did reduce some background noise when in use.

The introduction of the AirPods Pro in 2019 impressed many Apple consumers with its new Active Noise Cancellation technology. 

Here’s a breakdown of the noise-canceling features of the different AirPods and how they deal with blocking out background noise. 

Three Methods for Lessening Background Noise

It’s helpful to know the basics of how background noise technology works to understand how AirPods block external noises. 

There are three common methods that earbuds and headphones use to prevent users from hearing background noise. 

The most basic method is noise blocking. In general, noise-blocking uses an obstruction to block sound waves from passing through to your ears. 

An example of a noise-blocking device would be an earplug. 

Another method to drown out sound is noise masking. Noise masking emits another noise to cover an external sound. 

White noise machines are a great example of noise masking. 

When they’re constantly playing in the background, loud noises tend to be less distracting or disruptive. 

The last method is noise cancellation. 

Noise cancellation uses microphones to detect external background noise. 

Once they detect the frequency of the noise, they emit an opposite frequency to cancel out the external noise. 

Apple uses a mixture of noise-blocking and noise-cancellation technology in their AirPods to lessen background noise. 

How Do AirPods Block Out Background Noise?

All versions of AirPods can filter out background noise when you’re on a call or using Siri. 

However, AirPods Pro and AirPods Max have an additional noise-cancelling feature. 

AirPods from 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Generation

These AirPods use an accelerometer to focus their microphone on the sound of your voice. 

By identifying and honing in on your voice, AirPods can block out all other sounds to a certain degree. This capability enables your voice to carry through calls clearly. 

The 3rd Generation AirPods have an additional feature that helps block out more background noise. 

This version of AirPods has a noise-blocking acoustic mesh cover in each earbud. 

This mesh blocks out the sound of wind while you’re outside so that you can hear music and calls more clearly.

If you’re on a call, the person on the other end can also hear you better. 

Do AirPods Block Out Background Noise 1 Do AirPods Block Out Background Noise?

Active Noise Cancellation Mode on AirPods Pro and AirPods Max

The AirPods Pro and AirPods Max don’t just use noise blocking. They also have noise-cancelling capabilities. 

Both of these versions of AirPods have Active Noise Cancellation technology installed in them. 

Active Noise Cancellation uses two microphones to detect sound. 

One microphone is outward-facing and detects external sounds. 

Once the AirPods Pro and AirPods Max identify external sounds, they emit anti-noise, which cancels out external noises before they reach your line of hearing. 

The other microphone is inward-facing. It works very similarly to the outward-facing microphone, except that it detects internal noise in your ears. 

These internal noises also get canceled with anti-noise released by the AirPods. 

The noise cancellation microphones automatically make adjustments to noise levels 200 times per second. 

By making these continuous adjustments, you’re able to listen to music, podcasts, and calls with the best possible sound quality. 

Another convenient feature that the AirPods Pro and AirPods Max have is Transparency Mode. 

When you activate Transparency Mode, the outward-facing microphone no longer counters external noise with anti-noise. 

This function allows you to be able to hear your surroundings clearly. 

Transparency Mode doesn’t affect the inward-facing microphone, so you still won’t hear internal noises. 

The only way to turn off the inward-facing microphone is to shut off the AirPods completely. 

How to Switch Between Noise-Control Modes

Switching between Active Noise Cancellation Mode and Transparency Mode is very easy.

The AirPods Max has a round noise control button located on the top of the headphone. 

All you have to do is press it, and it’ll switch between modes. 

The AirPods Pro has a force sensor located on its stems. If you press and hold the force sensor, you’ll hear a chime go off.

This chime indicates that you’ve successfully switched modes. 

It doesn’t matter which earbud stem you squeeze. 

Both the left and right earbuds can switch between noise control modes. 

How to Customize Press-and-Hold Action on AirPods Pro

AirPods Pro has three sound modes:

  • Transparency
  • Active Noise Cancellation
  • Off

You can customize your AirPods Pro press-and-hold preferences so that each earbud completes a different action. 

For example, you can set up your AirPods Pro so that the left earbud activates transparency mode when you press and hold it while pressing the right one turns off the AirPods. 

To make these customizations, go to Settings on the iPhone paired with your AirPods Pro. Then, go to the Bluetooth menu. 

Tap the blue More Info button located next to your AirPods.

A Noise Control menu should pop up. 

Go to the Press and Hold menu and tap Left or Right. You should be able to choose between the three modes. 

You can also set up the press-and-hold function to activate Siri. So, when you press one earbud, you can activate and disable noise cancellation.

When you press the other, you can access Siri. 

Wrap Up

Noise cancellation technology is truly amazing when you think about how much work goes on in the background to block background noise. 

For example, not many people know that their AirPods Pro and AirPods Max make adjustments 200 times per second so that they can constantly listen with the best sound quality. 

The AirPods Pro and AirPods Max are excellent noise cancellation devices, and the 3rd Generation AirPods are also great at blocking out background noise. 

Depending on your needs, any line of AirPods will perform well in reducing background noise so that you can listen to music or sit in on calls with minimal distractions and disruptions. 

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