Do AirPods Help with Background Noise?

When listening to music, a person pops in their headphones to get distracted from the noise around them, but sometimes, regular headphones just don’t work.

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Do AirPods Block Out Background Noise?

AirPods help with background noise, especially in busy places. AirPods have an Active Noise Cancellation system that will take out all of the background noise around a person. They also have a Transparency setting, which will only take out some of the background noise, but not all of it.

There is a little more to AirPods, including disadvantages with the loss of background noises to the person, and even during phone calls that will be addressed. Keep reading to learn more about AirPod’s noise cancellation.

How AirPods Block Out Noise

Do AirPods Block Out Background Noise Do AirPods Help with Background Noise?

AirPods have an Active Noise Cancellation system in the headphones that does most of the blocking-out-audio part. This Noise Cancellation system has two microphones inside that listen to the external sounds around you and the internal sounds. In this system, there is also a chipset that upturns the soundwaves, also called Destructive Interference.

Destructive Interference deals with two soundwave frequencies. This is when the high point of one frequency is matched with the low point of another frequency, which neutralizes sound. This process uses a speaker on the inside of the headphones to do this. It’s almost exactly like algebra. You take a positive number and a negative number, and it adds up to zero. This is the same concept with the soundwaves when concerning Noise Cancellation. (Source)

The logistics of how to block out the noise around you is a different, but similar, topic.

  • Go to Settings on the iPhone or iPad
    • This could also work on an Apple watch
  • Click on Bluetooth
  • Find the associated Headphones name
    • Most likely it’s Apple’s AirPods or AirPods Pro
  • Click on the desired background noise selection
Do AirPods Help with Background Noise?

There are three background noise selections:

  1. Noise Cancellation
  2. Transparency
  3. Off

The first one, Noise Cancellation, will take out all of the background noise around a person. The second, Transparency, will only take out some of the background noise, but not all of it. This will still allow a person to hear what is going on around them, and this might be a very good option for someone who still wants to remain alert to situations around them, but still enjoy their music, audiobooks, or phone calls.

One really good idea concerning the Transparency setting is to have this feature on most of the time, simply for the sake of safety. This could protect a person in drastic ways, such as someone attempting to kidnap or steal something a person owns. This could also help someone remain aware of their surroundings, like crossing a busy street or a friend calling out for you.

The third setting is Off, which does not inhibit noise at all. A person will hear all background noise. Be careful when using the volume slider with any of these. Listening to anything too loudly can damage hearing, and a good rule of thumb is to not turn up the volume louder than a vacuum cleaner.

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, Apple AirPods Pro and AirPods Max have an additional noise reduction 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 tunes 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 Help with 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 a noise-cancelling feature. 

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 system 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 wireless earbud, you can activate and disable noise cancellation. When you press the other, you can access Siri. 

Airpods Picking Up Background Noises On Calls

AirPods, for the one person wearing them, is one hundred percent amazing and perfect when it comes to ignoring outside noise. For the people calling or FaceTiming such a person, it is not as perfect.

AirPods in this situation are not great. The person wearing the headphones and answering the call from mom and dad will still be able to use Noise Cancellation, but the people on the other line will still hear ambient noises.

This can be frustrating for a few people, especially if the caller on the other side of the line is having trouble hearing. Both phone calls and FaceTime have this problem, and there is no solution yet on how to fix this or even an answer to why the caller on the other end of the line can hear background noise when the person wearing the AirPods cannot.

Maybe one day in the near future or even recent technology right now will have better ways of fixing this problem. As of right now, if you try to answer a phone call in a busy, loud area, you will be able to hear, but the person on the other end of the line might not.

Do AirPods Help with Background Noise?

Cons to Noise Cancellation

While noise cancellation can be a great feature, there are some drawbacks to using it. There are a few bad side-effects of having Noise Cancellation on all the time.

Here are a few examples:

  • Jaw pain
  • Headaches
  • Tinnitus
  • Dizziness
  • Ear Pressure
  • Disorientation
  • Nausea
    • not common, though

Having vibrations right by the ear from music or audiobooks, or a call, isn’t bad, but at the same time, it’s not good either. Especially when the AirPods are right there, right next to the ear, all the time. These side effects can easily come along if AirPods are not removed at least three times a day.

Ear pressure is probably a very common side-effects with all headphones. When AirPods are in, there is a difference in air density inside and outside of the ear. The outside of the ear may be lighter than the inside of your ear, even more so when the music is really loud.

This is a lot like an airplane when taking off and coming back down. The air changes, and it takes a few minutes to adjust. With AirPods, the person might have to adjust the volume, since that is where the pressure is coming from.

Tinnitus is ringing or buzzing in the ear, and it can be quite common with anybody when the sensitive ear structures are injured or harmed such as with loud sounds—loud music, for example—or whiplash and head injuries, among other causes. This ringing or buzzing is persistent, annoying, and seems to get worse with the absence of noise.

One suggestion would be to turn off Noise Cancellation during Study Hall, or other quiet places. The AirPods have no noise to use, and this may lead to the dizziness and disorientation part, and even nausea. If you aren’t trying to actively shut out background noise, then it is best to stay away from Noise Cancellation.

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