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AirPods Keep Cutting Out? These are Quick Fixes

Last updated: 4 months ago
6 min read

Apple AirPods are, like any electronic device that uses Bluetooth, susceptible to connection issues and interruptions.

But don’t worry; after reading this, your AirPods will work like they’re brand new.

This article covers:

  • All potential reasons why your AirPods keep losing Bluetooth connection or producing choppy audio.
  • Simple fixes to those audio problems and advice on how to prevent such issues in the future.
AirPods cutting out signal

As mentioned, AirPods are susceptible to all kinds of issues (as are any Bluetooth headphones and earbuds). That means anyone can experience audio stutters, disconnections, and other glitches.

Fortunately, you can quickly resolve most of these issues. Some require an easy one-time intervention, while others might have you changing how you use your AirPods.

CONTENTS (show more)

    Bluetooth Interruptions

    Connection or Bluetooth interruptions are the most common reason for AirPods cutting out. Bluetooth operates at 2.4GHz, the same as Wi-Fi and even microwave ovens.

    While newer Bluetooth versions use more robust protocols to avoid clashing with devices with similar operating frequencies, interruptions can still occur.

    The chances of hearing a stutter increase the further you walk away from the transmitting device (smartphone, laptop, etc.). The Bluetooth signal then gets weaker, which results in occasional drop-offs.

    Placing a wall or two between you and the transmitting device further weakens the connection. Our indoor Bluetooth range tests show that most wireless headphones stop working after passing the second (brick) wall.

    AirPods obsticles wall connection
    Bluetooth is the most sensitive to thick walls and water-based obstacles (bodies, going underwater).

    How to fix Bluetooth interruptions?

    All you need to fix Bluetooth or connection interruptions is to:

    • Keep your AirPods and transmitting device close. With that, you ensure the strongest signal and less chance of interruptions.
    • Turn OFF other wireless devices that aren’t currently in use.

    Software Issues

    Software problems can lead to random audio cuts and drop-offs. If your AirPods keep breaking the connection despite having them close to your transmitting device, there might be something wrong with the firmware that operates your AirPods.

    Your AirPods might suffer from random glitches. They occur when a line of code initiates poorly, causing an error. Such errors aren’t surprising, especially when initiating very complex codes.

    How to fix software issues?

    The quickest thing to fix a software glitch is to reset your AirPods.

    Here’s how you reset different AirPods models:

    Apple AirPods 1, 2, 3, Pro, and Pro 2:

    1. Place AirPods into the charging case and keep the lid open.
    2. Press and hold the button on the back of the charging case for 15 minutes.
    Apple AirPods 3 case button
    1. During these 15 seconds, the LED in the front should go from white to amber and back to white. When that happens, release the button.
    2. AirPods are now reset.

    Apple AirPods Max:

    1. On the right ear cup, press and hold the “Noise Control” button and the digital crown simultaneously for 15 seconds.
    Apple AirPods Max press buttons
    1. Meanwhile, observe the LED next to the Lightning charging port. It should go from white to amber and back to white.
    2. You can now release the buttons. Your AirPods Max are reset.

    If resetting doesn’t help, check if your AirPods have the latest firmware update. Here’s how you do that:

    1. Go into Bluetooth settings on your iOS device.
    2. Tap on the “i” icon on the right side of your AirPods.
    AirPods Bluetooth devices
    1. Scroll down to see the firmware version. Compare it to the latest ones listed on Apple’s official website LINKZ.
    iOS check firmware version
    1. If firmware versions don’t match, keep your AirPods and iOS device connected for at least 30 minutes. In that time, firmware should automatically update to your AirPods.

    AirPods’ Proximity Sensor

    AirPods have a proximity sensor that registers whether you wear them on your head or in your ears. The sensor automatically pauses and resumes whatever you’re listening to.

    However, that sensor can malfunction or, more likely, seem to be incompatible with your ears (possible reason for in-ear AirPods, not over-ear Max‘s).

    Due to your earlobes’ shape, the sensor can’t get a good reading and thinks you took the AirPods off, pausing the music.

    How to fix proximity sensor problem?

    You need to turn OFF the proximity sensor inside the Bluetooth settings. Note that you need an iOS device to access AirPods’ settings (you can’t do the latter on Android, Windows, or other non-Apple devices).

    Here’s how to turn OFF the auto-play/pause sensor:

    1. With your AirPods connected to your iOS device, go into Settings.
    2. Tap Bluetooth and tap the info symbol next to your AirPods’ name (“i” in a circle).
    AirPods Bluetooth devices
    1. In AirPods Settings, switch OFF the “Automatic Ear Detection“.
    AirPods Automatic ear detection toggle

    AirPods Connected to Two Devices

    If you have previously paired your AirPods to at least 2 different Apple devices, they might be using Apple’s proprietary Bluetooth multipoint feature to stay connected to both of them.

    Stutters occur when you don’t know AirPods are connected to a second device. That means that anytime the other device makes a sound (notification, etc.), it gets played through your AirPods.

    How to fix AirPods connecting to two devices?

    To fix interferences between AirPods and two connected devices, you need to disconnect them from one of them.

    In the future, you should ensure that Bluetooth is turned off on devices to which you previously connected your AirPods to avoid connecting them to two devices again.

    Glitchy Music Player

    Sometimes, stutters aren’t related to unstable connection or software bugs in the AirPods but originate from the music app.

    Today, when most of you listen to music via streaming services, you might also experience buffering stutters when the audio doesn’t load due to a poor internet connection.

    Apple AirPods Pro 2 Apple Music app

    How to fix a glitchy music player?

    Keep an eye on software updates by checking the App Store for updates every day. Hopefully, the new app update resolves glitchy audio stutters.

    On the other hand, if you have frequent issues with internet connection, see if you can create an offline playlist. That way, you can listen to your favorite songs without relying on mobile data.

    Insufficient Battery

    In-ear AirPods have a battery life of around 5 to 6 hours per charge, whereas the Max can last up to 20 hours.

    But if you listen to them for a long time or forget to charge them, you might be surprised by an empty battery. At that point, AirPods shut OFF and don’t stutter like a car running low on gas.

    How to fix empty battery problems?

    Ensure that the AirPods are placed into the charging case after every use and that the case is fully charged. Also, be aware of how much time you spend listening to music. The same applies to the AirPods Max.

    Apple AirPods Pro 2 case green light
    Green light means sufficient charge inside the case, whereas amber means you need to charge it.

    Physical Malfunction

    Physical or hardware malfunction can occur due to user misuse or in the factory.

    • User misuse covers accidental drops on the floor or in the water, getting liquid inside the AirPods, opening the housing without knowing what you’re doing, etc.
    • Factory defects occur on the product line or in a design room. Some pieces might get damaged during the assembly, while some poorly designed pieces don’t work as intended in practice.

    How to fix physical defects?

    Contact Apple support and send your AirPods for a repair. It’s best to leave any hardware-based malfunction to professionals, either authorized repair shops (if you’re still covered under warranty and especially if you have an AppleCare plan) or third-party ones.

    Advanced Tips for a Stable Connection with AirPods

    It’s often the way how you use your headphones that results in audio stutters. Therefore, let’s discuss essential tips for maintaining a stable connection with your Apple AirPods.

    Optimal placement of AirPods

    Since today almost any gadget uses some kind of wireless connection, Bluetooth interferences can be quite common. Especially in dense living areas like apartment buildings.

    That is why the most optimal way of using AirPods is to keep them close to your transmitting device. Take the source device with you when you walk into a different room or even when you simply walk around in the same room.

    For a stable Bluetooth connectivity, it’s best to keep both devices in line of sight.

    Keep firmware to date

    Regularly check for new firmware updates on your transmitting/source device and your AirPods. Use the official Apple website to see which AirPods firmware is the latest.

    Updates typically fix known issues and improve stability. Rarely, they might make things worse, but as said, that happens very rarely.

    On iOS:

    1. Go to Settings and tap on General.
    2. Select “Software Update“. You should be notified if a new update is available.

    Ensure to use the newest Bluetooth version

    All AirPods use Bluetooth 5.0, except AirPods Pro 2, which have Bluetooth 5.3. These versions are pretty stable and should result in stable connecting, especially the Pro 2 model.

    However, you must also ensure your audio source device supports Bluetooth 5.0 or newer.

    Basically, the connection between the two devices runs on the oldest Bluetooth version. This means that if you use Bluetooth 5.0 and 4.2 devices, the connection runs on 4.2, which is less stable.

    FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions

    Why are my AirPods stuttering?

    Your AirPods are most likely stuttering because of Bluetooth interference. Keep them close to a transmitting device and turn OFF wireless connections on unused devices. If it doesn’t help, reset your AirPods and a transmitting device.

    Why are my AirPods glitching?

    Your AirPods are glitching because other wireless connections (Bluetooth, Wi-Fi) interfere with them. Or they suffer from a software glitch, so you need to reset them.

    Why do my wireless earbuds keep cutting out?

    Your wireless earbuds keep cutting out because a transmitting device is too far away or other Bluetooth/Wi-Fi devices interfere with your connection. Another option is a software bug requiring you to reset your AirPods and audio source device.

    Conclusion

    Now that you know that Apple AirPods are a wireless electronic device susceptible to software and connection issues, you can better understand why your audio sometimes cuts out.

    Hopefully, our tips and solutions helped you resolve your issues, and you’re now enjoying a stutter-free listening experience. If we missed any, less us know in the comments.

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