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Why Are My AirPods So Quiet? Troubleshooting Low Volume Issues

Last updated: 3 months ago
7 min read

There could be multiple reasons why your Apple AirPods have low volume:

  • A software glitch
  • Weird operating system or app settings
  • Dirtiness
  • Using different devices and operating systems
  • Physical damage

Fortunately, we created a step-by-step guide with detailed solutions for each mentioned issue. Let’s make your AirPods loud again.

AirPods low volume
CONTENTS (show more)

    How to Fix Quiet AirPods (Low Volume)

    Before you begin, figure out where the problem is.

    Is it the fault of your AirPods or the connected device? Connect AirPods to another device (your laptop or your friend’s smartphone).

    1. Check the volume settings

    If you have recently updated the operating system on your smartphone or computer or have updated your music app, the volume settings might have changed.

    Here’s everything to check on your iOS device (iPad, iOS 15.8):

    1. Use a volume rocker on the side of your device to adjust the volume is set to max. Alternately, swipe from the upper right corner and hold the music app widget until it expands. Slide the volume control bar all the way to the right.
    iOS volume slider app
    1. Now you should go into “Settings“. When inside, click on “Sounds“.
    2. Ensure that you have “Fixed Position Volume Controls” enabled so that you don’t accidentally lower the AirPods volume instead of raising it.
    iOS sounds fixed position volume
    1. Next, check that “Reduce Loud Sounds” is off. If it is not, it means that you have a volume limit enabled. Click on the feature and turn it off.
    iOS reduce loud sounds
    1. Return to “Settings” (or look at the left column on an iPad) and tap “Accessibility“.
    2. Go into “Audio/Visual” and ensure you have the “Balance” slider in the middle. Having that slider towards the left or right might be why AirPods sound quieter on the other side.
    iOS audio balance
    1. Lastly, find “Headphone Accommodations“. Usually, this feature is turned off. However, turn it on and play with it a bit. Make your own “Custom Audio Setup“, tune your audio for Balanced, Vocal, or Brightness, or boost quieter sounds to hear them better.
    iOS headphone accommodations

    As for music players, such as Apple Music, there are no audio settings that would affect loudness.

    Next, here’s everything you can check on your Android device (Samsung, ONE UI 6.0):

    1. Use a volume rocker to raise to the maximum volume.
    2. If one AirPod is louder than the other, go into “Settings“.
    Android into settings
    1. Find “Accessibility” and go into “Hearing enhancements“.
    Android accessibility hearing
    1. On the bottom, you can change the balance of your “Connected audio“. Also, you can “Adapt sound” if you have issues hearing specific frequency regions.
    Android connected audio adapt sound
    1. Lastly, return to “Settings” and find “Sound and vibrations“.
    2. Go into “Sound quality and effects” and ensure that EQ settings are set to “Normal“. Equalizers built into OS are typically bad and crush the loudness of your music.
    Android sounds quality EQ

    Lastly, here’s what you can do on your PC (Windows 11):

    1. First, ensure that the volume is set correctly. Sometimes, it takes a few seconds for Windows to switch the audio output to your headphones. Sometimes, it doesn’t even register them, so you need to re-connect them.
    2. While having your AirPods connected, move the mouse to the bottom right corner of the screen and right-click on the speaker icon (indicating the volume). Click on “Sound settings“.
    Windows sound settings
    1. Scroll down and click on “More sound settings“.
    Windows more sound settings
    1. In the new window, find the “Headphones” icon that says “Owner’s AirPods“. Right-click on it and select “Properties“.
    Windows sound headphone properties
    1. Under “Enhancements“, ensure that no enhancements are enabled.
    Windows headphones disable enhancements

    2. Clear earwax and debris buildup

    Earwax buildup is one of the most common reasons AirPods users hear music more quietly.

    Ears naturally push earwax out of ear canals. However, with AirPods inside, the earwax slowly flows into them.

    Moreover, the added warmth from AirPods blocking your ears makes earwax even softer. That makes it easier to transfer to your earbuds.

    Fortunately, AirPods have a nozzle mesh preventing earwax from damaging the internals. Here’s how you get rid of it and keep your headphones clean.

    Ear tips/earpads

    • If you’re using AirPods Pro, remove the ear tips and rub them with a Q-tip lightly dipped into isopropyl alcohol (60% alcohol or higher to kill the bacteria).
    • This step isn’t required if you’re using regular AirPods 2 or AirPods 3.
    • If you’re using AirPods Max, dirty and stiff earpads can also contribute to the sound changes. So, make sure to clean them by following Apple’s instructions.

    Nozzle

    1. If there’s minimal earwax buildup, skip this step. Otherwise, take a toothpick and scrape off as much of the earwax as possible.
    AirPods toothpick clean
    1. Take a Q-tip and lightly dip it in rubbing alcohol. Rub over the nozzle and let the alcohol melt the wax.
    Q-tip add ethanol alcohol
    1. Scrape off the melted earwax with a clean Q-tip by slowly rotating the tip. That way, you don’t smear the wax all over the speaker mesh.
    Airpods Q-tip
    1. You can use an old toothbrush to remove the slightest traces of earwax and gunk.

    If you can’t fully clean off the earwax, consult with a repair shop to see if they can clean your AirPods. They should have special vacuums that can suck out all the wax from the nozzle.

    You can try to suck the melted wax with your mouth. That helped many users who accidentally put their AirPods into a washing machine. But we don’t recommend that as isopropyl alcohol isn’t fit for human consumption.

    3. Reset your AirPods

    Jump to instructions for:

    Sometimes, a code loads incorrectly, making your AirPods act weird, like sounding quieter.

    One way to fix the incorrectly loaded software is to force your AirPods to load it again by resetting them.

    Here’s how you reset the AirPods 1, AirPods 2, AirPods 3, AirPods Pro, and AirPods Pro 2:

    1. Put the AirPods into the charging case and close the lid.
    2. To truly start from scratch, you must “forget them” in your audio playback device. Follow the instructions below on how to do that.
    3. Then, open the AirPods charging case and hold the case’s button on the back for 15 seconds or until you see a small LED going from amber to white color. Now your earbuds are reset.
    4. AirPods should quickly go into pairing mode (blinking white light) so you can re-pair them with your device.
    The button on the back of the AirPods’ charging case.

    Here’s how you reset the AirPods Max:

    1. First, forget/remove your AirPods Max from your device using the instructions below.
    2. Then, press and hold the “Noise control” button and a rotating crown for 15 seconds or until the blinking LED goes from amber to white color. Now, your AirPods Max are reset.
    3. The LED should start blinking white, indicating that the AirPods Max went into pairing mode.
    Apple AirPods Max buttons & hinge
    AirPods Max’s ANC button and digital crown on top of the right ear cup.

    Instructions on how to forget/remove connected AirPods from different operating systems:

    For iOS:

    1. Go into “Settings” and click on “Bluetooth“.
    2. Find your AirPods and click the blue “i” icon on the right.
    AirPods Bluetooth devices
    1. Tap on “Forget This Device“.
    1. Confirm your choice.

    For Android:

    1. Go into “Settings“.
    Android into settings

    Find “Connections” and tap on “Bluetooth” (you must enable it first).

    Android go to Bluetooth settings
    1. Click on the “gear” icon next to your AirPods and select “Unpair“. Confirm your choice.
    Android bluetooth settings unpair

    For macOS:

    1. Go into “System Preferences” on top of the screen (or press ALT + F2 on a keyboard).
    2. Find and open “Bluetooth“.
    3. Search among connected devices for your AirPods and click the “x” on their right side. That removes the AirPods from your Mac.

    For Windows (11):

    1. In the bottom right corner, left-click on the Wi-Fi, speaker, and battery icons (they’re grouped together).
    2. First, enable Bluetooth and then right-click on the Bluetooth icon. Select “Go to Settings“.
    Windows open bluetooth settings

    If your AirPods are on the front tile, click the 3 dots on top of the tile and select “Remove“. That will remove your headphones.

    Windows bluetooth settings

    If you don’t see them in the front tile, click “View more devices” and find your AirPods by scrolling down the list of all connected devices.

    Windows bluetooth devices

    4. Fix software glitches by updating firmware

    While resetting resolves accidental errors in the software code, only firmware updates can fix permanent code errors.

    Sometimes, programmers make mistakes, sending faulty software through firmware. You should recognize software issues if, all of a sudden, multiple users on forums complain about the same issue.

    To update firmware on your AirPods, you need an Apple device with an iOS or MacOS operating system and a Wi-Fi connection. Updates happen in the background, and you can’t control when they happen.

    All you can do is check whether your AirPods have the latest firmware version (see the latest firmware versions on Apple’s website).

    If the firmware version doesn’t match the latest version on the official website:

    • Connect your AirPods to your Apple device, enable Wi-Fi, and wait for 15-20 minutes.

    This is how you check the AirPods’ firmware version in the iOS:

    1. Go into “Settings” and click on “Bluetooth“.
    2. Find your AirPods and click the “i” icon on the right.
    iOS airpods bluetooth settings
    1. On the bottom, there should be information about the firmware version.
    iOS check firmware version

    In MacOS:

    • Hold the “Option” key on a keyboard and click on the Apple logo.
    • Go into “System Information” and click on “Bluetooth“.
    • Find your AirPods and check the firmware version.

    5. Troubleshoot hardware issues

    If you have ruled out all the solutions mentioned above, chances are your AirPods might need serious fixing. Maybe there was a short circuit, or an internal component got dislocated.

    Here’s how you could pinpoint whether you have a hardware issue or not:

    • AirPods suddenly play at low volume and do so with all devices you connect them to.
    • One or both AirPods are quieter after they fall on the floor.

    In both instances, it’s best to send your AirPods for repair. However, the first issue is covered by the warranty, whereas the second one isn’t.

    AirPods loudness changes depending on the operating system

    Each device has a different Bluetooth hardware, meaning it encodes and decodes different Bluetooth codecs with various efficiency.

    During our AirPods loudness accuracy tests, we discovered significant differences in loudness between an iPad (Air 2), a Samsung (Galaxy S21), and a PC laptop (HP 470 G8).

    • On average, Apple AirPods 3 connected to a Samsung or PC laptop were almost 4dB louder during music playback than when connected to an iPad. 
    • Apple AirPods Max were more than 4dB louder when listening to music on a Samsung or PC laptop compared to iPad.

    Check more detailed results and comparisons in our full article about Apple AirPods loudness accuracy.

    FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions

    How many years does AirPods last?

    AirPods typically last around 3 years before the battery starts holding noticeably less charge, making them unreliable to use.

    Do AirPods have low volume?

    AirPods don’t have low volume. When working correctly, Apple AirPods 3 reach almost 106dB at 100% volume, whereas Apple AirPods Max reach 108dB at 100% volume (as loud as a power mower) (measurements were done using white noise).

    How do I make AirPods louder?

    Make AirPods louder by using an equalizer and raising all or just midrange frequencies. Or find an equalizer (like eqMac for MacOS) that has a master volume setting. Note that it can negatively affect the sound quality.

    How do I fix one AirPods louder than the other?

    To fix your AirPod that’s louder than the other, first inspect for earwax buildup on the nozzle and clean it accordingly. Next, try re-pairing and factory resetting them. Furthermore, check if they have the latest firmware. Otherwise, send them for a repair.

    Conclusion

    These are all the solutions to fix AirPods low volume. Hopefully, one of them worked, and you’re now enjoying your AirPods at full volume. To recap all of the solutions:

    1. Reset your AirPods.
    2. Update your firmware.
    3. Clear the earwax and gunk from the nozzle.
    4. Check the volume settings on your audio playback device.
    5. Troubleshoot hardware problems.

    In case of hardware issues, consult with Apple to service your broken AirPods, especially if they’re under warranty. Third-party repair is also an option (if you aren’t covered by warranty anymore).

    If the damage is beyond repairable and you need to get a new pair, check our review for Apple AirPods 3 and Apple AirPods Max to see how well they perform.

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