The most common reason your AirPods are so quiet is due to dirt and ear wax build-up in the tips. The easiest way to improve the sound quality is to gently clean the speaker and microphone meshes with a dry Q-tip.
If that doesn’t work, I’ll also talk about seven other ways to fix your AirPod volume.
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How to Fix Quiet AirPods
When AirPods get dirty, debris can physically block the sound from leaving the speaker holes.
Thankfully, there’s an easy solution: clean your AirPods.
Nine times out of ten, this will fix your volume issues.
Thoroughly Clean Your AirPods
You’ll use a different method to clean your earbuds, depending on whether you’re using the AirPods, AirPods Pro, or AirPods Max.
Here’s a look at how to clean all types based on the manuals I’ve received from Apple.
AirPods & AirPods Pro
To clean inside your AirPods’ speaker mesh, use a clean, dry cotton swab.
Don’t use anything sharp like a needle; it could damage your earbuds’ diaphragm.
If you’re using the AirPods Pro, set aside your silicone ear tips at this point.
Next, clean the outside of your earbud shells.
You can usually get them squeaky clean with a dry, lint-free cloth.
If there’s staining or stuck-on debris, you can dampen the cloth.
In this case, make sure not to get any water into your earbud openings.
You also shouldn’t use your earbuds until they finish drying.
AirPod Pro users should clean their earbud tips in the same way.
If you need to, you can immerse them in water, but don’t use any soap.
Dry the tips as best you can with a lint-free cloth, and wait until they’re fully dry before putting them back on your buds.
After you’ve cleaned your earbuds, don’t forget to clean the case.
You can use a damp cloth if need be, but there are some caveats:
- Don’t get any water in the charging wells or Lightning port.
- Use a dry, soft-bristled brush to clean a dirty Lightning port.
- Don’t put anything into the charging wells, even if it’s soft.
- Use only water; no soap, and no abrasive chemicals.
Because the AirPods Max is a full-sized set of headphones, you need to clean them a bit differently.
First, remove the cushions from the ear cups.
Next, use a damp cloth to wipe them down, and dry them with a lint-free cloth.
Don’t use soap or any other cleaning chemicals, and don’t get any water into the openings.
Next, mix a teaspoon (5 mL) of laundry detergent into a cup of water (250 mL) as directed by Apple.
Dip a cloth into the solution, wring it out so it’s only damp, and wipe down the cushions.
Use the same method to wipe the headband.
Follow up with a dry, lint-free cloth.
You’ll have to let your cushions dry for a full day before you reattach them.
In most cases, you can clean the AirPods Max case with a dry, lint-free cloth.
If the mess is particularly stubborn, you can use isopropyl alcohol.
Why Are my AirPods so Quiet Even After Cleaning?
Your AirPods might be quiet even after cleaning for several reasons.
There could be an issue with your phone settings, or you might have outdated firmware.
You may also have a problem with your physical hardware.
Here are seven possible causes.
1. Low Power Mode is Enabled
The iPhone has a special low-power mode that’s designed to maximize your battery life.
For whatever reason, this setting also restricts your AirPod volume, even though they have separate batteries.
You can turn off low-power mode from your Control Center.
Alternatively, open your Settings menu, tap “Battery,” and check the “Low Power” toggle.
If it’s on, turn it off.
On some devices, Android owners have a similar option.
Open your Settings, tap “Connections,” then choose “Bluetooth.”
Tap the three dots at the top right to bring up more options.
Turn on the option called “Media Volume Sync.”
Because Android phones are so diverse, not all of them have this option.
2. Your Device Has a Volume Limit
iPhones also have an option to limit the maximum volume.
Thankfully, this setting is easy to disable.
Here’s how to do it:
- Open your Settings, then select “Music.”
- Tap “Volume Limit.”
- You’ll see a volume knob. Turn it all the way up.
By doing this, you’ve set the volume limit to the maximum.
Now you’ll be able to use your AirPods to their full potential.
3. Low Battery
When your AirPod batteries start to get low, they don’t supply the maximum possible voltage.
You won’t notice this at low volume levels.
But at higher volume levels, the sound will fade as the volume drains.
Drop your earbuds into the case and let the batteries charge.
If you lost your charger, there are still methods to charge your Airpods with no charging case.
Make sure the lights are on and that the contacts are making proper contact.
You may have full volume once your buds are fully charged.
4. Accessibility Settings
If your volume still isn’t high enough, you can give it a boost.
On the iPhone, open your Settings menu.
Select “Accessibility,” then tap “Audio/Visual,” then “Headphone Accommodations.”
In the accommodations menu, select “Strong.”
As before, most Android phones have a similar feature.
Depending on the phone, you’ll access it in different ways.
5. Bluetooth Issues
If there’s nothing wrong with your settings, the next likely culprit is your Bluetooth connection.
Fortunately, resetting the connection is easy:
- Open your iPhone’s Bluetooth page, select your AirPods, and tap “Forget.”
- Turn off your phone’s Bluetooth.
- Reboot the phone.
- Turn your Bluetooth back on.
- Put your AirPods into pairing mode and re-pair them with your phone.
6. Software Issues
Check your phone to make sure the latest version of iOS is installed.
On an Android phone, check your Android version.
If you’re struggling with sound on a Windows PC, update your Bluetooth and audio device drivers.
It also doesn’t hurt to run Windows Update.
7. Hardware Issues
If none of these steps helps, your AirPods could be damaged.
Water may have gotten inside, or the batteries may be losing capacity.
At this point, you’ll need to take them to the Apple store and have them looked at.
That said, the AirPods Pro have a known defect that affects a small percentage of earbuds.
For these buds, in particular, Apple has established a special repair/replacement program.
Most of the time, AirPods are quiet because they’re dirty, and the mesh has become clogged.
That said, settings, firmware, and hardware are all potential causes.
The best thing to do is clean your earbuds, then troubleshoot the issue if that doesn’t work.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I fix quiet AirPods?
First, follow the instructions for cleaning your AirPods.
If that doesn’t work, check to see if your phone is volume-limited or set to low power mode.
Try charging your earbud batteries and troubleshooting your Bluetooth connection.
You should also make sure your firmware is up to date.
If none of that works, your AirPods might be broken.
Why are my AirPods so quiet in one ear?
If one earbud is quieter than the other, first check to make sure the speaker mesh is clean.
If you see earwax or other debris, follow the instructions above to clean it out.
If both earbuds are clean, go to your iPhone’s settings and tap “Accessibility.”
Choose “Audio/Visual,” then “Balance.”
If the balance is set to one side, return the slider to the middle and save your settings.