With prices ranging from $100 to $170, Apple AirPods are by no means budget wireless earphones. That being said, they are not your average-sounding pair of wireless earphones. AirPods are well-made, easy to use and deliver great sound and noise-cancellation.
Like all pieces of technology…
AirPods can have their problems. One of these is a lack of volume when you need it. I came across the problem during a phone call. But, I’ve also heard about other users having trouble with the output volume of music or videos.
Despite the volume being turned to the max, the sound is nowhere close to the level needed. And, when compared to other devices, there is an audible difference in volume.
So, I decided to spend last weekend looking into problems to compile a couple of tricks that might help. So, let’s find out how to make your AirPods louder.
Something Important Before We Get Started
Damage to your hearing is rarely temporary. So, it is important to realize whether you are dealing with a legitimate audio output problem or a potential hearing problem.
There are maximum levels of output on audio devices for very good reasons. Risking your hearing health for the sake of a few extra decibels of output is not worth it. If you’ve got a functioning pair of AirPods, leave them that way.
Controlling The Volume On Apple AirPods
With AirPods, we are limited to normal touch controls. But, in the case of AirPods Max, there is also a digital crown. Limited as they may be, AirPods offer quite a bit of control over playback and volume.
Depending on which AirPods model you own, there may be varying levels of interaction available. This can include the difference between normal touch-sensitive sensors and pressure-sensitive sensors. So, let’s take a look at some ways to adjust the volume on your AirPods.
Use Siri to Make Volume Adjustments
Siri has become the preferred method for performing multiple tasks for many Apple users. All you have to do is tell Siri what you want, and she’ll do it to the best of her ability. Changing the volume is certainly within her grasp. All you have to do is say something like, “Hey Siri, turn the volume up.”
For Siri to respond to your voice, you need to ensure that voice commands have been activated on your device. Here’s how in case you don’t know:
- Start by opening Settings on your phone. This is the grey icon with pictures of gears in it.
- After you open the settings page, navigate to the “Siri Search” option and tap on it.
- You’ll see a toggle switch next to the Listen for “Hey Siri” option; make sure this is set to the on position.
- Another option you’ll likely want to activate is the “Allow Siri When Locked” option. This will make sure she is listening to your commands even when your phone is locked.
Important note about Siri…
She is only available on the iPhone 6 or later and requires an active internet connection. As of May 2023, Siri is capable of assisting users in 36 different languages.
Siri is one of the most competent artificial assistants out there. That means a simple task like adjusting the volume is no problem. Furthermore, she’s capable of quite a bit more when it comes to audio and video playback volume control.
You can try giving Siri some more specific commands and watch her respond without a hitch, something like “Hey Siri, increase volume by fifteen percent” or “Hey Siri, increase volume to 75%”. You can even combine certain commands without confusing Siri.
For instance, she can be tasked with opening a media player, selecting a specific track, and starting playback at a designated volume all in one sentence. Something like, “Hey Siri, open Apple Music and play ‘Come As You Are’ by Nirvana at 80% volume.”
The Volume Slider
The volume slider is the easiest way to control the volume on your AirPods. You can adjust the volume using the buttons on the side of your phone or tablet. Alternatively, you can use the volume slider found in the control center.
Additionally, when using any of the major music streaming services, like Spotify or Apple Music, you should also see a volume slider for these apps on your lock screen while music is playing back.
Use the Sound Settings Inside an App
Most music and media players have built-in volume settings as well. For example, Apple Music has a volume slider at the bottom of the screen. Adjusting this slider is not the same as using your phone’s volume rocker or the volume slider in the control center.
One might think all these different levels of audio control might be confusing or redundant. But, there are good reasons for it. For example, if you’ve got a favorite mobile game that you enjoy, but you’d like to have tunes playing in the background.
You can simply turn the in-game volume down by accessing the audio settings of the game. This means your device volume is at full, while your game volume is low or at zero, and your music app is at the desired output level.
Use The Digital Crown (Only On Airpods Max)
The AirPods Max is the only model in the AirPods range to have a digital crown instead of featuring any of the aforementioned volume control methods.
Introduced with the first Apple Watch series, the Digital Crown is a rotary knob similar to the knobs you find on the side of a watch. Of course, this being a more modern device that is also digital, the knob is multifunctional.
How does it work?
When used to control the volume, you can turn the knob clockwise to turn the volume up. If you want to turn the volume down, just turn the knob counterclockwise.
This may be intuitive for most users, but it is possible to reverse this mode of operation if you wish to have it work in the opposite direction. Here’s how to invert the setting:
- Open the Settings and navigate to Bluetooth; tap to open the Bluetooth Settings page.
- Your Air Pods Max should be listed among the devices there. Tap on the info icon (small caps “i” inside a circle next to the name of your Bluetooth device).
- Scroll down and tap on “Digital Crown.”
- You’ll see an option for “increase volume by rotating.” Here, you can select either clockwise or counterclockwise operation.
If you are certain that your volume settings are not the issue and you are still having trouble, there could be quite a few reasons for this. Let’s take a look at some of these, what can be done to solve them, and how to make your AirPods louder.
Why Are My AirPods Low At Max Volume?
Unsurprisingly, there are several reasons why AirPods sound so quiet. Thankfully, most cases of low output have been solved by doing a few common troubleshooting exercises and quick fixes. So, let’s look at the most common reasons for poor audio on AirPods.
Wax and Dirt
No matter how well you design a product, Mother Nature can’t be made more user-friendly. Therefore, the buildup of earwax and other microscopic particles of dust and grime is inevitable. And, of course, AirPods are as vulnerable to this buildup as every other pair of earphones.
The inner part of the tip is where the buildup will occur most, so it’s the first place you’ll need to check But, Airpods do have one other spot. On the outside of the main buds, you’ll find a small opening.
This is to allow some air to escape to prevent the sound from becoming muffled and harsh. This opening may not be susceptible to the buildup of earwax, but other particles can get in there. So, be sure to check this opening as well.
A good clean can go a long way…
You might think that the diminishing output of your AirPods due to earwax buildup is something you’d notice. But, it’s precisely the gradual loss of volume that disguises the problem so well.
If you’re prone to wearing your AirPods for extended periods and you know you haven’t cleaned them in a while, this is a very good place to start. For more help with AirPods with low volume and cleaning, check out our handy article on How to Clean Your AirPods Pro.
AirPods rely on software for operating instructions. This means that if a problem occurs anywhere in the processing and playback chain, it can affect the output. When learning how to make your AirPods louder, settings can make a world of difference.
As we already know, modern apps and gadgets offer users so many levels of control. So much so that sometimes it’s hard to keep track of where you boosted, dipped, activated, or deactivated one of the many sound-shaping parameters. AirPods are no exception to this level of customization.
Therefore, you need to check the volume settings of the source device and any application or streaming service you might be using.
What does that mean?
Maybe you accidentally tweaked the master output control on your equalizer. Or, maybe you opened the settings while the phone was in your pocket and accidentally cut out of the low-end. Stranger things have happened. So, don’t neglect to check this because you think it could never happen to you.
Also, if you put your phone in low power or battery-saving mode, it may affect the operation of many apps. Including your media player.
Out-of-date firmware may seem like something that shouldn’t cause a problem in output volume. But, some users have reported they were able to fix low volume AirPods after updating the firmware. Let’s start by checking which version of firmware you currently have installed:
- Open Settings and, navigate to the “General” option, tap to open.
- With the General Settings page open, tap on “Software Update.”
- It will take a few moments while the device checks for the latest updates.
- You should perform any available updates.
You can also check which firmware version is installed on your AirPods by opening Settings, navigating to About, and selecting your AirPods. Among the information displayed will be the currently installed firmware version.
Here’s how to update the firmware for your AirPods:
- Place both the AirPods in the charging case.
- Connect the case to a power source (either a lightning cable or wireless charger, depending on your model).
- Make sure Bluetooth is turned on, and bring a paired device close to the case. You must also have an active internet connection.
- If any updates are available, they will install automatically.
Still Not Loud Enough?
When it comes to figuring out how to make your AirPods louder, the solutions we’ve looked at should work. However, the problem may not be any of the above-mentioned.
But, fear not. We are about to take a look at a few tried and tested troubleshooting tricks that might help you solve your AirPods volume problems.
Clean Your Airpods
We touched on this briefly earlier in the article, but a good cleaning is probably one of the best places to start troubleshooting your problem. So, let’s take a look at how to properly clean your Apple AirPods since it’s most likely why your AirPods have a low volume.
You will need:
Now that you’ve got those items ready, let’s dive in:
- Start by spraying the speaker mesh (the round part on the inside of the tip) with a drop of Isopropyl alcohol. Wait just a few seconds, but no more than that.
- With the dirt and grime now separated from the silicone surface of the ear tip, you can easily pick it out using the toothpick.
- Using the toothbrush, lightly scrub the mesh covering the speakers to unclog the small holes.
- You can continue to repeat this process until all the dirt and grime are removed. Just remember to wait between the doses of Isopropyl as this might cause a liquid buildup which is never good. Also, remember to wipe down the ear tips between each spraying of alcohol. A Paper Towel or Lint Free Microfibre Cloth should do nicely.
So, how often should you clean your AirPods to prevent this from occurring again? I’d say about once every two to four weeks to be on the safe side.
Ear Tip Fit Test (Airpods Pro)
If you own a pair of AirPods Pro, then you can perform the Apple Ear Tip Fit Test to try and improve the volume issue. A very important part of accurate noise reproduction with ear tips is getting a good seal.
If the tips you use don’t conform to your inner ear properly, the noise will be allowed to escape. As well as filter in from the outside. The result is a detrimental effect on the sound quality.
It’s worth doing if you’ve never tried it before…
The difference it made for me was quite dramatic. And it’s because I’d never bothered to try smaller tips before. It may sound much louder when you get the right tip and press play. But, this is not because your AirPods are louder.
It’s only because you perceive more of the signal due to the proper seal, resulting in a perceived increase in volume. That said, here is how to perform the Ear Tip Fit Test with your AirPods Pro:
- Place both AirPods in your ears.
- Open Setting on your iPhone or tablet and open the Bluetooth Settings page.
- Find your Airpods on the list of paired devices and tap the “i” icon to the right of it.
- Tap on the “Ear Tip Fit Test” option.
- Tap on “Continue” and tap on the “Play” button.
Something to note is that the Ear Tip Fit Test is only available on devices running iOS 13.2 or later. So, if you don’t see this option, try updating your device’s firmware to see if it makes the option available.
Check The Balance of the AirPods
Apple AirPods allow the user to control the individual levels of the two earphones. This is useful if you are using one AirPod at a time. Often users forget to re-adjust the balance to normal when they revert to using both AirPods at the same time.
No problem. Here is how to balance your AirPods audio levels:
- Open Settings on your phone and navigate to Accessibility.
- Tap on “Audio/Visual.”
- There will be a horizontal slider that you can adjust to set the balance between the two earphones. Place it in the center for an even 50/50 balance.
The balancing option can be useful to folks who have hearing problems in one ear. Simply adjust the balance for a bias towards whichever ear you require to improve the listening experience.
Disable iPhone/iPad Volume Limits
Listening at a high volume level is a great way to immerse yourself in whatever music you’re into. But, it’s never a good idea to take it too far. It’s easy to joke about hearing loss until it happens to you.
Since the engineers at Apple take things like usability, ergonomics, and user-friendliness very seriously, they set up volume limits to ensure a device that is safe to use. Of course, it is possible to remove these limits. And yes, doing so can make your AirPods louder.
But, it is important to reiterate the importance of these limits. They are installed for good reasons, and they are set up by folks who know what they are doing. Therefore, you need to be very sure that this is what you want to do.
Just so you know…
The World Health Organization set the parameters for safe listening at 85db for up to eight hours. Now that you’ve been warned, here’s how to remove volume limits from an iPhone or iPad:
- Open Settings on your device and navigate to the Sound and Haptics page.
- Tap on the “Headphone Safety” and toggle “Loud Sounds” to the on position.
- Once you’ve done this, you will gain access to a slider. This will allow you to increase or decrease the device’s maximum output level.
Once more, you’ll get a warning that these volume limits have been placed here by Apple to prevent users from damaging their hearing.
If you’ve got an issue with the output volume of your device, I recommend trying every other option available to you before attempting to fix the problem using this setting.
Reset the Bluetooth Connection on Your AirPods
Bluetooth is the holy grail of wireless technology. Without it, a large percentage of teenagers would die from wireless speaker withdrawal. That being said, it does come with its drawbacks, as any technology does.
Bluetooth is now in its fifth incarnation, and AirPods, AirPods Pro, and AirPods Max all use Bluetooth 5.0. The very first generation of AirPods is still on Bluetooth 4.2.
Bluetooth is a signal, and like any signal, Bluetooth signals can be interrupted or interfered with by solid objects. Especially ones made of metal like copper. As well as other Bluetooth devices in the vicinity.
If you notice a volume issue with your AirPods, it might not be a volume issue at all. It might just be that the command to turn the volume up or down is not being received by the AirPods due to some kind of interference or lack of communication.
If you think that your issue might be Bluetooth-related, here are some troubleshooting tips that you can try to find out what the problem is:
- With your AirPods connected to your source device, start playing some music and turn the volume to zero.
- Open Settings on your iPhone/iPad and navigate to the Bluetooth page.
- Select the “i” icon next to your AirPods on the devices list. Then, tap on “Disconnect” at the bottom of the screen.
- Once you tap “Disconnect,” the audio playback should stop automatically.
- Press play once more and turn the volume back down to zero again.
- Now reconnect your AirPods and turn the volume up.
Reset Your AirPods
The old tried and tested factory reset never ceases to make any troubleshooting list. That’s because it works so well to solve multiple problems with modern electronic devices. And Apple AirPods are no exception.
It is important to note that performing a factory reset on the Apple AirPods will wipe their memory. That means all of your paired devices and sound profiles will be forgotten. They will be reset to the state they were in the day they came from the factory.
Here are the steps to perform a factory reset on your Apple AirPods:
- Start by placing your AirPods in the charging case and keep the lid open.
- Press and hold the Setup button on the back of the charging case. Hold the button for about fifteen seconds until you see the LED lights flash from amber to white.
- Close the lid and re-pair your AirPods to your source device to see if the problem has been fixed.
An extra measure to take before re-pairing your AirPods. First, remove them from the devices list on your iPhone or iPad. Here’s how:
- Open Setting on your device and navigate to the Bluetooth Settings page.
- Find your AirPods on the listed devices and tap the “i” icon next to them.
- Tap on “Forget This Device.”
- Now try re-pairing your AirPods to see if the problem has been fixed.
To reset Airpods Max, the process is a bit different but will yield the same result. Simply press and hold the Noise button as well as the Digital Crown until you see the LED flash from amber to white. This will indicate that the reset process has finished.
Restart Your iPhone or iPad
Sticking with the theme of turning things on and off, let’s get to the next little trick up our sleeve. Restart the iPhone or iPad, as this might help to address any volume issues you might be having.
To restart an iPhone X or later, all you have to do is to press the side/lock and volume down buttons at the same time. Then, you simply drag the slider that appears on the screen to restart the device.
If you’ve got an iPhone that is older than the iPhone X, all you have to do is hold down the side/lock button for a few seconds.
Disable Low Power Mode
Another reason for low output volume on the iPhone or iPad might be a lack of battery power due to the device being in Low Power or Battery Saver mode.
This is built into Apple devices to prolong the battery life. It limits certain features like background processes and volume output as well. Here’s how to disable Low Power Mode:
- Open Settings on your iPhone.
- Navigate to the Battery Options page.
- Toggle the Low Power mode switch to the off position.
It is important to note that there is no official Apple source that states that Low power mode will affect the output volume of the device. But, there are quite a few users who will vouch that it does. Either way, this is a test worth trying for yourself.
Disable Apple Music Settings
Apple Music has become one of the most used music applications in the world. However, it does have two sound features that may affect the output volume of your device. The first is the Sound Check feature, and the second is the built-in equalizer.
This is a feature that Apple includes on iPhones and iPads as part of Apple Music. Essentially, this feature attempts to equalize the playback volume of all the tracks to ensure the same playback level. Even when going through songs that have different dynamics.
That is to say, going from a loud to a quiet track will not require you manually adjust the volume to compensate for the difference in loudness.
This can also have a dramatic effect. Not only on the tone but loudness as well. Perhaps you are using an EQ preset that results in an overall loss in volume, or you’ve accidentally dipped a large part of the frequency range.
Either way, it’s a good idea to disable the EQ to hear if there is a difference in volume. To disable these settings, follow these steps:
- Open Settings and navigate to the Music Settings page.
- Switch the toggles for “Sound Check” and “EQ” to the off position.
Another thing of note is the Volume Limiter for Apple Music. This is not the same limiter mentioned in an earlier paragraph. This is built into Apple Music and operates independently. It could be worth taking a look at this setting as it might be the cause of your volume troubles.
How to Make Your AirPods Louder – Last Resorts
You may have tried every fix that I’ve gone through so far, and still no success. At this point, you’ll need to start looking for the cause of your problem elsewhere. Don’t get discouraged; you still have some options left.
Check Your Hearing
As mentioned before, hearing problems are easy to joke about until you have to face the reality of potentially having one. Everything I’ve covered so far operates under the assumption that the problem is with the AirPods or iPhone. Now that those have been covered in some depth, we need to consider that the problem might be with the listener.
Hearing problems can come in many forms and varying degrees. Luckily, there are plenty of easy ways for you to test whether you may have a hearing problem.
Ask A Friend To Test Your AirPods
The simplest way is to ask someone you know to test your AirPods for you. Preferably on their own device. This will ensure a valid test and will give you a good indication as to whether the problem lies with you or not. The best option would be to have more than one friend test the AirPods for you.
If, according to their ears, all your friends say there is nothing wrong with the AirPods, then you should start considering that the problem lies with your hearing.
Try Using Third-Party Apps
There are plenty of third-party apps available to test your hearing. Giving one or two of them a try is well worth it if you are still unsure.
These apps mostly work on the principle of having you perform a few tests and then do some analytics. The results displayed will then serve as a general guide for audio settings and adjustments that could improve your experience.
Seek Professional Help
This should be one of your last resorts. But, it is the most definitive way to identify the problem, should there be one.
Going to an ENT specialist will be the very last resort. Usually, the aforementioned homemade tests could help you get a basic indication, so it’s worth trying at least one of the first. That being said, going to a professional should bring an end to the mystery in most cases.
Something New From Apple
With the introduction of iOS 14, Apple added something called Headphone Accommodations to their arsenal of features. This is meant to make the listening experience better for those who have hearing concerns.
You can customize a range of audio options on a per-app basis. Meaning one profile will apply to phone calls and another to how you playback audio on your streaming service or media player. There is even a set of samples that can be played to you to help you decide on the setup you prefer.
Contact Apple Support
Maybe the ear doctor has given you a clean bill of hearing health. Where then is the cause of this lack in volume. Well, we return to where we started – the devices themselves.
At this point, you’ve reached the very last resort. Time to contact the good folks at Apple to see if they can shed some light on the issue.
What are your options?
First, take your devices to the nearest Apple store and ask for some help. The second option is to go to Apple’s website and submit a query. Here’s how:
On the Apple Support website, there will be a grid menu displaying devices. From this menu, select “AirPods.” You will notice many popular queries listed. Unfortunately, low volume is not one of them. This means you’ll have to submit a new one. Click on “The Topic is not listed” and type your request.
It might take Apple some time to respond to your request, but they will. They might provide you with many of the options I’ve already given above. But, they might also have something new for you to try or that I haven’t thought of yet. Either way, it can’t hurt to give it a try.
Need More Help With Your AirPods?
We have you covered. Take a look at our detailed articles on Can I Use Two Different AirPods, AirPods Blinking Orange? How to Fix It, AirPods Connected But No Sound, AirPods Keep Disconnecting – How to Fix It, and Can Reset AirPods Be Tracked for more advice.
Also, check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Apple AirPods Pro Alternatives, the Best iPhone Earbuds, the Best AirPods Alternative, the Best Lightning Headphones for iPhone & iPad, the Best True Wireless Earbuds, and the Most Comfortable Earbuds you can buy in 2023.
How To Make Your AirPods Louder – Conclusion
Whether you had the problem before and can’t remember how it got fixed, or are at your wit’s end trying to solve the mystery of low-volume AirPods, rest assured. You are not alone, and there are quite a few things you can try.
In most cases, there will be easy fixes without any special knowledge or equipment, such as resets and a good clean. But don’t rule out that you might have a hearing problem as well.
Always get a second opinion before going to a professional by having someone test your AirPods for you. And, if all else fails, you can always contact Apple.
Until next time, good luck sorting the issue and happy listening.