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AirPods microphone not working

Fix your AirPods microphone and break the silence.

Published onMay 4, 2024

Apple AirPods are known for their high-quality audio, but they also have powerful microphones. This makes them suitable for phone calls and online meetings. But if the person on the other end suddenly can’t hear you, there’s a chance one or more of your AirPods microphones are broken.

Before you get a replacement earbud, rule out minor problems affecting your mic. This guide covers all the common ones.

How to fix AirPods microphone that won’t work

Is your AirPods microphone not working? If you recently took a swim with them or they fell into water, that may be the cause. Although Apple AirPods are water resistant, they’re not waterproof. In that case, wipe them down with a dry lint-free cloth — do not use heat or compressed air.

If your AirPods are not water-damaged, connect them to a different device to see if the problem persists. Follow these troubleshooting steps to solve the issue, whether it’s from your AirPods or source device:

Charge the AirPods

The Apple AirPods Pro touch settings on an iPhone.
A pop-up card informs you of the AirPods Pro battery life at a glance.

We’ve all been there. You take out your AirPods to start grooving, only to realize you’ve had one too many charge-free days. Audio performance may drop if your AirPods battery charge is very low. This can affect the microphone too.

Check your AirPods battery life by placing them close to an iOS device and opening the case. Use the battery widget if they’re already in your ears. Note that you won’t see anything if they’re dead.

Disconnect and reconnect the AirPods

Your AirPods microphone not working may result from a faulty connection, and re-pairing them to your source device may solve the problem. Place both earbuds in the charging case and close the lid. Then, open the lid and take them out again.

You can also turn Bluetooth on and off on your iPhone or iPad. Here’s how:

  1. Open the iOS Settings app.
  2. Navigate to Bluetooth and flip the toggle off and on.

On a Mac, go to Apple menu > System Settings > Bluetooth and do the same.

Clean the AirPods microphone mesh

A man holds a Q-tip to a pair of AirPods Pro earbuds as he cleans them with isopropyl alcohol.
Anyone who uses earbuds on a daily basis should clean them at least once a week.

Your AirPods may accumulate dust and dirt after a while, blocking the mic inputs and preventing sound transmission. Clean the AirPods with a soft, lint-free cloth, soft-bristled toothbrushes, or cotton swabs dipped in isopropyl alcohol. You can also gently pry out particles with tweezers. But be careful not to damage the mesh covering.

Check the microphone settings

You can set one earbud as your preferred microphone input. The default is automatic switching. Check that your AirPods are using the right different setting. Here’s how:

  1. Go to your iPhone Settings and open Bluetooth.
  2. Select your AirPods from the list and tap Microphone.
  3. Choose an option: Automatically Switch AirPods, Always Left AirPod, or Always Right AirPod. Automatic switching ensures your AirPods choose the most suitable mic for audio.

Turn Automatic Ear Detection off and on

Automatic Ear Detection pauses or resumes playback when your earbuds are in or out of your ears. Sometimes, it may fail to resume regular AirPod functioning, including with the microphone. Turning them off and on again can help resolve the issue. Here’s how:

  1. Connect your AirPods to your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Go to Settings > Bluetooth on your iOS device.
  3. Select your AirPods from the device list.
  4. Toggle Automatic Ear Detection off and on.

Restart your iPhone or iPad

Sometimes, restarting your iPhone or iPad may resolve the microphone issue. Follow these steps on the iPhone X or later:

  1. Long-press the volume (up or down) and power (on the right side) buttons until the power slider appears.
  2. Move the slider and wait for your device to turn off.
  3. Turn your device back on by long-pressing the side button until you see the Apple logo.

On the iPhone 6, 7, 8, or SE (2nd and 3rd generation):

  1. Long-press the power (side) button until the power slider appears.
  2. Move the slider and wait for the device to turn off.
  3. Turn it back on by long-pressing the side button until you see the Apple logo.

On the iPhone 5 or earlier and the 1st generation SE:

  1. Long-press the power button on the top of the device until the power slider appears.
  2. Move the slider. The device will turn off.
  3. Turn it back on by long-pressing the top button until you see the Apple logo.

Update the AirPods firmware

A firmware glitch could be responsible for your poor mic output. Follow these steps to check your AirPods’ firmware version:

  1. Connect the AirPods to an iOS device.
  2. Go to Settings > Bluetooth.
  3. Find your AirPods in the device list and tap the i icon.
  4. Check the Firmware Version number and compare it to the latest available version for your model.

Your AirPods should update automatically, but you can force it if you don’t have the latest software. Place your AirPods in the charging case and plug in the charging cable or place them on a wireless charging pad. Then, pair them to an iPhone or iPad with an active internet connection. They will update after some time.

Update your iPhone or iPad

An iOS software bug could be causing your AirPods microphone to malfunction. Ensure your iPhone runs the latest iOS version. Here’s how:

  1. Go to Settings > General > Software Update.
  2. Install the available firmware.

Reset your AirPods

If the previous options do not work, you may need to reset your AirPods to factory settings. Follow these steps:

  1. Put the AirPods in the charging case and close the lid for around 30 seconds.
  2. Open the lid and long-press the setup button at the back of the case for around 15 seconds. This changes the status light from amber to white.
  3. Close the lid. Your AirPods should be fully reset.

Note that you will need to reconnect the AirPods to all your devices.

Reset your iOS network settings

Corrupt network settings may be responsible for your AirPods microphone glitch. Resetting it may solve the problem. Follow these steps:

  1. Go to Settings > General.
  2. Select Transfer or Reset iPhone.
  3. Tap Reset > Reset Network Settings.
  4. Type in your passcode to confirm.

Note that resetting your network settings disconnects your current network, removes Wi-Fi networks, VPN settings, and manually trusted certificates, and sets your device name to “iPhone.”

Contact Apple support

If the previous steps do not resolve the issue, you may need to contact Apple. Visit the tech giant’s support website or book an appointment at an authorized service shop. You may need to replace your AirPods.

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