Never miss a train stop because of your headphones again.
AirPods have come quite a long way since they were first introduced in 2016, and Apple has increased capabilities for the headphones with every new release. Case in point: Apple’s AirPods Pro and AirPods Max allow you to control how much of your surroundings you can hear with three different listening options: Active Noise Cancellation, Transparency mode, or nothing. The first and third options are pretty self-explanatory, but you might be wondering what Transparency mode for AirPods is and how it works. Here’s how to toggle between the listening modes and get the most out of your Apple earbuds.
Since rolling out in 2019, the AirPod’s Transparency mode has been a game-changer for people who have a love-hate relationship with regular noise-canceling features on headphones and earbuds. As much as you might love the immersive listening experience that allows you to block the outside world and fully tune in to your anthem of the moment or favorite podcast without distraction, it’s not great when you don’t hear your Starbucks order is ready or miss the announcement signaling your train stop is coming up. Luckily, due to the AirPods Pro's dual microphones and silicone-tipped design, the headphones are able to filter certain sounds from the outside world while also making sure that whatever you're listening to on your device is crystal clear.
The way AirPods Pro’s Transparency mode works is by leaving on the part of Active Noise Cancellation that’s focused on eliminating internal sound. So, when you wear the AirPods in Transparency mode, you're not getting the full noise-canceling effect. Rather than having to turn your volume all the way up to block out loud noises, you'll be able to listen to whatever you want at a comfortable volume while still being aware of your surroundings. Basically, Apple understands that as much as you'd like to block out a crying baby on a plane, you also want to be able to hear honking horns and other alerts when you're going about your day.
You'll need to make sure that your Apple devices are running the latest software on your connected iPhone, Mac, or iPad to be able to use these features. You can check by going to “General,” then tap on “Software Update.” There, you can install any needed updates. Once you do that, you'll find that switching between Active Noise Cancellation and Transparency mode on your AirPods Pro is super easy, thanks to the force sensor on the earbuds' stem. To alternate between the modes, you can press and hold the sensor on your AirPods Pro stem until you hear a chime alerting you that it's switched. If you're wearing your AirPods Max, just press the noise control button on the right headphone to switch between Active Noise Cancellation and Transparency mode.
While this is probably the easiest way to go back and forth between Active Noise Cancellation, Transparency mode, and Off mode, you can also do so on your iPhone or your iPad if you happen to have those nearby. First, long-press on the volume slider in your Control Center. There, you can access the noise control options and choose which mode you want. On your Apple Watch, you can also adjust between the modes by selecting the AirPlay button and choosing your preferred listening experience from the pop up.
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