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Why Do My AirPods Make a Weird Sound?

Crackling, popping, rattling, and static noise. Why do my AirPods make a weird sound?

Well, unfortunately, your problem isn’t unique, especially if you have the AirPods Pro. Many users experienced the same odd noises coming from their AirPods out of nowhere and it makes them almost unlistenable.

There seem to be a few reasons this problem occurs. So, let’s dive into why your AirPods make these noises, as well as a few ways you can address the issue.

Why Do My AirPods Make a Weird Sound?

Crackling or rattling sounds coming from your headphones can be pretty distracting no matter what the situation is. However, to hear them when you’re doing something normal like walking, exercising, or just opening your mouth to speak, that’s borderline insufferable.

Well, if you have AirPods Pro, you can blame it all on Active Noise Cancellation (ACN) and Transparency Mode. These features engage the microphones on your AirPods to collect ambient sounds. Then your AirPods either cancel them out in ACN mode, or amplify them in Transparency Mode.

When something obstructs the mic or messes with it, the result can be a slew of odd sounds that make the AirPods Pro unusable. This can happen due to:

Out-of-Date Firmware

If it’s been a while since you used your AirPods with an iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, or Mac device, then you should probably check to see if there are any firmware updates available. These usually take care of common bugs that cause an inferior listening experience. 

Getting this out of the way will let you know whether there’s something wrong with your AirPods’ hardware so you can address the problem from there.

Interference from a Nearby Device

Most electronics with microphones, like AirPods, pick up on interference from wireless devices, this can sometimes cause those weird noises. If you’re old enough to remember landlines getting choppy when a mobile phone rang next to them, this is a similar issue.

A Dirty Mic Grill

Read more: AirPods only charge when plugged in

You can see there’s a grill covering the external microphone on your AirPods Pro. Well, these can get gunked up by dust, earwax, or other debris from your fingers. 

Because these microphones are responsible for collecting outside noises, they can get false signals to start ACN or Transparency modes when you don’t want them to. The pop or rattle you hear could be the result of that happening.

Faulty AirPods

Read more: AirPods flashing green

No one wants to hear that, but sometimes, it does so happen that you lucked into a defective pair of AirPods. 

Apple issued a statement regarding these recurring problems with their AirPods Pro manufactured prior to October 2020. It even set up a program to repair or replace faulty units for free until two years from the purchase date have elapsed.

This program covers AirPods Pro (1st generation) only, so no other models are covered even if they exhibit similar problems.

How to Fix AirPods Weird Sounds

There are a few things you can do to fix the weird sound issue with your AirPods:

Reset the AirPods

It would help to try completely resetting your AirPods. To do this, do the following.

  1. Forget the AirPods from your devices
  2. Put your AirPods in the case
  3. Open the lid 
  4. Hold the button on the case, for 15 seconds, until the light flashes amber then white
  5. Reconnect your AirPods to your device

Update Firmware

This is a step that’s super easy to do and will eliminate any possibility of a software issue with your AirPods. Just put your AirPods inside their case and open it, then bring it closer to a paired Apple device.

If there’s an available update to the firmware, it should automatically initiate. Just make sure your iPhone isn’t set to Low Power Mode or Low Data Mode, and that your AirPods are over 50% charged. Leave both devices close to each other for at least 30 minutes, and you should be good to go.

Clean the External Mic Grill

To remove any debris that might be causing unwanted sounds, try to clean your AirPods external mic. All you need is a roll of sticky tape, and a can of compressed air if needed.

The sticky tape works by picking up the small particles from between the grates. Just use it in swift motions and try to tackle the grill from multiple directions. Don’t reuse the same area of the sticky tape several times, as it might force the debris back in.

If this doesn’t work, use a can of compressed air to clear the mic, but be very careful! Use the can to blow the air indirectly to avoid breaking the AirPods on the inside.

Head to Apple Support

If your AirPods Pro qualify for the AirPods service program or are still within warranty, head to an Apple Store to get them checked and hopefully replaced. If that’s not the case, you can buy a replacement for the faulty earbud on Amazon.

Conclusion

Why do my AirPods make a weird sound?

If you have AirPods Pro, then the answer is definitely the external mic. ACN and Transparency modes can make your AirPods super sensitive to noises, and this can cause the mic to crackle and pop whenever it’s engaged. Update firmware, clean your AirPods, or get them serviced by Apple to get rid of the weird sounds.