Why Do My AirPods Sound Muffled? We have the answer!

Apple’s AirPods are one of the most popular wireless earbuds with ultra-portability and exceptional sound quality. Yet, even the most advanced earbuds can have issues, resulting in distorted or muffled sounds.

Why do my AirPods sound muffled? Dirty speakers are the most common reason why your AirPods sound muffled. Due to the placement of EarPods in the ear canal, earwax and other debris can accumulate and degrade the sound quality over time. Bluetooth interference or the need to reset your AirPods are two other possibilities.

AirPods sound muffled is one of the common issues reported by users. But don’t worry, this article has got you covered with different troubleshooting methods. 

AirPods Sound Muffled: How to Fix Them

A muffled or reduced sound is by far the most widespread issue with the AirPods’ audio quality. Dirt accumulated in your AirPods is most likely to blame for the muffled sound you’re hearing. 

The open gaps in your AirPods will eventually accumulate ear wax, dirt, or lint even though you wipe them daily. This is because the wireless earbuds are not maintained with proper and regular cleaning. 

Clean Your Airpods

To keep the sound quality of your AirPods as good as new, we recommend cleaning them every three months. Maintaining your AirPods with regular cleanings will help them last longer, which means you’ll be able to use them for much longer! 

Cleaning your AirPods should be part of your basic maintenance routine, so start there before doing anything else. Cleaning your AirPods is a cakewalk. Just follow the instructions listed below.

Clean Exterior

Grab a microfiber cloth and gently clean the exterior portion of your AirPods. Make sure you do this softly and not too harshly while cleaning, as AirPods are quite delicate. 

Once you’ve completed this process, the exterior of each device should be clean and clear of stray particles. The AirPods will be prepared for a more thorough cleaning, which we’ll cover in a subsequent step. 

This procedure should be performed regularly, even after each usage. It won’t harm the AirPods, and it’ll keep them cleaner longer.

Clean Speaker Ports

Apple suggests cleaning your AirPods with a “soft, dry, lint-free cloth” and wiping the speaker mesh with a dry Q-tip (or a cotton swab). This method is great for regular cleaning. However, if you want to go into deep cleaning mode, you may need to grab some more materials and follow additional steps to get your AirPods squeaky clean! We have got you covered on the deep cleaning method too. Just keep reading. 

Tools Needed To Clean Airpods

This procedure will assist you in deep cleaning the nooks and removing any accumulated gunk from the speakers. Because the indents are so tiny and difficult to get to, you must use the appropriate tools. 

Cleaning tools you need for removing your icky earwax buildup

  • Microfiber cloth
  • Toothpick
  • Q-tip/Cotton bud
  • Paper towel/Tissue
  • Screen cleaner (preferably an optic cleaner)
  • Rubbing alcohol (if you do not have an optic cleaner)
  • Compressed air (optional)

How To Deep Clean Your Airpods

Follow the process outlined below to deep clean your AirPods. Make sure you clean them one by one and allow them to rest for at least 30 minutes after completing the cleaning process. 

Note: If cleaning doesn’t work, be sure to read through to the end for a gross, yet effective trick for fixing the AirPods sound muffled issue!

Begin the process with a Q-tip 

Start with spraying optic cleaner/rubbing alcohol at one end of Q-tip/Cotton bud. The wax and grime accumulated in the crevices will soften after using this technique. Rubbing alcohol is also recommended to disinfect the equipment. 

Cleaning the mesh grill

Apply the cleaner with a Q-tip to the earbud’s black mesh grills. Because these are the spots where the audio is emitted, a buildup here will impact the sound most. 

AirPods sound muffled
Dirty AirPods cause muffled sound issues

Remember that the grill is simply a mesh screen and should not be subjected to undue pressure. 

Let rubbing alcohol do the magic

The alcohol softens the wax and grime accumulation in seconds. Once the wax is softened, you can easily fish it out. 

Remove buildup with a toothpick

To remove the accumulation, use a toothpick. After softening the buildup, use a toothpick to scrape it away from all nooks and corners. To remove the muck off the toothpick, use a tissue to wipe it clean. 

Use a microfiber cloth to clean the surface once more

Once you’re sure that you’ve eliminated all of the gunk, wipe off the surface with your microfiber cloth. You may extend the cleaning power of this cloth by spritzing it with an optic cleaner or rubbing alcohol. 

Compressed air to intensify the impact

Use a compressed air canister or other tiny air spraying equipment to blow out the back of the grill with a clean cotton bud. This is an optional step, although it has the potential to be beneficial. 

Allow plenty of time for drying

After one AirPod unit has been cleaned, ensure it is completely dry before using it. If you place them on a desk with the big section of the speaker facing downwards, any moisture that may have gotten inside of it will drift outside and not damage the earbud’s internal workings. 

Apply the same process on the second AirPod unit: You’ll be able to tell right away how much better your AirPods sound after completing this step. 

If Cleaning Didn’t Work, Try Sucking On Them (seriously!)

This method has worked for me multiple times when cleaning did not solve the AirPod low volume / muffled sound issue. After cleaning, just place the tip of the speaker end of each AirPod between your lips and suck on it with moderate force. It may take a couple of tries before you start to feel air flowing through the pod. If so, this is a STRONG sign that your AirPod mesh screen was basically sealed with wax, which will muffle the sound. Go ahead and give it a try, I bet it solves the issue!

How To Clean Airpods Charging Case

AirPods come bundled with a charging case that is essential to its functioning and equally receptive to dirt. The charging case of your AirPods could have undoubtedly accumulated quite a bit of dirt and lint from frequent usage. You’ll want to clean the case well before re-inserting the AirPods and ensure they’re good to go. 

Follow the steps below to clean the charging case for your AirPods:

  1. Use an optic cleaner and a Q-tip to apply to the case’s surfaces where filth or buildup is visible
  2. Use a toothpick to scrape away any remaining gunk. Ensure that you get all the nooks and crannies, including those where the AirPods are housed inside the mold
  3. Use a microfiber cloth to wipe the screen clean. If required, add additional screen cleaning to the cloth. Check to see if the casing has been thoroughly dried out
  4. You can use compressed air to remove any remaining dirt from hard-to-clean areas
  5. After you’ve cleaned and dried your AirPods and case, it’s time to put them to the assessment by listening to some songs

Check Your Bluetooth Connection

Unfortunately, cleaning your AirPods won’t always fix the issue. Although this is a necessary part of routine AirPod upkeep, there are other actions you may take to resolve any audio difficulties you may be experiencing, such as – why do my AirPods sound muffled. 

Bluetooth uses extremely little power, so it’s perfect for things like Apple’s AirPods and other accessories. 

Delayed or scratchy sound is typically the consequence of an unstable Bluetooth connection.  Since this is the only way of connecting AirPods to your device, you must check that the connection is working correctly. Otherwise, Bluetooth intervention is most likely to blame, especially if other Bluetooth devices are nearby. 

To resolve the Bluetooth interference issue on your AirPods, you must first determine what’s triggering it.

Disable Bluetooth Devices Nearby

Suppose your household has other Bluetooth devices functioning simultaneously as your AirPods. In that case, there is a possibility that one of the devices could be interfering with the Bluetooth connection on your AirPods. The first way to troubleshoot the Bluetooth connectivity issue is by turning off all the other Bluetooth devices near your AirPods. 

There’s a chance this won’t fix the issue for you, but for other users, it’s managed to fix the muffled audio issue. 

Toggle Bluetooth Off and On

Like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth is a wireless radio frequency that occasionally has problems with communication. Restarting your Apple device may solve the problem in some instances. To get your Bluetooth to work again, follow these steps: 

  1. Open your device’s Control Center or network settings  
  2. Disable Bluetooth completely  
  3. Wait for around 30 seconds and turn it back on 

This fix may be able to assist you in reestablishing a Bluetooth connection. If this does not work, you may need to reset your AirPods to fix why my AirPods sound muffled. 

Checking Bluetooth On Mac

Depending on your laptop’s age and version, Bluetooth on Macs can be problematic at times. The device itself usually causes problems with external devices, but your Mac could also be at fault. 

Here are a few ways you may attempt to fix Bluetooth on your Mac: 

  • Bluetooth may be unresponsive if several USB devices are attached to your computer, as Apple has previously warned in support materials. 
  • You can resolve Bluetooth problems in some instances by removing the problematic devices. 
  • Remove any files that the loss of Bluetooth connectivity might corrupt. A system or file error might cause this to occur on rare occasions, although it is not frequent. However, if this does occur, deleting the corrupt files and letting macOS generate new ones is the quickest remedy. 
  • As a final resort, you may reset the Bluetooth module on your Mac. However, this will require that you reset all your Bluetooth devices, not just your AirPods.

Reset Your AirPods

If the muffled sound persists even after cleaning and drying the AirPods, the next logical step would be to reset them. The idea is that resetting the AirPods may address a connection error, perhaps resolving the muffled sound issue. Resetting AirPods is extremely simple. Follow the steps below.

  1. Keep AirPods in the charging case and shut the lid
  2. Wait 30 seconds and reopen the case lid
  3. On your iPhone/iPad, open Settings > Bluetooth and tap the “i” icon next to your AirPods 
  4. Click Forget This Device and confirm
  5. Open the lid of the AirPods case, press and hold the button on the rear of the case for 15 seconds.
  6. Wait for the light to flash white
  7. Now, leave it for 30 seconds

After completing the reset of your AirPods, you now need to reconnect them to your Apple device. Once reconnected, try playing a song and check if your AirPods sound muffled.  

Check For Updates On iOS Device

Your iPhone, iPad, or iPod may be running an older version of iOS if you’re having trouble connecting. Apple delivers significant iOS upgrades regularly to the latest iteration of the company’s operating system. As of September of 2021, the most recent major iOS update is iOS 13. 

Because of this, updating your smartphone if you’re still on an older version of iOS is critical; this is particularly vital if you use several other Apple devices and want to keep them up to date.

Check your iOS version if you’re worried this isn’t the case. Follow the steps below to check the version number of your update. 

  • Open Settings > General > About
  • Look for the version number on the About page

Check for the update notification on your Apple device if it does not have the most recent version of iOS. Apple’s support staff can assist you if you don’t have the latest version of the update available. 

No matter how well your AirPods worked on a previous version of iOS, if you are not on the latest version of iOS or macOS, then you’re missing out on the latest patches. 

It’s worth noting that if you own a jailbroken device or an older model, your only option is to fix the AirPods sound muffled issue by upgrading the iOS. If your device is not eligible for the update, the last resort would be getting a new device. 

Contact Apple Support

So, you’ve tried every troubleshooting method and cleaned your AirPods thoroughly, yet your AirPods sound muffled, then it is time to get the experts on board. You should contact Apple Support or go to an Apple Store near you. 

As long as your device is still under warranty, Apple may be able to repair or replace a defective unit at no charges. Apple’s AirPods are pretty popular, so if a new edition has just been launched, you may have to wait a while to receive a replacement.

About Apple AirPods

Apple reinvented wireless or Bluetooth headphones with AirPods. Apple has integrated its earbuds with optical sensors and motion accelerometers to detect when the user is wearing them in the ears. The Cupertino, California giant also includes a speech-detecting accelerometer with beamforming microphones to partially block the background noise and enhance the user’s voice. 

AirPods Sound

Apple’s AirPods are engineered for superior audio quality as well as ease of usage. Music sounds good on AirPods because of their clean mid-tones. If your AirPods are still working correctly, you shouldn’t see any deterioration in sound quality over time. 

Voice Detection Feature

External sounds like a fire alarm, a doorbell, and running water are all recognized by the AirPods Sound Recognition function. There’s a good chance your iPhone or iPad can hear the sound, even if you can’t. The iPhone vibrates, plays a sound, and displays a notification to inform you when a sound is detected (such as your dog barking).

Charging Features

AirPods offer optimized battery charging that reduces the amount of time your AirPods Pro take to charge completely, extending their longevity. This feature takes its sweet time before the user uses their AirPods to charge them above 80%, depending on the daily use. This feature is optional, though, and the user can disable it by going to Settings > Bluetooth > Devices > Disable Optimised Battery Charging. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do my AirPods sound muffled? Let’s answer some of the most searched questions about the issue. 

Why is the sound quality on my AirPods bad?

Low Bluetooth bandwidth that compromises the SCO code could impair the sound quality on your AirPods. Due to Bluetooth’s inability to handle simultaneous high-quality streams, your AirPods might deliver lousy sound quality when connected to a device like Mac. Another reason is the built-up dirt over your AirPods that can hamper the sound quality. 

How do you clean a muffled Airpod?

To fix the AirPods sound muffled issue, you need a soft brush to rub out the dirt accumulated in the openings. Gently clean the open spaces with a brush. You can also use rubbing alcohol and spray it on the Q-tip/cotton swab to get out the ear wax accumulated on the mesh. 

How do I fix bad Airpod sound quality?

Sometimes the bad Airpod sound quality could be triggered by the music app you are using. Check your music app by going to Settings > Music < EQ (make sure it is off). Also, check if the volume limit is off. Go to Settings > Music > Volume Limit > Off. By doing this, you will be able to improve the sound output on your AirPods. 

How do I fix the distorted sound on my AirPods?

You can fix the distorted sound on AirPods by first cleaning them thoroughly and then performing a reset. After performing both the tasks, re-pair them with your device. 

Conclusion 

Even after following all the troubleshooting methods suggested in the article, if your AirPods sound muffled, you must contact Apple support and get your AirPods appropriately diagnosed. Apple has developed error detection tools for some AirPods-related issues.  

Let us know if our guide helped answer why do my AirPods sound muffled. Drop your comments below. 

About Melissa

Hey! I'm Mel, I write the occasional article for Spacehop, amongst other things. I love meeting new people and chatting, so if you have any questions don't hesitate to ask.

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