In a world where the hustle and bustle of daily life often intrude on our moments of peace, the ability to tune out the noise becomes priceless. Apple’s AirPods, with their Active Noise Cancelling (ANC) feature, offer an oasis of calm in the cacophony. This guide will walk you through the ins and outs of activating noise cancelling on your AirPods, discerning which models support this feature, and troubleshooting common issues. 

Noise Control Modes on AirPods

What is Active Noise Cancelling on AirPods?


Active Noise Cancellation

ANC is a feature designed to create a more immersive listening experience by minimizing background noise. AirPods noise cancelling technology actively analyzes and counters external sounds, creating an immersive listening environment where your audio content shines through, undisturbed by ambient noise. This technology effectively cancels out ambient distractions, from the hum of an airplane to the bustle of a busy café, allowing you to focus solely on your audio content.

Not all AirPods models come equipped with ANC. Currently, the feature is exclusive to AirPods Pro and AirPods Max. These models are specifically designed to provide an enhanced audio experience by eliminating external noise, ensuring that your music, calls, and podcasts are heard in crystal-clear quality without the distractions of the outside world.

Transparency Mode

Transparency mode, on the other hand, is designed to let in ambient sound, making it ideal for situations where you need to be aware of your environment. This mode uses the built-in microphones to amplify sounds around you, enabling you to listen to music, podcasts, or make calls while still hearing traffic, announcements, or conversations. It’s perfect for situations where safety and awareness are paramount, such as walking in the city or waiting for flight calls at an airport.

The Differences Between Active Noise Cancellation and Transparency Mode

When comparing active noise cancellation technology vs AI-based noise cancellation algorithms, it’s crucial to understand that the former relies on physical sound wave manipulation to reduce noise, while the latter uses intelligent algorithms to dynamically filter and adapt to ambient sounds, enhancing the clarity and quality of audio. The primary difference between Active Noise Cancellation and Transparency mode lies in their intended use cases:

  • Active Noise Cancellation is about isolation. It creates a private auditory space by blocking out the external world, allowing you to immerse yourself in what you’re listening to without interruption.
  • Transparency Mode is about integration. It blends your audio content with the natural sounds of your environment, keeping you connected and aware of your surroundings without removing your AirPods.

By toggling between these modes, users can customize their audio experience based on their current needs, environment, and personal preference, making AirPods incredibly versatile tools for both focus and safety.

How to Turn On Noise Cancelling on AirPods?

Switch Between Noise Cancelling Modes on AirPods Pro

Experience the ultimate silence with AirPods Pro noise cancelling technology, seamlessly adapting to your environment for the perfect audio experience. To activate noise cancelling on your AirPods Pro:

  1. Press and hold the force sensor on the stem of your AirPods Pro until you hear a chime. This switches between ANC, Transparency and OFF modes.
  2. You can also control these settings directly from your connected iPhone or iPad: Go to Settings > Bluetooth, tap the “i” next to your AirPods Pro, and select Noise Control to choose your preferred mode.

Switch Between Noise Cancelling Modes on AirPods Max

For AirPods Max, the process is similarly user-friendly:

  1. Press the noise control button on the top of the right ear cup to toggle between ANC and Transparency mode.
  2. Adjust these settings via your iPhone or iPad by following the same steps as with the AirPods Pro.

Switch Between Noise Cancelling Modes on iPhone or iPad

Both AirPods Pro and AirPods Max allow you to switch noise control modes directly through your connected device:

  1. Open Control Center on your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Press and hold the volume slider.
  3. Tap the Noise Control icon to select between Noise Cancellation, Off, and Transparency mode.


Switch Between Noise Cancelling Modes on a Mac

For Mac users, adjusting noise control settings on AirPods Pro or AirPods Max is straightforward:

  1. Ensure your AirPods are connected to your Mac via Bluetooth and selected as the output device.
  2. Access the Control Center on your Mac from the menu bar.
  3. Click on Sound, then select your AirPods.
  4. Choose your mode: From here, you can toggle between Off, Noise Cancellation, and Transparency mode directly.

This quick process allows Mac users to seamlessly switch noise control modes to match their needs without interrupting their workflow.

Why Are My AirPods Not Noise Cancelling?

If you’re experiencing issues with ANC on your AirPods, ensure that they’re correctly seated in your ears, check for any firmware updates, and restart your device. Sometimes, simply cleaning your AirPods can resolve the issue, as debris can block the microphones used for ANC.

What about surrounding noises that can disturb a meeting?

While AirPods’ ANC technology is adept at cancelling out ambient noise, it might not fully eliminate distracting background voices during calls or meetings. This is where Krisp’s noise cancellation technology shines. Unlike traditional ANC, Krisp focuses on eliminating background voices and noises during calls, ensuring crystal-clear communication without any distractions.

Cancelling Noise with Krisp

Leveraging advanced noise cancelling software, Krisp elevates the standard of virtual communication by intelligently distinguishing and eliminating unwanted sounds, thus facilitating a distraction-free dialogue that benefits every participant in the call. For an in-depth understanding, consider looking into a noise cancellation quality evaluation, which provides insights into how Krisp’s capabilities stack up against traditional methods.

Krisp takes the concept of noise cancellation to a new level, going beyond the capabilities of AirPods’ ANC technology to ensure crystal-clear communication during calls. While AirPods focus on reducing ambient noise for the wearer, Krisp enhances the audio quality for all parties involved in a call. It actively analyzes and filters out background noise from both ends of a conversation, ensuring that only clean, clear audio is transmitted and received.

Here’s Krisp in action:



AirPods’ Active Noise cancelling technology offers a significant improvement in listening quality by reducing unwanted ambient noise. However, when it comes to ensuring the utmost clarity during calls and meetings, particularly in noisy environments, Krisp’s noise cancellation technology takes audio quality to the next level. By integrating Krisp with your AirPods, you can enjoy an enhanced auditory experience that transcends the limitations of traditional ANC technology.




Frequently Asked Questions

Which AirPods have noise cancelling?
AirPods Pro and AirPods Max have noise cancelling.

How to turn on noise cancelling on AirPods?
To activate noise cancelling on AirPods, press and hold the force sensor on AirPods Pro or the noise control button on AirPods Max.

How to turn noise cancelling on AirPods Pro?
For AirPods Pro, press and hold the force sensor to turn on noise cancelling.

How to make AirPods noise cancelling?
To enable noise cancelling, you must have AirPods Pro or AirPods Max.

How to turn on noise-cancelling on AirPods 3?
The AirPods 3 do not come with Active Noise Cancelling.