Why Do My AirPods Sound Muffled? (Try These Fixes!)

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While Apple’s AirPods are one of the best earphones on the market, they tend to sound muffled easily.

As frustrating as it is when your AirPods sound muffled, consider the tips below to help you figure it out so you can start enjoying streaming your music again.

In this article, we’ll discuss the most common reasons for muffled sound in AirPods and show you how to fix it with DIY solutions. Let’s get started.

Why Do My AirPods Sound Muffled?

A buildup of gunk is what makes your AirPods sound muffled. As you know, AirPods are in-ear headphones that can absorb earwax over time and block the sound coming from the speakers.

Most of the time, if you find it difficult to hear music and the sound is muffled, you may need to clean your speaker grills. 

How Can I Fix My AirPods That Sound Muffled?

Here are the tips that will help you fix it when AirPods Sound Muffled.

  1. Clean AirPods
  2. Reset AirPods
  3. Turn Off Dolby Atmos on Apple Music
  4. Update iOS
  5. Calibrate AirPods
  6. Contact Apple Support

1. Clean AirPods

Clean AirPods to fix muffled sound
AirPod Cleaning Kit. Herby Jasmin/Gotechtor

Cotton swabs, toothpicks, rubbing alcohol, a microfiber cloth, or an AirPods Cleaner Kit are required to clean your AirPods (first and second Gen), AirPods Pro, or AirPods third generation. To clean your AirPods:

  1. Apply some rubbing alcohol to the end of the cotton swab.
  2. Remove the silicone ear tips from AirPods Pro and rinse them with water.
  3. Clean the speakers’ meshes with the cotton swab gently.
  4. The rubbing alcohol will remove earwax and debris.
  5. Use a toothpick and carefully remove debris or earwax from the speaker grills. 
  6. Apply rubbing alcohol to a microfiber cloth. 
  7. Clean your AirPods using the cloth. 
  8. Allow AirPods to dry completely before placing them back in their charging case. 

Cleaning your Airpods not only can fix them when they sound muffled but also can fix it when one AirPod is louder than the other. Still sound muffled? Move on to the next step.

2. Reset AirPods

If the muffled sound problem continues after cleaning your AirPods, try resetting them. Sometimes the problem may be related to AirPods or Bluetooth connection, and resetting them will refresh the connection, and most of the time, the muffled sound issue will be solved. 

1. Place AirPods in the charging case and close the lid. 

2. Wait at least 30 seconds, and then open the lid.

3. Go to Settings. 

Open settings app
Head over to the Settings menu. Screenshot: Farhad Pashaei/Gotechtor

4. Open Bluetooth

Bluetooth in Settings app
Open Bluetooth App. Screenshot: Farhad Pashaei/Gotechtor

5. Find your AirPods name and tap the ‘i’ (More info) icon.

Bluetooth i Icon
Tap on i icon. Screenshot: Farhad Pashaei/Gotechtor

6. Choose Forget This Device and confirm.

Forget This Device
Select Forget This Device. Screenshot: Farhad Pashaei/Gotechtor

7. Press and hold the Setup button on the back of the charging case until you see the amber light flashing, and wait at least 15 seconds. 

8. Place your AirPods close to your iPhone or iPad and follow the steps on the screen to reconnect your AirPods. 

3. Turn Off Dolby Atmos on Apple Music

If you’re an Apple Music subscriber, you may know that Apple Music plays songs in Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos.

However, not all iPhones and iDevices support Dolby Atmos. If you have the first or second generation of AirPods, Dolby Atmos may cause the sound to be muffled. You can disable this feature and see if the problem is solved or not.

1. Go to Settings

Open settings app
Go to the Settings menu. Screenshot: Farhad Pashaei/Gotechtor

2. Tap on Music.

Music in Settings app
Select Music App in Settings Screenshot: Farhad Pashaei/Gotechtor

3. Under Audio, tap on Dolby Atmos.

Dolby Atmos in Music app
Tap on Dolby Atmos. Screenshot: Farhad Pashaei/Gotechtor

4. Choose Automatic, Always On, or Off.

Choose Automatic, Always On, or Off
Choose one of the options in Dolby Atmos. Screenshot: Farhad Pashaei/Gotechtor

4. Update iOS

It may be less likely, but some evidence shows that the muffled sound on AirPods may come from the iOS glitches and bugs affecting Bluetooth and AirPods performance.

Therefore, ensure your iPhone, iPad, Mac, or iMac, runs the most recent OS version. If it isn’t, download and update your device to the latest version of the operating system and check if the problem still exists or not.

To check updates for iPhone, iPad, and iPod:

1. Open Settings.

Open settings app
Head over to the Settings menu. Screenshot: Farhad Pashaei/Gotechtor

2. Go to General.

General Menu in Settings
Select General. Screenshot: Farhad Pashaei/Gotechtor

3. Tap on Software Update.

Software update in General menu
Tap on Software Update. Screenshot: Farhad Pashaei/Gotechtor

4. Check for updates. 

5. Calibrate AirPods with iPhone

Sometimes, your iPhone and AirPods need to be calibrated because one or both devices may perceive the “full volume” differently.

As a result, your AirPods may not be using all of the audio available, and the sound would be muffled. It may sound not very easy, but it is easy to fix! Follow the instructions below:

  1. Put your AirPods in your ears and start playing music.
  2. Turn the volume all the way down using the volume down button. 
  3. Swipe down from the top-right corner of the iPhone’s screen and disable Bluetooth by tapping on its icon. 
  4. Keep AirPods on and start playing music through iPhone’s speaker. 
  5. Turn the volume down using the volume down button. 
  6. Reconnect AirPods to your iPhone by enabling Bluetooth on Control Center or connect it manually in the Settings > Bluetooth section. 
  7. Resume playing music and adjust the volume. 

6. Contact Apple Support

If you’ve done all the abovementioned DIY solutions and still your AirPods sound muffled, it might be something wrong with the hardware.

You can contact Apple Support on your iPhone and Apple Support app or bring your AirPods to the nearest Apple Store.

Maybe you have a faulty pair of AirPods, or one of your speakers or inner components inside one of the buds is defective. 

Final Thoughts on AirPods Sound Muffled

AirPods’ fantastic sound and build quality are important for those users who are always on the go. Someday you may feel your AirPods sound muffled, and you tried all the possible DIY solutions.

If nothing worked, Apple genius guys would try to repair your AirPods. Worst-case scenario, your AirPods are defective, and they’re not repairable.

In this case, Apple will replace them with a new pair, which sounds great! Before you buy a new pair of AirPods, be sure to read our guide on how to spot fake AirPods: a step-by-step guide.

If you have any feedback or questions, then please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below.

Photo of author
Over the last decade, Farhad has gained hands-on experience with smartphones, laptops, accessories, wearables, printers, etc. If he's not writing, you can bet he's trying to keep up with the latest technology. He oversees coverage of iPhone, iOS, and Apple Watch for Gotechtor.

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