Your AirPods Pro Have a Secret Setting That Lets You Customize Sound

An audio engineer and music producer explains how to make your Airpods sound better

Photo: Omid Armin/Unsplash

The AirPods Pro sound good, they look cool, they integrate seamlessly with iPhones, and the noise-canceling and transparency features are incredible.

But I do have some gripes with the sound.

Compared to the competition, AirPods Pro have a pretty solid frequency response. The bass boost doesn’t overwhelm the low midrange (probably thanks to the dip around 150 Hz), the mids are decently flat, and the subdued treble is forgiving to less-than-ideal recordings. If I’m being picky, the bass boost is a little much, the bump around 600 Hz sounds a little honky, and the subdued treble response masks too much detail.

Enter iOS 14

In December 2020, Apple released iOS 14, featuring a suite of practically hidden AirPod sound customizations. To find them, connect your AirPods Pros to your iOS device. Open Settings, and navigate to Accessibility → Audio/Visual, and toggle the Headphone Accommodations switch to on. Now you’ll be able to tweak the new settings to your liking.

Settings → Accessibility → Audio/Visual → Headphone Accommodations. Screenshot courtesy of the author

I prefer “Balanced Tone” of the three tunings and “Slight” for the boost amount. I also turned off “Custom Transparency Mode” because I found the high-frequency boost to my surroundings really annoying — it amplified things like hiss from the heater and hum from the refrigerator. I didn’t find the “Custom Audio Setup” useful compared to the generic tunings.

With these settings in place, the bass becomes more even and focused, the midrange sounds more neutral, and the treble completely wakes up. It’s like taking a blanket off of the sound. With the addition of “Headphone Accommodations,” AirPods Pros go from being an awfully convenient tool to a highly musical experience. Don’t believe me? Try it out for yourself and let me know what you think in the comments.

Audio Engineer / / Music Producer / / @jakecheriff / / 🌐

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