AirPods and AirPods Pro are two of the most popular consumer earbuds around, which speaks volumes about their audio quality.
Apple’s headphones already produce decent sound out of the box, but what if you could make it sound even better? The solution is pretty simple- adjust the EQ settings on your AirPods or AirPods Pro to get that ‘sweet spot’.
That, and knowing how Adaptive EQ and Noise Cancellation works should be enough to give you the best possible experience on a variety of audio content.
Let’s take a closer look at the best equalizer settings for your AirPods Pro or AirPods.
How Do I Get the Best Sound Out of My AirPods?
The first step to getting that ear-filling sound is to make sure your AirPods fit well in your ear.
Unless you achieve a good seal, music will come leaking out to the environment instead of being directed to your canals. To this end, Apple provides three ear tip sizes to accommodate all its users.
Take the time to figure out which ear tip size is best for you so you can hear every dialogue, bass boom, and note.
What is the Best EQ to Use with AirPods and AirPods Pro?
Before we even start discussing how to adjust EQ settings on your AirPods or AirPods Pro, it’s best to understand that finding the ‘best sound’ will be different for each person.
There isn’t any gold standard when it comes to equalizers on earphones, mostly because each pair of ears is unique. You may find a particular adjustment great, while others may say that it’s too heavy on the bass, or that there’s not enough treble.
That said, our AirPods EQ guide serves as a middleman to find out which preset works very well for a lot of people. Feel free to finetune your experience further through the music streaming platform or your device’s EQ settings.
- As for the AirPods and AirPods Pro’s internal hardware EQ, you’ll be limited to preset options, which means there’s no way to individually turn the frequency knob up or down to your liking.
- If your AirPods are connected to an Apple device, then you can adjust the equalizer by going to Settings, then Music and EQ. You’ll be presented with more than a dozen options, including Rock, Electronic, Spoken Word, Acoustic, Flat, and Bass Booster, just to name a few.
- Alternatively, you can also change the EQ in the streaming app you’re using, notably, Apple Music and Spotify.
Spotify premium subscribers will have an option for greater granular control since you can manually adjust each frequency to your liking. To date, Spotify’s manual equalizer includes 60Hz, 150Hz, 400Hz, 1KHz, 2.4KHz, and 15KHz.
The Best AirPods EQ Settings According to Use and Content
Best EQ Setting for General Purpose: Flat or Off
The Flat equalizer setting on your AirPod’s device is exactly that – the bass, mid, and treble are all level on the zero range. Your AirPods’ true sound and tuning will come through on general media consumption, including music, YouTube videos, and playing games.
Your AirPods EQ setting will be set to ‘off’ the first time you set it up. You will need to go to your device’s settings (if an iPhone or iPad), then Music, and finally, EQ to activate it or pick a preset option.
Best EQ Setting for Rap, Hip Hop, and EDM Music: Bass Booster or Deep
With these types of music you’ll want the bass running point and center. All is right with the world if your favorite dance music or rap artist is accompanied by booming bass thumping through your head.
Bass Booster and Deep are somewhat similar – bass gets a huge upgrade in Booster, while Deep raises Bass and lowers treble a little at the same time.
Best EQ Setting for Podcasts and Audiobooks: Spoken Word or Vocal Booster
Voice is mostly found in the mid-range, and any EQ setting with mid turned up should suffice when you’re listening to audiobooks or podcasts.
Eliminate all distractions by setting your AirPods’ equalizer to Spoken Word or Vocal Booster. As an added bonus, you can enable Noise Cancellation and become completely immersed in the content without hearing any external sounds.
Best EQ Setting for General Music: Rock or Electronic
Those who are fond of listening to a variety of genres should set their EQ at Rock or Electronic. With it, you won’t have to make an adjustment every time you switch songs or listen to new ones.
The good thing about Rock is that it raises all frequencies by a bit without muddying any of them in the process. Mid stays put, while bass and treble get a slight nod.
Best EQ Setting for Consuming Content: Flat or Rock
Then again, you may be using your AirPods primarily for watching movies and streaming TV shows on Apple TV+, Netflix, or Disney+. Or, you could be in sites like TikTok, Twitch, or YouTube all day and need an AirPods setting that can match those kinds of activity.
Using Rock or Flat as your EQ, you won’t be missing out on particular audio cues, and there’s a depth of clarity in dialogues and background music. As an alternative, you can turn EQ off and let the hardware do all the work.
Pro Tip – No Two Equalizers Should Be Turned On
There may come a time when every EQ adjustment you make doesn’t help – the music sounds too muddy and distorted, no matter the preset.
If this is you, don’t worry – it’s not your ears, and you’re not losing your mind. It’s probably two EQ settings overlapping each other, which is something that can be easily fixed.
The first thing you’ll want to do is disable the equalizer on your streaming music app or your device – you get to choose which one you prefer. If you choose to disable the EQ on your device, then you should go to its settings and do so there. The whole muddy sound should clear up pretty much in real time.
If it doesn’t work, then you might want to turn your attention to other sound enhancement options on the device or streaming app. They’re usually found within the settings part as well, or in the device’s Accessibility options. Take a look around and toggle the buttons ‘off’, or disable them as needed.
Clean Your AirPods for Better Clarity
Like any other audio accessory, your AirPods or AirPods Pro will need some cleaning and maintenance every now and then.
Remove the wax buildup and gunk from the earbuds’ speakers using a Q-tip or cotton ball. Alternatively, you can use products that are designed to clean them, such as AirPods Pro cleaning kits. Pay attention to the speaker openings and use only clean water that won’t get inside the earphones.
You can also give the case some love by wiping the outside with a clean microfiber cloth, and the inside using cotton swabs or a soft toothbrush.
The Best AirPods Pro EQ Settings According to Use and Content
Turn Off Active Noise Cancelling
Most AirPods Pro users notice a significant improvement in audio quality once they turn off Active Noise Cancelling. While the feature does have its merits, it can interfere with music clarity and garble the mid and high notes.
There are several ways to turn off AirPods Noise Cancelling. You can press and hold the sensor at the stem of the AirPods to switch, or go to the device’s Bluetooth settings and do it there.
If you’re using only one AirPod and would like to turn off Noise Cancellation, then go to Settings, Accessibility, then Noise Control and toggle the ‘Noise Cancellation with One AirPod’ on.
Use Adaptive EQ the ‘Right’ Way
Adaptive EQ is a feature you may want to use to get a personalized listening experience. However, if you find that it triggers more than you’d like, then here’s what you can do to stabilize the process.
The AirPods or AirPods Pro’s mic adjusts the sound primarily by adjusting the frequency based on the shape of your ear and the amount of leakage. So, position your AirPods and get a good, comfortable seal first and let the earphones sit there for a good 15 minutes or so.
It’s better to activate Transparency Mode than to remove the AirPods from your ear if you really need to listen to the outside world within the 15-minute timeframe, or else the earphones will auto-tune again and make the audio sound shifty. Consistency is the key to great music on the AirPods.
Best EQ Setting for General Purpose: Adaptive EQ (auto)
Allow the AirPods Pro or AirPods to work its Adaptive EQ magic, and you probably won’t need to change or enable EQ in your device or streaming app settings. With Noise Cancellation off, this should be enough for great sound on virtually any content or media you’d listen to.
Best EQ Setting for Rap, Hip Hop, and EDM Music: Hip Hop or R&B
Songs with pronounced bass can get an improved boost with the equalizer set to either Hip Hop or R&B. The pre-set Bass Boost works as well but at the cost of a slightly muddy mid.
Best EQ Setting for Podcasts and Audiobooks: Flat or Off
We recommend you turn the EQ off when you’re listening to audiobooks or podcasts. The voice clarity is unmatched when the mid doesn’t have to compete with the bass or treble. Any background music or sound effect mixed in will still be noticeable.
Best EQ Setting for General Music: Adaptive EQ
Pop, rock, classical, country, and other song genres will sound just right when you have an optimized Adaptive EQ. The mid and treble are well-represented, with the bass just having enough oomph to round out the tunes.
As an alternative, you can choose the preset Electronic or Rock to clear up the treble and mid and bring them up and center. If that fails, you can switch to Flat or disable the EQ altogether.
Best EQ Setting for Consuming Content: Rock or Electronic
Strangely enough, videos sound better when you have your AirPods or AirPods Pro’s EQ settings to Rock or Electronic. Dialogues are clear, as are haunting tunes and sound effects. Regardless of whether you’re watching a funny video on YouTube or bingeing a series on Netflix or Apple TV+, these EQ presets are a must-try.
Best Equalizer Settings for AirPods/AirPods Pro – Final Thoughts
Now that you know about the best EQ settings for the AirPods Pro and AirPods, we’d recommend you try them out for yourself. You can try the different EQ presets on the device or app’s settings and see which one sounds best for you. As a side note, make sure your streaming or playback quality is set to the highest option.