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How To Find The Microphone On AirPods

The microphones on AirPods can intake audio and on some earbuds, calibrate noise cancellation modes too. However, their location varies by model.

AirPods utilize both inward and outward-facing microphones to make a wide variety of features possible — from crisp calls to effective noise cancellation modes — so knowing the location of the microphones can be critical to attaining great sound. The AirPods lineup includes an assortment of earbuds and a pair of over-ear headphones, and the location of the microphone on a given pair of AirPods depends on the particular model. There are the standard AirPods, which come in three different generations. Next comes the AirPods Pro, an upgrade over the normal version with three noise cancellation modes. The AirPods Max are the only pair of over-ear headphones in the lineup.

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The microphone on a pair of AirPods isn’t just used for intaking audio, it is also used for calibrating the noise cancellation modes on some models. Noise cancellation works by listening to and understanding the audio that is within a user’s surrounding environment, and in some cases, the audio inside the wearer’s ear canal. After this audio is analyzed, noise cancellation headphones can produce a sound that is phase-inverted by 180 degrees. This sound cancels out the intrusive audio in the wearer’s environment, and can work really well with AirPods. However, it’s important to know where the microphones are located to get accurate readings.


Related: AirPods Max: 3 Things Apple Needs To Change For The Next Model

Though the location of the microphones on AirPods varies by model, they’re pretty easy to spot on each pair of headphones. The first and second-generation AirPods are virtually identical, and the microphone placement is the same for both models. There are dual microphones on the first and second-generation AirPods located at the top of the stem. The microphones sit inside a small, recessed black grille in the shape of a tiny circle. They are complemented by a speech-detecting accelerometer that knows when the wearer is speaking and filters out any unwanted external sounds to make call quality clean and crisp.


Microphone Location On Newer AirPods

The four AirPods in Apple's lineup.

The third-generation AirPods and AirPods Pro both have similar outward-facing microphones that are easily identifiable by a section of black, oval-shaped acoustic mesh. They are located where the stem of the AirPods meet the earbuds, and are used for intaking audio on the third-generation AirPods. On the AirPods Pro, they are also used for calibrating the earbuds’ noise cancellation modes. To make the active noise cancellation and transparency modes better, there are also inward-facing microphones that detect the sound on the inside of the wearer’s ear canal. These are located inside the ear cup and aren’t used for any audio recording.


The AirPods Max have the most microphones of any Apple headphone and produce an effective and premium noise cancellation experience. There are six microphones in total on the AirPods Max, with three on each ear cup. One microphone is located at the top of each ear cup, while two are located at the bottom. Working in tandem with a system-on-a-chip for each ear cup, noise cancellation modes work impressively well, and call quality is similarly excellent. While the location of each microphone varies based on the AirPods model, they are placed in a way that maximizes sound quality and where available, noise cancellation.


Next: Can AirPods Overheat? Using Apple’s Earbuds In High Temperatures

Source: Apple

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