Apple’s AirPods Pro are great for listening to music, taking phone calls, and even serving as dynamic earplugs, but they can also act as a solid listening aid. That’s not to say they can stand in for true hearing aids: If you suffer from hearing loss, you should consult with a doctor and get the treatment they recommend. However, if your hearing aids are MIA, or you’re just looking for some listening assistance for a conversation, AirPods can be a temporary substitute.
How to use AirPods Pro as a listening aid
You’ll have to configure your AirPods Pro for them to work as your hearing aids. To do this, wear your AirPods and wait till they’re connected to your iPhone. On the phone, go to Settings > Accessibility > Audio/Visual > Headphone Accommodations > Custom Audio Setup.
You’ll be prompted to add an audiogram initially, if you have one following a hearing test. Your iPhone will then use these results to create a customized audio setup for your AirPods. You can skip this step if you don’t have an audiogram.
The on-screen steps will walk you through the audio test on your AirPods. The tests determine how well you can hear quiet sounds, and if you can hear various frequencies clearly while listening to music. If, at the end of this test, your iPhone reports standard settings are best for you, then it has concluded you don’t show signs of hearing loss. If it asks you to use custom settings, you can go ahead and configure other options to make the AirPods work as a listening device.
This means selecting either Slight, Moderate, or Strong—the options to boost soft sounds. Note that these options will only work when you’re using your AirPods in Transparency Mode. If you’ve enabled Noise Cancellation mode, then you won’t be able to use this.
On the same settings page, select Transparency Mode and adjust the sliders for Amplification and Ambient Noise Reduction to the values that work for you. Take a screenshot of this page in case they ever reset, and you forget your settings. You can also enable Conversation Boost to make it easier to hear people you’re talking to. This feature works by isolating people’s voices from background noise, which can help you better follow conversations in noisy environments.
On the flip side, there’s Live Listen, which aggressively amplifies all sounds around you. You can enable Live Listen by going to Settings > Control Center and adding Hearing. Then you can open the Control Center by swiping downwards from the top-right corner of the screen, tap the ear icon, and select Live Listen.
Apple has two versions of AirPods Pro on the market: AirPods Pro, the original, which introduced Apple earbuds with active noise cancellation, Transparency Mode, and interchangeable silicone tips, and AirPods Pro 2, which improves upon these settings, adds a larger battery, better Bluetooth, volume adjustment, and an extra size for the silicone tips.
- AirPods Pro (1st generation)
- AirPods Pro (2nd generation)