“What’s That?” I Said, “Your AirPods Can Help You Hear Better!”

by Sarah Dobson on March 08, 2021

Have you heard people talking about Live Listen with AirPods and asked yourself, “what are Live Listen AirPods?” Well, if you have trouble with your hearing occasionally, but not often enough to need hearing aids, then you should try the iPhone’s Live Listen feature with your AirPods. But first, a brief history on the origins of Live Listen.

What are Live Listen AirPods?

First introduced in 2014, Live Listen was originally designed for hearing aids certified through Apple’s Made for iPhone (MFi) hearing aid program. But, thanks to iOS 12, AirPods have been integrated to support Live Listen and open the door to better hearing for all that use this feature.

How Do AirPods Live Listen Work?

With Live Listen AirPods, the iPhone’s microphone picks up the sound around you and sends it to your AirPods, helping you hear whatever the mic is pointed at, such as your dining companion in a noisy restaurant. Using AirPods Live Listen is a great way to funnel all of that ambient chatter that often takes place in crowded settings. That way, you can focus on the discussion rather than replying with, “what’d you say?” over and over.

Live Listen AirPods are even helpful when you need to hear someone speaking from across the room, which can come in handy during large gatherings with no powered microphone present. The person speaking can be over almost 50 feet away, and you’ll still be able to pick up what they’re saying.

AirPods Live Listen can even work through walls. It can be pretty handy for eavesdropping — but we don’t recommend it. The spying-potential aspect may freak some people out, but remember that someone must place an iPhone near the voice they want to pick up, and most people don’t want to leave an expensive iPhone lying around for someone to scoop up!

How to Turn on Live Listen

Ready to turn on Live Listen? It’s a breeze! But before you turn on Live Listen, make sure to connect your AirPods to your iPhone or iPad. Note that the Live Listen icon looks like an ear.

Here’s how to turn on Live Listen:

  1. To set this up, go to Settings > Control Center > Customize Controls and move Live Listen to the Include list by finding it under More Controls and tapping its green plus button.
  2. Tap Back to save your customization.
  3. To use Live Listen, connect your AirPods to the iPhone and open the Control Center (swipe down from the upper right of the screen on an iPhone X or later; otherwise, swipe up from the bottom).
  4. Tap the Hearing button, and in the card that opens, tap to toggle Live Listen on or off. Be sure to point the iPhone’s mic at what you want to hear and use the iPhone’s volume control to adjust the noise level.

3 Tips to Get the Best Possible Audio from AirPods Live Listen

Live Listen is a great feature for when you want to hear isolated conversations better. However, it’s good to remember that it’s an iPhone microphone picking up sound. We put together some tips to help get the best possible audio from AirPods Live Listen.

  1. The microphone of an iPhone and iPad is at the bottom of the unit, so you’ll want to point your device towards the area you want to hear better.
  2. Set the microphone as close as you can to the person you want to hear.
  3. Adjust the volume setting on your iPhone or iPad. Remember that if you turn the volume at max, everything, including ambient noise gets louder. We’ve found that adjusting the volume level at just above the middle can help get the best possible sound.

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