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macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001

This article explains how to control the noise cancellation feature on Apple's AirPods Pro wireless earbuds. Bear in mind that iOS devices need to be running iOS 13.2 in order to support AirPods Pro. You can check that your device is updated by launching the Settings app and going to General -> Software Update.


How Active Noise Cancellation Works on AirPods Pro

AirPods Pro are Apple's first in-ear headphones with Active Noise Cancellation (ANC), which is designed to adapt to the shape of your ear and block out the outside world so you can focus on what you're listening to.

When ANC is active, an outward-facing microphone on each earbud detects external sound, which is then countered by corresponding inverted audio frequencies to cancel the sound before it reaches your ears.

Unlike previous generation AirPods, AirPods Pro also come with three sizes of silicone tips for a customizable fit. These tips help to form a seal appropriate for optimizing the ANC feature, so make sure you've chosen the right size for your ears.


How to Control Noise Cancellation on AirPods Pro

There are three methods you can use to control the Noise Cancellation feature on AirPods Pro. The first method involves using the Force sensors on the AirPods themselves with default settings, while the second and third methods are accessed via onscreen menus on the connected iOS device.

Method 1:

  1. Allow your AirPods to connect to your iPhone or iPad in the usual way, by opening the case next to your device and inserting the buds in your ears.
  2. Press and hold either AirPod Pro stem to cycle between Noise Cancellation and Transparency, the latter of which lets outside sound in.
  3. You'll hear a tone when switching between the two functions.

If you want, you can customize the press-and-hold gesture on the AirPods Pro earbuds, and even use it to turn off the noise control features completely. Click here to learn how.

Method 2:

  1. Allow your AirPods to connect to your iPhone or iPad in the usual way, by opening the case next to your device and inserting the buds in your ears.
  2. Launch the Settings app on your iOS device.
  3. Tap Bluetooth.

    Under My Devices, tap the information icon (the circled "i") next to AirPods Pro in the list.
  4. Under Noise Control, tap Noise Cancellation, Off, or Transparency, depending on your preference.
Method 3:

  1. Allow your AirPods to connect to your iPhone or iPad in the usual way, by opening the case next to your device and inserting the buds in your ears.
  2. Open Control Center on your iOS device: On an iPad with a Home button, double-tap the Home button; on iPhone 8 or earlier, swipe up from the bottom of the screen; and on a 2018 iPad Pro or iPhone X and later, swipe down from the upper right of the screen.

    Press and hold the Control Center volume bar (a pair of earbuds will be visible inside of it to indicate the AirPods Pro are connected.)
  3. Use the strip of buttons at the bottom of the screen to switch between Noise Cancellation, Off, or Transparency, depending on your preference.
How to Control Noise Cancellation on Mac

If you've got your AirPods connected to a Mac running macOS Catalina, you can also control noise cancelling mode from the volume icon in the menu bar. Simply hover over your AirPods Pro in the Output Device list to reveal a submenu, where you can click Transparency, Noise Cancellation, and Off.

Did you know that AirPods Pro feature an Ear Tip Fit Test to help you choose the right size of eartips for your ears? Click here to learn how it works.

Article Link: How to Control the Noise Cancellation Feature on AirPods Pro
Last edited:


macrumors 68000
Apr 6, 2011
London, UK (Europe, Earth, Space)
Shocking how good noise cancellation is on these buds... shocking! This will be an extremely successful product.
I haven't tested on loud tube journeys yet. But they have to be better than the vanilla AirPods which aren't very usable on loud public transport.

One thing I've not heard much commentary on yet is the non-tap 'press' controls. They are SOOOOO much better in both feel and consistency, over the tap ones on the non-Pro sets. I have both, and never use the tap gestures on non-Pro ones as they are both annoying to 'bang!' your ear each time and are entirely inconsistent in actually working.

Also, on the Pro's, I set one "long press" to Siri (left ear), and the other right ear "long press" to ANC mode. Not having to say 'Hey Siri' each time helps considerably more. Though the lack of continued conversation may or may not be good depending on whether you want to get back to listening to what you were doing before talking to Siri, or whether you want to ask a series of (often contextual) conversation questions (not that s/he'd get them right most of the time, lol, but that's another story we all know about!).

I REALLY hope these do well, and Apple FINALLY also release some non-Beats proper Apple-branded over-ear "AirPhones" model with the same type of controls, for use in places like airplanes and very loud environments, or simply for those people who cannot use in-ear models for a variety of medical or restrictive reasons. The Pro's would work well in many situations but nothing like over-ear types for airplanes etc.
(Oh, and make them black, as white ones would be a bit gaudy for most people!)

I'd buy those as well as these (AirPods Pro are best for everyday commuting) in a heartbeat, if this is how good they are. Maybe next year, hey Apple!


Feb 23, 2004
San Diego, CA, USA
Seems pretty desperate for macrumours to make separate articles for every single AirPods Pro setting
Eh, it's standard practice for any new Apple device. Likely makes them show up in google searches better (i.e. a search for "airpods pro noise cancellation" is more likely to surface an article with those phrases in the title, over one that has "airpods pro" in the title, and the other bits in the body). Since this helps later on when people (including me sometimes) go searching for how to control some feature, I see it as a benefit.


macrumors member
Oct 11, 2011
You guys should consider that your article is not readable on the dark mode version of the site. You cant see dark text on a dark background. 🤦‍♂️


Also, how do you turn noise cancelling on/off within OS X?


macrumors regular
Nov 16, 2011
Just bought a pair last week. IMHO, they are very overrated for the price. The N/C and Trans technique is hit and miss and answering a call is not at seamless as they claim.
I will keep them but I would not recommend. The original models were more impressive in operational functions but sound is better on the new model.
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