Owners of Apple’s AirPods might occasionally encounter a muffled sound. Although this might be the result of an actual problem that needs a repair or replacement, the issue could also be much simpler to fix. This is particularly true for earbuds that are older or have been used extensively over time. To make sure the problem is not serious, there are some quick and common solutions users can try to see if any of them fix the muffled sound problem.

AirPods are one of the more popular earbud options. Besides being highly compatible with Apple’s ecosystem and devices, they offer good sound quality and a durable build. Furthermore, people who have the Pro version receive some additional premium features (such as active noise canceling and water resistance). Regardless if you have AirPods, AirPods 2, AirPods 3, or AirPods Pro, muffled sound issues can become a regular annoyance.

Related: How To Stop Automatic Pausing On AirPods

Over time, there have been multiple reports on Apple’s support site of users encountering a muffled sound issue with their AirPods. When working correctly, AirPods should sound crisp and clear like any other pair of earbuds. But that’s not always the case. If your AirPods have started to sound muffled over time, there are a few easy tips you can follow to (hopefully) make them sound new.

How To Clean AirPods To Fix Their Muffled Sound

AirPods 2

One of the most common causes of muffled AirPods is that they’ve become dirty. Whether it be earwax, dust, dirt, or anything else that’s found its way on the AirPods’ speakers, having a bunch of gunk clogging up the earpiece is a surefire way to get muffled audio. The good news? Cleaning your AirPods takes no time at all.

If you see particularly big chunks piled up on your AirPods, carefully pick them off with a toothpick and discard them. Then put some rubbing alcohol on a cotton swab or a small cloth and gently wipe it over the speaker grille. Even if it doesn’t look like you’re making much progress, using rubbing alcohol and a swab/cloth should help loosen any pesky debris that’s gotten stuck in the AirPods. Wait for the AirPods to fully dry, give them a listen, and the muffled sound should be a thing of the past.

Other Ways To Fix Muffled AirPods

AirPods Pro with iphone

If the muffled sound is still there after cleaning your AirPods, another recommended tip is to reset the earbuds. The logic here is that performing a reset will refresh the connection and potentially fix any audio bugs that have popped up. Resetting AirPods is also a quick and easy procedure. To perform a factory reset, follow these steps:

  • If your AirPods aren’t already in the charging case, put them inside, close the lid, and wait 30 seconds.
  • Open the charging case.
  • Open the Settings app on your iPhone.
  • Tap ‘Bluetooth.’
  • Tap the ⓘ icon next to your AirPods.
  • Tap ‘Forget This Device’ and tap it again to confirm the action.

From there, re-pairing AirPods to your iPhone is a piece of cake. With the charging case open, press and hold the circular button on the back and hold it for about 15 seconds. Once the light on the case starts flashing white, a setup prompt for the AirPods should appear on your iPhone.

Another tip for dealing with muffled AirPods audio is to disable Dolby Atmos/Spatial Audio in Apple Music. Dolby Atmos tracks in Apple Music change the audio to sound like it’s playing in a 3D space around your head. While it’s impressive when mixed correctly, poorly-handled Dolby Atmos songs can have a bad, muffled sound. You can turn off Dolby Atmos by opening the Settings app and then tapping Music -> Dolby Atmos -> Off. This only affects songs in Apple Music, but it’s worth a shot if the muffled audio persists.

Unfortunately, if the muffled sound still doesn’t change after all of this, then it might mean there is a more inherent problem with the AirPods. If this is the case, then it is likely the AirPods will need to be sent in for service or repair. The easiest and quickest way to do this is by setting up an appointment at an Apple Store or an Apple Authorized Service Provider. Depending on their age, the cause, and whether subscribed to AppleCare+, some users may find they are better off purchasing a new pair of AirPods from Apple.