Can Music From AirPods Be Heard By Others?

Wireless earbuds like Apple AirPods are not 100% isolating. They will ‘leak’ some of the sounds out into the environment. Music volume and the type of surroundings impact how much of your music will be picked up by the people around you.

Music from AirPods Pro is less likely to be heard by others due to its noise-canceling technology. Regular Apple AirPods will leak more sound, but music volume and environmental noise ultimately determine if other people can hear your music.

Both the AirPods Pro and AirPods Max models have an isolating noise-control mode called ‘Active Noise Cancellation‘. Users can switch to this mode if they don’t want the people around them to hear what they’re listening to.

If you own 2nd or 3rd generation AirPods, other people can more easily hear your music. These models do not have the noise-cancellation technology that the AirPods Pro and AirPods Max models do have. Alternatively, you may choose to do the following:

  • Lower your current volume to 50% or less to reduce noise;
  • Place the AirPods firmer in your ears to leak less sound;
  • Point the ‘foot’ of your AirPods towards your mouth to make a tighter ear fit (although that might eventually cause some headaches);
  • Put on a calmer genre of music to not disturb others around you;
  • Wait with using AirPods until you’re in a different location.


Can AirPods Leak Sound?

All available types of Apple AirPods will leak some sound into their environment. AirPods Pro models are more isolating thanks to their noise-cancelling technology. But even with this extra isolation technology, it is inevitable that some sound will leak out.

Depending on the environment, this can be bothersome to others nearby. If you don’t want the people around you to hear what you’re listening to, lower your volume and firmly place your AirPods into your ear.

If you loosen up the earbuds and put the volume higher, more decibels will leak out into your direct surroundings. Compared to similar wireless earbuds, AirPods will leak a little more sound into the environment on average.


AirPods Leak More Sound Than Competitors

Compared to similar wireless earbuds, AirPods are more ‘noisy to others’. Apple fans might not enjoy hearing this, but wireless earbuds with silicone, rubber, or foam tips isolate sound better. AirPods do not have any sound-shielding materials near the speakers, causing more sound leakage.

If you’re looking for alternative wireless earbuds with better sound insulation, consider in-ear earbuds like the Skullcandy Sesh Evo. Choosing this alternative with silicone ear tips will save you a lot of money, too!

But if you’re committed to Apple, you can still choose to upgrade your AirPods. New models come out often, so make sure to keep an eye out for any improvements.

The popular AirPods Pro models don’t really have the same problems second or third-generation AirPods models have. You can simply switch on the noise-control mode on your device. The instructions below explain how to turn on the ‘Active Noise Cancellation’ mode.


How To Turn On ‘Active Noise Cancellation’

The instructions below only work for AirPods Pro and AirPods Max devices. Don’t have these models and wish to take advantage of the ‘Active Noise Cancellation’ mode? Consider upgrading your current AirPods to these models.

To turn on ‘Active Noise Cancellation’ on your AirPods Pro, follow the steps below:

  • Open your ‘Settings‘ app (cogwheel icon)
  • In the menu, navigate to ‘Bluetooth
  • Tap on ‘Noise Cancellation‘ and make sure it is checked on


The main functionality of this mode is to block out any external sounds. You will not be able to hear your environment as well anymore. This can be dangerous outside (especially in traffic), so make sure to turn on ‘Transparency’ mode in such environments.

Transparency mode is the exact opposite of ‘Noise Cancellation Mode’, it helps you hear your surroundings better and will let more sound in. It does not imply that this mode leaks more sound out into the environment.


AirPods Are Designed To Be Open

Other than competitors, AirPods were specifically designed to let the ear canal breathe better. Just look at the back of your earbuds, you can even see some vent holes for that very purpose.

Apple’s design team made sure that music sounds the best it can possibly be while doing activities. This means the devices will need to move around in your ears. What does it imply? The sound can leak more than a regular earbud!

The open design is a trade-off, it focuses on active people that interact with their environment. You can even use AirPods while working out in the gym, or running outside. These devices weren’t designed to sit on your lazy chair and close yourself off from the outside world. Even with the noise-cancelling tech, some music can still be heard by people around you.


This Helps: Change Your AirPods Tips

The last tip I’d like to give to people that are attached to their AirPods is the following. It’s possible to put some silicone or rubber tips onto your wireless earbuds. This will change the fit of your devices, but it will help stop any noise from leaking.

The best choice for changing ear tips is to go with the official ones on the Apple website here. That link sends you to large AirPods Pro tips, but there are also small ones (see related products). If you search around in the Accessories section, you can also find them for older versions.

If you’d like to share any practical tips to reduce sound leaks from your Apple AirPods, feel free to share them in the comments below. Together we can make this resource a lot better, and solve this issue for everyone. Talk to you there!

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