AirPods use microphones pointing both inwards and outwards to enable a wide range of functions — from clear calls to effective noise reduction modes — so knowing the location of the microphones can be crucial to getting great sound. The AirPods line includes an assortment of in-ear headphones and a pair of overhead headphones, and the location of the microphone on this pair of AirPods depends on the specific model. There are standard AirPods that are available in three different generations. Next up are the AirPods Pro, an upgrade over the regular version with three noise reduction modes. AirPods Max is the only pair of overhead headphones in the line.
The microphone on a pair of AirPods is used not only for receiving sound, but also for calibrating noise reduction modes on some models. Noise reduction works by listening to and understanding the sound that is in the user’s environment, and in some cases, the sound inside the user’s ear canal. After analyzing this sound, noise-canceling headphones can reproduce the sound with an inverted phase by 180 degrees. This sound cancels the intrusive sound in the user’s environment and can work very well with AirPods. However, it is important to know where the microphones are located in order to get accurate readings.
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Although the location of microphones on AirPods depends on the model, they are quite easy to detect on each pair of headphones. The first and second generation AirPods are almost identical, and the microphone location is the same for both models. The first and second generation AirPods have dual microphones located at the top of the rod. The microphones are located inside a small recessed black grille in the shape of a tiny circle. They are complemented by an accelerometer with speech recognition function, which detects when the user is speaking and filters out any unwanted external sounds so that the communication quality is clean and clear.
Microphone location on new AirPods
AirPods of the third generation and AirPods Pro have the same outward-facing microphones, which are easily recognized by a section of an oval-shaped black acoustic grid. They are located where the AirPods stem meets the headphones, and are used to receive sound on third-generation AirPods. In AirPods Pro, they are also used to calibrate the noise reduction modes of headphones. To improve the modes of active noise reduction and transparency, there are also inward-facing microphones that pick up sound inside the user’s ear canal. They are located inside the ear pad and are not used for audio recording.
The AirPods Max has more microphones than any Apple headphones, and they provide effective premium noise reduction. In total, AirPods Max has six microphones, three on each ear cup. One microphone is located at the top of each ear pad, and two at the bottom. Working in tandem with a system-on-a-chip for each earphone, the noise reduction modes work impressively well, and the communication quality is also excellent. Although the location of each microphone depends on the model of the AirPods, they are positioned in such a way as to ensure maximum sound quality and, where possible, noise reduction.