How To Use AirPods As Hearing Aids

Christian Worstell
In this article...
  • Learn how to use AirPods as hearing aids. Choose from several different methods to suit your device, your preferences and the year and model of your AirPods.

If you're experiencing hearing loss, learning how to use AirPods as hearing aids is one way to improve your everyday conversations.

They're particularly useful if you only need assistance in certain situations — you can get a boost when you need it most, without the need for full-time traditional hearing aids.

AirPods aren't suitable for everyone, but they may help you hear clearly.

Do AirPods Function as Hearing Aids?

AirPods aren't hearing aids, but you can adjust them to act like assisted listening devices. There are a few ways to adjust the audio. Some options affect the AirPods themselves; others change settings in your phone.

Headphone Accommodations

Headphone Accommodations is an Apple feature that enables you to adjust frequency volumes, so you can hear clearly when you're talking on the phone or watching movies with your AirPods. If you have a hard time hearing low-pitched sounds, for example, you can bump up the volume only for that frequency range. Apple enables you to test and customize different audio setups to find the one that best suits your needs.

To use Headphone Accommodations, you must have an Apple iPad or iPhone running IOS 14 or later. You'll also need AirPods Pro, AirPods Max, Apple EarPods or regular AirPods from the second generation or later.

Transparency Mode

If you have AirPods Pro or AirPods Max, you can also use Transparency Mode, which is a special feature in Headphone Accommodations. It gives you the power to change the volume levels for both your own voice and the sounds in your environment.

Conversation Boost

Conversation Boost is another convenient AirPods Pro feature in Headphone Accommodations. It's designed specifically to help you hear other people. When it's activated, this feature directs the tiny microphones in the AirPods toward the person in front of you. At the same time, computational audio uses sophisticated tuning technology to isolate the voice and minimize other noises. As a result, you can hear the speaker more clearly and at a higher volume. 

Hearing loss can make it difficult to focus on a single voice in a noisy, busy area, such as a restaurant or public park. Conversation Boost helps by identifying, isolating and amplifying that voice.

Live Listen

If you have a compatible iPhone, there's another way you can use AirPods as hearing aids — a feature called Live Listen. This feature is similar to Conversation Boost, but it works on the microphones in your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch.

When you enable Live Listen, it changes the settings on your device and transmits that information to your connected AirPods. This feature is convenient because it offers broad compatibility; you can use it with AirPods, AirPods Pro or AirPods Max. It also works with Beats Fit Pro and Powerbeats Pro headphones.

For Live Listen to work well as a hearing aid during a conversation, you'll need to keep your device out and pointed toward the person you're talking to.

How To Set Up Hearing Assistance on Your AirPods

Before you can use your AirPods to help you hear better, you'll need to change the settings on your phone. You may need to experiment with different features and audio levels to find the right combination for both your hearing and your devices.

How To Set Up Headphone Accommodations

If your AirPods are second-generation or newer, start with Headphone Accommodations. Make sure your iPhone or iPad is updated to the latest version of iOS. 

  1. Go to Settings, and find the Accessibility menu. Click on the Audio/Visual tab, and tap on Headphone Accommodations. If you need extra help hearing phone calls or FaceTime, turn on the Phone slider. To apply the changes when you're listening to music or movies, turn on the Media slider.
  2. Go back to the main Audio/Visual menu. Find the Balance slider, and adjust it until it's in the middle of the bar.
  3. Put in your AirPods, and go to the Headphone Accommodations screen. Tap on the Custom Audio Setup option. The device will walk you through the process of changing the settings.

How To Set Up Transparency Mode With AirPods Pro or AirPods Max

Before you set up Transparency mode, put on your AirPods Pro or AirPods Max and connect your iPhone or iPad. 

  1. Open the Control Center, and tap on Transparency to turn on Transparency Mode.
  2. Go to Headphone Accommodations, tap on Transparency Mode and choose Custom Transparency Mode.
  3. Use the sliders to adjust the Transparency Balance slider until you like the results. It may be helpful to try this in a busy place to see which settings work best.

How To Set Up Conversation Boost

After you set up Transparency Mode, stay in the same settings menu. Tap on Conversation Boost to turn it on. This setting works automatically when you're talking to someone.

How To Set Up Live Listen

If you have older AirPods, or if you simply want to try another option, set up Live Listen on your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch.

  1. Open the Settings app, and tap on Control Center. Tap the green plus sign next to Hearing to add it to your Control Center.
  2. Make sure your AirPods are connected to your phone.
  3. Open your device's Control Center, and tap on the ear icon.
  4. Tap on Live Listen to turn it on. Then, place the device down with the microphone facing the person you're talking to. It will pick up their voice and send it to your AirPods. If you don't see the option for Live Listen, make sure your AirPods are compatible.

How To Stop Using Your AirPods as Hearing Aids

When you're in a situation that doesn't require hearing assistance, you can turn off any of the Apple features you don't want to use. To turn off Headphone Accommodations, Transparency Mode or Conversation Boost, simply visit the Headphone Accommodations menu and toggle off each option. To turn off Live Listen, open your Control Center, tap the ear icon and tap on Live Listen.

Christian Worstell
About the Author

Christian Worstell is a senior Medicare and health insurance writer with He is also a licensed health insurance agent. Christian is well-known in the insurance industry for the thousands of educational articles he’s written, helping Americans better understand their health insurance and Medicare coverage.

Christian’s work as a Medicare expert has appeared in several top-tier and trade news outlets including Forbes, MarketWatch, WebMD and Yahoo! Finance.

While at HelpAdvisor, Christian has written hundreds of articles that teach Medicare beneficiaries the best practices for navigating Medicare. His articles are read by thousands of older Americans each month. By better understanding their health care coverage, readers may hopefully learn how to limit their out-of-pocket Medicare spending and access quality medical care.

Christian’s passion for his role stems from his desire to make a difference in the senior community. He strongly believes that the more beneficiaries know about their Medicare coverage, the better their overall health and wellness is as a result.

A current resident of Raleigh, Christian is a graduate of Shippensburg University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. You can find Christian’s most recent articles in our blog.

If you’re a member of the media looking to connect with Christian, please don’t hesitate to email our public relations team at

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