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Apple AirPods are premium wireless earbuds, even if you own the cheapest, originals. Echoing is something you expect to get from a $10 pair of earbuds from Dollar General—you know, the ones that look as similar to AirPods as possible without becoming property design theft.

Like all things, even a pair of AirPods are susceptible to damage , especially over time. No software updates, poor connection, dirt and debris, water damage, noise cancellation, and distance are all issues that can cause your AirPods to sound echoey. 

AdobeStock_278503119 Girl listening music in airpods, lying on blanket

It can also mean that the AirPods are broken and the only solution is to purchase a new pair. Hopefully, that’s not the case. At the very least, you can try all of these solutions and rule them out before arriving at that conclusion.

6 Causes And Fixes to Echoey Airpods

1. AirPods are Dirty

AirPods get dirty quicker than you might realize. This is not a negative feature only associated with AirPods either. People have earwax and dirt in their ears—it’s just a part of life, especially when you don’t grab that box of Q-tips every night.

Dirt or earwax can distort the sound and make it echo. Your best options are Q-tips, microfiber cloth, and rubbing alcohol. When you use the alcohol, make sure the cloth or Q-tip is only slightly damp.

Clean your AirPods each night (or at least as often as possible) and ensure there is no build-up behind the ear tips.

2. Distance

The good news is, Apple AirPods use Bluetooth 5.0, for the fastest transfer of data. The bad news is, the Bluetooth range is still terrible. Get too far away from your iPhone or iPad, and there’s a strong chance you’ll start getting audio distortion as the data struggle to travel the distance.

For obvious reasons, this is the simplest fix of all. Get closer to your iPhone or carry it around with you. Keep in mind that Bluetooth also has trouble penetrating walls, especially metal, concrete, brick, and mortar. Those materials will significantly reduce the signal strength.

3. Software Updates

Apple AirPods should update on their own, automatically, each time the latest firmware is released. However, it doesn’t always work out that way. It’s a good idea to check and ensure that you are using the latest software on your AirPods and your iPhone as well.

  1. Put your AirPods in the case
  2. Plug the case into a power source
  3. Ensure your iPhone is connected to the internet
  4. Move the iPhone or other iOS device near the case as its charging
  5. Open the Settings on your iPhone
  6. Select General
  7. Select About
  8. Select AirPods
  9. Check the version displayed on your iPhone

4. Noise Cancellation

The noise cancellation feature that Apple AirPods come with is fantastic. Are there better ANC (Active Noise Cancellation) devices out there? Sure. But the noise cancellation feature on the AirPods is far above adequate.

If it ever gets turned off, however, the AirPods start letting in a lot of outside noise. It’s still not bad but it could create an echo where there was none before. If you accidentally turn on Transparency Mode, the echo sound will become very pronounced.

  1. Open the Control Panel on your iPhone/iPad
  2. To do this, swipe down from the top, right-hand corner of the screen
  3. Place your AirPods in your ears
  4. Touch and hold the Volume Slider until controls pop up on your screen
  5. Select the Noise Control icon that pops up
  6. Select Noise Cancellation
  7. Select Noise Cancellation, Transparency, or Off

As long as the Noise Cancellation feature is on, the echo sound will go away but it does drain the battery quicker than the other two options.

AdobeStock_537447362 Wireless headphones lie on glass with beautiful water drops

5. Water in Your AirPods

Apple guarantees that its Airpods are resistant to sweat and water but admits that they are not waterproof. Of course, nothing is truly waterproof, just ask the Grand Canyon.

If you drop your AirPods in the sink or in the bathtub, there will probably be consequences.

There’s the possibility that they will dry out eventually and be okay. There’s also the possibility that the water will cause some level of damage to the internals and create an echo sound or otherwise reduced audio fidelity.

Apple advises AirPod owners to never wear their AirPods in the shower or in the bath, never put them in a washing machine, use them in a sauna, and definitely avoid submerging them under any circumstance. AirPods aren’t cheap after all.

You’ll need to clean and dry them with a soft, highly absorbent cloth. It also might be a good idea to place the case and the AirPods in a bowl of rice overnight.

Never put them back in the case until you are absolutely sure they are completely dry, inside and out.

6. They’re Broken

Sometimes you just have to wake up and face the music. If you’ve gone through all of the above problems and potential fixes, you may be dealing with broken AirPods. If you’ve done nothing wrong, the Apple warranty covers AirPods from all manufacturer defects for a period of one year from the purchase date.

Don’t hesitate to take advantage of the warranty if you are still within the warranty period, even if you only have a few days left. Call Apple and make the arrangements before those final days run out.

It’s always a good idea to grab the AppleCare Protection Plan as well. While it will cost you a monthly subscription, think of it as socking away funds for potential repairs down the road.

At the end of the day, AirPods are expensive products and you should do your best to protect your device and get it repaired under the warranty of AppleCare asap.

All Things Considered

If you ever unbox AirPods for the first time and they come with audio that features an echo, even with noise cancellation turned on, turn them in and get a new pair. For all of the other circumstances above, almost everything can be avoided with proper preventative maintenance.

Take care of your Apple AirPods. Keep them updated when firmware comes out (it’s pretty rare). Clean them periodically. Keep them away from water and charge them when they need it. Preventative maintenance will ensure that you get the most out of an expensive pair of wireless earbuds.