AirPods are Apple’s massively successful wireless Bluetooth headphones. Of course, being an Apple product, they were designed to be used with other Apple devices, like the iPhone and iPad, but they are, in fact, compatible with other non-Apple devices, like Android phones.
Although Siri is not available when AirPods are used with Android phones, obviously, everything else still works the same, and the AirPods will function as a pair of Bluetooth headphones, capable of streaming audio from the device and for use in hands-free phone calls.
However, there is a recurring issue regarding volume settings when AirPods are used with Androids. In this article, I’ll talk about why this happens and the easier way to fix it so you can enjoy listening to music, podcasts, and phone calls at your desired volume.
Table of Contents
Why Your AirPods are Quiet on Your Android Device
Conflicting Bluetooth Codecs
The reason why AirPods may lack in volume and overall sound quality when used with an Android device is all to do with how information is transmitted over Bluetooth and the different Bluetooth codecs used by Android vs. Apple devices.
AirPods use Apple’s AAC codec, which is a high-fidelity lossless codec designed to prioritize sound quality over other things like battery consumption.
Most Android devices utilize a Bluetooth codec known as SBC or subband codec. This is the standard across the majority of Android devices, and while it does not transmit audio at the same levels of quality as AAC, it is still a fine option for Bluetooth headphones.
In fact, Sony Android devices use the LDAC codec, which is capable of higher-quality streaming than Apple’s AAC.
The problem arises not because one codec is superior to the other but because the AirPods and the Android device are operating on different codecs. The fact that Apple AirPods can only use the AAC codec means that sound quality issues may occur unless they are paired with an Apple device that also uses that codec.
The reason these issues with the codec can result in lower volume is due to the way that Android handles the AAC codec. AAC uses psychoacoustic modeling to transmit data, which is far more demanding when it comes to power consumption.
Android devices compensate for this surge in battery power by lowering the overall sound quality and volume.
But there is a way around this, at least for the volume issue.
How to Increase AirPods Volume on Android
The steps detailed below may differ for different devices running the Android operating system, but the basic actions should be available for users to customize on every phone/tablet/etc.
Some of these fixes worked first time for some users, others didn’t work at all, and some needed to try a combination of various fixes to get the issue sorted.
This is probably largely dependent on the Android device you’re using and possibly the generation of AirPods you have to use. The best thing I can suggest would be to try them all one by one until something sticks!
Change the Equalizer Settings
First of all, make sure your AirPods are connected to your device. Then, you want to go to Settings on your Android device, then click Sound and Notifications.
Then, click Audio Effects, and make sure it’s turned on. With audio effects enabled, click the dropdown menu for the Equalizer. From here, you can modify the audio settings to your liking. This can enable your AirPods to perform at a higher volume, and the overall increase in sound quality may be enough to bring the volume up to a reasonable level.
Disable Absolute Volume
This is the fix that users have seen the most success with.
With this fix, you first have to go to Settings, then scroll down to the bottom and tap on System.
Next, find the Build Number, which may be located under another tab titled something like About Phone or About This Device, etc.
Tap on Build Number seven (7) times. That may seem odd, but it’s a sneaky hack to enable anyone to access developer settings on an Android device. If you’ve done this right, you should get a little message pop-up that congratulates you on being a developer.
Then go back to the main Settings page and look for Developer Options.
Enter Developer Options, and scroll until you find a toggle switch under the heading Disable Absolute Volume. Toggle it to ‘off,’ and you’ll find that your volume issues are gone, and your AirPods will now play at the correct volume instead of being hampered by Android’s power-saving software codecs.
Disable the Volume Limiter
Android devices normally come with a built-in volume limiter to protect the user’s ears from excesses of volume. If you’re struggling to hear anything through your AirPods, this might seem rather unnecessary. Here’s how to turn it off.
First, head to Settings, and look for Sounds and Vibrations, Sounds and Notifications, or something similar.
Next, look for something called media volume limiter or something similarly named.
Simply toggle it to ‘off,’ and see if that’s fixed your AirPod volume issues.
Disable Battery Optimization
Go into Settings, then into Battery, and finally into Battery Optimization.
Set both Bluetooth applications to Not Optimized.
This should prevent your Android device from overruling Apple’s AAC codec and allow higher-quality audio to be streamed to your AirPods. However, it’s worth mentioning that you may see a poorer battery performance after trying this fix.
Reset Your AirPods
This is quite a simple and obvious one, and many of you may have already tried it as your first port of call.
It’s simple, really – complete a full reset of your AirPods. Put them in their charging case and close the lid; wait 30 seconds; open the lid. Now put your AirPods in your ears and make sure they’re connected to your device.
Go to Settings > Bluetooth, and select your AirPods. Forget them from your device.
Next, hold down the ‘setup’ button on the back of the AirPods case for 15 seconds until the light begins to flash amber, then white. Now simply reconnect your AirPods with your Android device.
Use a Third-Party Volume Boosting App
If none of the other fixes worked, aside from getting a different pair of headphones, this is something that can bridge the gap between unbearable quiet AirPods and something like an ideal volume.
There are plenty of apps out there that can override Android’s built-in volume limiting and equalizing capabilities. While these are great features normally, for anyone battling with the AirPod volume issue, they can actually stand in the way of great quality audio at a listenable volume.
Search for ‘volume booster’ or something similar on the Google Play Store, and try some of the apps listed in the search results.
As you can see, this is clearly a common problem for many users of AirPods with an Android device. Of course, Apple designed the AirPods to be used with Apple devices, so there are no issues there when it comes to the proper functioning of the headphones with an iPhone, for example.
It’s only natural that users of other devices want to experience the AirPod’s superior sound quality and great features for themselves – unfortunately, there are a few issues that arise when technologies that are built differently are used together.
Hopefully, now you can understand why your AirPods may not be performing as well as they should be with your Android, and most importantly, you can fix it!