How to fix cracking audio, popping sound, clicking, buzzing, and static noises in AirPods and Beats headphones

If you have noticed crackly audio and static noise in your AirPods or Beats headphones, you’re not alone!

Devices like Apple’s AirPods and Beats headphones are among some of the simplest Bluetooth devices you can use with your iPhone, iPad, or Mac, thanks to the pairing process that’s made possible by the proprietary W1, H1, and H2 chips. But they’re not perfect.

As many of the early reviews have already pointed out, including the one published right here on iDB by my colleague Sebastien, AirPods are especially susceptible to what’s described as cracking and static noises while audio is being streamed from your device to the receiver in the Bluetooth headphones.

So, what’s causing this weird crackling as audio streams from your device to the audio headset? It turns out the most common reasoning behind this is simple Bluetooth interference. If you have more than one Bluetooth device in your proximity, it could be that the wireless signals are getting a little jammed.

There are other possible causes as well, but we’ll get to fixing those later in the post. That said, here are some of the best ways to resolve crackling sounds in your Bluetooth headphones, whether you’re rocking AirPods 1st, 2nd, and 3rd generations, AirPods Pro 1st and 2nd generation, AirPods Max, or Beats headphones.

AirPods, AirPods Pro and AirPods Max kept side-by-side
Image: Akhil Yerabati for Unsplash

The symptoms

Users have reported a multitude of symptoms that all point in the same direction: cracking audio, popping sound, clicking, buzzing, and static noises seem to be the most reported issues. In reality, they all seem to use different words for the exact same issue.

Put the AirPods back in their case

I know it sounds too simple, but if this is the first time you experience static noise or cracking sound in your AirPods, simply put them back in their charging case for a few minutes. You may even charge the case as well, which can’t hurt.

Still, hearing popping and clicking sounds? Let’s keep troubleshooting!

Turn off unnecessary nearby Bluetooth devices

If you have multiple Bluetooth devices around you, then as noted earlier, the interference could be the root cause of your problems. Although it may not be the solution for everyone, it’s a good idea to check into this as a potential cause, as fixing it may resolve your problem once and for all.

Try turning off any Bluetooth devices you’re not using, such as headsets, keyboards, and even alternative wireless headphones that you might have left turned on somewhere in the same room from the last time you used them.

Try the additional troubleshooting steps below if you’ve disabled all your Bluetooth devices and continue hearing the cracking.

Toggle Bluetooth off and on again

Just like turning Wi-Fi or cellular data off and on again can sometimes fix your internet connection woes, Bluetooth is also a wireless radio that can experience connectivity bugs, and sometimes restarting it can help it to connect correctly and stop acting up.

Try opening Control Center on your iPhone or iPad and turning Bluetooth off for about 10 seconds, then turn it back on again before attempting to listen to music on your AirPods or Beats again.

If you’re using a Mac, you go to the Bluetooth menu in the Menu Bar and turn it off. After waiting 10 seconds, go into the Bluetooth menu once again to turn it on.

In some cases, this will get you back on your feet, but if it doesn’t, try the next step.

Reset your AirPods or Beats headphones

Another potential solution is to reset your AirPods or Beats headphones, which, if you remember, was a viable solution for many that reportedly fixed the battery issues for many AirPods users early on.

After you reset your Bluetooth audio device, you will need to pair it again with your iPhone, iPad, or Mac, so keep that in mind.

To reset your AirPods, just follow these steps:

1) Press and hold the setup button on the back of the AirPods case for approximately 15 seconds.

2) As you wait, you should see the LED indicator turn white. It will then flash amber a few times, then begin flashing white again.

Once you get to this step, you can pair them with your iPhone again and attempt to listen to the audio.

To reset your Beats Solo3 headphones, follow these steps:

1) Press and hold both the power button on the bottom/side of the right earmuff cover and the volume-down button on the left earmuff cover for approximately 10 seconds.

2) After you wait a while, the LED indicator (referred to by Beats as the Fuel Gauge) should begin flashing white.

When you do see the light display, it’s ready to be paired again with your device(s).

Update your iOS device(s)

Apple frequently releases software updates for their devices. According to Apple, your AirPods’ internal software will be kept up to date automatically as long as you’re connected to an iPhone or iPad. That means you should make sure to update your iPhone or iPad if you haven’t already. Beats devices, on the other hand, have an update process of their own.

Sure, AirPods might work on older iOS versions just fine, but if you’re experiencing problems and Apple releases a software update to fix it, the software update may not pass on to your AirPods or Beats headphones if you’re on an old version of iOS.

Although some of you might be hesitant to update because you have a jailbreak or for some other reason, keep in mind that this might be one of the only ways to solve the problem; otherwise, you’ll need to hold your peace forever.

Call Apple

If it’s still happening despite these fix suggestions, Apple might be willing to replace the potentially defective AirPods or Beats headphones under warranty. AirPods are not supposed to exhibit these effects and you may be offered free replacements.

That said, try giving Apple a call. Your local Apple Store might be able to help.

As far as my experience with AirPods and Beats Solo3 goes, I have noticed some crackly audio in the AirPods, but not really with the Beats Solo3 headphones. Usually just avoiding all my other Bluetooth devices does the trick for me, and I’ve managed to solve the problem by just turning off devices when they’re not in use.

Have you experienced any crackling with any of Apple’s Bluetooth headsets? Share in the comments.

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