Why there are three microphones inside each third-generation AirPod

Apple’s third-generation AirPods have three built-in microphones in each earbud versus two microphones per earphone for the second-generation model.

Internal view of Apple's third-generation AIrPods model year 2021


  • Each third-generation AirPod uses three onboard microphones
  • The previous model features two microphones in each earbud
  • Apple’s H1 chip is smaller vs. the previous generation

Each AirPods 3 earbud has three microphones

A teardown analysis of the third-generation AirPods, performed by the Chinese website 52audio.com, reveals a simpler construction along with an optimized internal structure and smaller components. The new earbuds feature an AirPods Pro-like design complete with shorter stems and a redesigned shape to make them fit people’s ears better than before.

Read: Tips and tricks for using your AirPods like a pro

There are three microphones in each earphone: two beam-forming microphones and an additional inward-facing microphone that’s nowhere to be found in the second-generation model. The third mic is being used for a feature Apple calls adaptive EQ. It automatically tunes audio to the user’s ears.

Apple’s description of the feature says, “Inward-facing microphones detect what you’re hearing, then adjust low- and mid-range frequencies to deliver the rich details in every song, customized for you in real-time.” AirPods Pro have this microphone as they also support adaptive EQ, unlike both the original and second-generation AirPods.

Tidbits regarding the internal structure of AirPods 3

The internal structure has seen other tweaks but remains “very different from AirPods Pro,” the website notes. Importantly, Apple’s engineers have managed to shrink down some very crucial components found in each earbud. The Apple H1 chip, for example, is much smaller than the previous generation, likely due to a smaller process technology used in chip fabrication. Moreover, the updated H1 chip has a tweaked shape itself in order to fit inside the redesigned earbud enclosure.

AirPods 3 pricing and availability

AirPods 3 cost $179 in the US (the previous model saw its price slashed to $129).

You can order your third-generation AirPods from Amazon, Apple, or certified sellers in the U.S. and most other countries.

Buying any AirPods, AirPods Pro, or AirPods Max might get you six free months of Apple Music.

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