Adaptive transparency on AirPods Pro and Max is apparently a bug

The Adaptive transparency mode on AirPods Pro and Max is apparently a software bug. The new noise-cancelling feature shall remain exclusive to AirPods Pro 2.

AirPods Max, the original AirPods and the first AirPods Pro laid flat on an orange table
Only AirPods Pro 2 sport adaptive transparency after all | Image: Akhil Yerabati / Unsplash
  • What’s happening? Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman says the appearance of adaptive transparency on the original AirPods Pro and AirPods Max is a bug.
  • Why care? Briefly, we hoped that older AirPods models would indeed gain adaptive transparency via a firmware update.
  • What to do? Buy AirPods Pro 2 if you want to enjoy adaptive transparency.

Adaptive transparency on AirPods Pro and Max is a bug?

The second-generation AirPods Pro bring the adaptive transparency mode, which reduces loud sounds around you while minimizing other environmental noises. Owners of the original AirPods Pro and AirPos Max have noticed the feature appeared for them after installing the third beta of iOS 16.

But don’t get your hopes up yet as Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman said on his Twitter that “this is a bug,” adding the feature is “not meant to work” on those models.

The Adaptive Transparency setting for the original AirPods Pro and Max is just a toggle, nothing else. Flipping it on or off doesn’t do anything on non-AirPods Pro 2.

People who own other AirPods models, including all generations of AirPods, the original AirPods Pro and AirPods Max, shouldn’t expect to use this feature when iOS 16.1 launches. Quite the contrary, the next beta of iOS 16 will likely remove the adaptive transparency option for AirPods Pro and Max users.

Adaptive transparency is exclusive to the H2 chip

Apple has claimed from the onset that the magic of adaptive transparency requires the power of its latest headphone chip, dubbed H2, which is currently found in the second-generation AirPods Pro. All other AirPods models are built around the H2’s predecessor, the H1. Read: How to fix AirPods not connecting to Apple Watch

How to turn on adaptive transparency on AirPods Pro

To enable adaptive transparency, turn on your second-generation AirPods Pro, put them on and connect the earbuds to your iPhone with iOS 16.0 or later. Now go to Settings → [your AirPods], then turn on Adaptive Transparency.

With the feature turned on, the H2 chip processes audio picked up by outward-facing microphones to detect external sounds. Using computational audio techniques, the algorithm suppresses loud environmental noises such as a passing vehicle siren or construction tools to better protect your hearing.

In the market for a pair of AirPods? Check out our latest roundup of AirPods deals available right now.