How to customize the AirPods Pro controlsSource: Rene Ritchie / iMore

What you need to know

  • Some AirPods Pro earbuds are making crackling sounds when ANC is active.
  • Firmware updates haven't improved matters.
  • But using sticky tape and compressed air have ... at least for some.

There's something weird going on with AirPods Pro right now. Or, at least, some of them. I've witnessed it myself and the best way I can describe it is a crackling sound whenever you move. And it's really, really irritating.

Let me back up a bit.

I first became aware of this issue when my wife complained of an odd sound coming from her AirPods Pro whenever she moved her jaw. I took them for a spin and sure enough, whenever I moved my jaw I could hear an odd crackling sound. It's the strangest sensation. It wasn't quite like the sound of interference, but it did sound electrical. And it was much, much worse when active noise cancelation was turned on. Some report that it doesn't happen at all when ANC is off, too.

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We ultimately had them swapped out under AppleCare and thought nothing of it. I assumed it was something to do with the microphones that handle incoming sound to make the ANC work. But then I saw a squirrel or something and forgot all about it.

Then Twitter lit up with people having the same problem, or at the very least, variations on the same theme. A potential fix reared its head thanks to Nikita Goryainov of iPhones.ru, too.

I've been speaking with Nikita over email and I'm told they've been able to repeat the fix and have seen "more positive results than negative". That certainly sounds promising, so here's what you need to do.

Pay attention, it's a complicated process!

Not really – you use tape and compressed air to clear the gunk out of your AirPods Pro.

Over to Nikita.

Airpods Pro Zoomed Showing DebrisSource: Nikita Goryainov

  1. You apply the sticky tape on the mesh to remove some particles and traces of ear wax. Doing it multiple times, fast and at the angle works better than just sticking it hard and removing. Also, when you apply the sticky tape, it should be completely clean, so no sticking the same part over and over.

  2. After 10-20 times, the tape should come off much more cleaner (less marks) than before.

  3. Then you take a can of compressed air and carefully, not directly, blow at the grilles.

My guess is that I was on to something with my microphone theory and this method clears the debris that fills the grille protecting it. That then prevents it from picking up a proper signal and causes chaos with the ANC. But I'm no sound engineer and I've definitely never played one on TV, either.

I can't test this for myself because my AirPods Pro earbuds are fine and my wife's are now brand new. I have enlisted the help of one person who has been having the same problem but it didn't work for them. So, yeah. Your mileage may vary.

Thankfully everyone who is having this problem is still covered by AppleCare – AirPods Pro haven't been around all that long yet – but given the difficulty in getting a replacement pair of earbuds some might face, I'm sharing this tip. It isn't going to work for everyone, but any hope is better than no hope, right?

Shout out in the comments and let me know if this works for you – good luck!

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