This article explains how to control the Active Noise Cancellation feature on Apple's AirPods Max headphones. Bear in mind that iOS devices need to be running iOS 14.3 or later in order to support ‌‌AirPods Max‌. You can check that your device is updated by launching the Settings app and going to General -> Software Update.

airpods max on head

What is the Active Noise Cancellation Feature on AirPods Max?

‌‌AirPods Max‌ are Apple's first own-brand over-ear headphones with Active Noise Cancellation (ANC), which is designed to block out the outside world so you can focus on what you're listening to. Several microphones on the outside of the headphones listen to the noise around you and then create an inverse wave to reduce the volume of the incoming sound.

In contrast, Transparency mode allows you to simultaneously listen to music while still hearing the environment around you – whether that's to hear traffic during a walk or an important train announcement during the morning commute. It uses the same external microphones as ANC to monitor the sound, but that sound is then passed through the headphones just like any other audio, while advanced software ensures that your own voice sounds natural as your audio continues to play perfectly.

How to Control Active Noise Cancellation on AirPods Max

There are three ways of controlling Active Noise Cancellation on ‌‌AirPods Max‌. The first method involves using a physical button on the ‌headphones themselves that offers default settings, while the second and third methods are accessed via onscreen menus on the connected iOS device.

Method 1:

  1. Allow your ‌AirPods‌ Max to connect to your iPhone or iPad in the usual way, by taking them out of the Smart Case and putting them over your ears.
  2. Press the noise control button on the top of the right ear cup to cycle between Noise Cancellation and Transparency, depending on your preference.
    airpods max digital crown

  3. You'll hear a tone when switching between the two functions.

If you want, you can customize the noise control button on the ‌‌AirPods Max‌, and even use it to turn off the noise control features completely.

Method 2:

  1. Allow your ‌AirPods‌ Max to connect to your ‌iPhone‌ or ‌iPad‌ in the usual way, by taking them out of the Smart Case and putting them over your ears.
  2. Launch the Settings app on your iOS device.
  3. Tap Bluetooth.
    settings

  4. Under My Devices, tap the information icon (the circled "i") next to ‌AirPods Max‌ in the list.
  5. Under Noise Control, tap Noise Cancellation, Off, or Transparency, depending on your preference.

Method 3:

  1. Allow your ‌AirPods Max‌ to connect to your ‌iPhone‌ or ‌iPad‌ in the usual way, by taking them out of the Smart Case and putting them over your ears.
  2. Open Control Center on your iOS device: On an ‌iPad‌ with a Home button, double-tap the Home button; on ‌iPhone‌ 8 or earlier, swipe up from the bottom of the screen; and on a 2018 iPad Pro or ‌iPhone‌ X and later, swipe down from the upper right of the screen.

  3. Press and hold the Control Center volume bar (pair of earbuds will be visible inside of it to indicate the ‌AirPods Max‌ are connected.)
  4. Tap the Noise Control button.
    control center

  5. Use the strip of buttons to switch between Noise Cancellation, Off, or Transparency, depending on your preference.

How to Control Active Noise Cancellation on Mac

If you've got your ‌AirPods Max‌ connected to a Mac running macOS Catalina or later, you can also control noise cancellation from the volume icon in the menu bar. Simply hover over your ‌AirPods Max‌ in the Output Device list to reveal a submenu, where you can click Transparency, Noise Cancellation, and Off.

Related Roundup: AirPods Max
Buyer's Guide: AirPods Max (Neutral)
Related Forum: AirPods

Related Stories

Twitter Feature

How to Create Your Own GIFs in the Twitter iOS App

Wednesday March 23, 2022 7:19 pm PDT by
Twitter has updated its iOS app with a new in-app camera feature that lets users create their own animated GIFs for posting to the social media platform. The following steps show you how it's done. In Twitter, hit the big blue plus button to start composing a tweet. Tap the picture icon in the compose window, just above the virtual keyboard. Tap the camera icon. Make sure GIF is selected ...
airpods max digital crown

How to Turn Off AirPods Max

Tuesday May 11, 2021 5:14 pm PDT by
If you recently acquired a pair of AirPods Max, you probably know that they have a battery life of up to 20 hours, but you may have looked at the physical controls and been left wondering how to turn off the headphones in order to preserve battery when they're not in use. Well, the truth is that the title of this article is a bit of a misnomer, because Apple hasn't included an on/off...
Universal Control Colored Feature

How to Adjust or Disable Universal Control on Mac

Tuesday March 15, 2022 7:26 am PDT by
As of iPadOS 15.4 and macOS Monterey 12.3, Apple has introduced support for Universal Control, the long-awaited feature that's designed to allow multiple Macs and iPads to be controlled with a single mouse and keyboard. Thanks to ‌Universal Control‌, you can use the same cursor and keyboard on any nearby Mac or ‌iPad‌ that's signed into your iCloud account. So, for example, if you...
newgmaillogo

How to Schedule Emails on iPhone and iPad

Tuesday February 15, 2022 12:23 pm PST by
Unlike Apple Mail, Gmail lets users schedule emails to send later on iPhone and iPad. This article explains how it's done. Have you ever tried to remember to email someone about something on a particular date in the not-so-distant future, but ended up forgetting to send it when the day eventually came around? If that sounds familiar, scheduling emails could be the perfect way to ensure it...
multiple copies same app home screen

How to Add the Same App to Multiple Home Screens on Your iPhone

Wednesday March 9, 2022 1:15 pm PST by
In iOS 15, you can put multiple copies of the same app on your iPhone's Home Screen. On the surface, this may seem like a strange thing to allow, and perhaps even a bug, but Apple has intentionally made it possible to have additional copies of an app across several Home Screen pages so that the apps can be used in conjunction with its new Focus features. One of the functions of Focus is that ...
spatialaudiofeature

How to Listen to Spatial Audio on a MacBook Pro

Monday December 6, 2021 4:28 pm PST by
Spatial audio is a sonic feature exclusive to AirPods (3rd generation), AirPods Pro, Beats Fit Pro, and AirPods Max that adds surround sound to Apple's premium audio wearables. By utilizing dynamic head tracking, it brings a theater-like audio experience to the movie or video you're watching, so that it seems as if the sound is coming from all around you. This article explains how to listen to...
apple watch activity sharing

How to Share Your Activity on Apple Watch and Compete With Friends

Tuesday February 22, 2022 5:10 pm PST by
If you've got an Apple Watch, you can build motivation to stay active and stick to your fitness routine by sharing your activity with your friends and family. Read on to learn how. One of the great things about Apple Watch is that Apple has built in a social aspect to its activity tracking features that makes it easier to promote camaraderie in pursuit of a shared exercise goal. By...
ipad air m1 2

iPad Air 5: How to Hard Reset or Shut Down

Wednesday March 23, 2022 7:22 pm PDT by
Like the iPad Air 4, Apple's fifth-generation iPad Air (2022) features an edge-to-edge display with no Home button included and Touch ID built into the Power button instead. The lack of a Home button means some gestures and features are different to older iPads, such as the restart, shut down, and force restart methods. On iPad Air, a shut down and a restart are the same gesture, while a...

Popular Stories

USB C Over Lightning Feature

EU Passes Law to Switch iPhone to USB-C by End of 2024

Tuesday October 4, 2022 3:30 am PDT by
The European Parliament today voted overwhelmingly in favor of enforcing USB-C as a common charging port across a wide range of consumer electronic devices, including the iPhone and AirPods, by the end of 2024. The proposal, known as a directive, forces all consumer electronics manufacturers who sell their products in Europe to ensure that a wide range of devices feature a USB-C port. This...
General iOS 16 Feature Yellow

10 New iOS 16 Features Coming Later This Year

Monday October 3, 2022 2:41 pm PDT by
iOS 16 was released to the public three weeks ago with a customizable Lock Screen, the ability to edit iMessages, improvements to Focus modes, and much more. And in the coming months, iPhone and iPad users have even more new features to look forward to. We've rounded up 10 new features coming to the iPhone and iPad later this year, according to Apple. Many of the features are part of iOS...
ipad pro m1 feature

Gurman: Apple Event This October Remains Unlikely, No Touch ID for iPhone 15

Sunday October 2, 2022 6:41 am PDT by
Apple is developing new iPad Pro, Mac, and Apple TV models, and at least some of these products will be released in October, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. However, Gurman continues to believe that Apple is unlikely to hold an event this month. In the latest edition of his Power On newsletter, Gurman said "the big iPhone 14 unveiling last month was probably it for Apple in 2022 in...
iOS 16

Apple Preparing iOS 16.0.3 With More Bug Fixes Following iPhone 14 Launch

Monday October 3, 2022 7:53 am PDT by
iOS 16.0.2 was released last month with several bug fixes for iPhone 14 issues, excessive copy and paste permission prompts, and more. Now, evidence suggests that Apple is planning to release iOS 16.0.3 with additional bug fixes. Evidence of an upcoming iOS 16.0.3 software update has shown up in MacRumors analytics logs, which have been a reliable indicator in the past. There are several...
Apple SIM Card

Apple SIM No Longer Available for Activating New Cellular Data Plans on iPads

Sunday October 2, 2022 8:04 am PDT by
As of October 1, Apple SIM is no longer available for activating new cellular data plans on supported iPad models, according to an Apple support document. Introduced in 2014, the Apple SIM was designed to allow iPad users to activate cellular data plans from multiple carriers around the world. Initially, the Apple SIM was a physical nano-SIM card, but it was embedded inside later iPad Pro...
maxresdefault

Video: AirPods Pro 2 vs. Bose QuietComfort II

Monday October 3, 2022 12:50 pm PDT by
Apple on September 23 officially launched the second-generation version of the AirPods Pro, introducing updated Active Noise Cancellation, Adaptive Transparency, improved sound, and more. Right around the same time, Bose introduced new QuietComfort II earbuds with many similar features, so we thought we'd compare the two to see which has the edge. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for ...
General YouTube Feature 1

You May Soon Need to Be a YouTube Premium Subscriber to Watch 4K Videos

Monday October 3, 2022 4:29 am PDT by
YouTube may make watching videos in 4K quality on the platform exclusive to only YouTube Premium subscribers, according to screenshots posted by users on Twitter and Reddit. On Reddit (1,2) and Twitter, some users have started to recently notice that on iOS, and presumably across other platforms also, YouTube is now saying that in order to watch videos in 4K, the user must be a paying...
dynamic island alan dye

Apple Executives Talk About iPhone 14 Pro's Dynamic Island in New Interview

Sunday October 2, 2022 10:48 am PDT by
In a new interview, Apple's senior vice president of software engineering, Craig Federighi, and Apple's vice president of human interface design, Alan Dye, sat down to discuss the thinking behind the iPhone 14 Pro's Dynamic Island and how it was developed. During the interview with the Japanese magazine Axis, Federighi, who oversees the development of iOS, said Dynamic Island represents the...